Don’t be fooled by Prime Minister O’Neill’s weasel words on land

There were some fine words from our Prime Minister in Parliament last week on the vital importance of customary land:

“Land, and its connection [to] our people is at the heart and soul of our country and our communities”.

“Our land gives us life and supports livelihoods, it gives us a place for communities to live, and land ownership provides certainty for our children and their children”.

“Their land is their heritage, their land is their livelihood and it is their future”.

But if the Prime Minister really believes in the importance of land why has he done nothing to reverse the illegal SABL land grab in which more than 5 million hectares of land - 12% of the whole country - has been stolen from local communities?

It is now more than three-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed in detail the extent of the unlawful land grab. Since then the Prime Minister has made repeated promises to follow the CoI recommendations and cancel the leases but there has been no action.

In the interim, foreign logging companies have used the illegal SABL leases as an excuse to clear the forests and have exported logs valued at more than K850 million!

It is easy for the Prime Minister to speak about the value and importance of customary land but his actions don't live up to his promises.