South Africa approves land expropriation bill

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
South Africa has some highly fertile land but it is mostly owned by white farmers

South Africa's parliament has approved a bill allowing the government to expropriate land in the public interest.

The measure will allow the compulsory purchase of land to place more in black ownership.

Most of South Africa's land remains in white ownership two decades after the end of apartheid.

The governing ANC party said the law would tackle injustices imposed by white-minority rule.

However, the opposition Democratic Alliance opposed the bill.

BBC South Africa correspondent Milton Nkosi says land is an emotive issue 22 years after the end of apartheid.

President Jacob Zuma must now sign the bill into law, a move that could take weeks or months.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Land ownership is an emotive issue in South Africa

Under the new law, the state will be able to expropriate land in the "public interest", paying the owner a value determined by a government adjudicator.

"The passing of the bill by parliament is historic and heralds a new era of intensified land distribution programme to bring long-awaited justice to the dispossessed majority of South Africans," the ANC (African National Congress) said in a statement.

About 10% of land in white ownership has been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid, which is only a third of the ANC's target.

Correspondents say it will not mean the kind of often violent land grabs from white farmers seen in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

President Zuma and the ANC have said that land distribution has to take place in the framework of the law.

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