JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa will amend its laws to allow expropriation of land without compensation for owners as it tries to speed up the redistribution of land to its black majority, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
Expropriation without compensation would mark a radical policy departure for Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), shifting from a willing buyer-willing seller approach to more radical alternatives.
Most of South Africa’s land remains in white hands over two decades after the end of apartheid.*
“We need to take bold steps that will transform our economy, including land ownership, very fast,” Zuma said in a speech outlining agricultural policy.
“We are busy amending (laws) to enable faster land reform, including land expropriation without compensation as provided for in the constitution.”
Zuma referred a bill allowing state expropriation of land back to parliament last week because lawmakers failed to facilitate adequate public participation.
That bill enabled the state to acquire land without the owners’ consent by paying an amount determined by the office of the Valuer-General.
Analysts say the ruling party’s new, more hardline approach is in response to calls for the seizure of white-owned land by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party. It is also a way to shore up support in the ANC’s rural political base ahead of internal party elections in December.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Roche)
- This statement refers to arable land. In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Jacob Zuma quoted the latest land figures as being: “Only eight million hectares of arable land have been transferred to black people, which is only 9.8 percent of the 82 million hectares of arable land in South Africa.”