South Africa’s ruling party expects parliament to approve an amendment to the constitution this year outlining the circumstances in which land may be expropriated without compensation, president Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The African National Congress adopted expropriation of land without compensation as a policy in 2017 to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to colonialism and white-minority rule.

It’s seen by Ramaphosa’s foes within the party as a test of his resolve to push through decisions unpopular with the business community.

The amendment will “contribute to the acceleration of land reform,” Ramaphosa said in a televised speech marking the 109th anniversary of the founding of the ANC.

“The redistribution of land will be done in a manner that promotes economic growth and sustains food security.”

Constitutional amendments require the backing of two-thirds of lawmakers, a margin the ruling party lacks.

Ramaphosa reiterated that officials accused of corruption must step down, in line with another resolution taken by the party in 2017.

His comments came after the party’s integrity body last month recommended that ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule — a key rival of the president — step aside or be suspended after being accused of crimes including fraud and money laundering.

Steps are being taken to strengthen the effectiveness of ANC Integrity Commission in dealing with party members who are accused of wrongdoing, Ramaphosa said.

“Members who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures, will be summarily suspended,” he said.

In his speech, Ramaphosa also called for:

  • Intensified efforts to promote responsible behavior to curb the spread of the coronavirus; he also urged a “rapid and efficient program to provide a vaccine” to South Africans;
  • The aggressive implementation of the government’s economic recovery plan, which seeks to mobilize investment, create jobs and accelerate industrialization;
  • Continued discussions on the viability of a basic income grant to provide a social safety net for the poor.