Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Zuma tears into Mulder over land reform

President Jacob Zuma strongly rebuked Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder in Parliament on Thursday following his controversial statements on land reform.

Responding to the the debate on his State Of The Nation address, Zuma said Mulder had “stunned the whole country” with his “bold denial of historical facts about land dispossession”.

“The land question is one of the most emotive issues in our history and present, and must be handled with utmost care, and not in the careless and callous manner that Honourable Mulder handled it,” said Zuma.

Mulder on Wednesday raised the ire of many South Africans by claiming “black ‘bantu-speaking’ people had no historical claim” to 40% of the country’s arable land.

“There is sufficient proof that there were no bantu-speaking people in the Western Cape and north-western Cape,” Mulder told Parliament.

He was responding to the president’s statement that the willing-buyer willing-seller option had “not been the best way to address” land redistribution.

The president then followed this up with a quote from John Langalibalele Dube — the first president of the ANC around the time of the implementation of the Natives Land Act of 1913.

“Europeans will never know the pain Africans felt by being forcibly driven off the land of their birthplace,” he read.

The Natives Land Act has been seen by many as the beginnings of apartheid as it effectively created a system that deprived South Africa’s black majority of the right to own land.

Zuma’s utterances were met with warm applause from ANC MPs and shouts of “Sack him!” and “He’s your minister, president — fire him!” from opposition MPs.

Mulder serves in Zuma’s Cabinet as deputy minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

These quasi celebrations were halted though, when FF+ MP Pieter Groenewald asked speaker Max Sisulu if he could interrupt proceedings with a “pertinent question”.

“Do you think it is wise for ANC leaders to say white people stole the land and accuse them of being thieves?” Groenewald asked.

Zuma offered a wry smile and suggested Groenewald needed a lesson in history.

“I am sure you don’t want me to get to the real reason the land was placed in the hands of the minority. This is an emotive issue but that doesn’t change history,” Zuma said.

The president did not extrapolate on the government’s plans to address the issue, only mentioning the government’s Green Paper on land reform.

“We will follow the constitution and we are dealing with the land issue responsibly,” said Zuma.

Land ownership is a thorny issue in South African politics, with government claiming that up to 87% of South Africa’s agricultural land still in the hands of white farmers.

Government’s original plan to have 30% of this land diverted back to the black majority by 1999, failed.

Special report html code: For news and multimedia on the State of the Nation address visit our special report.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Nickolaus Bauer
Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

MK committee to look into Gupta influence in military veteran’s...

Party insiders say a report on the Guptas’ association with leaders of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association will help rid the structure of Jacob Zuma’s most loyal allies

Bloated Sassa to make staff cuts

The social security agency has ‘lost’ R2-billion on unnecessary salaries and through wasteful expenditure

More top stories

‘Vaccinate inmates to avoid crisis’

Delaying the vaccination of prisoners could lead to a public health disaster

Naspers and Prosus in share swap Catch-22

Asset managers are concerned about the share exchange but others welcome it because Naspers has dominated the JSE

As South Africa’s Covid infections surge, the number of jabs...

Hospitals are under strain, nurses are burning out and infections are on the rise, but there are limited Covid-19 vaccine doses available

SAA: PIC allegations are Harith’s albatross

Sipho Makhubela assures that the private equity firm has what it takes to raise the capital to get SAA flying again

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…