South Africa Lawmakers Vote to Adopt Report on Land Reform

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s National Assembly approved a lawmakers’ report that favors changing the constitution to make it easier to expropriate land without compensation, the latest twist in a divisive debate over how to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to apartheid and colonial rule.

There were 209 votes in favor of accepting the report and 91 against, Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said in parliament in Cape Town. Parliamentarians for the ruling African National Congress and for the Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-biggest party, supported the acceptance while most other parties were against it. The National Council of Provinces, the second chamber, will vote tomorrow.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition, and several other smaller parties complained that the panel didn’t follow proper procedure because it largely ignored more that 400,000 written submissions from the public on the issue. Lobby groups have threatened to challenge the move in court. The potential erosion of property rights and fears of a Zimbabwe-style land grab has added to negative sentiment toward emerging markets and compounded a sell-off in South African assets.

A South African court last month dismissed an urgent bid by the AfriForum civil-rights group asking that the report be invalidated. The organization will continue to battle against the “defective process” the committee followed by ignoring written objections, it said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.