Some of the religious leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have weighed in on the land debate, voicing their support for government’s efforts to address the land issue.
They participated in a dialogue on land and social cohesion organised by the provincial government in Durban.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu says land dispossession has caused the massive poverty among black people which is prevailing today.
The land question is set to be one of the focus issues this year as 2015 is the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, a document adopted in Kliptown by a people’s congress.
Clause four of the document declares that: ‘land shall be shared among those who work it’.
Addressing the gathering, KwaZulu-Natal Premier says government’s efforts to address the land issue since 1994 must be appreciated.
He says the new measures that are being introduced are in line with the recognition that government has not moved fast and far enough in land restitution.
“We are searching for answers and solutions that will resonate with the majority of our people in the country as far as land is concerned. The new approach and change of approach is something that we need to take to the masses of our people before opportunists go on to say the ANC is soft on issues of fundamental change and take advantage [of] the desperation of our people,” says Mchunu.
Religious leaders emphasised the need for land reform in line with the Constitution and the Freedom Charter.
Apostle Musa Khwela of the Freedom Institute says land restitution and redistribution is key in ensuring that the nation heals from the injustices of the past.
He dismissed suggestions that government’s approach to land restitution is a threat to food security.
“I don’t think commercial farmers are born, commercial farmers are made; they are not born. So don’t threaten us with food security. Another myth is that black people don’t want agriculture. I don’t think that is correct. So we are going to be a righteous voice, we are going to be a moral voice. A new crop of pastors has arisen, we want justice done,” adds the pastor.
Chief Director of Land Restitution in KwaZulu-Natal, Advocte Bheki Mbili says over 6 500 applications have been filed since the land claim process was reopened last year.
Mbili also emphasised the need to ensure that once land is returned to rightful owners it continues to be productive.
He says this impact negatively on food security.
“The biggest problem [is] that some of the land that we’ve restored is not being worked by those to whom land has been given. We are therefore inviting the clergy and everyone else who has got a role to play on matters relating to land to help us with whatever that they can help us with to bring back to production the land that has gone fallow,” explains Mbili.
Mchunu says provincial government is considering new measures to assist those who’ve been given their land back.
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