In late September, South Africa’s National Assembly passed a controversial bill allowing the government to forcibly purchase privately owned land. The new bill would also permit uncompensated seizure when deemed just and equitable — a practice known as “expropriation without compensation.” This may occur, for instance, when the government determines that land is being held speculatively and not being farmed, and if the government determines the seizure is in the public interest.
“The purpose of the Expropriation Bill is to repeal the existing Expropriation Act of 1975 to provide a common framework in line with the Constitution to guide the processes and procedures for the expropriation of property by organs of state,” a Parliamentary statement on the bill reads. “It further seeks to provide for certain instances where expropriation with nil compensation may be appropriate in the public interest.”
The new legislation would repeal the country’s existing law on land expropriation drafted during the apartheid era in 1975 which stipulates that both the buyer and seller must be willing, reports The Epoch Times.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports changes to the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation, would need to sign the bill.
The bill was rejected last year, but will now be forwarded to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.
In the National Assembly, where the left-leaning African National Congress party holds 57% of the 400-seat chamber, the bill passed over minority objections from the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters who hold 11% of seats and the right-wing Freedom Front Plus with 2.38% of seats. The centrist Democratic Alliance, which controls under 21% of seats, proposed an amendment.
The Expropriation Bill, the latest step toward land reform in a racially and economically divided country, is still awaiting the National Council of Provinces’ approval, according to The Epoch Times.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, groups representing black farmers in the country have typically favored expropriation without compensation to speed up land redistribution and land reform.
Most black and colored (a specific multiracial category in the country) South Africans are landless. Years after apartheid’s end, white farmers still own most of the country’s land.