South African ruling African National Congress will push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, a move likely to unnerve investors.
The ANC had said in May it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a plan that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the constitution.
The proposal was first adopted in December by the party.
“It has become pertinently clear that our people want the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said in a recorded address to the nation.
“The ANC will through the parliamentary process finalise the proposed amendment to the constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”
Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.
Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.
Some investors are concerned that the ANC’s reforms will result in white farmers being stripped of land to the detriment of the economy, although Ramaphosa has repeatedly said any changes will not compromise food security or economic growth.
South Africa’s economy has barely grown in recent years, with the growth outlook remaining much lower than the 5 percent annual growth government is aiming for to make a dent in near-record unemployment.
Data showed on Tuesday that South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 27.2 percent of the labour force in the second quarter from 26.7 percent in the first quarter.
Ramaphosa said the unemployment figures were “quite worrying,” saying the ruling party has told the government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite economic growth. Ramaphosa said the measures will, among others, include increasing investment in public infrastructure.
“This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments, while remaining committed to fiscal prudence,” Ramaphosa said.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party secured a landslide win in the first parliamentary election of the post-Robert Mugabe era as the opposition and advocacy groups questioned the credibility of the process.
With almost three-quarters of the legislative results tallied, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won 110 of the 210 directly elected seats in the National Assembly, electoral commission officials said Wednesday. Nelson Chamisa’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance won 40. Another 60 seats will be allocated to women based on the proportion of the vote their party wins.
After a largely peaceful campaign and vote on Monday, the focus now shifts to the credibility of the process and whether the results are accepted, key pillars needed to rebuild the southern African nation after two decades of decline under Mugabe’s rule. The jury is still out on whether the contest was fair, with observers noting a number of flaws and the opposition alleging there’d been a deliberate attempt to frustrate and suppress urban voters.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the country’s largest group of non-governmental organizations, said the July 30 election “falls short of a credible process.” It cited concerns that the voters’ roll hadn’t been released prior to the poll, about a fifth of results from the presidential ballot weren’t published outside polling stations and that some voters had been “deliberately displaced.”
The MDC also questioned the pace of releasing tallies from the presidential vote. The ruling party’s margin of victory in legislative elections makes Mnangagwa, 75, the favorite in that race, which featured 22 candidates. The outcome will be announced once the counts from all provinces are received and verified, Priscilla Chigumba, the chairwoman of the electoral commission, told reporters. Final results must be released by Aug. 4.
The ZEC “seeks to release results to buy time and reverse the people’s presidential election victory,” Chamisa said on his Twitter account. “The strategy is meant to prepare Zimbabwe mentally to accept fake presidential results.”
All you need to know about Zimbabwe’s elections.
Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who took control of the MDC after the death of its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February, said on Tuesday that based on his party’s own count of unofficial results from more than 90 percent of the 10,985 polling stations, the MDC was “winning resoundingly” and ready to form the next government.
Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu accused individuals and parties of inciting violence by declaring themselves winners before the results were announced.
An observer group from the Southern African Development Community, a regional group, said in preliminary findings that the campaign and vote were generally peaceful and in line with the law, describing it as “a watershed” in the country’s history. Observers from the African Union found that the election was by and large well administered despite some logistical challenges, and the electoral commission was well prepared.
European Union and American observer groups are due to deliver their assessments of the vote later on Wednesday.
The ruling party forced Mugabe to resign in November, when the military briefly seized control of the country, and replaced him with Mnangagwa, his former deputy and spy chief. Whoever wins the vote will have to administer a broke Treasury that’s unable to service its loans or take out new ones, leaving little scope to improve government services, rebuild crumbling transport links and meet a plethora of other election pledges.
“The ability for the new government to kick-start the economy will in a large part depend on to what extent it can mobilize external support for whatever reform program they will embark on,” said Mark Bohlund, an Africa economist at Bloomberg Economics. “There is arguably a strong desire to help Zimbabwe pave its way out the economic disaster of the last decades, but also an understandable suspicion of the real intent of the political and economic elite to change their ways.”