South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked business leaders to present solutions to redistribute land to majority blacks as the government works to finalize changes to legislation and the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
“This year we are going to have to finalize the legislation and the constitutional construct on the land question,” he said at a conference organized by Business Unity South Africa on Tuesday.
“One of the things we have been asking for is the business community to come forward with solutions of resolving the centuries-old problem of land,” he told the country’s largest business lobby group. “I would like to see the business community taking this issue up rather more seriously.”
The ruling African National Congress plans to change the nation’s constitution to make it easier to seize land without paying for it to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to colonialism and white-minority rule, a view shared by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the second-largest opposition party.
Ramaphosa asked business leaders to play a more proactive role in land expropriation through a donations policy, which will allow for companies to voluntarily give up under-utilized land to communities whose land was taken away.
“What is a certainty is that the land question has to be addressed. As South Africa we cannot run away from it,” he said. “The key issue for us is: Are we going to be part of the solution or are we going to be part of the problem?”