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

Durban - The fight over the amending of Section 25 of the Constitution to provide for land expropriation without compensation looks set to intensify this year after the EFF demanded that the process produce more than just superficial changes.

The National Assembly’s ad hoc committee to initiate and introduce legislation amending Section 25 of the Constitution that will lead to the expropriation of land without compensation has given interested parties until the end of January to make written submissions.

If it succeeds, this will be the 18th amendment to the Constitution since 1996.

The process that culminated in the establishment of the ad hoc committee started after the ANC’s December 2017 national conference at which President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected the governing party’s leader. At the conference, the ANC resolved to pursue land expropriation without compensation as a matter of policy as it was committed to addressing the historical injustice of land dispossession.

The party said it was pursuing the expropriation of land without compensation but would not destabilise the agricultural sector, which would endanger food security and undermine economic growth and job creation.

The ad hoc committee, which is chaired by ANC national executive committee member Mathole Motshekga, intends finalising its programme by the end of March.

However, it is likely to face a raft of legal challenges, with the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) stating that the committee, then chaired by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza, only looked at 400 of the 449500 valid written submissions and disregarded 99.9% of them.

The Didiza-led committee recommended that the Constitution be amended, and this was later endorsed by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

Minority rights group AfriForum’s attempt to urgently interdict the committees failed in November 2018.

The IRR believes the Western Cape High Court dismissed AfriForum’s application due to the Constitutional Court ruling in 2008 that the judiciary could not intervene in the legislative process until it had been completed.

“This indicates that no challenge to the committee’s procedural irregularities can be brought until after the constitutional amendment bill has been adopted,” the institute declared.

The EFF has tasked its newly elected central command team and the party’s MPs to intensify the work that will lead to the amendment.

“The EFF must object to any amendments to the Constitution that will not result in a fundamental restructuring of property rights in the country and entrench the status quo and produce only superficial changes,” the party said earlier last month.

It warned that South Africans must guard against the abuse of power by the government, including a new property clause, by establishing a land rights protector or an ombudsperson.

Meanwhile, the red berets this week said Parliament had published a new bill on land expropriation without sufficient notice to the public.

The EFF welcomed the gazetting of the bill, but said it “has been done with no adequate publicity, and worse just before Christmas”.

The bill was gazetted on December 6, and the period for public comment closes on January 31.

“We call on all South Africans to share the bill far and wide to ensure maximum reach and awareness,” the EFF said. 

Political Bureau