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Ngcukaitobi: ANC-led govt has failed on land reform, not best suited to lead it

Ngcukaitobi says although the first black lawyers were ANC members and helped lay the foundation for the liberation movement, today's ANC-led government has failed to return land back to black people since 1994 and is not best suited to lead land reform now.

'The Land Is Ours' by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. Picture: Lungelo Matangira/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's government, under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC), has failed to expropriate land to black people and are therefore not best suited to lead the land reform cause.

This is according to Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, one of South Africa's sharpest legal minds and author of the book 'The Land is Ours'.

Ngcukaitobi and Exclusive Books held the launch of the book at the book retailer's Hyde Park store, during which a discussion about the book, land reform and the birth of constitutionalism in the country were the main talking points.

The book also explores the stories of South Africa’s first black lawyers, Henry Sylvester Williams, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Ngcubu Poswayo and George Montsioa, who operated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ngcukaitobi fleshes out how these men, who were all members of the ANC, were the ones who introduced constitutionalism and the concept of a Bill of Rights in South Africa.

Asked whether or not the release of the book coincides with the debate and Parliament passing of the motion to review a section of the Constitution to pave the way for the expropriation of land without compensation, Ngcukaitobi says this is pure coincidence.

GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO DELIVER ON LAND REFORM

Ngcukaitobi says the loss of land in South Africa predates the 1913 Natives Land Act and that the act's implementation was the culmination of the loss of land when the then Union government consolidated the spoils of war.

Speaking to Eyewitness News before the book's launch kicked off, Ngcukaitobi explains that although the first black lawyers were ANC members and helped lay the foundation for what was officially known as the liberation movement, today's ANC-led government has failed to return land back to black people since 1994 and is not best suited to lead land reform now.

"Compensation is not the stumbling block to land reform, the lack of political commitment from government, corruption and weak institutions are," he says.

"We've had nine years of radical talk, but no action.

"The discussions we're having today are misinformed and ill-advised, they lack historical context. You can't talk of equality without the distribution of land. You can't talk of structured inequalities without land. Not just agricultural land, but all type of land... We need to look at land in an integrated way. It's a misnomer to say the loss of land is only about economic disposition, it's expansive."

He adds that if Cyril Ramaphosa's government wants to effectively deal with land reform, it must first tackle corruption by both landowners and government departments handling it and make the land issue central to transformation in the country.

A BESTSELLER

The Land Is Ours currently sits atop Exclusive Books' bestseller list, a feat he partly attributes to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who tweeted a complaint about the retailer's Hyde Park store not displaying copies of the book in the store and calling on the public to "make it a bestseller".

The tweet was retweeted over 5,000 times.

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