Address by Deputy President David Mabuza at the handover of restituted land to the Seoding and Ga-Mopedi Communities, Kuruman, Northern Cape

Programme Director;

Premier of Northern Cape; Ms Sylvia Lucas

Chief Setlhodi, Seoding Tribe;

Chief Seameco, Ga-Mopedi Tribe;

Chairpersons of the Seoding and Ga-Mopedi CPAs;

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Minister Michael Masutha

Cllr Sophia Mosikatsi, Mayor of John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality;

Cllr N Masegela, Mayor of Ga-Segonyana Local Municipality;

Deputy Ministers;

MECs and MMCs;

Northern Cape Traditional Leadership;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to share in this momentous occasion, and to witness the hand-over of the land that was claimed, settled and finalised for communities of Seoding and Ga-Mopedi.

We do so as a fulfilment of our strategic objective of ensuring that our people enjoy their freedom in line with the dictates of the Freedom Charter that gave the basis of the Constitution of our country.

Here on these Seoding Sports Grounds sits a mixture of people from all walks of life. We have amongst us, traditional leaders, civil society organisations, agri-business, government leadership and the recipients of the land title.

This event signifies the importance of land ownership for all South Africans, in the process according dignity to the recipients.

It represents the founding values of our Constitution where we - the people of South Africa, enjoin together to recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for this just cause of freedom, the return of our land.

It represents the fulfilment of our programme of radical economic transformation, which is underpinned by the restoration of the rights of our people to their land.

Just as this land was taken through the use of law, which is the 1913 Native Land Act, we return same by the rule of law as opposed to use of force that causes pain and suffering to humanity. We do this so that we do not repeat acts of the past that caused so much suffering and rupture to the fabric of our nation.

This is a history of our country that is rooted in pain and injustice. A history wetted by a river of tears and bloodshed, the soil nourished by valiant demise of our forebears.

Being no stranger to the pain of the past, we stand proud, tall and resolute even to perform this handover without mortar and gun fire.

We do so in peace and reconciliation, with a rising sense of optimism that a new society is possible in affirming our journey towards a non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa, a South Africa United in its diversity.

We recognise that the people of this land, that carries hallmarks of the Khoisan and erstwhile people Cape Province, hold a unique and special place in the history of South Africa.

Long before other people in our country and in other parts of the African continent experienced the brutality, banditry and force of invasion, people of this province were on the front lines, defending the belly of their African mother land.

They stood against the invasions and incursions that were arguably more protracted than elsewhere in Africa and Latin America.

This part of our country has perhaps the longest history of land dispossession and forced removals.

Pushed from the expanses of the beautiful Cape, forced into migration to be alone in a strange place, and yet never found to belong anywhere, never to find peace.

Settled here, making do with their least fortunes, Africans mainly were removed to Bophuthatswana, often to create space for military camps and other purposes.

The Seoding, Ga-Mopedi and other communities that were affected by these removals have nursed these wounds, the dispossession of being, alienation of the right to belong, the freedom to be and the denial of the fundamental human right to think, eat, work, cloth and feed their children.

They were moved and shunted around on whim and over sheer accidents of their birth, and by the slime, the roll or click of their tongue.

In a land of absurdity and peril, the Seoding and Ga-Mopedi Communities were moved to the hinterlands of the back and beyond, far-away from their original lands based on nothing else, but their mother tongue of Setswana.

They bore the worst brunt of apartheid machination, herded and dehumanised as social experiments in Bantustans. They were treated as pawns in the service of new settlers, destined to a life of slavery as migrant labourers and in the process making them pariahs in the land of their birth.

On this day, we have come here to make right what was wrong. We are here to numb their pain and to give back what is rightly theirs, so that they can move forward and build a different future for themselves and their future generations, in a truly free and democratic South Africa.

As we know, the struggle for liberation and enjoyment of human rights was waged by different communities. It was not just about political freedom, but also about social, cultural and economic freedom. It was about the unity of all South Africans - Black and White.

This is especially true for the Cape Provinces that were the hotbed of political activism against the apartheid system, standing firm against its brutality and chopping-off its ugly head of impunity.

And it is here that we must be at the forefront of transforming our country into a home for all, and not a settlement of sporadic Natives Units segregated by racial and poverty classifications.

Just as the fate of their forebears and ancestors, the Seoding and Ga-Mopedi communities were dispossessed of their land, homes and livelihoods thereby condemning them to a life of poverty, deprivation and want.

As the former apartheid Minister Connie Mulder said in 1978: There will be no more black South Africans. Spaces were to be created for white South Africans to build their towns and cities, to farm and mine at the expense of the rest.

They did not only take away land but also the means to livelihood. They took away the right to pray, worship and perform traditions of spiritual well-being.

It was an exercise in removing the tools of self-determination, to disrupt our ways of life, to introduce retributive and punitive ways that were an antithesis of Ubuntu.

No longer were our people allowed to participate in share cropping, they replaced these with labour tenancy and the dop system that condemned them to a permanent state of despair, poverty and want.

Families had no sense of belonging; husbands had to leave to work as migrant labourers in the mines. They returned home in a box, their bodies broken and ravaged by the rock face of the Witwatersrand.

