Ramaphosa wants land issue resolved ‘once and for all’

File: President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he wanted to resolve the land expropriation issue "once and for all". Photo: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he wants talks on the thorny topic of land expropriation to avoid panic but aims to resolve the issue of racial disparities in property ownership “once and for all”.

The newly-appointed president, who took over from scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma in February, said South Africa would not have a smash and grab-type situation when it comes to land expropriation.

Parliament on Tuesday took the step to hasten the transfer of land from white to black owners when officials backed a motion seeking to change the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

READ: Land expropriation: A long and lengthy process

The subject remains highly emotive, more than two decades after the end of apartheid.

Whites still own most of South Africa’s land following centuries of brutal colonial dispossession.

“I will shortly initiate a dialogue with key stakeholders... There is no need for any one of us to panic and start beating war drums,” Ramaphosa told the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town.

“We are going to address this and make sure that we come up with resolutions that resolve this once and for all. This original sin that was committed when our country was colonised must be resolved in a way that will take South Africa forward.”

READ: Parliament debate on land expropriation irrational: AgriSA

The governing African National Congress adopted a policy in December to redress racial ownership disparities by expropriating land without compensation, pledging to do so in way that does not undermine food security in Africa’s top maize producer.

Lobby group AfriForum’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ernst Roets on Wednesday said property rights were under threat in South Africa and foreign investors.

He said land expropriation without compensation could be described in five words: “Destructive, dishonest, ahistoric, racist, theft.”

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