The handover of land back to its rightful owners is the first step in correcting the wrongs of the past, says Deputy President David Mabuza.
“We believe that today we finally have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past by ensuring the restoration of land to its rightful owners,” the Deputy President said on Saturday when he officiated at the Presidential handover ceremony for settled and finalised land claims to the Ubizo community in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
The Deputy President said the handover of the land allows the community to reclaim their dignity as well as add to their socio-economic development efforts.
At the ceremony held at the Bhekikusasa High School Sports Ground, the Deputy President said the Ubizo land settlement is among the first settled and finalised land claims that government has unlocked to hand over to its rightful beneficiaries.
The claim was first lodged in 1995. iNkosi Cebekhulu sought justice and dignity for his people by demanding the return of his people’s land, which had been taken from them as far back as 1927.
“We are here to make right those wrongs and to say to our people, here is your land and no more shall you be a slave in the land of your birth. We say today, this land of your forefathers, is now restored to you and your future generations,” he said.
The land claim is in two parts, with the first phase consisting of the acquisition of land for the Ubizo community, which is a total of 2547.2 hectares amounting to R136.4 million. The second phase of the claim is to the value of R1.7 million will soon be finalised and restored to the community.
The Deputy President, who is also the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform, said land is an important commodity.
“It is on land that we are able to engage in agricultural production; build human settlements and drive manufacturing and industrial development in order to create jobs,” he said.
He urged the community to use the land wisely for the collective benefit of all.
“You must till this land and produce. From this land must come opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship,” he said.
The Deputy President urged the community to use the land for development of the nation as a whole including the emancipation of women and other forms of discrimination.
“We must imagine a new generation of women who never allow men to buy their surrender with money or any other social instrument of power because they own their own land and productive capacity. We must also use this land to empower young people.
“They must see from this land new opportunities that will potentially change their lives. They must see this as a genuine avenue for development.”
Land reform and the transformation of the economy are key aspects for government, said the Deputy President.
Last weekend President Cyril Ramaphosa led the handover of settled and finalised 142 hectares of prime land claims to the community of Moretele in the North West.
In its statement on Thursday Cabinet said it was pleased with the continued roll-out of land reform programmes.
This as in recent weeks government has been seeking to correct the wrongs of the past and build a more equitable society that will benefit all South Africans by settling finalised land claims.