Watch: Land reform to be stepped up – president

The government will this year get aggressive on land reform and redistribution.

This is according to the January 8 statement delivered yesterday by President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s 105th birthday celebration.

Zuma said while the government’s land reform and redistribution programmes had yielded some success since 1994, “large tracts of land still remain in the hands of very few people”.

He said it was heinous that the majority of citizens only occupied 13% of the land.

A buoyant Zuma said the government would this year start expropriating land for public purposes and in the public interest, within the confines of the constitution.

“The peasantry is left with a shrinking land mass to eke out a living. We repeat that it is our duty to return the land to the people,” he said.

“The constitution allows for the expropriation of land for public purpose and in the public interest.

“This year we shall begin to utilise the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater emphasis and urgency, following the prescripts of our constitution,” Zuma said.

Land ownership has been a thorny issue for several years, with opposition parties such as the EFF and the PAC accusing the ANC of lacking the political will to return land to the black majority.

This announcement could be seen as an attempt by the ANC to silence its critics and reclaim its space in leading the land reform agenda, which has recently been led by the EFF.

Turning to mining, Zuma said the ANC would become more vigilant in ensuring that mining communities benefited meaningfully from lucrative mining activities in their communities.

“The ANC calls on the mining houses to give greater effect to the obligations undertaken in their social and labour plans, and to work more closely with the government and organised labour in this regard,” he said.

Zuma said the ANC remained committed to implementing the national minimum wage, saying the proposed R3 500, while it was not enough, was a starting point.

He said the ANC would use a variety of state levers, including state-owned enterprises, to stimulate the economy.

Zuma said the ANC was confident that the 2.9% economic growth target would be achieved this year, through improvements in mining and manufacturing.

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