South African leaders backpedal on land reform

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Plans to return lands illegally seized by whites after 1913 to South African Blacks appear dead for now. The Expropriation Bill was quietly shelved late last month. Kgotso Khumalo, spokesman for the ruling African National Congress said the party believed

Plans to return lands illegally seized by whites after 1913 to South African Blacks appear dead for now.

The Expropriation Bill was quietly shelved late last month. Kgotso Khumalo, spokesman for the ruling African National Congress said the party believed not enough time was given for deliberations on the bill that would have sped up the return of lands.

Former Apartheid leader F.W. DeKlerk applauded the freeze on reform.

“I welcome the decision of the ANC to withdraw the contentious Expropriation Bill,” he wrote in an open letter.

ANC president Jacob Zuma, speaking at a graduation ceremony at the University of Zululand, added: “Land reform has failed to benefit the rural poor and facilitate the development of rural areas.”

The proposed bill would have replaced the “willing seller, willing buyer” plan that landless Blacks opposed because it was ineffective and slow.

At the onset of democracy in 1994, some 87 percent of farmland in the country was owned by whites, who make up less than 10 percent of the population.

Thirteen years later, around four percent of land, or nearly 10 million acres, have been transferred to Blacks, said the Center for Development and Enterprise, a think tank.

Meanwhile, Sandra Botha, leader of the Democratic Alliance in Parliament, disputed the ruling party’s decision.

“Lack of consultation is not a sufficient explanation for the shelving of the bill, as public hearings were extensive and received an overwhelming response from civil society,” she said.

Special to the NNPA from GIN

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Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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