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Back to the future — ex-president Jacob Zuma preaches land rights at Expropriation Bill hearings

Back to the future — ex-president Jacob Zuma preaches land rights at Expropriation Bill hearings
From Left: Jacob Zuma (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart); Ncop (Photo: Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)

In 2016, then-president Jacob Zuma told the National House of Traditional Leaders the 1913 cut-off for land restitution was ‘arbitrary’, and land reform ‘lopsided against black people’. On Wednesday, he told the National Council of Provinces exactly that — again.

It’s a twist of political irony that Jacob Zuma, in 2023, as a citizen, criticises the track record of the ANC government he headed as president for nine years in the Parliament he deigned to attend only when compulsory, like question slots and State of the Nation Addresses.

“My intervention is very, very relevant and it must be looked at, so we have peace… Let us find a better way of correcting this so there will be no complaining of citizens,” Zuma told Wednesday’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegates public hearings on the Expropriation Bill.

“That’s why some of us who have been saying let us correct the incorrect ways of running South Africa, we have the right to raise issues…”

Back in 2016, then-president Jacob Zuma repeated his call to traditional leaders to hire lawyers and submit land claims at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders. And he pushed for extending back the 1913 Natives Land Act constitutional cut-off for land claims because that was tantamount to “fiddling about with a small percentage” of land up for restitution claims. 

“As the son of a black man, being on my own, we need to shift that cut-off date… But you need to find a reasonable way of addressing the issue within the Constitution, within the law. Look at the facts,” he said then. 

Read more in Dail Maverick: Parliament: Zuma seeks to move the goalposts on land reform

On Wednesday that was the same message now from no-longer-number-one-citizen Jacob Zuma representing the Jacob Zuma Foundation via Zoom with a thatched roof background.

“The arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck, it is then that the issue of the land began to become a problem. The first war started in the Cape (over) the land… 

“Why do we avoid dealing with these matters? If as a country we want peace and fairness, we have to say what happened during the very first war, eight years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck. Why should this not be dealt with?”

This Expropriation Bill, passed by the National Assembly at the end of September 2022, allows expropriation for public purpose and public interest, and thus can facilitate land reform and restitution. It allows for compensationless expropriation in defined instances, including where land is held for speculation or is abandoned.

The Expropriation Bill — this is the third attempt to replace the apartheid law still on the statute books — was passed after the much debated, politically heated and often emotional constitutional amendment to make express the possibility of compensationless expropriation was defeated in December 2021

As president, Zuma loathed the parliamentary question sessions in the House, often giggling, sometimes taking a turn to mocking including on the pronunciation of Nkandla, his homestead, or talking ‘meandos’. 

As no-longer-number-one-citizen, Zuma took to answering NCOP delegates’ questions, pushing his line linking land, peace and poverty relief.

Unnecessary seemed the intervention from one-time Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi, now EFF MP, with his appeal for Zuma being by himself at the other end of the Zoom link, to be allowed to take one question at a time. 

DA NCOP lawmaker Tim Brauteseth told Zuma this legislation wasn’t reopening the backdoor to expropriation without compensation and asked, “How do you reconcile your demand to remove all land from all legal owners since 1652, given the impact (on investors)?”

ANC Ncop parliamentarian Mandla Rayi perhaps was more delicate on the same issue, having highlighted the 1913 constitutionally enshrined cut-off date.

Zuma’s response — aside from a history lecture on the eight major wars caused by land following Van Riebeeck’s 1652 landing?

“You can’t sit with poverty-stricken people in the land, which belongs to them, and we don’t address this… As Parliament, you have a duty to address these issues.”

Parliament did, even if land activists, critics and academics point to long outstanding further legislation on tenure security, communal land rights and more. The December 2021 parliamentary defeat of the constitutional amendment — amid heated political contestation, also within the governing ANC — and this expropriation legislation passing the National Assembly a year ago marked this in South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

It’s no little political irony that Zuma now as president turned ordinary citizen is moving to reopen the so-called radical economic transformation chapter that’s been democratically closed. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Buchan says:

    Wars only when the hated whites arrived, no fighting between tribes for land before that ? How does he know this, was it written in the extensive history books or is it just grade 6 speaking?

