Cabinet stalling over expropriation recommendation
Politics / 22 December 2019, 10:06am / MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA and Bongani Hans
The Cabinet has chosen to remain neutral on a recommendation made by the advisory panel on land reform that expropriation of land be undertaken in limited circumstances.
This comes against the backdrop of the Cabinet giving a thumbs down to the panel’s other recommendation that the Ingonyama Trust Act be reviewed or repealed.
Briefing the media this week, Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza noted that two members of the panel, Dan Kriek and Nic Serfontein, disagreed with the majority view of the panel that recommended expropriation for land reform in limited circumstances.
She said the Cabinet had not taken a position on the expropriation recommendation, one of the 73 made by the panel.
“It was one recommendation where there was no acceptance or rejection or noting because it is a work in progress undertaken by another sphere of our state, which is the legislature,” Didiza said.
“You could not take a decision because it is a matter under debate and it is open for everyone to make views known in the legislative process Parliament is undertaking,” she said.
The question of expropriation without compensation is set to become a sticking point when the amendment of the Constitution’s Section 25 is considered.
The eighteenth constitutional amendment bill provides for national legislation to set out specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation is nil.
But, opposition parties want the circumstances in which expropriation without compensation to be in the Constitution.
Explaining the Cabinet’s position on the Ingonyama Trust, Didiza said the Act fell within the broader scope of tenure reform, which was yet to be concluded.
The land reform panel recommended that the trust should either be reviewed or repealed.
Parliament’s High Level Panel, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, made similar recommendations last year.
This angered Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, who threatened to take legal action to prevent government from taking the land from him as he felt that both panels did not consult him during their investigations.
Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) secretary Lawson Naidoo said his organisation felt strongly that the matter of the trust would be better resolved by the court.
“Until they put together a proper strategy and framework, we are not convinced that they are going to be tackling the injustices that are meted out to the occupants of the trust held land in KZN,” Naidoo said.
“In other words the minister (Didiza) should take action in terms of the interim protection of land right, and to formalise the right of the people who currently occupy the trust held land,” said Naidoo.
Casac, which wants rural people to have full land rights, has instituted court action to force the government to repeal the Ingonyama Trust Act.