South Africa’s High Court rejected a legal challenge today brought by a group representing white farmers against President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans for land expropriation without compensation.
Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions of the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.
Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma in February, has made land redistribution a flagship policy as he seeks to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support ahead of an election next year.
In its legal challenge, Afriforum questioned the legality of a key parliamentary committee report which recommended a change to the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.
‘The relief sought by the applicants… is dismissed,’ said Judge Vincent Saldanha.
Afriforum, which represents mostly white Afrikaners, alleged that the parliamentary committee had illegally appointed an external service provider to compile the report, and also failed to consider more than 100,000 submissions opposing land expropriation without compensation.
Around 65 percent of public submissions were against a change, according to parliamentary officials.
Parliament successfully countered Afriforum’s case by saying the court action was premature, the committee had not abrogated its powers and all views had been taken into account.