South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday that the ruling African National Congress would push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The comments come after the ANC said in May that it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a move that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the constitution.
The proposal was first adopted in December by the party.
In a recorded address to the nation, Ramaphosa said it had become clear “that our people wantthe constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings.”
He said the ANC would go through the parliamentary process to finalize a proposed constitutional amendment “that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”
Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.
Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.Progress has been slow.
The ANC has said it will not pursue land reform in a way that threatens food security or economic growth.