South Africa: Lawmakers open way for land reform

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South Africa: Lawmakers open way for land reform

Deutsche Welle

South Africa: Lawmakers open way for land reform
South Africa: Lawmakers open way for land reform. DW
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South Africa’s National Assembly has given the green light to change the constitution on the issue of land distribution, making way for land expropriation without compensation for the previous owners. The lawmakers agreed to establish a committee of 25 people, representing all parliamentary parties, to flesh out and introduce a new bill on land reform.

The lawmakers also set a date at the end of March 2019 for the committee to present its first report to parliament.

After taking over from former president Jacob Zuma in early 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to speed up reforms ahead of the general elections in 2019. Ramaphosa has repeatedly assured South Africans and the international community that the country won’t face a repeat of the land evictions witnessed in neighboring Zimbabwe in the early 2000s.

More than 20 years after the end of apartheid, race and land ownership in South Africa remain sensitive issues. More than 70 percent of agricultural land is still owned by the white minority, compared to four percent in the hands of black farmers.

Read more: South Africa is more unequal than ever, 20 years after post-apartheid TRC

Urban areas and social justice

According to President Ramaphosa, land which has not yet been used should be given precedence for expropriation. The greatest need, however, is not for agricultural land but for urban areas on the outskirts of major cities. “Many more people are moving to the cities to find work, but they cannot afford housing there and the government realizes that the plight of these people and the slums has been growing for years,” Anton van Dalsen from the Helen Suzman Foundation in South Africa told DW.

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