/ 15 January 2013

Zuma: Land restitution not off the table

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.

"Never shall we allow a situation where that issue will result in chaos," Zuma said in an interview on CNBC Africa's Political Exchange.

But the issue could not be ignored either as 2013 marked a century since the introduction of the implementation of the Land Act, which deprived black South Africans of the land and cattle that formed the basis of their livelihood.

Zuma said he felt the law dealing with land restitution was "biased against claimants" and he had come to realise that "even the crafting of the law was biased".

Zuma said the Constitution allowed the government to take action to speed up the restitution process. "[But] we are not going to wake up one day and say take this farm … it must deal with the needs of the country."

Zuma said the response of white farmers had been encouraging, as many had showed their willingness to discuss the issue and were eager to help emerging farmers.

On the matter of the national health insurance scheme, Zuma said progress was being made, with the health department working towards its implementation.

"It would be wrong to have a country like South Africa where a huge majority die because they can't medically be attended to, while the minority live long because they have the means."

On education, mining and corruption
Zuma said advances in education were starting to bear fruit, as "results are beginning to rise". Unless teachers delivered on "non-negotiables" it might be necessary to re-establish an education inspectorate. If inspectors were reintroduced, the system would be different from the one used during apartheid, which often had a political agenda.

Problems with South Africa's mining industry needed to be addressed, he said. It could not continue to make "huge profits" without benefiting the country's citizens. While the mining industry had shaped the country, it had a lot of shortcomings, such as the migrant labour system.

He sought to allay investor fears about possible changes to resource rents, mining royalties and taxes.

"People will always have some nervousness when we say things … When Zimbabwe said indigenisation people jumped all over. Today people go to Zimbabwe to be part of indigenisation."

"[But mining] can't make huge profits with no benefits to the people of the country … [if you are not] addressing the economic need of the country you must know we are dealing with a problem."

The ANC would establish its integrity committee soon, which will deal with corruption in its ranks, Zuma said. "It's going to be quick, it's going to be there … in the first half of the year." He could not give a specific date because the party needed to find the right members to run it.

"You're looking at a cadre with specific type of expertise, political, legal … who can work in it flat out … who is above the fray." – Sapa