White farmers lose fight to save their land going to black South Africans
A group of white farmers’ legal fight against plans to give their land to black South Africans without compensation has been thrown out by the country’s High Court
Since his election in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa has made land redistribution the nation’s hot topic in an attempt to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support.
The motion of land expropriation without financial recompense aims to right racial inequality, more than two decades after the end of apartheid, when millions of the black majority had their land taken by a white minority.
But Afriforum, an interest group who represent mostly white Afrikaners, questioned the legality of a key parliamentary committee report which recommended the change to the constitution.
They alleged that the parliamentary committee had illegally appointed an external service provider to compile the report, and had also failed to consider more than 100,000 submissions opposing the motion.
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But parliament successfully countered Afriforum’s case by saying the court action was premature.
‘The relief sought by the applicants… is dismissed,’ said High Court judge Vincent Saldanha.
They also stated that the committee had not abrogated its powers and all views had been taken into account.
‘We welcome the orders handed down today particularly because we’ve always been of the view that the matter was not urgent,’ Lewis Nzimande, co-chair of the constitutional review committee said.
‘They (lawmakers) may set aside the recommendations, they may reject the recommendations but procedurally… we can’t just reject the whole work of the committee.’
Mr Nzimande stated that the report will likely be the subject of debate in both houses of parliament on December 4.
After that, it is expected a new bill proposing the exact changes to the constitution will go to parliament, with further public participation.
The bill will only go to Mr Ramaphosa for ratification once both houses of parliament have approved it, in a process which is unlikely to be completed before a parliamentary election expected to be held in May.
But Afriforum said they will continue to challenge what they have described as a flawed process, including through further legal action.
‘AfriForum therefore undertakes to use every possible mechanism at its disposal to, in the interest of everyone in the country, fight to the bitter end against the undermining of property rights,’ the group said.