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Committee instructed to be impartial at landmark expropriation hearings

Business Day
25 June 2018 – 05:05
Genevieve Quintal

Members of the constitutional review committee will have to take off their political party hats when dealing with whether section 25 of the Constitution needed to be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, co-chairman Vincent Smith said.
Public hearings, which will be held in all nine provinces, are set to get under way this week starting in Limpopo and the Northern Cape.
The review committee is made up of MPs from different political parties and includes EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu; DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and Glynnis Breytenbach; and the ANC’s Mathole Motshekga.
The EFF demands that the Constitution be changed, while the DA says it supports land restitution and redistribution but opposes expropriation without compensation.
The ANC at its Nasrec conference in December resolved to amend the Constitution to include expropriation without compensation.

Property rights

The party has started discussing the Constitution’s property rights provisions and has said it would not wait for the constitutional review committee to complete its work.
The Gauteng government has already started the process. Smith said on Sunday that the land matter was an emotive one but that people had to be tolerant of each other’s views.  “The committee resolved on Thursday that ours would be to go and facilitate consultation and there will be no party politicking when we do our road shows,” he said.
He said there would be security measures in place at the venues so that people did not feel threatened.   He said all South Africans accepted that there had to be land reform which incorporated restitution and redistribution.  “In doing that we must ensure we don’t destabilise agricultural productivity.  “We should not send out panic … that land will be taken willy-nilly and make sure the markets do not perceive what we are doing in a negative light,” he said.
All this needed to be taken into consideration while the committee did its work.  The review committee is expected to conclude its work by the end of September.
Smith said the committee has received 700,000 written submissions.  Because of the volume of submissions, a service provider would be appointed to assist with analysis.