It could still be some time before the amendment to the constitution to accommodate land expropriation without compensation is made as the major political parties still do not see eye to eye on how the changes should be implemented.
Even after they had held separate bilateral talks aimed at reaching compromises, there is still a gaping gulf between the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) in particular – and without either of the parties, constitutional amendment is impossible.
The ANC and the EFF are still at loggerheads on the way forward. The ruling party favours compensation in some instances but the red berets are adamant that there should be no compensation for expropriated land.
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The DA opposed an amendment of the constitution. The ANC claimed to have accommodated the views of other parties but was disappointed that none of the parties tried to meet them halfway.
It said the parties stuck to their original positions, something that appeared to be the bone of contention in the conclusion of the constitutional amendment to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
The process was aimed to amend Section 25 of the constitution in line with a resolution adopted in parliament and views obtained during the public hearings and written submissions.
After much disagreement early this year, the ANC decided to hold bilateral meetings with the EFF, the DA, Freedom Front, Inkatha Freedom Party and African Christian Democratic Party.
Although the ANC met the EFF thrice, the parties could not agree as the EFF was adamant no compensation should be paid for expropriated land and that the land must be in the state custody.
It was important that the parties agreed on the issue because the constitutional amendment could be passed only with a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and approval of six of the nine provinces in the National Council of Provinces. This means without consensus among the top three – ANC, DA and the EFF – the change would not happen.
ANC MP Cyril Xaba outlined the ANC revised amendments during committee deliberations. The revised amendments stipulate that national legislation should define the circumstances where “compensation is nil” and further proposed that the state must foster conditions that enable its custodianship of “certain land” for citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.
Xaba said the ANC revised its amendments to accommodate the views of other parties but that other parties had not reciprocated an attempt to accommodate the ANC’s views.
The ANC’s Sibusiso Gumede said the party had managed to “panel beat” the clauses about the role of the courts to try and meet the DA halfway and inserted state custodianship in line with the EFF proposal, but those parties had not budged on their positions.
Despite the ANC’s call to the parties to engage in a spirit of “give and take”, it didn’t help as there was not a clear agreement among parties, particularly on nil compensation, state custodianship of land and even on amending the constitution.
The EFF opposed the ANC proposal supporting compensation under certain circumstances and the state being custodian of only “certain land”.
While the ANC supports hybrid land ownership, the EFF advocated for state custodianship. EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the ANC position did not make any fundamental changes to the constitution and it would not make any difference to fast-tracking expropriation and restoration of land to the people.
The DA’s Professor Annelie Lotriet said the party was concerned that “nil compensation” would have devastating financial implications for SA and for the property market.
The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was not in favour of expropriation without compensation but open to engagement. FF+ MP Dr Connie Mulder said they believed national legislation unnecessary and even if one opted that route, this must be contained in the constitution, not in national legislation.
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2021