By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday the ruling African National Congress will push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The comments come after the ANC said in May it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a move that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the constitution.
The proposal was first adopted in December by the party.
“It has become pertinently clear that our people wants the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said in a recorded address to the nation.
“The ANC will through the parliamentary process finalize the proposed amendment to the constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”
Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.
Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.
The ANC has said it will not pursue land reform in a way that threatens food security or economic growth.
(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Angus MacSwan)