Amending Section 25 of the Constitution is officially before Parliament again after the National Assembly passed a motion on Thursday to establish an ad hoc committee to draft an amendment to allow expropriation without compensation.
In the debate on the motion, the old fault lines between parties who supported amending the Constitution and those who did not, have emerged yet again. The DA, IFP, FF Plus and ACDP opposed the motion.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina brought the motion, which noted the fifth Parliament adopted a report by the constitutional review committee (CRC) recommending the Constitution should be amended so section 25 makes “explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to expropriation of land without compensation, as a legitimate option for land reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land, and in so doing ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programmes”.
She also noted an ad hoc committee was established for this purpose by the fifth Parliament, but it had not completed its task before Parliament was dissolved before the May general elections. The committee recommended that the matter should be concluded by the sixth Parliament.
“We must complete this. We are hungry, we want our land back,” Majodina said after introducing the motion, to applause from the ANC and EFF.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said it was a “smokescreen for the government’s failure with land reform over the past two decades”. He added the CRC process was “legally, procedurally and constitutionally flawed”.
“What this motion is, it is the greatest hoax perpetrated on the people of South Africa,” Steenhuisen said.
EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said an amendment to section 25 would “reflect the pain where we come from as black people”.
She added in its current form, section 25 “draws a moral equivalence between the dispossessed and the dispossessors”.
“It makes the settler equal to the dispossessed,” Mkhaliphi said.
She added the EFF would ensure the ANC does not introduce “artificial amendments” and that the land was returned to its “rightful owners, which is the black people”.
IFP MP Elphas Buthelezi said there needed to be justification for amending the Constitution.
“The Constitution has not failed our people, it is the policies of this government that failed our people,” he added.
‘The EFF is more honest than the ANC’
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said while the ANC said they wanted expropriation without compensation with strict preconditions, the EFF was more honest.
“The EFF is more honest than the ANC. For them, it is an ideological issue because they say they want the land.”
He said sometimes it was difficult to tell whether the EFF and ANC were fighting, or in love.
Groenewald added the motion should have been named the “motion to destroy the economy and the future of South Africa”.
ACDP MP Steve Swart noted that the experts, who made presentations to the previous ad hoc committee, advised to tread carefully in amending the Constitution.
GOOD MP Shaun August said section 25 in its current form made provision for expropriation.
“Public land must be used for public good,” he added.
NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said while his party supported an amendment, it should be done in a way that does not disadvantage anyone.
“Two wrongs do not make a right,” he added.
ANC MP Mathole Motshekga said South Africa’s original sin was the violent dispossession of the Khoi and San people, and that the 1913 Land Act had consolidated the dispossession of the Khoi, San and black African people, which “degraded and dehumanised our people”.
Before voting, ANC MPs started singing, with EFF MPs joining in.
The motion was passed with 189 votes to 67, with no abstentions.
The new ad hoc committee will consider work and recommendations in the reports of the constitutional review committee and the previous ad hoc committee on the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution.
It will have 11 voting members, six from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from the other parties.
There will also be 11 non-voting members, two from the ANC, one from the DA, one from the EFF, and 10 from the other parties.
The deadline for the committee to report back to the National Assembly is March 31, 2020.
The ANC indicated earlier that it would nominate Motshekga as chairperson of the committee. Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza was the chairperson of the fifth Parliament’s ad hoc committee.