South African lawmakers agreed to the principle of land expropriation without compensation, and will review the Constitution to cater for this.
Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee will report back to lawmakers on changes to section 25 of the Constitution by Aug. 30, the office of the chief whip of the ruling African National Congress said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party proposed a motion to allow land seizures to the legislature, while the ANC proposed amendments.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader in December and the nation’s president Feb. 15, affirmed the ANC’s decision to seize land without compensation to speed up land reform, but said it would only be done in a responsible manner that didn’t harm the economy, agricultural production or food security.
More than two decades after white-minority rule ended in South Africa, most of its profitable farms and estates are still owned by white people, and about 95 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 10 percent of the population.
A 2017 audit by the government shows whites own 72 percent of farmland, Gugile Nkwinti, who was land-reform minister and was made water affairs minister on Feb. 26, told lawmakers Tuesday.
The amount of land owned by the government and racial groups who were disadvantaged under whites-only rule rose to 26.7 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land in 2016, from 14.9 percent in 1994, according to a 2017 land audit by AgriSA.
The rand weakened 1.4 percent to 11.7201 against the dollar by 5:35 p.m. in Johannesburg, making it the worst-performing major and emerging-market currency on the day.