ANC Says South Africa Land Policy Doesn't Affect Communal Areas

(Bloomberg) -- The South African ruling party’s land-reform policy won’t tamper with traditional leaders’ authority over communal areas, African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule said.

Plans to expropriate land without compensation won’t transgress on communal areas, Magashule told reporters Tuesday in Johannesburg a day after after party executives met with traditional leaders.

The government is considering legislation to repeal a trust that holds all the land that belongs to the Zulu nation and of which King Goodwill Zwelithini is the sole trustee. The draft Communal Land Tenure Bill before parliament will enforce individual rights and not leave control to traditional leaders. This could make it easier for million of citizens to secure land tenure and for some of the nation’s poorest people to pass on property to their children, or to get mortgages against the land.

Zwelithini in July sounded a warning about potential clashes if the government dissolves the Ingonyama Trust, which accounts for a large part of the KwaZulu-Natal province, a region larger than Hungary.

“We affirmed our view that the kings and chiefs are the rightful custodians of communal land for and on behalf of the people and communities in the traditional areas,” Magashule said. “The ANC will never be part of any attempt that seeks to tamper with authority of traditional leadership over the land of their ancestors including traditional communities.”

Separately, President Cyril Ramaphosa has embraced land expropriation without compensation as a means to achieve equality and racial justice -- and in a bid to steal a march on populist opponents before elections in 2019. A planned amendment to the constitution is still a work in progress, with public hearings on the matter concluding this month.

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