JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma said on Friday his government would push through a new law to compensate the black majority for stolen land, stepping up populist rhetoric before August local polls where his ruling ANC faces a tough challenge.
The embattled president threw his weight behind a bill making its way through South Africa’s parliament to let the state make compulsory purchases of land to redress racial disparities in land ownership.
Zuma made the televised remarks while addressing the African National Congress (ANC) branch of Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and financial centre Johannesburg. Local media have reported the province’s ANC branch is divided about his leadership.
Zuma’s political standing has been hard bit by two recent court rulings: one saying he violated the constitution when he ignored a watchdog’s recommendation he repay a portion of state-financed upgrades to his private home, the other that could see him face almost 800 graft charges previously dropped.
“In 1913 … the land that had been stolen from us was legalised. And that is when we believe it was taken from us,” Zuma said, referring to legislation that year which left just 13 percent of South Africa’s land, farming and otherwise, in the hands of the black majority.
Experts have estimated about 8 million hectares (20 million acres) of farmland have been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid, equal to 8 to 10 percent of the land in white hands in 1994 – only a third of the ANC’s 30 percent target.
Zuma said to rectify this, his government would work “within the law … If it means amending the law, yes yes, we are doing it now.”
Land is an emotive issue in South Africa, where many commercial and small-scale farmers are facing tough times because of the worst drought in at least a century.
Under the proposed legislation, the state can acquire land without the owners’ consent by paying an amount determined by the office of the Valuer-General, effectively scrapping a “willing-buyer, willing seller” formula. Owners can challenge the compensation offered in court.
The ANC’s challengers in the August local elections, widely seen as a run-up to the 2019 general poll, include the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters, which has vowed to seize white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks.
Zuma said South Africa was “the only country in the world where the majority do not control the economy.”
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Wednesday that Israel's building of settlements was endangering Middle East peace, expressing unusually frank frustration with the long-time American ally.
Israeli Prime ...
THE economic growth performance of sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade or so has been very impressive. More recently, however, economic activity has weakened markedly in quite a few countries.
THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is deeply concerned by the continued outbreaks of xenophobia that have been occurring around the country, particularly in Durban where many foreign ...
BEDMINSTER, N.J. - President-elect Donald Trump and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney set aside their long-simmering rivalry on Saturday and had talks likely to feed speculation that Romney could be ...
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress is considering holding an early conference to replace its top leaders after its worst election performance since the end of apartheid ...
Drake ended Ed Sheeran’s two week reign atop the Billboard 200 album chart on Monday, selling a monster 505,000 copies of his new album “More Life,” according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan. The Canadian rapper, […]
RONNIE Mudhindo’s musical journey is not complete without the mentioning of his early days with the late Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo and Utakataka Express band. The reference involves both sweetness and sourness. Utakataka fans may remember […]