land

The National Assembly of South Africa has agreed that amending the Constitution to make land expropriation without compensation as a legitimate option for land reform should be left for the next parliament to conclude.

The move was in response to the parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee’s earlier recommendation that it would not be able to complete its work of amending the Constitution by the end of the fifth parliament’s term and that its work be referred to the sixth parliament.

The committee’s recommendation was approved by 210-61 in the parliament with no abstention. The committee was mandated last year by the parliament to amend section 25 of the Constitution to pave the way for land expropriation without compensation. Since its first meeting on Feb. 12, the Ad Hoc Committee has held extensive engagements with experts on land reform and Constitution.

Among other things, it received briefings from the Parliamentary Legal Services on the legislative process and held public hearings across the country.

At Tuesday’s sitting, Jackson Mthembu, Chief Whip of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said the ANC remains committed to its resolution of the expropriation of land without compensation as one of the mechanisms to address the “original sin” of land dispossession and landlessness in South Africa. “We are confident that the sixth parliament will conclude this process of correcting this original sin,” he said in a statement.

South Africa will hold general elections on May 8 to elect the sixth parliament since the end of apartheid in 1994. Over the past year, the South African government has been facilitating the process to expropriate land without compensation, drawing ire from opponents at home and abroad.

Opponents argue that the process will drive away white farmers, threaten food security and have a negative impact on the economy. But the government has repeatedly assured that it will pursue the land reform. About 25 years after the end of apartheid, the minority whites still own most of the land in South Africa. The ruling ANC has been under fire for lacking political will to address the land issue.

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