South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday failed to gain sufficient support in parliament to pass a controversial bill that would allow the government to expropriate land without compensation.
The ANC had hoped to secure the required two-thirds majority after earlier talks with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), but the latter voted against the bill, resulting in only 204 of the 267 yeses needed.
The ANC and the EFF accused each other of treason during the debate in the National Assembly.
MP Julius Sello Malema said the ANC had let the people down and could not be trusted.
The bill sought to amend Article 25 of the Constitution to allow the government to redistribute land, especially farms, which have been largely controlled by the white minority since the apartheid era, while the majority of the population was limited to townships and supposedly independent homes for black ethnic communities.
Indian and MÃ©tis (mixed) communities were also resettled in racially distinct townships, far from the downtown area where their ancestors had settled decades earlier.
The homelands were incorporated after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, but the regions remain underfunded, with claims that most of the most economically viable land remains in white hands.
Restitution attempts over the past two decades have been thwarted by insufficient public funds to compensate, often at inflated prices, the owners of the expropriated land.
The bill’s termination in parliament ended three years of moving public debate on the issue by supporters and opponents of the proposal.
“Those who vote against this bill are voting against the will of the South African people and, therefore, they cannot continue to claim to be Democrats,” said ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, who chaired the committee. ad hoc who initiated the amendment bill.
Motshekga called the appropriation of traditional lands from indigenous communities by white settlers a âsinâ.
âThis original sin shaped the occupation of land by Africans and the administration of African affairs. We can see that there has been a grave injustice done to the African majority in particular and to black people in general, âMotshekga said.
Democratic Alliance MP Annelie Lotriet said her party rejected the bill because it would cause serious damage to the economy.
The DA said it was totally opposed to any constitutional amendment, adding that the bill violated South Africans’ right to private property.
Narend Singh of the Inkatha Freedom Party called on the government to continue its current land restitution plans, which attempt to return homes from which people were forcibly evicted after living there for generations to make room for then privileged white minority community.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)