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General Information and News Monitoring

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Land expropriation: Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Section 25 wraps up after two years

News 24

08 Sep

Jan Gerber

  • On Wednesday, the ad hoc committee on Section 25 adopted its report on the process to amend the Constitution.
  • This brings to an end the committee’s work over the past two years.
  • The Bill will only be before the National Assembly after the local government elections.

The parliamentary ad hoc committee on amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation adopted its report on Wednesday, bringing to an end its work of the past two years, which will probably come to nought.

The next step in the process will be for the National Assembly to consider the Bill and committee report.

This will only happen after the local government elections, the National Assembly Programming Committee decided on Monday, despite the EFF’s remonstrations.

The Bill has little chance of success – a two-thirds majority is required to amend the Constitution, and the ANC won’t have the votes without DA or EFF support.

Appearing at the committee for the first time in at least five meetings, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu on Wednesday described the Bill as “nonsensical”.

The DA has voiced its opposition to a constitutional amendment ever since it first appeared on the parliamentary radar in February 2018.

Shivambu wanted to include the EFF’s viewpoint on matters that were discussed when he didn’t attend the committee in the report – including that his party is opposed to the amendment in its current form. But the rest of the committee wouldn’t budge.

After the report’s adoption, committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga thanked all parties for their contributions, especially the DA and FF Plus, “for remaining involved in the process until the end, even if they did not agree on matters”.

The DA and FF Plus indicated that they reserved their opinions on the report, pending discussion with their respective caucuses. It is highly unlikely that either party will come out in support of the Bill.

Motshekga thanked South Africans who had participated in the public hearings on the Bill.

He said:

This report on the Bill is not just the views of public representatives, but it took into account all those submissions and public input to ensure that we have a product that South Africans can be proud of, that will be to the benefit of all South Africans. We were not involved in a party political process, but rather a people’s process.

“This report is based on the will of the people. We will do our level best to change the land ownership patterns of our country.”

Motshekga, the ANC, DA and FF Plus thanked the committee’s administrative staff and Parliament’s legal services.

Motshekga said he was happy that the committee had expressed its confidence in the administration and legal services – “who came in for unfair criticism”.

He referred to Shivambu’s earlier allegation that the legal services had been “infiltrated” by right wing elements.

Wednesday’s meeting brought to an end the committee’s work, which started in July 2019.

The previous year, the National Assembly adopted a motion to amend Section 25 to allow expropriation without compensation.

A Constitutional Review process unfolded to determine whether there should be an amendment, and in late 2018 both houses of Parliament adopted recommendation that the Constitution should be amended.

An ad hoc committee was constituted, with Thoko Didiza, now Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, as its chairperson, but could not finish its work before the 2019 elections. After the Sixth Parliament was constituted, another resolution was passed to appoint this committee.