Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

De Lille defends repeal of Expropriation Act while Constitution is amended

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

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Cape Town - Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille has defended the repeal of the Expropriation Act while Parliament was busy amending the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

There have been concerns over the public work and infrastructure portfolio committee conducing public hearings on the Expropriation Bill.

Briefing the Ad Hoc Committee on Section 25 on Friday, De Lille said they understand that the proposal of the committee to make explicit what is in the Constitution in terms of the expropriation of land without compensation.

“The committee’s proposal will help the department’s work in its implementation of the Expropriation Bill.”

De Lille said the current apartheid-era Expropriation Act was inconsistent with the 1996 Constitution.

“We all know in 2019 the report from presidential advisory panel determined the 1975 Act be repealed as it is not aligned to the constitution. The purpose of the Expropriation Bill from the Department of Public Works is to align legislation with the constitution and replace Expropriation Act of 1975,” she said.

The minister also said it is their mandate to review the Expropriation Act and then explained the process that has been followed since 2004.

“The bill currently before Parliament has been certified by the chief state law advisor as being constitutional so for us that is relevant to the work the committee is doing,” De Lille said

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu asked if the department was not putting the cart before the horse by amending the Expropriation Bill before Parliament amended the Constitution.

“Can’t we wait for this process of amending the constitution and later align the Expropriation Bill as an enabling legislation which the Constitution says must be enacted?

“The priorities are not proper in terms of what is happening. It does not make sense,” Shivambu said.

De Lille said the two separate processes would finally end up in Parliament where a final decision would be made.

“I don’t see these two processes as mutually exclusive. I see the two complement each other. If Parliament finally takes a decision to amend the Constitution to make more explicit what is contained that will certainly help the department,” she said.

But, Freedom Front MP Corne Mulder said it did not make sense to him that the amendment of the Constitution and repeal of the Expropriation Act took place at the same time.

“If we amend Section 25, it means the new Expropriation Act would be amended or there will be another new act in terms of whatever process’s end result,” Mulder said.

But, De Lille fired back saying she did not know why the MPs were panicking and why they thought one process should follow the other.

“You are to come with a proposal on amendment of Section 25 to Parliament. We submitted the Expropriation Bill to Parliament in October to repeal the 1975 apartheid act. It is the MPs that will make a final decision,” she said.

De Lille insisted that it was the role and function of the executive to make sure they repealed acts that were unconstitutional.

“There is nothing wrong with us repealing any act that is inconsistent with the Constitution unless we want to keep the 1975 Act, first amend the Constitution and thereafter come with an Expropriation Bill.

“There is no need to work like that … There is not one process to follow the other. The final decision will be made by you what we do with the bill and the Constitution,” she said.

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Political Bureau

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