Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Restitution of Land to KwaMkhwanazi Community

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Acting Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala, Inkosi Mkhwanazi, 
Ministers present, 
Executive Mayor, 
Distinguished Guests, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 

This is a glorious day for us to be with the people of KwaMkhwanazi.

We are making history and celebrating the return of your land today.

We foresee that this celebration will cause hope to reverberate across all parts of our country to communities who are awaiting return of their land.

To those communities we say: we will soon be celebrating with you as well!

Today we are giving life and meaning to our Constitution and our Freedom Charter.

Since we last met during Easter this year, much has been done and concrete steps have been taken to ensure that we can return the land to the community today. We are presenting to you full ownership of the land that was taken from you.

Government is handing over the title deeds of both the land you have held since 2002 and the land that has just been restored. We firmly believe that people should have the deeds to the land they own.

Mkhwanazi is a place where, as our Freedom Charter calls on us to do, we are righting the historic injustice and returning the land to its rightful owners. It is a place where we are sharing the land among those who work it, to banish famine and land hunger.

The concept that will be developed through piloting the Mkhwanazi land claim settlement will be rolled out to other land claims across a number of sectors and industries. This is the first of a number of land claims that we aim to unlock over the next few months.

It is therefore a great honour and privilege for me to be here today to mark the restitution of land to the KwaMkhwanazi community.

Mkhwanazi is a beacon of hope for communities who may over time have grown despondent or impatient as they await the realisation of a fundamental human right.

This handover of 4 586 hectares of land comes at a time when the attention of our nation is focused on the effort to correct the original sin of land dispossession.

As government, we are intensifying implementation of our land reform and restitution programmes so that South Africans such as the KwaMkhwanazi residents can leverage land for the betterment of their lives and the growth of our economy.

It is our firm belief that communities must take great interest in their land restitution processes and be active participants in all enterprises and activities taking place on their land.

This community can be exemplary to other recipients of land through its active participation in the administration of funds received through the Phalane Trust. The Mkhwanazi land recipients, through the Phalane Trust, currently own sugarcane enterprises and the Forestry Inn Hotel Pty Ltd that operate on behalf of the community and we encourage this type of entrepreneurship.

We admire the financial savvy shown by claimants in 2011 who developed two disbursement models for funds received from rental income. They acknowledged that funds can be used for both individual and also for community development projects. In addition to this, the community development projects require that there must be extensive consultation and accountability in terms of funds spent on these projects. It is important that you know how your money is spent.

We note that you intend to split future income from rentals in this manner as well. Some funds will go directly to the land claimants and other funds will be used for community development projects. In this way, the whole community will benefit from the return of the land.

Government will assist you with post-settlement packages that will develop your ability to create sustainable income and jobs from the land transferred to the Mkhwanazi community. This will deliver ongoing benefits to all of the people living on Mkhwanazi land.

These post settlement support packages are designed to ensure that beneficiary communities, such as Mkhwanazi, build on your existing presence and participation in the sector and shift from subsistence to commercial participants and owners of businesses across the value chains of the assets on their land.

We therefore encourage you to keep engaging with government on the post-settlement support framework that will ensure that your funds are invested in sustainable and income-generating projects. We also encourage companies, who are current leaseholders on land subject to claims, to work with the claimant communities in developing skills and building sustainable industries.

In this area, specifically, we commend the companies, such as SiyaQhubekha Forests (Pty) Ltd that have lease agreements on Mkhwanazi land and who will provide bursaries for local students studying in areas relevant to the forestry sector. This is how business should contribute to building the communities in which they operate.

To the young people we say: today’s event is the beginning of a future with much greater promise, prosperity and security than your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were allowed to experience under colonialism and apartheid.

Our celebration here today signifies that when we come together as South Africans, we can move our country forward.

When we work together, we are able to dislodge from our society the deeply embedded injustices and damage of centuries of colonialism and decades of apartheid.

This government keeps its word.

In the State of the Nation Address of February 2018 we said that we would accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.

This is exactly what we are implementing at Mkhwanazi.

This is indeed the South African way to confront challenges and come up with collective solutions.

We did it before to end the apartheid system that was declared a crime against humanity.

We did it when we ended the scourge of political violence in townships and hostels before our first democratic election.

When we faced the question of what type of society we wanted to create for the future generations, it was that spirit of Ubuntu that led us to combine our collective minds – united on our diversity.

The history of dispossession of the KwaMkhwanazi community straddled colonialism and the relentless discrimination, prejudice and violence that culminated in the 1948 victory of the National Party in an all-white election.

Seventy years after apartheid rule commenced, our land redistribution programme is an undertaking in restitution, not retribution.

The injustice, indignity and impoverishment inflicted on the people of Mkhwanazi mirrored the hardship to which colonialism and apartheid subjected communities throughout a country endowed with great natural gifts that should have been able to provide a life of dignity and worth to all its people.

In response to the inhumane dispossession and injustice brought upon the people of this land, the Freedom Charter made a clear call that the land must be shared among those who work it.

This historic mandate is one to which this government has committed itself in defence and advancement of dispossessed and landless communities in our society.

Any failure on our part to reverse the injustices of our past and to raise the life prospects of young South Africans through a programme of land redistribution will result in social instability and economic decline in our country. This we cannot afford.

Access to land in all its uses – from agriculture to urban and industrial development – is at the heart of access to a better life for all South Africans and better opportunities and returns for our investment and trade partners around the world.

As we secure such access for our people, we are guided by the wish of that formidable leader of our people, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, who warned us against mobilising our society along ethnic or tribal lines.

Our programme of restorative justice across all domains of our society is rooted in the values of our Constitution and our embrace of the values of Ubuntu.

It is also rooted in our belief that as South Africans, we have it within us to address seemingly intractable problems.

If we could end apartheid rule in the way we did, we have it within us to return our people to the land, as we are proving here today.

It will be impossible for one section of our population to live in prosperity and peace while millions of citizens live in conditions of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

For this reason, we are heartened by the interest and involvement we have seen from various organisations representing organised agriculture and the interests of parts of the white community, in our land reform consultation process.

We believe these consultations and the work currently being done by the Advisory Panel on Land Reform are destined to yield outcomes that will return people to the land and enable inclusive economic growth and social cohesion in our society.

The Mkhwanazi land restitution settlement responds unequivocally to those who have raised questions about the intent or impact of our programme to return people to the land.

Mkhwanazi also addresses those who seek to perpetuate exclusive privilege by preaching stability at the expense of justice.

Without justice, there will be no stability.

As government, we concede that much more could have been done since 1994 to accelerate land reform.

However, we have renewed our commitment that we will get on with the task of redistributing land.

This government is resolute in our commitment to returning the land in an orderly and lawful manner. We shall not allow illegal land occupations.

No-one should exploit the challenges facing landless communities to foment lawlessness and tension in our country.

We know that landless people cannot remain without land forever and we are doing our level best to ensure that the land in our country becomes a source of dignity, development and social cohesion, rather than of dissent and disunity.

We must leverage our bountiful and beautiful land to build a nation with pride in its heart, food on its table, centres of trade and industry on its horizons and a natural environment for all to treasure and enjoy.

This celebration at KwaMkhwanazi reaffirms that our Struggle was not in vain.

It also allows us to look into the future and anticipate the richness of new possibilities and transformed lives that will be cultivated on each of the hectares we are restoring to our people here today.

A new dawn of peace and prosperity.

I thank you.