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South Africa parliament blocks constitutional amendment for land expropriation – JURIST – News

South African lawmakers Tuesday rejected a proposed amendment to the country’s constitution that would allow the expropriation of land without compensation as a way of addressing apartheid injustices. The ruling party now says they will resort to legislation to facilitate the process.

The proposed amendment to Section 25 of the South African Cosntitution failed to reach the two-thirds threshold requirement. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, which currently holds 58 percent of the seats of South Africa’s National Assembly, could not gather enough opposition support for the motion.

Most opposition parties feared that the proposed amendments would undermine property owners and investor confidence in South Africa. The left-leaning Economic Freedom Fighters, who first introduced the motion, argued that the resulting bill did not go far enough.

The ANC decided four years ago that constitutional changes were needed to address inequitable and racially-skewed land ownership patterns that date back to South Africa’s colonial past.

Black South Africans were unjustly dispossessed of their land over decades of apartheid, which officially ended in 1994. As of today, white South Africans, who comprise eight percent of the population, hold 72 percent of the farmland according to statistics cited by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Approximately ten percent are owned by Black South Africans.

The government has other options for land ownership reform. Proposed expropriation legislation is set to be tabled next year, and two other property laws are currently underway. The government is currently drafting a land distribution act that will regulate land distribution in urban and semi-urban areas, as well as a communal act that promises to give security of tenure to those living in areas controlled by traditional leaders.