South Africa parliament votes to confiscate land owned by white farmers

  • 01/03/2018
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters. Photo credit: Reuters

South Africa's parliament has voted in favour of a motion to confiscate land owned by white farmers without compensation, following racial grievances dating back decades.

"The time for reconciliation is over," the bill's frontman and leader of the radical opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, told fellow politicians.

"Now is the time for justice.

"We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land."

An overwhelming 241 MPs voted in favour of the bill while only 83 voted against. The country's constitution will now likely be amended to include the expropriation of land.

A 2017 government audit found white people own 72 percent of farmland - something Mr Malema has long-promised to reform.

In 2016 he told supporters he was "not calling for the slaughter of white people - at least for now".

Last year more than 70 white farmers were killed in 340 attacks, making farming more dangerous than being a police officer, according to the African News Agency.

African National Congress deputy chief Dorries Eunice Dlakude said the party, which supported an amended version of the motion, "recognises that the current policy instruments, including the willing-buyer, willing-seller policy may be hindering effective land reform".

But leader of the opposing Freedom Front Plus party Pieter Groenewald warned the motion could have consequences.

"If you continue on this course, I can assure you there is going to be unforeseen consequences that [are] not in the interest of South Africa," he told parliament.

Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee will report back to lawmakers on changes the constitution by August 30.