South Africa’s ruling party is planning to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of private land without compensation, a party official said on Wednesday.
“We want the constitutional provisions to be less restrictive,” said African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule.
White people are likely to be most affected by this measure, as they continue to own most of South Africa’s land, even 24 years after the end of the racist apartheid regime.
During apartheid, blacks were not allowed to own land, a regulation President Cyril Ramaphosa previously described as South Africa’s “original sin” that needed correcting.
The change in the constitution was meant to compensate for past injustices, while boosting agricultural production, Ramaphosa said after a two-day meeting with the ANC executive committee.
“A comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy,” said Ramaphosa.
The ANC will propose an amendment that will outline “more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected,” the president added.
Due to its large majority in parliament, the ANC is expected to have no trouble passing the proposed constitutional amendment.
International investors have been watching the proposal with great concern since Ramaphosa first publicly mentioned it earlier this year.
The value of South Africa’s currency, the rand, dropped immediately after the announcement was made.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, large-scale, compensation-free expropriation of land in the 1980s led to an economic collapse from which the country has never recovered.
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