Expropriation without compensation bill to be finalised before the end of March- South Africa

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Parliament’s ad hoc committee tasked with finalising the expropriation of land without compensation issue is on track to table a bill on the proposed amendments to the constitution by March.

The land expropriation issue has polarised the country and spooked investors who fear that the programme, which is meant to address SA’s skewed land ownership dating back to the colonial and apartheid era, is a risk to security of tenure.

The Banking Association SA, which represents all registered banks in the country, previously said that while it is necessary for the country to deal with land reform, it has to be done without discouraging investment.

The multiparty ad hoc committee met on Wednesday to discuss its amended programme. This follows the conclusion of nationwide public hearings late in 2020, where it sought the input of the public on what form or format the constitutional amendment should take in relation to expropriation of land without compensation.

The ad hoc committee agreed on Wednesday to meet at least twice a week to meet the March deadline to finalise the amendment bill. Committee members also requested access to the volumes of written submissions made on the matter.

Dear South Africa, a non-profit organisation that opposes any amendment of the constitution’s section 25, stated in 2020 that of the more than 150,000 submissions channelled through its platform, more than 80% opposed the proposed amendment to the property clause. This compares with the 57% who were opposed to land expropriation when Dear South Africa conducted a similar public participation campaign in 2019.

In 2020, the ANC proposed a drastic change, shifting the arbitration powers from the courts to the executive in terms of compensation to be paid. The ANC’s Mathole Motshekga, who leads the ad hoc committee, said at the time that if the courts determined compensation “it will take another 25 or 50 years to sort out land reform”.

On Wednesday, Motshekga said MPs would go through all the written submissions before crafting the bill.

“The land question is a build or break question for our country. We need to ensure that we deliver to the aspirations of all South Africans, black and white,” Motshekga said.

The committee will meet on Friday to consider the report on public participation and thereafter deliberate on the bill until March 12. Parliament said, according to the programme, that the committee is likely to adopt the bill by March 19.

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