According to an official audit, 72% of farms and agricultural holdings in SA are owned by whites and 24% by non-whites. Of the latter, just 4% are black Africans, who make up more than three-quarters of the population. These figures are controversial and probably overstate the case. But they reflect a broad reality born of an injustice that began in 1913 with the Natives Land Act. Cyril Ramaphosa, SA’s president since the welcome deposition of Jacob Zuma, legitimately wants to accelerate the process of addressing this inequity. Thus he is seeking to alter the constitution to allow expropriation without compensation. What he has proposed so far, however, is relatively modest. New measures could apply to "unused land, derelict buildings, purely speculative land holdings or circumstances where occupiers have strong historical rights and titleholders do not occupy or use their land". Ramaphosa is no tub-thumping populist. Nor is he encouraging the violent seizure of white-owned farms as...

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