- It’s now or never: Premier
- Councils urged to play their part
- Rubbish recyclers to get help
- 5 000 residential sites developed
“You cannot sing about land reform and radical economic transformation, nor can you dance about it. It is something that has to happen and it has to happen fast,” said a tough-taking Premier Sisi Ntombela during her State of the Province Address (Sopa) in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
Ntombela told an ecstatic crowd – pregnant with hope – that her government plans to distribute land for residential, agricultural, and business purposes as it accelerates the implementation of government’s Radical Economic Transformation (RET) policy.
She cautioned that delaying the implementation of the policy would have detrimental results for the ruling ANC.
The Premier also called on municipalities in the province to stop procrastinating land redistribution or RET and allocate land to those in need of it.
“The time is not tomorrow but now. We can no longer postpone or turn a blind eye, and our officials must stop eating their nails and give land to our people,” said Ntombela.
She added the provincial government would lead the process of land redistribution, citing it had already commissioned a study to establish how many farms are owned by the state in the Free State.
Identified farms would be allocated to emerging and commercial farmers to boost agriculture in the province.
“In the coming weeks, as government we will be distributing farms from those that are owned by government in the province,” she indicated.
Ntombela also decried the slow pace of building homes for the less fortunate, noting that service providers who fail to meet their contractual obligations would be removed from the service provider database.
She further announced that government is well on its way to service sites with running water and electricity for the benefit of those who have the means to build their own homes.
About 5 000 sites were being prepared for this pilot and ambitious programme by the government, she added.
Ntombela however, called on residents in the province to refrain from occupying land illegally as this hampers development and also places their lives in danger.
She urged people not to erect structures on land with water pipes running underneath and electrical cables over their heads as this could cost them their lives.
“But again, our people end up allowing themselves to live in these dangerous places because we as government are failing them when they approach us for land, hence I’m saying the time to give out land is now.”
Ntombela said there should be focused support in uplifting struggling black entrepreneurs and businesses in the Free State, especially rubbish pickers and recyclers.
“In the next few days we will be going to pickers and recyclers of rubbish in the province and assisting them with the necessary materials to sustain and grow their businesses, such as vehicles and compressor machines,” she announced.
This initiative must not be hijacked by those who have not been struggling in the business before but it should seek to identify those that had braced hard days making do with what they have.
“We do not want a situation whereby people that have not been in the business before suddenly emerging from nowhere and overtaking the legitimate pickers and recyclers who had braced the rainy and stormy weathers in pursuit of this business to get assistance,” said Ntombela to wild cheers of approval.
Meanwhile, as assured by the speaker of the Free State legislature Zanele Sifuba last week, Ntombela’s address went smoothly without any incident.
Legislators will debate the Premier’s speech on Monday at the Radsaal Building in Bloemfontein.