Those lucky to survive to pension age, returned with their health depleted their lungs gasping for air and slimy with asbestos.

They would die to be compensated by taking another life from the family, the eldest son to replace his brother or father, guaranteed to return to the same fate and injustice.

The people of Seoding and Ga-Mopedi had no place to eat, no place to make a roof over their heads, no cent or place to graze their livestock and no place to belong.

Whereas the democratic government has done more to change the lives of our people, this is still the lived reality of some of our people. We are encouraged that our government is no resting in its laurels but working hard to improve the lives of all our people so that the dream of a better life for all is fully realised.

It is of no coincidence that the land to be restored to the Ga-Mopedi people, for example, has a huge area where asbestos was mined until its ban.

Unfortunately, the legacy of mining asbestos in this area and beyond is still felt by many communities. People continue to perish from diseases related to exposure to asbestos fibres such as asbestosis or lung cancer.

Thankfully, the Department of Mineral Resources in 2006 declared the land fully rehabilitated for use once more.

This handover of land to Ga-Mopedi and Seoding people is therefore of great significance as it seeks to reverse the legacy of the past by restoring their dignity, as well as by allowing them to own and work their land to develop themselves.

This event is not only about handing title deeds. It seeks to go much further than that by ensuring that the land is put to productive use in a sustainable manner.

The Post-Settlement Programme has been developed for the two farms in order to ensure its sustainable use in a beneficial way to its rightful owners.

In terms of the support that Government will provide to both Ga-Mopedi and Seoding, the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development has spent approximately 10 million Rands in equipment and livestock.

For Seoding farm, an amount of R7, 854 million has been spent on 114 beef cattle, 412 goats, machinery and implements such as a tractor, trailer, scrapper and fire fighters. As for Ga-Mopedi, machinery and implements have been bought at a cost of R1, 539 million.

Equally, for the land restored to Ga-Mopedi, the Department of Agriculture has built on-the-farm infrastructure comprising water tanks, boreholes, line shaft pump pipeline and troughs as well as fencing.

It is encouraging that a lot of work has been done in fast tracking service delivery in this district of John Taolo Gaetsewe so that the quality of life and access to quality services, livelihoods and income are improved.

As of now, the Department of Human Settlements is building homes for 30 families, and an additional 124 units will be constructed in this financial year.

This will be complemented by the provision of water that the Department of Water and Sanitation is currently developing through the five Regional Bulk Infrastructure projects that are anticipated to conclude by June this year.

Given that in this area there is a National School Nutrition Programme that is benefiting a total of 37 687 learners in 102 schools, this land handover provides a further opportunity for economic empowerment and employment will be created, by sourcing fresh produce that will come from this land.

The Department of Small Business Development stands ready to provide support to you as part of using this land to stimulate local economic development.

In addition to material support to be provided to the beneficiaries, government will continue to facilitate the provision of technical and other forms of support including skills development, market access and participation in the entire agriculture value chains.

As we hand over this land, we are cognisant of governance challenges that are experienced in many of the Communal Property Associations. In this regard, a coalition of departments and the province will have to work together to capacitate the relevant Communal Property Associations with requisite skills and knowledge to make them effective.

We must all work towards making the Ga-Mopedi and Seoding projects a success as they have a critical role to play in advancing government's Anti-Poverty Alleviation Programme.

The leadership of the Province will thus be important in ensuring that land reform is not only about title deeds but that it brings about change and economic development.

For our part as government we are determined to support land reform with a developmental state that is firm yet fair, that is capable and that cares for our people.

For the people of Ga-Mopedi and Seoding, this land is about affirmation of your freedom and dignity. Please receive this and put it to productive use.

From this land must grow the seeds of your economic empowerment. From this ground must sprout and geminate a spring of life and infinite possibility.

This must be a place where your children will want to study, stay and build their ancestral homes. This is a place of sharing and caring where no child must go to school on an empty stomach, where orphans and widows are never to sleep ravaged by poverty.

This is a place where you must choose your fate and become the architects of your own destiny, and where you can reclaim your right to be a proud South African that is enjoying the fruits of our freedom.

No more must this be a place of poverty and pain, the place where people go back to die but a place where people choose to live.

Let it help you create your own wealth and leave a meaningful legacy to future generations. Fill it with the wealth of cattle, fields of green and valleys of gold.

Nurture strength and spirit to create your own savannah; guard your soil and everything in it; and never sell your birth right. Take care of it, entrust it to those who will protect this resource and who are willing to be held accountable.

Build for institutions where you will teach your children their history and for them to do things for themselves. Build factories for local manufacturing and production. Bring people to tour this place rich with heritage.

It does not have to remain rural; it can be a place where your children can be happy to raise their own, where they can dream to roam the world, to live here if they please and to be wholesome citizens of tomorrow.

Remember always that land is life; life is a function of necessity because before one can pursue religion, the arts and politics, one must first eat and be clothed. Therefore, you must work this land.

And so, as Nelson Mandela said on the occasion of his inauguration:

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

God bless Africa!

Pula, Nala le Masego!

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa