Hermann Pretorius
Hermann Pretorius
Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says it is gearing itself up for the “biggest legal battle” against Parliament over the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution.

This comes as the Ad Hoc Committee tasked with the amendment of the section is planning to conclude its public consultation phase next month.

The committee is expected to conclude its work by March next year but the IRR accused the ANC of rigging the process and disregarding input from those who were opposed to the move.

The IRR has been among the most vocal organisations and interest groups against the resolution for the expropriation of land without compensation, which was adopted by Parliament in a bid to address the contentious land reform crisis.

The IRR’s campaigns co-ordinator, Hermann Pretorius, said the institute would legally challenge every aspect of the amendment should it encroach on the rights of property owners.

“We are gearing up to make sure that every aspect of this whole fiasco has maximum legal scrutiny and we are confident that we will make sure that South Africans do not lose their right to own what they have earned and own what they have worked for. This is the fundamental denial of human freedom and will run into extensive difficulties,” Pretorius said.

He said the period of three weeks for public consultations for a constitutional change was also inadequate.

“This is the greatest constitutional change in the history of the modern SA democratic dispensation. To give three weeks for the government to push through one of the most dangerous bills makes an absolute mockery of the whole process.”

While the ANC and the EFF - respectively the biggest and the third biggest parties in Parliament - have been the biggest supporters of the constitutional amendment, the two parties have not agreed on the finer detail of the amendment.

While the EFF demands that all land be expropriated and be placed under the custodianship of the state, the ANC wants the amendment to enable the government to expropriate to redistribute to citizens.

Ad Hoc Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said the committee would stick to the mandate given to it by the National Assembly and not focus on property and the custodianship of land.

Motshekga said all voices would be heard in the raging land debate.

“We should talk to all stakeholders before we come to the final determinations on contentious issues. We should also afford all political parties, however small, an opportunity to make inputs and also make room for participation by all stakeholders to ensure that the final product is co-owned by the people of South Africa as a whole,” he said.

Political Bureau