POLITICS
27/04/2018 13:22 SAST | Updated 27/04/2018 13:22 SAST

Land And Wages: The Two Themes Of Ramaphosa’s Freedom Day Speech

President Cyril Ramaphosa used the stage to emphasise the importance of a national minimum wage and land expropriation in creating economic freedom for all South Africans.

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa used his Freedom Day speech mainly to preach the importance of a national minimum wage and land expropriation without compensation in creating an equal and free society.

The head of state was speaking at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Minimum Wage

He said it is a "great victory for the workers" that the country stands on the cusp of implementing a national minimum wage.

"Some people have argued that the starting minimum wage of R20 an hour is not a living wage. Yes, they are correct. But what the national minimum wage does provide is a firm and unassailable foundation which is agreed by all social partners from which we are going to advance the struggle for a living wage. What we needed to do was to balance between those people who are earning very little today," he said.

"It will increase the income of over 6.6-million working South Africans...An increase of that size and that extent is really unprecedented in our history and we must celebrate this as a foundation that will enable working people in our country to go on with the fight for a living wage."

Land Expropriation Without Compensation

Ramaphosa emphasised that economic freedom means that the land "taken away from black South Africans" also needs to be returned.

"We have a situation in our country where we have masses of tracks of land, some owned by the government, some owned by state-owned enterprises, some owned by companies and some owned by individuals and this land at the moment is not being shared. The majority of our people, many of whom are hungry for land so that they can use it as an economic resource are locked out of the utilisation of land," he said.

"We are committed to accelerating the redistribution of land in our country...its time has come, we cannot hide away from it. It has to happen, and it must happen now in our lifetime. As this land is returned to our people, the government will have to do everything it can to support those to whom the land will be given to."