The authorities of Ekurhuleni, a city outside Johannesburg, are preparing what they describe as a “test case” for the nation — to seize hundreds of acres of land from private owners to build low-cost housing as an estimated 600,000 of South Africa’s four million people live in ramshackle dwellings for lack of land for housing construction, the Associated Press reported.
More than two decades after the end of apartheid, white South Africans still own most of South Africa's land, even though they account for just eight percent of the population, thus wielding most of the economic power in the country.
But the government now plans to transfer land to the country’s black majority.
In July, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ANC planned to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, sparking fears that this could destabilize the fragile economy and spark conflict in an already socially divided nation.
The government’s land redistribution plans made in an effort to make good on the ANC’s longstanding promise to provide the majority of black South Africans with better access to land, are seen by many investors as a breach of property rights.
Aware of these concerns, the government has promised that the proposed land reform will be implemented fully in line with a parliamentary process and that there is no cause for alarm.
The ANC is under pressure to speed up land reform in the run-up to next year's national election, where the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters party has made faster land redistribution one of its main priorities.