South Africa’s government has been accused of earmarking almost 200 farms for seizure from their white owners as the chair of the African National Congress said the state should take land from those who own more than 12,000 hectares. The rand fell on financial markets after ANC chair Gwede Mantashe, an ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, said this week that major landowners should have their land taken without compensation.
AfriForum, a lobby group which mainly represents white South Africans, claimed to have a list of 195 farms which the government was planning to seize. But the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform denied the claim, saying there was ‘no truth to this document’. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, white people still own most of South Africa’s land.
Ownership patterns remain highly emotive as the government has been slow to transfer land to the black majority after centuries of colonial and racial oppression. The ANC’s plans to amend the constitution to redistribute land have been interpreted negatively by some investors, who see them as undermining property rights. The ruling party has sought to assuage those fears by saying that land reform will follow a parliamentary process.