Motion To Allow South Africa Expropriation, AKA Land Redistribution, Passes & Awaits Constitutional Review
In South Africa expropriation or land redistribution has been forced to the center stage largely due to the efforts of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a new upstart political party.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a radical leftist movement and rival party to South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, are forcing Ramaphosa to address inequalities which exist particularly along racial lines. In South Africa expropriation is at the top of that list, in a nation where whites own approximately 70-80 percent of the land, though some dispute those figures.
South Africa’s History Of Colonization And Land Dispossession
The history of South Africa is seeped in land dispossession by colonizers of black owned land. While some of this history took place a hundred or more years ago, land dispossession of blacks took place as recently as up to the end of the apartheid era in the early 1990’s.
The sheer number of the laws targeting land dispossession were in the thousands. Historian W. J. du Plessis notes that “By the time of the advent of the new South Africa, about 17,000 statutory measures had been issued to segregate and control land division, with 14 different land control systems in South Africa”.
In 1948 the National Party came to power and established the Apartheid government. Apartheid established legal racial segregation and political and economic discrimination of black or minorities. Apartheid ended in 1991 or 1994 depending on who you ask. The famous antiapartheid activist, Nelson Mandela, came to power in 1994 but 1991 saw a major repeal of Apartheid era laws.
During the apartheid era, the government passed the Native Resettlement Act and the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act which, among other laws, sparked forced removals of African, Indian and Colored people from their areas of residence.
ANC, Mandela And The Promise Of Land Redistribution
Mandela won the South African election as a member of the African National Congress (ANC). Land redistribution was one of the promises of the ANC in 1994, but implementing it has proven difficult. Since 1994 only 10 percent of agricultural land has been transferred. A big reason for the difficulty is that South Africa’s constitution does not allow for land to be taken without compensation.
Many critics argue that if land is taken without compensation, a situation similar to what happened in Zimbabwe will take place in South Africa. Prior to 2000, when Zimbabwe performed large scale land-grabs on formerly white-owned land, the country had a thriving farming economy and was considered to be the “breadbasket of Africa.”
Following the land grabs in Zimbabwe, the country’s economy shrunk, primarily due to mismanagement of the redistribution process and corruption by the Robert Mugabe regime.
The EFF Steps Up Calls For Land Redistibution
The ANC now once again faces tremendous pressure from the EFF to take action. The EFF was formed in 2013 by the expelled former ANC youth league leader, Julius Malema, who is a gifted speaker. Due to their radical calls to serve the black population in ways that the ruling ANC has failed, the EFF has attracted many young black supporters to their movement. Malema and the EFF have chipped away at ANC’s support and stolen some of their votes.
The EFF has also formed an alliance with the ANC’s main rival the Democratic Alliance (DA). Their alliance ended the ANC’s control of three key municipalities, including the capital Pretoria and the economic hub Johannesburg.
One of the big promises the EFF has made, which forms the basis of their movement, is to confiscate white-owned land without compensation and end white privilege in the country. The DA does not support the South Africa expropriation movement, causing the EFF to threaten to end their alliance.
Motion To Allow South Africa Expropriation Without Compensation Passes
The ANC appear to be wary of the pressure from the EFF, and last month supported an EFF call to make it possible to allow for the South Africa expropriation of land without compensation. The EFF called for a constitutional amendment to allow for land redistribution without compensation. In a surprising move the ANC backed the EFF’s motion in parliament and it passed easily thanks to the large majority held by the ANC.
As justification for the ANC’s decision, the government cited a recent land audit which showed that black South Africans account for 80 percent of the population but only own 1.2 percent of rural land and seven percent of urban land.
These statistics are disputed by Agri SA, a South African agricultural association who primarily represents white farmers.
South Africa awaits a report from a Constitutional review committee, which must report by August 30 on the motion to allow South Africa expropriation without compensation.