Cape Town - The National Assembly Programme Committee has agreed to grant a two-week extension of the lifespan of the committee mandated to amend the constitution to allow expropriation of land.
The committee was given until Monday to complete its work after it could not do so by the end of May.
The committee has to consider the submissions from second round of submissions on its proposed bill and also made consultations, including the National House of Traditional Leaders.
The programme committee was previously made aware of the possibility of an extension request, and the committee is set to meet later on Thursday and Friday to deliberate on the submissions it received from the public.
At the meeting Thursday morning, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone was the first to raise the matter, saying the committee’s terms has been unanimously and automatically extended without consultation of parties and bringing the request to the House.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she was not aware of any extension, but a briefing from the executive management had indicated that whether there should be an extension or not would be a subject for discussion.
“As far as I am concerned, there has not been an extension granted,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Secretary to National Assembly Masibulele Xaso told the committee that in an interaction with ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina there was a concern that should the House not do anything today on extending the terms, the committee would have to be re-established.
“The sense was the House this afternoon would have a motion extending the term of the committee,” Xaso said.
He said should the programme committee decided not to extend the term of the committee, the motion would not proceed.
“It was to play safe and the House not re-establish over and again when it can extend the term of the committee,” Xaso added.
He also said they were concerned as they did not know what the decision of the Constitutional Court on Tuesday on the local government elections would be.
“That will have implications for this committee and other committees,” Xaso said.
However, Mazzone said the committee had done extensive work, and there was an intention to stall its outcome until after October 27 local government elections.
“The bill has a dramatic effect on all South Africans, and the South African public have waited long enough.
“There is anticipation and anxiety of this bill and get this bill dealt with quickly,” she said.
Mazzone also said her party would agree to a one-week extension.
“The idea of extending by two months, we find it ludicrous and completely unnecessary. We are concerned with what seems to be a U-turn approach after the committee worked so hard under such immense pressure. If there is to be an extension, it must be an extension of one week only,” she added
Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said there was no reason why the committee could not finish its work by Monday.
“I will not support an extension of more than a week. We have been involved for a long time,” Mulder said.
He stated that everybody knew exactly where they stood, and there was nothing to change the process at this stage.
“Either we don’t give an extension or at least one week,” Mulder said.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the committee has to be satisfied that they completed their work and submit a report.
“We got to bring this matter to a head. South Africa wants this matter to be finalised,” Singh said.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the term of the committee should be extended in order for the committee to finalise its work.
She dismissed the suggestion that the extension was proposed because of the elections.
“It is about the committee to complete their work,” Dlakude said.
She also said the extension should be for two or three weeks.
Majodina later said two weeks was enough.
“They must consolidate their submission and be done with it,” Majodina said.
NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam said there was no clear indication from the committee that they will be ready in few days and cautioned against repeated extensions.
“We should extend for two months but emphasise to the committee to conclude their work as soon as possible,” Shaik Emam said.
ADCP MP Steve Swart said the work of the committee was on a point of being finalised.
“We support extension, but we would support one week. If it is necessary, for the utmost, for two weeks,” Swart said.
Mapisa-Nqakula noted that everybody agreed on the need for an extension of the committee’s term.
“We are agreeing that we are granting this Ad Hoc committee two weeks to complete its work,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula also said the committee should be given an opportunity to round up everything so that when the House received its report, it did not encounter problems.
“It is agreed that two weeks is adequate,” she added.