SOUTH Africa’s parliament has voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country’s Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation.
The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party.
It was amended but supported by the ruling African National Congress and new president Cyril Ramaphosa, who made land expropriation a key pillar of his policy platform after taking over from ousted PM Jacob Zuma earlier this month.
“The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice,” Mr Malema was quoted by News24 as telling parliament. “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”
According to Bloomberg, a 2017 government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of farmland in South Africa.
ANC deputy chief whip Dorries Eunice Dlakude said the party “recognises that the current policy instruments, including the willing-buyer willing-seller policy and other provisions of Section 25 of the Constitution may be hindering effective land reform”.
ANC rural affairs minister Gugile Nkwinti added, “The ANC unequivocally supports the principle of land expropriation without compensation. There is no doubt about it, land shall be expropriated without compensation.”
Thandeka Mbabama from the Democatic Alliance party, which opposed the motion, said there was a need to right the wrongs of the past but expropriation “cannot be part of the solution”. “By arguing for expropriation without compensation, the ANC has been gifted the perfect scapegoat to explain away its own failure,” she said in a statement.
“Making this argument lets the ANC off the hook on the real impediments — corruption, bad policy and chronic underfunding. Expropriation without compensation would severely undermine the national economy, only hurting poor black people even further.”
Pieter Groenewald, leader of the Freedom Front Plus party representing the white Afrikaner minority, asked what would happen to the land once it was expropriated. “If you continue on this course, I can assure you there is going to be unforeseen consequences that is not in the interest of South Africa,” he said.