Zuma: We are not racist when we say whites own land

Addressing land ownership in South Africa does not make the government racist, President Jacob Zuma said in his reply on Thursday to MPs who had debated his State of the Nation address (Sona) earlier this week.

Zuma was speaking inside the National Assembly in Parliament, where his comments on land reform were met with applause. Zuma said “responsible leadership today must find a way” to avoid a situation that could “explode” later if land ownership remains unaddressed.

“If we don’t I think we will not be working toward a future that is peaceful, because we will be saying some must live without any land when there is land in the country,” he said.

The topic of racism and land ownership was raised by Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald. On Wednesday, Groenewald issued a statement saying it’s a “disgrace” that Zuma blames white people for his own failures in terms of job creation and the government’s plan for “radical economic transformation”.

“The time has also come for the president to say what he has against white people,” Groenwald said.

In his Sona speech last week, President Zuma said it would be “difficult, if not impossible” for reconciliation to be accomplished until land ownership in South Africa has been resolved. He announced during his address that he had sent the Expropriation Act back to Parliament in order to pursue land reform and redistribution lawfully.

On Thursday, in his Sona reply, Zuma emphasised that “it does not display hatred” for land issue to be addressed.

“I don’t think it helps to jump into phrases that if somebody talks about the land, the land hunger, then [they are] hating the whites. How else do you describe those who own the land? How do you describe them if you don’t say what happened?” Zuma said.

Veering away from his scripted speech, the president spoke candidly about the history of colonialism in South Africa, where white people from European nations – such as the Netherlands – settled on South African land. Zuma said the dispossession of land from black South Africans continued with apartheid and, at present, white South Africans continue to own large parcels of land.

“Many people died. That’s not the point we want to talk about. If we were driven by hatred, we would be saying ‘this is what happened’. We are just saying let us find a way, a formula to solve this problem. That’s all,” he said.

The president directly addressed MPs such as Groenewald, who accused him of being racist, saying race is not a factor.

“I just wanted to disabuse you from always coming here and saying this is racialism. It’s not.”

Zuma encouraged MPs to debate issues instead of “point at the colour”, which he described as a “careless” way to resolve questions. Remembering the apartheid era, Zuma said that during the anti-apartheid struggle he worked with white people and that the ANC adopted nonracialism as a policy before South Africa’s first democractic elections. He pointed out that government would continue to debate land ownership because doing so does not mean government is racist.

“We are not going to stop by saying you hate the whites. It’s not true. I’ve worked with the whites, there were whites who were in the struggle too, who were in the trenches too,” Zuma said.

“I would not have been with them there if I was racist. They were my comrades. We lived together. We in the ANC have gone beyond the feelings of racism. Far beyond, even before 1994.”

On the topic on land ownership, Zuma had one last thing to say about race: “It’s not the issue”.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.
Advertisting

Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.