Ex-South African President Zuma Supports Nationalizing Land

(Bloomberg) -- Former South African President Jacob Zuma said he supports nationalizing land as the country’s ruling party takes steps to change the country’s constitution to make it easier to take it without compensation.

“My information says that European countries don’t sell land to private people or companies -- it is in the hands of the state,” Zuma said in a video posted to his Twitter account Wednesday. “If you want to use it, you lease it. Why in our case it should be different?”

Zuma’s position matches that of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a populist party that’s won support from young voters in impoverished townships and wants blanket nationalization of all land. The ruling African National Congress, which Zuma led for a decade before being replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa a year ago, says individual property rights should be respected but more needs to be done to to address racially skewed land-ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule.

On Dec. 21, lawmakers released a draft Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which the state can take land without paying for it. The bill is separate to plans to amend the constitution to explicitly make it permissible to seize land. Lawmakers approved a report recommending that change last month and will now establish a parliamentary committee to draft the necessary legislation.

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