South Africa‘s plan to expropriate land without compensation in order to redress racial disparities in land ownership would target mainly unused land, a senior official with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday.
As part of long-promised reforms, the ANC in December adopted a resolution to expropriate land without compensation for redistribution to landless black South Africans, provided this was done in a manner that does not threaten food security or undermine economic growth.
Land ownership remains a highly emotive subject more than two decades after the end of apartheid. Whites still own most of South Africa‘s land. Moves towards land expropriation have also worried markets and economists and farming groups have warned of a potentially devastating impact on the agricultural sector.
David Masondo, a member of the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee, said the aim of the resolution was not to target “all land that is productively utilised … but use it or lose it, even if you are black.”
“It includes vacant land, unused land, and land used for speculative purposes,” he told a breakfast seminar with reporters.
The ANC has been fleshing out the resolution, using its majority in South Africa‘s parliament to back a motion last week seeking to change the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation. It then instructed a committee to review the constitution and report back to it by Aug. 30.