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Zuma remarks on land reform chided

Author: Linda Ensor

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s off-the-cuff remarks in which he called on traditional leaders to make land claims on behalf of communities and to take away land from people who were not “diligent” about farming it, has drawn strong criticism from the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Law and Society.

The centre’s researchers said the president’s comments, made during his annual address to the National House of Traditional Leaders last week, indicated that the government and traditional leaders were engaged in a “closed dialogue” about land reform to the exclusion of communities, several of whom have protested against traditional leaders claiming land on their behalf.

The restitution process was reopened last year for a period of five years following the promulgation of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act which allows people who were dispossessed of their land after 1913 to qualify for restitution.

Deviating from his speech the president encouraged traditional leaders to combine resources and hire lawyers to claim land on behalf of communities and criticised them for not taking enough “initiative” on land claims.

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