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Land expropriation Bill is unconstitutional

The Property Valuation Draft Bill recently gazetted for public comment by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform must be withdrawn says the Democratic Alliance.

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The Bill establishes the Office of the Valuer-General, a government official appointed by the Minister of Development and Land Reform with the power to determine the purchase price of any land identified by the state for purposes of expropriation.

The establishment of such an office would be unconstitutional. Section 25 of the Constitution explicitly provides that land may only be expropriated “…subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.”

Appointing an extra-judicial body to determine compensation will open the process of awarding compensation to abuse. Where the state is the buyer, a state institution mandated to determine the value of assets is likely to distort asset values in their favour.

The DA will be writing to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, requesting that he withdraw and reconsider the Draft Bill. Should the Minister refuse, when tabled in Parliament, the DA will oppose the Bill and do everything in its power to see that it does not become law.

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“The DA fully supports the need for land reform – the 1913 Natives Land Act dispossessed millions of South Africans and many still live with that legacy today. We also acknowledge that the willing-buyer willing-seller model may have failed to result in meaningful redress; however, efforts to find alternative method should be guided by the Constitution”, said Mpowele Swathe, the DA Shadow Minster of Rural Development and Land Reform.

“All programmes of redress should be based on the rule of law and the constitutional provisions that govern property ownership. Land reform must be a “win-win” scenario, in which the rights of present and future landowners are protected”, added Swathe.

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