The ad hoc committee amending section 25 of the Constitution, to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, is currently deliberating on whether to request another extension or not.
The National Assembly’s programme committee on Thursday gave an update on the progress of the draft bill.
‘What we can report on is that the committee is having deliberations today and tomorrow. They started on the 24th [of August], but in the previous meeting, it was reflected that there might be a possibility of requesting an extension. So far we have not yet reached that,” Parliament unit manager Mongana Tau told MPs.
The ad hoc committee has been deadlocked in its deliberations on the form of the amendment, after having missed its previous deadline of 31 May.
The committee was re-established in June 2020 after it lapsed at the end of May 2020, as it could not complete its public participation process due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was then given a deadline of 31 December 2020, which was later extended to March 2021, and then the end of May 2021.
The extension was granted after the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) could not agree on the form of the proposed amendment.
The original amendment bill made provision for the courts to determine the amount of compensation to be paid, including nil compensation as a point of departure.
The ANC proposes to change this provision, so the courts will only be involved if there is a dispute between the state and the owner of the expropriated property.
However, the EFF’s proposed amendment has no role for the courts as well as the state being the custodian of all land.
During proceedings in Parliament on Thursday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it is against another extension.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone told MPs that there was no reason why the committee would not be able to finish its work by next Tuesday, given the extensive public hearings that had been conducted.
“I am now getting the feeling and the distinct rationale coming from this committee that there is an intention to stall the outcome of this committee until after the possible 27th of October elections,” she said.
Mazzone, however, proposed only a one-week extension if the decision was made to grant the committee more time.
“The idea of extending it by two months is absolutely ludicrous and completely unnecessary. We are very concerned at what seems to be U-turn approach after they have worked so hard and under such immense pressure to get the work finished as quickly as they have,” she said.
The ad hoc committee drafted the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill in 2019 to initiate and introduce legislation to amend section 25 of the Constitution – a section referred to as the Property Clause – laying a framework for the protection of property rights, while balancing it with imperatives for the transformation of property relations in South Africa.
Section 25 of the Constitution provides for the:
- Prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of property.
- Seizure of land to be administered under a law of general application – not promoting any arbitrary deprivation.
- Provision of a just and equitable payment of compensation in the event of expropriation.
- In the document, those in favour of the amendment have argued that amending section 25 and implementing land reform programmes was “likely to give dignity back to indigenous people whose land was wrongfully, illegally and forcefully taken away from them”.