In many ways, 2018 was book-ended politically and legislatively by the issue of land. In February, the National Assembly resolved to allow for expropriation of land without compensation to give meaningful effect to land reform; in December, the 2019 Expropriation Bill was gazetted — the first step towards putting that into effect. The bill is the clearest articulation yet of just how "expropriation without compensation" will work. It’s a seminal document: once signed into law, it will provide the legal basis for the application of any amendment to section 25 of the constitution (the property clause). As it stands, the property clause reflects a delicate balance between protecting property rights from arbitrary state interference, and ensuring equitable access to SA’s natural resources. But the slow pace of land reform has led many to argue that the state has failed to achieve this balance, and that the property clause remains skewed towards property rights over equity. The willing b...

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