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  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France Wednesday.

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France Wednesday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 November 2018

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the European Parliament Wednesday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the European Parliament Wednesday that South Africa will enact land reforms in adherence to the country's constitution and with respect for the human rights of all its people.

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"This problem of land will be resolved through adherence to the rule of law and adherence to the constitution," Ramaphosa said.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress aims to change the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation to address racial disparities in ownership that persist more than two decades after apartheid’s demise in 1994.

During his speech, the South African president stressed European support for the anti-apartheid movement and made reference to anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela highlighting his visit to the European Parliament after being freed from prison.

“We will utilize the lesson Nelson Mandela taught us with regards to resolving problems. We will resolve this problem in an inclusive basis, respecting each other’s human rights, each other's hopes, and aspirations. We need to work together to solve the root causes of migration, which include poverty, inequality, unemployment, and economic exclusion,” Rampahosa told EU legislators.

South Africans "overwhelmingly support" changing the country's Constitution to allow land expropriations without compensation, a  report submitted by the Constitutional Review Committee revealed in early November.

Even those who oppose a constitutional amendment support land reform. 

The amendment, currently being discussed in the South African legislature, would be a shift from the "willing seller, willing buyer" model, which has yielded moderate results in terms of land redistribution.

Since the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, no more than 10 percent of the white-owned land has been transferred back to Black South Africans. Most of South Africa's fertile land remains controlled by white farmers. 

Ramaphosa was accompanied by the finance and trade ministries. He is expected to lure foreign investment. Trade with the European Union accounts for over 60 percent of South African trade.

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