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Land expropriation without compensation gets Constitutional review – Rand takes knock

JOHANNESBURG — ‘Ramaphoria’ took a knock in South Africa on late Tuesday as Parliament overwhelmingly agreed to a motion that seeks to change the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation. The motion was given the thumbs up by 241 MPs, consisting predominantly of the EFF and ANC. Meanwhile, only 83 lawmakers from the likes of the DA and COPE opposed the motion. The ANC has previously put a caveat on expropriation without compensation, saying that it will only be done to boost food security and if it doesn’t harm the economy. South Africa is also unlikely to have Zimbabwe-style land grabs. Nevertheless, it does look like a hard balancing act. We’ll have a final decision on the matter in August and it will be interesting to see how ‘reformer’ President Cyril Ramaphosa handles this hot potato. – Gareth van Zyl

By Ana Monteiro

(Bloomberg) – South African lawmakers agreed to the principle of land expropriation without compensation, and will review the Constitution to cater for this.

Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee will report back to lawmakers on changes to section 25 of the Constitution by Aug. 30, the office of the chief whip of the ruling African National Congress said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Houses of Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party proposed a motion to allow land seizures to the legislature, while the ANC proposed amendments.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader in December and the nation’s president Feb. 15, affirmed the ANC’s decision to seize land without compensation to speed up land reform, but said it would only be done in a responsible manner that didn’t harm the economy, agricultural production or food security.

More than two decades after white-minority rule ended in South Africa, most of its profitable farms and estates are still owned by white people, and about 95 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 10 percent of the population.

A 2017 audit by the government shows whites own 72 percent of farmland, Gugile Nkwinti, who was land-reform minister and was made water affairs minister on Feb. 26, told lawmakers Tuesday.

The amount of land owned by the government and racial groups who were disadvantaged under whites-only rule rose to 26.7 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land in 2016, from 14.9 percent in 1994, according to a 2017 land audit by AgriSA.

The rand weakened 1.4 percent to 11.7201 against the dollar by 5:35 p.m. in Johannesburg, making it the worst-performing major and emerging-market currency on the day.

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