Empangeni – Deputy President David Mabuza on Saturday urged the Ubizo community in northern KwaZulu-Natal to use the land restored to them wisely and fruitfully for the collective benefit of the community and the country.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the settled and finalised land claim to the Ubizo community in Empangeni, Mabuza said the land claim settlement was among the first settled and finalised land claims that government had unlocked to hand over to its rightful beneficiaries.
"The claim was first lodged in 1995, wherein inkosi Cebekhulu sought justice and dignity for his people by demanding the return of his people’s land, which had been taken from them as far back as 1927.
"We are here to make right those wrongs and to say to our people, here is your land and no more shall you be a slave in the land of your birth. We say today, this land of your forefathers, is now restored to you and your future generations," he said.
This settled and finalised land claim was essentially in two parts. The first phase consisted of the acquisition of land for the Ubizo community – a total of 2547.2 hectares amounting to R136.4 million. The second phase to the value of R1.7 million would soon be finalised and restored to the community.
"It is on land that we are able to engage in agricultural production, build human settlements, and drive manufacturing and industrial development in order to create jobs. We are proud to stand on this hallowed lands of their birth, to reach deep into the spirit of those that have come before, those that have paid a price for us to be here.
"Now that you have your land back, take it and keep it, use it wisely and fruitfully for the collective benefit of this community and our country. This land is an instrument of your dignity and socio-economic development. You must till this land and produce. From this land must come opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship," Mabuza said.
"But fundamentally, this land must help you answer aspects of our national question, not only about land restitution but about women emancipation and all other struggles and forms of discrimination.
"Here women must no longer have a lived reality of scant livelihoods, struggling without the means of production, without the means to support life, and without the means to create self-worth. They too must see the crackling rays of this victory. Women more than any of us have paid the price. They are the birth mothers of our freedom, freedom that we have earned freely on their unpaid labour," he said.
"We must imagine a new generation of women who never allow men to buy their surrender with money or any other social instrument of power because they own their own land and productive capacity. We must also use this land to empower young people. They must see from this land new opportunities that will potentially change their lives. They must see this as a genuine avenue for development.
Government was determined not only to restore land, but also to empower people to "feast, eat, and produce from the land". Government was creating a new era of access and opportunity. It was about empowerment of the people through broadening of access to land.
"Those of us in government must work with speed in implementing interventions that will take us forward. As we implement our land reform programme we shall do so within the prescripts of our laws.
"As the ANC government we will continue to implement the radical economic transformation that will result in [an] equitable, inclusive, and cohesive society. This is at the core of fostering nation building and social cohesion as envisioned by our founding forebears," Mabuza said.
African News Agency/ANA