South African president links real peace with land reform

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

South Africa would not achieve real peace if the land issue is not resolved, President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated on Monday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the during 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation – Joint Press Conference at the Great Hall of the People at The Great Hall Of The People on September 4, 2018 in Beijing, China. Lintao Zhang/POOL Via REUTERS *** Local Caption *** Cyril Ramaphosa

“As South Africans, we know that peace is not merely the absence of war, but also the absence of injustice,” Ramaphosa said at the Eighth Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa took the opportunity to drum up support for the ongoing controversial land reform characterized by land expropriation without compensation.

“Until we build a South Africa in which the wealth is shared among the people and the land is shared among all who work it, we will not realize lasting peace,” he said.

The dispossession of black people of their land manifested itself in a violent manner bereft of any notions of peace, Ramaphosa said.

The evictions of farm workers especially in the Western Cape Province continue unabated, the president said.

“Having brought an end to the heinous crime of apartheid, we set out to put right the wrongs of the past and to build a new society.

“It is therefore vital, if we are to restore the dignity of our people and break the cycle of poverty that we address the land question so that there can be peace and prosperity amongst our people.

“This will also give us the chance to heal the wounds of the past,” Ramaphosa said.

It is in this context that people must understand the drive to accelerate land reform through redistribution, restitution and tenure security, he noted.

“It is in the interests of both social justice and economic development that we ensure that the land is shared among all those who work it and all those who need it,” Ramaphosa said.

The South African government is accelerating the land reform amid criticism both at home and abroad.

AgriForum, a lobby group for South African farmers, has launched an international campaign to get the South African government to stop its land reform.

The group insists that land expropriation without compensation will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.

Ramaphosa has repeatedly said the land reform should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.