Speaking vehemently to the overwhelming crowd, he stated that “We reiterate that we will use all available instruments necessary in expediting land restitution and respond to land hunger. The land question will feature prominently in the policy conference discussions of the governing party in June‚ including the debates on the expropriation of land without compensation‚” said Zuma.

Speaking to several thousand people at Freedom Day celebrations in Manguzi – a northern KwaZulu-Natal town which borders Mozambique – Number One said black South Africans were still economically disempowered despite the country achieving political freedom.

This year marks 23 years since South Africa voted in its first democratic elections.

The land question was key to dealing with this disempowerment.

“We are also very much aware of our people’s quest for land. We reiterate that we will use all available instruments necessary in expediting land restitution and respond to land hunger. The land question will feature prominently in the policy conference discussions of the governing party in June‚ including the debates on the expropriation of land without compensation‚” said Zuma.

Earlier‚ he said economic freedom was still “elusive”.

“We have achieved political freedom but economic freedom still remains largely elusive. It is for this reason that we speak about radical economic transformation. We mean fundamental change in the structure‚ systems‚ institutions and patterns of ownership‚ management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans‚ especially the poor‚ the majority of whom are African and female‚” he said.

Zuma continued: “The level of inequality remains high. White households earn at least five times more than black households. Only ten percent of the top one hundred companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans‚ directly-achieved‚ principally‚ through the black empowerment codes. The pace of transformation in the workplace‚ the implementation of affirmative action policies as required by the Employment Equity Act‚ also remains very slow.”

Before he took to the podium‚ Zuma shared lighter moments with his deputy‚ Cyril Ramaphosa‚ as the two tried to show they had set their differences aside.

Zuma arrived amid huge fanfare at the sprawling and teeming local sports field. He was welcomed with ululations from thousands of people waving mini South African flags.

Zuma and Ramaphosa sat comfortably next to each other on the stage. The two have seemingly been at loggerheads with one another since the recent cabinet reshuffle‚ but – on top of the apparent jokes and quips – also shared moments of deep conversation as they mounted a united front.