11 June 2018

South Africa: On the Necessity of, and Mechanisms for, Expropriating Land Without Compensation


The call for expropriation without compensation is a reaction to the general failure of the land reform programme to live up to expectations. It is not the Constitution that is at fault. The Constitution is being used as a scapegoat for government's (and especially the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform's) ineptitude in this regard.

In the light of a land reform programme whose progress has been described as tardy at best (Hall & Kepe, 2017), to a total system failure at worst (High Level Panel, 2017), the ANC decided late last year to acquiesce to pressure from the EFF and move towards land expropriation without compensation. This decision was ratified by newly elected President Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation address in February 2018. But expropriation without compensation is considered unconstitutional, so a Constitutional Review Committee has been established to investigate whether and how the Constitution should be changed.

In keeping with constitutional obligations, the Constitutional Review Committee has called for comments on the necessity of and mechanisms for expropriating land without compensation. In particular, the committee is tasked...

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