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South Africa Considering Constitutional Amendment to Restore Land to Rightful Owners

President Jacob Zuma File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA

Parliament – Land restitution without compensation was crucial for reconciliation in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“How do we have peace and stability if land [issue] is not resolved?” Zuma asked, while responding to a debate in a sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament. Zuma agreed with many of the traditional leaders who said a Constitutional amendment was necessary to allow expropriation without compensation.

“We are not saying let us now go and take the land. We are saying let us amend the Constitution,” he said.

However, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was unconvinced. “I fear if we deviate from the Constitution, we risk reconciliation and even investment in South Africa,” Buthelezi said.

He warned that South Africa could go the way of Zimbabwe, with land grabs, division and a lack of social justice. Zuma rejected this and said there would be no land grabs.

“No one is saying let us go and grab, no,” Zuma said. “We are saying let us do everything within the law.”

One of the traditional leaders, Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe, said the expropriation of land without compensation should be prioritized as it was “in the public interest.”

“If there is doubt, we appeal to you, Mr. President, that you call a national referendum so as to test the public opinion on expropriation without compensation,” Burns-Ncamashe said.

“The indigenous people were brutally dispossessed of their land by the Dutch and the British imperialists without reparation …”

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