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You don’t have to wait to see the complexities of land expropriation without compensation playing out. It’s happening right under our noses and proving that we need to be very careful in how we use this tool — and that our political parties on both extremes of the debate aren’t paying enough attention to the details. As the DA voted against the historic motion for land expropriation without compensation in the National Assembly a few weeks ago, its mayor in the City of Joburg, Herman Mashaba, announced plans to go ahead with the expropriation of potentially 200 or more hijacked buildings in the inner city. It’s a fascinating case study, particularly because while the focus has been on agricultural land, it’s the right to land in our city centres that is arguably the most urgent issue. To this end, Mashaba is on the right track — and he’s within the legal bounds to expropriate even before the motion becomes law. The motion, which was led by the EFF and supported by the ANC, was passe...

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