    • Mark Wade says:

      Shaka’s Mfecane Massacres are a case in point; his genocide and mass murder of tribespeople to expand the Zulu empire had nothing to do with ‘white’ people, but rather, his personal vendetta against those who weren’t Zulus.

  • Kent Kihl says:

    Land gained in war has since society started thousand og years ago, been accepted. Kingdoms has been conquered and disappeared. About the same time as van Riebeek arrived in Cape Town, Sweden was one of the largest country/state/kingdom in Europe. Part of Norway, all of Finland most of the Baltic states, part of northern Germany. Noone with any kind of intelligence would suggest that those borders should be as they once upon a time was. The Zulus and Xhozas was defeated in war, there are no kingdoms anymore. South Africa is a republic. Southern Africa was inhabitated by KhoiKhoi and KhoiSan, the bantu stams came only 600 – 800 years ago. In those times there was no owners of land. After WWII Europe accepted and agreed on the borders that was before the war.

  • Alan Salmon says:

    Even though I consider Jacob Zuma to be a ghastly, selfserving, corrupt human being, the issue of land does indeed remain a major problem. Millions of black people remain poverty stricken with no access to land and this is clearly not sustainable in the long term. However, the ANC are largely to blame for not having got on with land restitution immediately since 1994. There is plenty of government land which could be distributed, the Zulu king has vast tracts of “tribal”land, but the ANC sticks with its pseudo communist ideology and as far as I know will not give title deeds to black people even when awarding land. They are not helping their own people as they should be.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      A working economy is required. With money people can buy whatever they want, land or otherwise.
      But people have no money.
      Current main cause: lack of education.
      And current main cause of this: the ANC.

      Because it suits them to have the voter base uneducated. Oh ya, and because they are beyond useless.

    • Ben Harper says:

      How is having land going to take them out of poverty? What exactly are they going to do with the land once they have it? Are they going to be willing and able to pay the property taxes and rates on their new land?

      • Grimalkin Joyce says:

        Exactly. You just have to drive through Limpopo to see the devastation created by land distribution. Millions of people – with the land they supposedly craved – living in the same poverty as ever, with no hope of anything better.

    • Ben Harper says:

      It’s like the dog that chases the bicycle or motor car down he street, it doesn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it once it catches it

    • Mark Wade says:

      The tribal trust homelands cover an area of about 10 million hectares, an area greater than every metropole combined, and land that is largely undeveloped – and ruled by despotic kings and chiefs (in a feudal system) and bankrolled by taxpayers who aren’t allowed to live there. If government really cared, those areas could be developed – and many are in high-yield agricultural areas.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    The man is desperate for attention and will literally say and do anything to get it.


  • Con Tester says:

    Zuma is an opportunistic little man, well past his sell-by date, struggling for relevance. Pity that anybody is still willing to give him any airplay.

    What’s usually forgotten in this whole land chaos is that most of SA’s black population are the descendants of invaders from the north who slaughtered and disenfranchised and displaced SA’s original inhabitants (San, Khoi, Hottentot) at around the same time whites first arrived here. The hypocrisy should be obvious.

  • Confucious Says says:

    It is very clear that he was educated up to the age of 8! Thieving, corrupt imbecile! The list of stupid things that this butternut says, gets longer every time the mouth opens!

  • J C says:

    I really cannot fathom why journalists insist on reporting on this useless individual – he has already cost us so much – why waste more time and energy on him?

  • Miles Japhet says:

    If we go back that far then Zuma’s property would be expropriated as the land belonged to San and the Khoi. The Bantu tribes were all colonisers. Colour of ones skin does not make it any better for the conquered. We had a negotiated settlement and the Constitution was the result.
    Zuma should get back home and push for title for those that occupy tribal land if he is sincere.
    Finally research shows that land is not the issue – most black South Africans have no desire to farm but they do wish to have a job and the ability to buy their own homes. Focus on the real exam question.

