White South African farmers will be removed from their land after a landslide vote in parliament.
The country’s constitution is now likely to be amended to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation, following a motion brought by radical Marxist opposition leader Julius Malema.
It passed by 241 votes for to 83 against after a vote on Tuesday, and the policy was a key factor in new president Cyril Ramaphosa’s platform after he took over from Jacob Zuma in February.
Mr Malema said the time for “reconciliation is over”. “Now is the time for justice,” News24 reported.
“We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”
Mr Malema has a long-standing commitment to land confiscation without compensation. In 2016 he told his supporters he was “not calling for the slaughter of white people – at least for now.”
A 2017 South African government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of farmland.
Rural affairs minister for the ruling African National Congress party said “The ANC unequivocally supports the principle of land expropriation without compensation.”
“There is no doubt about it, land shall be expropriated without compensation.”
Freedom Front Plus party leader Pieter Groenewald said the decision to strip white farmers of their land would cause “unforeseen consequences that is not in the interest of South Africa.”
The deputy chief executive of civil rights group Afriforum said the motion was a violation of agreements made at the end of apartheid.
“This motion is based on a distorted image of the past,” Ernst Roets said.
“The term ‘expropriation without compensation’ is a form of semantic fraud. It is nothing more than racist theft.”
The ANC is increasingly under pressure to speed up land redistribution to help shore up its support among poorer black voters ahead of the election next year.
Parliament ordered its constitutional committee to report back on the issue by August 30.
Botched and often violent redistribution of land in neighbouring Zimbabwe under ex-leader Robert Mugabe left many farms in ruins, and the drop in production triggered an economic crisis that still haunts the country.
White farmers control 73 percent of arable land compared with 85 percent when apartheid ended in 1994, according to a recent study.
“The time for reconciliation is over; now is the time for justice,” EFF leader Julius Malema told parliament.
“It is about our dignity. We do not seek revenge… all that our people ever wanted is their land to which their dignity is rooted and founded.”