South Africa Court Dismisses AfriForum Land-Seizure Challenge

(Bloomberg) -- A South African court dismissed an urgent bid by a civil-rights group asking that a lawmakers’ report recommending changes to the constitution to explicitly allow for land seizures without payment be invalidated.

Parliament established a panel to consider whether constitutional amendments were necessary and it concluded last month that they were. AfriForum’s lawsuit argues that the panel reached its findings without taking into account hundreds of thousands of written submissions. The Western Cape High Court dismissed the group’s urgent bid on Friday.

“This means the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces’ plenary sittings on Tuesday can proceed with their scheduled consideration of the report,” parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in an emailed statement.

The ruling African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest party, argue that the amendments are necessary to address racially skewed land ownership patterns dating back to colonial and white minority rule. Opponents, including AfriForum, farmers’ lobby group AgriSA and the Democratic Alliance, the biggest opposition party, say undermining property rights will deter investments and harm the economy.

AfriForum’s legal team will “continue to battle in court against the defective process that the parliamentary committee followed by ignoring written objections against expropriation without compensation,” Chief Executive Officer Kallie Kriel said in an emailed statement. “What this court judgment simply means is that the case will not be heard on an urgent base.”

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