South Africa’s parliament passed Tuesday a motion brought by the leftist party Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, to carry out land expropriation without compensation, a key pillar of the ruling ANC government and new President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The motion, which would include a review of the constitution, was sponsored by leader of the EFF Julius Malema and was passed by an overwhelming majority of 241 votes in favor versus 83 votes against the proposal.
“We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land,” Malema told parliament while presenting the motion.
The African National Congress, or ANC, amended the motion, but supported it, with its deputy chief whip, Dorries Eunice Dlakude saying the party “recognizes that the current policy instruments, including the willing-buyer willing-seller policy and other provisions of section 25 of the constitution may be hindering effective land reform.”
In his first state of the nation address two weeks ago, Ramaphosa made a direct appeal to poorer Black voters, who are the core of the ANC’s electoral support base, saying he would aim to speed up the transfer of land to Black people.
Two decades after the end of apartheid, the ANC is under pressure to redress racial disparities in land ownership where whites own most of the land.
Ramaphosa said earlier Tuesday he would pursue expropriation of land without compensation, but said this should be done in a way that increases agricultural production and improves food security.
The national assembly, in concurrence with its upper house, instructed its constitutional review committee to review the constitution in line with the successful motion and report back to it by Aug. 30, 2018.