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DA calls on South Africans to raise their objections to Section 25 Amendment Bill

The Democratic Alliance (DA) remains against the Amendment of Section 25, the Property Clause, of the Constitution.

However, at a meeting of Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee that met on Thursday 5 December 2019 it was agreed that the proposed amendments be gazetted.

The proposed amendment supported by the ANC will firstly allow for expropriation of land where the compensation can be nil. Secondly, and very concerning, is that the amendment proposes that legislation will be used to determine the circumstances under which compensation can be nil.

This is extremely problematic and concerning on two grounds. Although the amendments refer to land, it must be understood that land is not confined to agricultural land. It includes any land, ranging from farms to communal land, small holdings to urban property. The concept “land’ is not defined in the amendment. The Constitution in Section 25 (4)(b) stipulates that property is not limited to land, meaning any property. There should thus be no doubt that land in the amendment includes any form of land.

Secondly, the proposed amendment in a new Section 3(A) proposes that the circumstances to determine whether the compensation for land should be nil, should be left to legislation. This is highly problematic as the threshold requires for passing legislation is a simple majority in Parliament, whereas passing a constitutional amendment is much higher as two thirds majority plus six of the nine provinces in the NCOP are required. It also makes it possible for extremely arbitrary circumstances to be proposed through legislation.

The DA believes that any circumstances for expropriation should be included in the Constitution as this affects the very core of the Bill of Rights, your right to own property and the protection against the expropriation of your property in a way that amounts to confiscation.

The ANC has decided to rush this bill through and therefore the period for comments by the public, has been severely curtailed by the limited period of mid-December, the festive season and then January. At the first meeting of the committee the chairperson was quite adamant that the process should not be rushed and that there could even be a request for an extension. Since then there has been a sudden change and urgency. There is now a tremendous rush and the reply to my question in the committee regarding this, was met with a reply that can only be described as desperate, i.e. that the people of the country cannot wait any longer than 31 March.

The DA calls on everyone, who wants to protect our Constitution to object to this bill as we cannot allow an amendment to Section 25 the Bill of Rights.

The Section 25 Amendment Bill has been gazetted for public comment, please refer to the DA’s objection website.

 

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