S/African lawmakers pass law outlawing compensation for reclaimed land

An exchange on Twitter on Thursday ended with Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema warning Western Cape premier and former DA leader Helen Zille that her tweet had encouraged him to think about handing the Tshwane and Johannesburg metros back to the ANC too.

Eighty-five minutes have been set aside to consider the draft resolution at a plenary sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The EFF proposed that an ad hoc committee be established to review and amend Section 25 of the constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

Last week, South Africa's new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, pledged to return the lands owned by white farmers since the 1600s to the black citizens of the country. The matter will now be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee, which must report back to parliament with a plan by August 30. "All (that) we are saying is they will not have the ownership of the land", he said. He also stressed that food production and security should be considered in any expropriation effort. His promise to expropriate land without compensation sows the seed for revolution.

"The time for reconciliation is over; now is the time for justice", Malema told Parliament.

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The ruling African National Congress also supported Tuesday's motion, but with the provision that land seizures can not hurt agricultural production, economic stability or political stability - a fairly large and vague loophole, analysts say.

Among the main criticisms leveled at government's land reform policy over the years has been that many farms transferred to emerging black farmers lay fallow and unproductive.

Despite arguments, the vote called out for ANC to redistribute lands as the pressure grows to gain support of the poorer black voters ahead of the election next year. Organised agriculture are largely opposed to land expropriation without compensation, fearing its impact on agricultural investment, while analysts are welcoming the debate because the land reform process up until now has not been very successful.

"By arguing for expropriation without compensation, the ANC has been gifted the flawless scapegoat to explain away its own failure - corruption, bad policy and chronic underfunding".

Cope's leader, Mosiuoa Lekota, who has questioned the expropriation of land without compensation, to the dismay of the EFF and the ANC, said the taking of anybody's property was out of the question for his party.

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