10/02/2017 00:08 SAST | Updated 11/02/2017 08:51 SAST

Sona: Zuma Says Reconciliation Will Only Be Attained Once Land Is Returned

President Jacob Zuma says less than 10% of arable land has been returned to blacks.

President Jacob Zuma says reconciliation will only be attained in South Africa once the issue of land has been fully addressed. In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday, Zuma said it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve true reconciliation until the land question is resolved.

"Only 8 million hectares of arable land have been transferred to black people, which is only 9.8 percent of the 82 million hectares of arable land in South Africa," he said.

Addressing the land issue will however take time as the new bill that was expected to be a vehicle to fast track the process had to be returned to Parliament for not meeting constitutional requirements.

Zuma said he had intended on using the Expropriation Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution, in line with the Constitution.

"I have now decided to refer the bill back to Parliament for reconsideration on the basis that the bill might not pass constitutional muster. This is due to inadequate public participation during its processing. We trust that Parliament will be able to move with speed in meeting the requirements so that the law can be finalised to effect transformation," he said.

The reopening of land claims was also put on hold because the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2014 was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court. The Concourt found that the public consultation process facilitated by the National Council of Provinces and some provincial legislatures did not meet the standard set in the Constitution.

That however would not deter government's drive to deal with the land issue, as Zuma said they would be looking at other ways to tackle the matter.

He called on land claimants to accept land instead of financial compensation.

"Over 90 percent of claims are currently settled through financial compensation which does not help the process at all. It perpetuates dispossession. It also undermines economic empowerment," he said.