Land Reform Report Makes Radical Proposals

Expropriation of land without compensation gets the green light but with strict conditions to ensure it does not collapse the values of the Constitution. A presidential panel, tasked with investigating land reform, has given the go-ahead for a constitutional amendment for the expropriation of land without compensation — but with strict conditions.

The report compiled by the multidisciplinary advisory team on land reform and agriculture was appointed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last year and was released Sunday, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported.

The panel was appointed at the height of the land debate when there were jitters about the damage such an amendment would do to property rights and investor certainty.

Headed by economist and national planning commission member Vuyo Mahlati, the panel includes experts from across the spectrum. Two members aligned with the farming sector have distanced themselves from the report.

In its report, the panel notes that even without a constitutional amendment “the state is able to expropriate for land reform purposes based on just and equitable compensation.”

It says if the intention of the proposed amendment is to “move away from mandatory compensation” then it should insert a new clause in section 25 of the Constitution which would read: “Parliament must enact legislation determining instances that warrant expropriation without compensation for purposes of land reform envisaged in section 25(8).”

But the panel warns that if the intention of an amendment is to “implement expropriation without compensation and without conditions” it would “offend” and “collapse” the underlying values of the Constitution.

The report makes wide-ranging proposals on how South Africa deals with land reform, ownership patterns and food security.

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