South Africa’s newly elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to give the lands owned by White farmers since the 1600s back to its ‘rightful owners’ in the country. The government intends to quicken land redistribution via expropriation without compensation.
“The expropriation of land without compensation is envisaged as one of the measures that we will use to accelerate the redistribution of land to black South Africans,” said Ramaphosa, who was sworn into office to replace Jacob Zuma as president a week ago.
The wealthy former businessman Ramphosa gave his word that land expropriation operations will not be a “smash and grab” exercise and assured to deal with the situation properly,
The millionaire ex-businessman Ramaphosa promised that land expropriation operations will not be a “smash and grab” exercise and promised to handle the matter properly, emphasizing that people “must see this process as an opportunity.”
At a speech to parliament on Tuesday, he went on to say, “No-one is saying that land must be taken away from our people,” he said, “Rather, it is how we can make sure that our people have equitable access to land and security of tenure. We must see this process of accelerated land redistribution as an opportunity and not as a threat.”
Such an extreme move would not hurt the country’s agriculture or economy, the South African president promised.
“We will handle it with responsibility. We will handle it in a way that will not damage our economy, that is not going to damage agricultural production,” he said.
Over 20 years after the end of apartheid in the 1990s, the dominant African National Congress (ANC) party is urged to address racial disparities in land ownership in South Africa. More than 50 million people call the country home, with Whites owning the majority of the land.
Recent studies show Black South Africans account for 79 percent of the population, but only own 1.2 percent of the country’s rural land. On the other hand, White South Africans, who make up 9 percent of the country’s population, own 23.6 percent of its rural land, and 11.4 percent of land in towns and cities, says the Land Audit report.
An almost identical program of land redistribution was put into effect by former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thousands of white farmers were removed from their lands.
However, food production plunged without the contribution of seasoned farmers, and Zimbabwe’s economy took a serious hit. In 2010, the Guardian reported that Mugabe used land reform as a means of rewarding his allies rather than regular Black Zimbabweans. In 2016, Mugabe issued a mandate that foreign companies would be shut down if they refused to sell or give up 51 percent of their shares.
Regarding redistribution of land in his country, Ramaphosa said that “in dealing with this complex matter” South Africa would not “make the mistakes that others have made.”