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    He’s right you know!

    It ALL started with the arrival on Jan Van Riebeek.

    After all, before he and his evil band of employers arrived, South Africa was a land of peace and calm.

    When dear old Jan stepped onto the sands of Cape Town, every one of Zuma’s ancestors was suddenly unemployed!

    True, Shaka Zulu lead a merry band across the East coast to claim land from other tribes, but when he impaled his victims and left them to die slowly and painfully in the sun, it was still done with the spirit of Ubuntu, good backing music and a general sense of comradeship and unity.

    The despicable crimes of the colonisers and their rollout of oppressive infrastructure is really to blame for all our woes. I mean how could there even be load shedding if there was no electricity or water crisis without pipes and taps.

    No guys, Zuma is absolutely correct. Once South Africa has been completely redistributed and all the walls, roads, poles, wires and train lines that choke this fair land have been broken and sold for scrap, only then will freedom return.

    After all, how can you not yearn for a Breitling or an Italian shoe when it sits there in the window, plain to see? Surely THAT is a greater crime than the redistribution of land and wealth which Zuma calls for, from the comfort of his Gupta sponsored lilo, floating in his fire-pool?

    Burn down the shop I say, sell the watch for R500 and buy beer for the weekend.

    We WILL have peace again, the peace of the wind blowing through a graveyard.

  • Glenda McCleary says:

    The political spew is the people want and need land. We have seen in Zim what happens when land is taken from farmers. It lies neglected and unused. The new owners don’t have the means (equipment, irrigation systems etc.)or knowledge to farm productively. Surveys show the majority of people don’t want to farm the land. They want the money the land will fetch when they sell it.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Dear former prisoner Jacob Zuma : charity begins at home. So let’s start with unbundling the 3 million hectares locked up in an unelected Zulu leader’s trust to his or her royal subjects. That is 1.5 times Kruger Park that would make a BIG dent in our inequality numbers.

  • Andre Swart says:

    Uncle Jacob don’t worry too much … you will soon enter your promised land.

    But a short visit to jail must still forego your final departure.

    I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble.

    Before black Africans settled in SA, there had been other people, who were light brown in colour.

    No relations to black Bantu people who migrated southward from West Africa.

    Where’s your receipt for the land that you purchased from those KhoiSan people?

    Ignorance is your bliss! … till you cross over to the other side.

  • Alan Jeffrey says:

    I admire and support the Maverick but on these threads we are all preaching to the converted. The people who need to understand how the truly evil Jacob Zuma has all but destroyed this country, are not listening nor understanding because the DM and is supporters are not speaking to them. The Maverick’s most urgent task should be to get out there in the main languages, primarily from the Nguni group, to get their case to the masses in this land. Without this, this journal will become increasingly irrelevant. I make these comments with respect and affection but they are from the harsh reality of our situation, and you need to find a way to reach out to the majority. Without this, we are from an increasingly shrinking minority with no future.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    What does Zuma do addressing the NCOP now in the first place? He is not President any more! He should leave these issues for Ramaphosa & his Cabinet.

  • Mark Wade says:

    If EWC is adopted – and remember ‘property’ is not just ‘land’, but everything that’s privately owned, from investment portfolios to garden gnomes – but assuming it’s only ‘property’, homeowners owe tens of billions to banks in mortgages (property financing) and will be loathe to continue paying those loans if they no longer own their properties, and will likely to result in payment boycotts (not to mention legal action). It will have catastrophic results …

  • Grimalkin Joyce says:

    Why is this useless, corrupt, incompetent man still appearing in public at all, let alone giving incendiary speeches? He is an additional burden on South Africa, at home and abroad.

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Very rich and arrogant comming from a man who broke the South African economy.
    It scares me that in my mind, public enemy no. 1, Zuma is given a platform from which he can raise a matter that has been democratically resolved.
    Zuma clearly adds no value to the world and leaches of of his benefactors for their evil intent.

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