Jan Gerber in Oudtshoorn
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC announcement on land expropriation without compensation will not detract from the Constitutional Review Committee’s work, committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith said on Thursday.
Smith was referring to Ramaphosa’s announcement on Tuesday that the ANC would support an amendment to a section of South Africa’s Constitution to “explicitly” expropriate land without compensation.
The committee, which currently has a delegation in the Western Cape, is in the final leg of its trek through of South Africa’s provinces to hear what the public has to say on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation.
A delegation of the committee is expected to be in Swellendam on Friday.
After chairing a hearing in Oudtshoorn on Wednesday and another in Beaufort West on Thursday, Smith said in a statement the committee was extremely pleased with the huge turnout at both venues.
“We had South Africans coming out in big numbers to make their voices heard. They were clear and concise. The input was structured in such a way to take the work of the committee forward.”
The hearing in Beaufort West concluded a bit earlier than previous hearings. By 14:40, most members of the public had left the venue. Earlier, it was packed and there were some people standing at the back.
Smith commended the public for the spirit in which the hearings around the country has taken place.
Taking a tolerant stance
“Although this is a very emotive issue, South Africans have given each other an opportunity to have their say – even when they did not agree. They were extremely tolerant.”
At both the Oudtshoorn and Beaufort West hearings, some members of the public called the process a farce in light of Ramaphosa’s late evening announcement.
But Smith assured that the announcement would not detract from the committee’s work in any way, saying that many political parties have made resolutions and pronouncements on the matter.
The committee was instructed by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to ascertain whether a review of Section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses was necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and propose the necessary constitutional amendments where necessary.
The instruction came after the National Assembly adopted a motion to this effect in February.