(File photo) The controversial District Six in Cape Town. Picture Leon Lestrade

Cape Town - Funding for the controversial Expropriation Bill will be prioritised over the next three years.

Although no rand amount is mentioned, the 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure, tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday, shows government intends introducing the bill, which has caused some panic among land owners.

“The spending focus over the medium term will be on tabling the Expropriation Bill, which provides for the expropriation of property for a public purpose or in the public interest, subject to just and equitable compensation... .”

The bill is still in draft form and has not been tabled in Parliament.

The proposed law was first introduced in 2008, but was later withdrawn after clauses that removed the rights of land owners to approach the courts were criticised for being unconstitutional.

A later version of the draft bill recognises the jurisdiction of the courts in expropriation matters.

It could be used in conjunction with the recently passed Restitution of Land Rights bill.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly passed the proposed legislation which would see the land restitution process being re-opened.

The amendment bill sets a new deadline for land claims - December 31, 2018. The previous deadline was December 31, 1998.

This bill is also expected to have financial implications for the state.

According to the new budget, funds allocated to restitution decrease to R2.6 billion in 2014/15, but increase to R3.3bn in 2016/17.

“Over the medium term, expenditure in the Restitution Provincial Office sub-programme is expected to increase due to the proposed re-opening of land claims as contained in the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment bill.”

Compensation of employees will also rise as more people are appointed to deal with the expected inflow of new land claims. - Sapa