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Jan Christians sits outside his home in the Richtersveld area, where locals live as they await the outcome of a lands claim action, North Western Cape Province, South Africa, March 2005 (AP photo by Mujahid Safodien).

Can Land Expropriation Address South Africa’s Continued Racial Disparities?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In late February, South Africa’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion seeking to change the constitution in order to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation. The motion came after the ruling African National Congress formally adopted the principle of land expropriation at its party conference in December. South Africa’s new president and the head of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, has since voiced his opposition to the recent spate of unilateral land grabs across the country, or what critics call “illegal land invasions.” In an email interview, John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche senior fellow of African policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, discusses racial disparities in land ownership in South Africa and why land reform remains so contentious despite the end of apartheid.

WPR: Why is the Ramaphosa government considering amending the constitution to allow land expropriations without compensation? ...

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