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SA rights groups criticise land expropriation bill

Proposed laws to allow the seizure of land and property to redress the imbalance of ownership between black and white South Africans, could be unconstitutional and subject to the whims of ministers, rights groups told parliament on Tuesday. 

Land remains a highly emotive issue in South Africa, where 300 years of colonial rule and white-minority government have left the vast majority of farmland in the hands of a small, mainly white, group of people.

The prospect of expropriation has drawn comparisons with neighbour Zimbabwe, where state-sponsored land grabs spooked investors and contributed to the country’s economic ruin. 

Phephelaphi Dube, legal officer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, a unit attached to former President FW de Klerk’s foundation, said the definition of “public interest” to justify the seizures in the proposed laws lacked clarity. 

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