United World Project

Workshop

Returning Land in Zulu Country

By Armand Djoualeu.

The land redistribution reform has not been passed by Parliament yet, but Cyril Ramaphosa has symbolically returned land to a local population in the province of KwaZulu-Natal

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Mr. Zuma after the latter stepped down on 14 February 2018, following a string of scandals, symbolically returned State-owned lands to a black population that had been dispossessed.

The Mkhwanazi community had been waiting for their land to be returned for 103 years, ever since the British army had taken over land owned by the local population.

In this way, the President has wanted to prove his commitment to speed up this transfer as part of his future agrarian reform.

«We are making history… We are correcting an historical injustice by returning these lands to their lawful owners», he said during a ceremony in Empangeni, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (in the Northeastern part of the country). Therefore, close to 5 thousand hectares of forest were returned by Cyril Ramaphosa last Sunday.

Mr. Ramaphosa also reiterated his «commitment to return every land that was illegally occupied, as part of the reform’s implementation», rejecting «new illegal land occupation». More areas are supposed to go through the same process, according to the President: «Lands are being returned for the first time, in a process that we plan to speed up over the next few months».

The land reform was «slow and troubled» at the end of the apartheid. The ANC (the ruling party) promised to expropriate lands from white farmers without any compensation. Land ownership in South Africa is still mostly in the hands of the white minority, although a quarter century has passed since the fall of the apartheid.

However, the South African President proved that there is a different way to redistribute land. As a matter of fact, the lands of the Mkhwanazi were owned by the government; as is the case with 15% of South African lands.

He also said that «another 25 government-owned lands will be returned over the next few weeks», even before disputes against white farmers are brought to court.

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