Government has scant regard for the emotive issue of land redistribution, author Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi laments, saying only small changes to legislation and policy were needed to address the issue.
Land redress featured prominently ahead of the elections but excitement over it seemed to have died down once the elections were over, with Ngcukaitobi saying it was disappointing President Cyril Ramaphosa hardly touched on the issue in his State of the Nation address.
“It is disappointing that [Ramaphosa] did not make mention in clear terms to the land question and how the government comprehensively intends to respond to it.
“He did say government will be studying the report of the panel and make a decision from that report, but the fact of the matter is that land did not loom large in the State of the Nation address,” Ngcukaitobi said.
He was speaking to The Citizen on the sidelines of the inaugural Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation’s Youth Conference, themed “Passing the Baton” in Boksburg yesterday.
Ngcukaitobi, the author of The Land Is Ours: Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism in South Africa, said this was not Ramaphosa’s problem, but that for 25 years the ANC had not shown urgency on the land issue.
“There are many competing priorities. A lot of people will perhaps say state capture is priority number one but I do not think any of those excuses should be allowed,” Ngcukaitobi said.
He said it was unfair that 71% of commercial land was in the hands of 4% of the population, the white minority.
The youngsters attending the conference lamented that there was no education on the necessities of land and why it was the foundation of the local economy.
Mantwa Ndlovu, A 16-year-old Grade 11 pupil at Willowmore High School in Benoni, said she was lost on the issue of land, but that “this session sheds some light and now I understand what we really need”.
Mzukisi Ndzombane, 19, a Grade 11 pupil at Adelaide Tambo High School in Soweto, said current leaders were no example of ethical leadership. “Steve Biko was one of the ethical leaders and I think our leaders should really follow his footsteps.”