President Cyril Ramaphosa says the architects of apartheid spatial planning were meticulous in placing people away from cities and not in economic nodes, for their own benefit.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the Cape Town City Hall on Wednesday evening as part of the ANC's campaign in the Western Cape ahead of elections in May.
On Tuesday, Ramaphosa officially proclaimed May 8 as the day South Africans will go to the polls for national and provincial elections. The day has also been declared a public holiday.
Earlier in the day, Ramaphosa embarked on a door-to-door drive in Khayelitsha, engaging with residents and listening to their concerns.
Ramaphosa's evening engagement was attended by a myriad of people from civil society and business.
"We need to reconstruct the spatial planning that apartheid brought," said the president.
He then made reference to a professor from Harvard, who recently offered advice on land utilisation.
"While it is difficult to reconstruct the land because of how it was done in the past, a professor who visited us from Harvard offered a solution: bring people into the city and increase the density of the people living in that area," Ramaphosa began.
"It is part of the process of land of expropriation without compensation. People must live close to economic nodes to not only uplift themselves, but to contribute to the economy as well."
Ramaphosa also touched on transport infrastructure, saying there is a move to upgrade the railway system.
"Transport infrastructure is poor," he conceded. "We have to sort out mass transportation because our people spend hours and hours traveling in worn-down trains.
"We will begin to streamline Prasa [the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa] to get it back on track as Prasa was compromised by state capturers," added Ramaphosa.