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Ad hoc committee on Section 25 amendment concerned about parallel Expropriation Bill process

25 March 2021

News24

Jan Gerber

The ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution is concerned about another committee’s work on the Expropriation Bill.

The Expropriation Bill must give effect to the yet-to-be-finalised constitutional amendment and the committee is worried that they’re putting the cart before the horse.

The committee asked the Departments of Public Works and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to return next week with more detailed presentations.

The ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, is worried that that Portfolio Committee on Public Works is putting the cart before the horse by continuing its work when the amendment has not yet been finalised.

“The draft bill – the Expropriation Bill – cannot precede the amendment to the Constitution. That would be putting the cart before the horse,” ad hoc committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said at the committee’s meeting on Thursday.

Several of the submissions to the ad hoc committee have queried the legality of the work on the draft bill ahead of the finalisation of the constitutional amendment.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu said perhaps the committee should write to the speaker of Parliament or the programming committee to ask them to allow the ad hoc committee to finish its process before the portfolio committee continues working on the draft bill.

Motshekga said the portfolio committee chairperson, Nolitha Ntobongwana, was also a member of the ad hoc committee and added that he would write to her first.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works conducted public hearings on the bill.

Throughout the public hearings and in many of the written submissions before the ad hoc committee, government departments were blamed for the slow implementation of land reform. Corruption and ineptitude were raised as concerns.

On Thursday, the ad hoc committee was expected to receive presentations from the Department of Public Works and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to explain these challenges.

However, both departments presented legal opinions on the proposed constitutional amendment.

This didn’t meet the committee’s expectations and the briefings were cut short.

“As honourable members of this committee, we could not ignore what came out of the oral and written submissions, which blames the departments [for mismanagement, for incompetency, for corruption, for all these things,” said Motshekga.

“It would not be fair, or right, to conclude this process without hearing the departments on those allegations.”

The committee will provide a clear brief on what is expected of their presentations and it will be scheduled for next week.