Ramaphosa: Land motion 'no reason to panic or beat the war drum'

President says people must engage with each other to come up with proposals that lead to a just outcome

Ramaphosa: Land motion 'no reason to panic or beat the war drum'

1 March 2018

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has said there is no reason to "panic and start beating war drums" over Parliament's decision to look at land expropriation without compensation.

Ramaphosa was on Thursday responding to the National House of Traditional Leaders debate on his address to the House this week, where the issue of land was a major theme.

The new president tried to calm fears over the National Assembly's passing of a motion to have Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee look at the feasibility of amending the "property clause" in the Constitution.

"What this moment requires is for people to engage with each other and come up with proposals that can lead to a just and sustainable outcome," Ramaphosa said.

"There is no reason for anyone of us to panic and start beating war drums. Farming activities must continue as normal, and investments in land and farming must continue.

"We are going to handle this matter in the way we've always handled difficult issues in our country: by dialogue, discussion, engagement, until we find good solutions that will take our country forward."

The motion, passed on Tuesday, called for the committee to review Section 25 of the Constitution, allow for public comment and input, and to report back to the National Assembly by August 31.

Ramaphosa maintained that South Africa belonged to all who live in it, black and white, and that the land process was an opportunity to make "just choices that will serve to unite the nation".

"Today we have a great opportunity to address the land question, but to address it in the way that will make sure our economy continues to grow, make sure our agricultural production keeps going up, and make sure that indeed there is food security in our country.

"South Africans must therefore navigate this issue not by fear or distrust. Their choices must reflect their hopes, not their fears."

'Desist from driving fear into the hearts of our people'

The passing of the motion has got South Africans from all walks of life and from all income groups talking, he continued.

"Some have become very hopeful, some have become very fearful. It is a question that we will continue to handle with care and responsibility as government.

"There will be no smash-and-grab of land in our country. That we will not allow," he repeated, to applause from the Old Assembly.

He further stated the matter would be resolved with comprehensive consultation.

"There are some who say there is no need to talk. There are some who continue to drive fear into the hearts of South Africans and the international community.

"Some have even been involved in sending messages to international investors, saying it is no longer safe to invest in South Africa.

"I would like to say, desist from driving fear into the hearts of our people about this matter," he said.

The matter was serious, and it was important to discuss it "in the most responsible manner".

'It's in SA's interests to have commercial farmers'

The ANC government owed it to their children to "refute the myth that Africans are not friends of commercial agriculture", he said.

"It is in our interests to have more successful commercial farmers. This administration is fully committed to provide the necessary support."

Ramaphosa said he would soon be initiating a dialogue with key stakeholders to give effect to the ANC's resolutions on land, adopted in December at its national conference.

"This is the agenda we have, and we are going to address this to make sure we come up with solutions that will resolve this matter once and for all.

"This original sin that was committed when our country was colonised must be resolved, and it must be resolved in a way that takes South Africa forward."