News agency Reuters has reported that President Jacob Zuma is not only not satisfied with the Expropriation Bill, which he has referred back to parliament reportedly because of a lack of public consultation, but he also wants to give in to the demands of radical populist parties such as the EFF.
The EFF has for years demanded that land be taken from land owners (with a particular emphasis on white farm owners) without any compensation on the basis that the willing buyer-willing seller model has failed.
The Expropriation Bill as it currently stands would still have the state paying for land it expropriates, but the amount paid would be determined by the Valuer-General, not the owner of the property concerned.
It is doubtful whether a policy of no compensation would be able to pass constitutional muster, since the constitution guarantees property rights in South Africa. Zuma, however, said on Friday that the constitution does allow this to happen, and no changes would be required to put such a policy into effect.
According to Reuters, however, Zuma will press for amending its laws to allow expropriation of land without compensation for owners “as it tries to speed up the redistribution of land to its black majority”.
It is widely believed that most of South Africa’s land remains in white hands, though a great deal of rural land is also already owned by the state and by tribal chieftains and kings.
“We need to take bold steps that will transform our economy, including land ownership, very fast,” Zuma was quoted as saying on Friday.
“We are busy amending [laws] to enable faster land reform, including land expropriation without compensation as provided for in the constitution.”
Analysts Reuters spoke to said that the ANC may be attempting to halt its slide in support with such populist policy ahead of the 2019 elections. Zuma and the ANC have been banging the gong about “radical economic transformation” before, during and after the recent state of the nation address.