South Africa
Parliament sets up committee to write the land expropriation bill

The National Assembly has decided to adopt a proposal that will see Parliament setting up an ad hoc committee to lead a process of drafting a bill that will allow for Section 25 of the Constitution to be amended.

In a sitting of the House on Thursday, Jackson Mthembu, the Chief Whip of the majority party, the ANC, tabled a draft motion that the ad hoc committee be set up to initiate the process of drafting, processing and tabling the Constitutional Amendment Bill before May 2019.

The decision comes after both houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces – adopted a report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee had recommended, after an extensive public consultation process, that Parliament amends Section 25 of the Constitution to pave the way for land to be expropriated without compensation.

After a brief debate, and after the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for a division – which is a process whereby a much clearer method of voting than a voice vote – a majority of MPs voted in favour of the proposal.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said after the vote: “There are no abstentions. There are 77 Nos, 183 Yeses. The motion is therefore agreed to.”

Glynnis Breytenbach from the DA said that they are opposed to an arbitrary amendment of the Constitution because it is totally unnecessary.

“The Constitution already allows for land reform, in fact it encourages it. The Constitution may already allow for expropriation without compensation where the circumstances warrant it.

This election roadshow for the EFF, paid for by Parliament and supported by the ANC, is nothing more than a cruel hoax. It has allowed thousands upon thousands of South Africans to believe that they will each receive a plot of land.

Of course, the ANC has nothing of the sort in mind. In 25 years they have done little to improve the lot of ordinary South Africans,” said Breytenbach.

The ad hoc committee, as per Mthembu’s motion, will consist of 11 voting members of the National Assembly and will be made up of six members from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from other parties.

The committee will also consist of 14 non-voting members of the National Assembly – 2 from the ANC, one from DA, one from the EFF AND 10 from other parties.

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Mthembu had moved on a motion that Parliament “amends section 25 of the Constitution to make explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to expropriation of land without compensation, as a legitimate option for land reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land, and in so doing ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programs”.

The motion also recommended that Parliament urgently establishes a mechanism to effect the necessary amendment to the relevant part of section 25 of the Constitution.

As part of the same motion, it was recommended that Parliament sets the deadline by which the Committee is to report to 31 March 2019. – SAnews.gov.za

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