South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, hopes to summon a fresh chapter in the nation’s history, starting with the reversal of Apartheid-era injustices.
Ramaphosa addressed the parliament last week where he announced his intent to right the wrongs of the past by seeing “the return of the land to the people from whom it was taken … to heal divisions of the past,” according to Business Insider.
In essence, the newly elected president plans to confiscate lands from white farm owners and redistribute it to Blacks as a means to correct the “original sin” of European colonizers of the 1600’s. White farmers will not be compensated for their land, however.
“The expropriation of land without compensation is envisaged as one of the measures that we will use to accelerate redistribution of land to Black South Africans,” said Ramaphosa, who was sworn in nearly two weeks ago to replace Jacob Zuma as president.
He promised that land expropriation operations would be executed carefully and responsibly, adding that the drastic move would not hurt the country’s agriculture or economy, RT.com reported. Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe implemented a similar land distribution program in the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, the nation’s economy suffered severely.
“No one is saying that land must be taken away from our people,” Ramaphosa said. “Rather, it’s how we can make sure that our people have equitable access to land and security of tenure. We must see this process of accelerated land redistribution as an opportunity and not as a threat.”
A recent study showed that Black South Africans comprise nearly 80 percent of the nation’s population, yet own a mere 1.2 of its rural land. In contrast, white South Africans account for 9 percent of the nation’s population and own 23.6 percent of its rural land, in addition to 11.4 percent of land in towns and cities, according to a Land Audit report.