The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has called for the withdrawal of the proposed amendment to section 25 of the constitution which allows for land expropriation without compensation.
The organisation said the drive by the ANC to amend the constitution was not the result of legal considerations but of perceived public pressure.
“It is the obvious result of political pressure and the perceived need by government to be able to show that something tangible is actually being done on the subject of land reform,” said Anton van Dalsen on behalf of the HSF.
He explained that the obstacle to land reform was not the constitution but rather “a lack of political will to implement an effective land reform policy”.
“It is common knowledge that the land reform process has been beset with corruption, inefficiency and incompetence. The pace of restitution has been extremely slow,” said Dalsen.
He said according to the report of the high-level panel, there had been a downward trend in the pace of redistribution since 2008 with 7,000 unsettled claims and more than 19,000 unfinalised claims that had been lodged before 1998.
“It will take 35 years to settle these claims at the present rate of 560 claims a year,” he said.
Yesterday the parliamentary ad hoc committee extended the deadline for written submission on the draft constitution eighteenth amendment Bill.
Committee chair Dr Mathole Motshekga said the committee had unanimously resolved to extend the deadline to 29 February 2020 instead of today, because the Bill was published over the festive season and the public did not have sufficient time to comment meaningfully.
The Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) said for the new Expropriation Act to be effective, it needs to allow for a comprehensive compensation framework, which takes into account a diverse range of circumstances and not just those that warrant no compensation.
Dr Farai Mtero from Plaas said what was missing from the proposal was a fully-fledged compensation policy to guide expropriation of land or property in South Africa.
“The office of the valuer general [OVG] has a key role to play in supporting the executive or the minister in ascertaining the level of compensation.
“But the OVG’s office needs to be strengthened so that it effectively fulfils its constitutional obligations,” said Mtero.
Motshekga said the committee had not made any decision on inputs received thus far on the Bill and the door was still open for all to make submissions to the committee.
“We will consider all inputs irrespective of which political party makes the comment. All submissions carry the same weight. It is only after the closing date for written submissions and public hearings that the committee will deliberate and resolve on the matter,” he said.
Motshekga said that public hearings would take place in all provinces predominantly from Fridays to Sundays.
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