Tempers flare in Parliament Land Act debate

Newly appointed ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani pulled no punches during a debate over the 1913 Land Act.

South African Parliament. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - A debate on the 1913 Natives Land Act saw tempers flaring in Parliament on Thursday.

Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of the act being passed.

Members of Parliament (MPs) from all parties marked the centenary with a special debate and condemned the act as immoral and unjust.

It stripped black South Africans of their right to own their land and millions were forced from their homes and into reserves.

The emotional debate saw sparks flying after new African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Stone Sizani took to the podium and discussed today's land issues.

"The farmers are willing to release marginal land. They're not willing to release Stellenbosch."

His statement got a response from the Independent Democrats' Joe McGluwa, who said, "Let me inform this honourable member that Stellenbosch belonged to the Khoi and not to you!"

Joe McGluwa's response caused an eruption of cheers from MPs.

Sizani also accused the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Lindiwe Mazibuko of saying land reform should be left to the markets.

"I find it disappointing that the new Chief Whip of the ANC has chosen to come here and play up racial tension on a difficult subject and then to misquote," Mazibuko replied.

Meanwhile, former ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga spoke of the impact of the 1913 Natives Land Act.

"The land allocated to Africans was divided into native reserves, which were barren and less productive and forced Africans to reduce their livestock. That is where the seed of poverty, unemployment, inequalities and general underdevelopment were sown."