Ramaphosa fielded questions in the National Assembly Cape Town on Wednesday, for the first time since he was sworn in as President.
“It is critical that this is an inclusive process, in which all South Africans are actively involved in finding just, equitable and lasting solutions. It requires responsibility and maturity from all leaders.
“We should not pretend that there is anything revolutionary in encouraging people to illegally occupy land, nor should we resort to the kind of ‘swart gevaar’ [black danger] electioneering that some parties have resorted to.
“Let us engage in this debate as a nation. I invite all those who are angry, anxious, uncertain, excited and inspired to be part of finding a solution on this issue,” the President said.
Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane had asked the president what were the full details of the government’s plan for land expropriation without compensation, following his pronouncements in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) address in February.
As indicated in the SONA, his government would undertake a process of broad consultations to determine the modalities of the implementation of the land expropriation, Ramaphosa replied.
“Following this announcement, the National Assembly passed a ground-breaking resolution on this matter, opening up an opportunity for all South Africans to participate in this critical debate.
“This matter has been firmly placed on the national agenda, and we applaud those who have come forward with views and proposals.
“This process of engagement presents an opportunity for a new, reinvigorated drive for meaningful and sustainable land reform. This is an opportunity to assert the transformational intent of our Constitution,” he added.
Ramaphosa said land was the centre of human existence, and that white settlers’ land dispossession had left scars on indigenous (black) population groups.
He said the return of the land to those who worked it was fundamental to the transformation of society.
Since 1994, the democratic government has embarked on a series of interventions to advance land reform, including restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
While more than three million hectares of land was restored between 1995 and 2014, the Land Audit Report indicates that the country’s minority whites still owned 72% of the farms, coloureds (mixed blood) 15%, people of Indian origin 5% and black Africans only 4%, the president said.
“It was also reported that males own 72% and female only 13%. We must, therefore, work with urgency to significantly and sustainably accelerate the pace of land reform. The expropriation of land without compensation is one of the mechanisms that government will use to do this,” according to the President.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa said that social compacting was critical to ensuring that the country’s economy recovered from its current malaise of low economic growth.
The president was responding to African National Congress MP Lusizo Makhubele-Mashele’s question, in which he had asked the President what government’s position was on the relationship between the concept of social compact and creating drivers of economic recovery.
“It is imperative that government, labour, business and civil society agree on a set of fundamental actions and work in concert to implement them. At the same time, each of these social partners needs to commit themselves to specific undertakings,” Ramaphosa went on.
He said that way, different partners commit to different undertakings that can drive economic growth.
In this regard, government has a role to create an enabling environment through policy certainty, while business should invest more to create jobs and implement measures to reduce income inequalities, he continued.
“Labour should work with employers to strengthen collective bargaining, reduce labour instability and support measures to improve productivity.
“We look to civil society to mobilise South Africans from all quarters to participate in an economic recovery. South Africa has demonstrated at critical moments in our history the value of cooperation among social partners to tackle intractable problems,” he told the House.
The president also touched on the contentions issue of a new mining charter for the country, which is under consultations.
He said the new charter should ensure that mining in the country becomes a sunrise industry, and over the course of the next few months his government will be engaging with stakeholders in the mining industry to develop this new mining charter for South Africa.
This follows an agreement between government, the industry and other stakeholders to suspend legal action on the new charter, which the Jacob Zuma government drafted, pending further consultations on the document.
“This needs to form part of a broader undertaking by all social partners to ensure that mining is indeed a sunrise industry that benefits all South Africans. Mining needs, in particular, to contribute to the growth of the economy.
“It needs to fundamentally change the living conditions of affected communities, and ensure that they are active participants in the process of transformation”.
Ramaphosa said fundamental transformation of ownership and management of the mining industry was necessary, not only to promote equity, but also to enable the industry to develop in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
“While some progress has been made, there is a need to accelerate the transfer of ownership of the industry to black South Africans and women. It is necessary to agree on ambitious ownership targets that can be progressively and sustainably realised,” he said.