President Cyril Ramaphosa today confirmed that government’s plans to fast-track land reform could include expropriation of urban land to enable the poor to live closer to economic opportunities.
Responding to questions in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa said where tracts of urban land were held privately purely for speculative purposes or lying fallow, local authorities needed to investigate such circumstances so that the government could decide how to deal with it.
He was responding to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema who asked point-blank whether expropriation was an option under consideration to allow people to escape the indignity of townships, which he termed “concentration camps” created by the apartheid regime.
Ramaphosa answered that vast areas of urban land were owned by local authorities, state-owned enterprises and government departments who did not use it.
The land should be released as service stands, because many South Africans have indicated that they were prepared to build their own homes, he said.
“Our people must be given that land and that land as owned by local entities does not even need to be bought, so that is a form of expropriation…. Quite a bit is owned by state-owned enterprises and some by various government departments. Those must be idenitified, serviced and released to our people.”
He said this was part of plans to undo the spatial planning legacy of apartheid.
“Our new development is that we should move our people close to economic opportunities. The measures we should take include expropriation.
“Some of it is held for specific reasons, some of it is just lying fallow and we are saying our entities must examine that and on an informed basis we should be able to determine how to deal with land like that.”
He said the measures would be implemented “in an orderly fashion and in accordance with our constitution”.
Ramaphosa has raised a political storm by confirming at the end of last month that the ruling ANC planned to push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to define in which instances land could be expropriated without compensation.
Part of the motivation for this has been to allow previously dispossessed South Africans to acquire farmland and to revive the agriculture sector.
– African News Agency (ANA)
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