S.African law change plan to allow land expropriation fails to pass

by Reuters
Tuesday, 7 December 2021 15:04 GMT

A woman works her land amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Soweto, south-west of Johannesburg, South Africa July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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South African lawmakers voted not to allow a land expropriation proposal which sought to redress racial disparities in land ownership left over from colonialism and white minority rule

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JOHANNESBURG, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A proposal to change South Africa's constitution to explicitly allow expropriation of land with no compensation failed to win the two-thirds of parliamentary votes that it needed to pass on Tuesday.

Lawmakers debated whether to change Section 25 of the constitution to enable the government to seize some land without paying, as part of efforts to address huge land inequalities left over from colonialism and white minority rule.

Redressing racial disparities in land ownership has been a flagship promise of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), but little progress has been made on it, nearly three decades since the end of apartheid.

"Today we stand to complete the fight against the original sin of land dispossession," one of the amendment's main champions, Roland Lamola, said in a speech in parliament.

But it was rejected by the ANC's opponents on both sides of the political spectrum.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance and right-wing Freedom Front Plus view the expropriation plan as an assault on property rights, while the radical Marxist EFF - which also voted against - wants the state to take control of the land.

In all, 204 lawmakers backed the amendment and 145 voted against, with no abstentions.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alex Richardson and John Stonestreet)