Thursday 20th Jun 2019

“We are here to say to our people, here is your land and no more shall you be a slave in the land of your birth” -

Remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza on the occasion of the Presidential Handover ceremony of the settled and finalised land claim to Ubizo Community, Bhekikusasa High School Sports Ground, Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal -  

Programme Director,
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and all Ministers present
Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislators 
Inkosi Cebekhulu – Lindamkhonto!
Acting Premier of KwaZulu-Natal;
MECs, Mayors and Councillors present 
Land claimants and beneficiaries;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen
 
It is our greatest honour to join you today to mark the hand-over of this settled and finalised land claim to the Ubizo community.
 
It is our belief that this is a great moment in your history to have you getting back what is rightfully yours, as we hand back to this community a land that was wrongfully dispossessed from its people.
 
We believe that today we finally have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past by ensuring the restoration of land to its rightful owners.
 
For we know all too well the journey we have together travelled as a people to arrive at this important milestone. In the process, we have registered in the books of our history, the victory of our people in reclaiming their dignity and their valuable resource for livelihood.
 
History records that according Solomon Plaatje, on a Monday, 16 June in 1913, the then Governor-General of South Africa signed into law sixteen (16) pieces of legislation that came to be known as the 1913 Land Act.
 
In a mere four days of that same week, the Prime Minister signed these voluminous laws that he described as “beyond the capability of any mortal and human being to read and digest in just four days.”
 
In those four days, the lives of black South Africans changed forever, and for the worst.
 
This is because before 1913, although our people were disposed of their land, nothing in law refused our people the right to own the lands of their forefathers.
 
As Plaatje is famed to have said, in those four days, “the South African Native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”
 
It is this act and the resultant dispossession that we are here today to correct.
 
Just few months ago, President Ramaphosa handed over settled and finalised land claims to the people of KwaMkhwanazi. At that event, he said: “The concept that will be developed through piloting the Mkhwanazi land claim settlement will be rolled out to other land claims across a number of sectors and industries.”
 
We are thus pleased to announce that the Ubizo land claim settlement is among the first settled and finalised land claims that government has 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.
 
This settled and finalised land claim, is essentially in two parts. The first phase consists of the acquisition of land for the Ubizo community, which is a total of 2547.2 hectares amounting to R136.4 million.
 
The second phase to the value of R1.7 million will soon be finalised and restored to the community.
 
Kuwe Mntwana uNsikayezwe nesizwe esakhele ngaphansi kwakho, siyajabula ukuthi lomhlaba usungowenu ngokweqiniso emuva kokuthathelwa wona eminyakeni engaphezu kwekhulu edlulile.
 
Singu Hulumeni oholwa i-African National Congress, siyokwenza konke okusemandleni ukuthi bonke abantu bakithi bancedeke, umhlaba wabo ubuye njengokwesithembiso esasenza kumqulu wenkululeko – iFreedom Charter.
 
Sicela ikomidi le-CPA ukuthi luphathe kahle izindaba zalomphakathi ukuze kube noshintsho olulindelwe isizwe sonke.
 
It is important that as we hand this land back to you, we should remember the struggles that have brought us to this point.
 
Not only did our ancestors fight for this land, but many lost their lives for us to reclaim our freedom and our land.
 
In their rendition of “I remember, I believe” -  the all-women, all-black, and a cappella ensemble; the Sweet Honey Freedom Singers, teach us something profound about this seminal moment.
 
They sing:
 
I don't know how my mother walked her troubles down;
I don't know how my father stood his ground;
I don't know how my people survived slavery;
I do remember, that's why I believe.
 
And so today, we stand humbled and honoured to remember the struggle of those who, without violence and retribution, walked down their troubles.
 
We pay tribute to those who stood their ground and triumphantly said, “le lizwe elo khokho bethu”.
 
Those whose voices that inspired our struggle and stuck at the nerve and our collective conscience proclaiming that “Thina Sizwe esiMnyama, sikhalela iZwe Lethu”.
 
It is very right that we honour and pay them tribute, for they survived pain, suffering and humiliation. Of them, we are absolutely proud. We are proud of their courage and strong will to overcome all the odds stacked against them by colonialism and apartheid.
 
They held hope and determination. They had courage and fighting spirit for justice and doing what is right for all our people.
 
It is from the sweat of the brow, the work of their hands that South Africa is today free; free to stand tall amongst the family of nations, assured that never, and never again, shall the children of this land have to suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.  
 
They remained faithful to see through the ideal of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa.
 
Even though they carried with them the pain of their dispossession, they understood that true freedom and development is rooted on land.
 
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.
 
For it is right to remember their struggle, it is right that we too can believe as they did in a truly non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa for all.
 
A South Africa that is at peace with itself, a country of hope and infinite possibilities, where all our children, black and white, are free to dream, free to be and free to realise their talents.
 
A country where the land belong to those who till and work it, where all have a shelter and a place to call home.
 
Perhaps too, we are bound to their memory and struggle, if for nothing else but to avoid repeating history that held us back for so many years.
 
And so as we hand this land back to you, we must remember their sacrifice and the burden of conscience they fist upon us never and never again to repeat the insidious errors of history.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.  
 
As ANC government, we have resolved to release land that is in the hands of the state in order to advance the objectives of land reform.
 
With this action, we are able to address development needs in the provision of human settlements, in supporting agricultural production, and in advancing economic development.
 
And so for our part as government, we are determined not only to restore land but to empower our people to feast, eat and produce from the land.
 
We are creating a new era of access and opportunity. It is about empowerment of our people through broadening of access to land.
 
In so doing, we are implementing a programme of radical socio-economic transformation that the governing party resolved on at its national conference in Nasrec. Therefore land reform and transformation of the economy, is a national imperative and will continue to be implemented with vigour.
 
We must act differently and with speed. The patience of our people is wearing thin. 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 equitable, inclusive and cohesive society. This is at the core of fostering nation building and social cohesion as envisioned by our founding forebears.
For you the Ubizo community, we can only be happy for you as a people.
 
Take this land, keep it and feast from it, this is the blood of your ancestors. May it bring you everlasting peace, prosperity and sustainable livelihoods.

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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