Earlier this year, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces resolved to mandate the committee to review section 25 of the constitution on the right of property ownership, Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
The committee called for written public submissions, and by the closing date for written submissions on June 15 the committee received more than 700000 electronic and hard copy submission forms from the public, he said.
“Due to the extraordinarily huge volume of submissions and the importance of ensuring that each and every submission from the public is given deserved consideration by parliament, the committee is in the process of augmenting its internal capacity by procuring a service provider to assist with analysing the submissions.
“One of the requirements for the service provider will be that a receipt of submissions is acknowledged mainly through e-mails, SMSes, and any other way possible. Proof of this will be kept for further reference.
"The committee resolved that only clearly identifiable submissions that can be traced back to a name, cellphone number, or e-mail address will be considered.
"If the author of the submission cannot be identified it will not be accepted as a legitimate submission,” Mothapo said.
A final draft of the report was expected to be submitted by August 3, by which date the committee would have concluded its public hearings in the provinces and heading back to Parliament to continue its work.
The public hearings were scheduled to kick off this week in Limpopo and the Northern Cape on June 26 and 27, and should be “regarded as an opportunity to build a more just and equitable South Africa in which we must make full and effective use of the resources at our disposal”, he said.
“It is therefore imperative that instead of some viewing the hearings on land expropriation as a threat to their livelihoods they must take advantage of the process as a right everyone enjoys under the constitution to express their views in order to build a just, fair, and inclusive society.
"Our main objective remains to ensure that as many citizens as possible are provided with an opportunity to raise their views in the interest of participatory democracy.”
To ensure that all nine provinces were covered within the stipulated period, the committee would divide itself into two teams which would work concurrently in various areas.
These teams were scheduled to conclude their programme on August 4 with the final public hearings in the Western Cape.
Once the committee returned to Parliament, public hearings were expected to be held over 10 days until August 17, with individuals or organisations who had made written submissions and had, in addition, requested to do oral submissions.
During September, the committee would deliberate on its draft report before tabling its recommendations to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
“Public participation is the lifeblood of our constitutional democracy.
"In this regard, the joint committee once again wishes to assure all South Africans that we are determined to conduct the public hearings in a manner that is consistent with our constitution and enhances the rights of citizens to participate in Parliament’s decision-making processes.
"The committee reassures the nation that the process will be done in a manner protected both by the laws of our country and the constitution,” Mothapo said.