We should learn from Mugabe, says South Africa's deputy leader

Mrs Mlambo-Ngcuka's remarks came shortly after a government summit to review South Africa's land reforms opted to drop the willing buyer/willing seller policy in favour of a new policy yet to be spelt out.

"Land reform in South Africa has been too slow and too structured. There needs to be a bit of 'oomph'. That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us," she said at an education conference. "On agrarian and land reform, South Africa should learn some lessons from Zimbabwe - how to do it fast." But analysts and opposition MPs, who fear South Africa is already on the path to losing its status as the world's sixth-biggest net food exporter following the rejection of the willing buyer/willing seller policy, condemned Mrs Mlambo Ngcuka's comments as "grossly irresponsible".

While the need to redistribute land in South Africa to redress colonial-era imbalances is not disputed, there is almost universal consensus that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's methods are textbook examples of how not to enact land reforms.

Murphy Morobe, head of communication at the presidency, later attempted to dismiss the comments, saying they were made in jest in a lighthearted moment during the conference: "The Deputy President made this remark during a light-hearted exchange between her and [the Minister for Higher Education, Dr Stan] Mudenge, whom she knows," he explained.

Mr Morobe said South Africa could learn from Zimbabwe "or any other country" about the important issue of land reform: "The Deputy President definitely did not agree or disagree with the Zimbabwean issue when she made those remarks. The fact is that our land reforms need 'oomph', as she said, but one should not elevate a lighthearted moment and turn it into a fact."

Years of often violent evictions of white farmers in favour of regime cronies have destroyed Zimbabwe's agricultural economy. A major international think-tank, the Washington-based Centre for Global Development (CGD), this week said Zimbabwe's economy had dropped to its 1953 levels due to destructive policies.

South Africa's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has demanded that Mrs Mlambo-Ncguka retract her remarks and apologise to the people of South Africa. A party spokesman, Douglas Gibson, said Mrs Mlambo-Ngcuka's remarks explained why President Thabo Mbeki's government was providing succour to the Mugabe regime which had been isolated by the rest of the world.

"The lesson for our country lies in not following the same route which Zimbabwe has taken. Zimbabwe offers a textbook example of ways in which land reform should not be carried out," said Mr Gibson.

The land reform programme in South Africa had progressed far too slowly, but the blame for this, he said, rested with the government. "The legal framework is in place and there are enough landowners and farmers who want to be part of this process.

A fellow DA official, Kraai van Van Niekerk, echoed these claims: "The government is trying to turn land owners into villains instead of recognising that they are victims of government slackness and failure to vote the funds."

According to the opposition, farmers wanting to sell their land did not know where to go and were shuffled from one official to the other. Black people already resettled were being abandoned on land without any back-up support to remain productive, the DA claimed.

The new V-P

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's appointment as Deputy President in June last year placed her in pole position to become her country's first woman head of state. She became an MP in 1994, and was appointed deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry two years later. She was promoted to Minister for Minerals and Energy in 1999. She is married to Bulelani Ngcuka, the former chief prosecutor who investigated former Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the man she replaced. She led a delegation to observe the 2005 Zimbabwean election, which the group said was "a peaceful, credible and well-mannered election which reflects the will of the people".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick