Land reforms once again on the president's lips


President Jacob Zuma speaks at the Opening Media Lunch 'World Cup 2010 - before the kick-off' during the Annual Meeting 2010 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 27, 2010 at the Central Sport Hotel.

JOHANNESBURG - Not for the first time, President Jacob Zuma is questioning land reform laws.

He was responding to an earlier debate on his address to the National House of Traditional Leaders.

As before, Zuma was critical of the 1913 cut-off date for land claims.

He puts land at the heart of solving South Africa’s triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Zuma told traditional leaders they play an important role in developing the country.He says the land issue will remain a concern for as long as the majority of the people are poor.

“I’m convinced it’s brutally unfair to say the land was taken in 1913. So all of a sudden in1917, 1918 nothing happened”, said Zuma.

He assured the leaders that the government takes their concerns seriously.

They have pointed to inadequate funding‚ succession battles and their unequal treatment. They also cited a lack of government support.

Observers say traditional leaders are particularly important to government, especially in an election year.

Rural communities are a vital constituency.

Traditional leaders have also raised concerns about poverty in rural areas - despite mining companies extracting valuable minerals there.

“If people are sitting on the wealth and miners come to mine and they get absolutely nothing. I think it is unfair. I think it is a point that is well made. That leads to the point where we should have a mining indaba where these matters can be discussed.”

The president says instead of relying on the courts, African problems should be solved in an African way.