South Africa Won't Have ‘Smash and Grab' of Land, President Says

  • Farming must continue as normal, Cyril Ramaphosa says
  • Lawmakers agree to principle of expropriation without pay

A farmer walks across a field of beans on a farm near Johannesburg.

Photographer: Waldo SwiegersBloomberg

The South African ruling party’s proposal to expropriate land without paying for it will be done responsibly and farming must continue as normal, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

“There will be no smash and grab” of land, he told lawmakers in the House of Traditional Leaders in Cape Town Thursday.

On Dec. 20, the ruling African National Congress said expropriating land without compensation should be among mechanisms to effect land reform, as long as it doesn’t undermine the economy, agricultural production and food security.

On Feb. 27, lawmakers agreed to the principle of seizure without pay, and parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee will report back to lawmakers on changes to section 25 of the Constitution by Aug. 30. The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party had proposed the motion to allow land seizures to the legislature, while the ANC sought amendments.

A November government land audit released in February showed that farms and agricultural holdings comprise 97 percent of the 121.9 million hectares of the nation’s area, and that whites own 72 percent of the 37 million hectares held by individuals, more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule.

Under the rule of European colonists, South Africa’s Natives Land Act of 1913 stripped most black people of their right to own property, a policy reinforced decades later by the National Party and its system of apartheid

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