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

Parliament - The National Assembly on Thursday adopted a motion to re-establish a committee which will write legislation to amend section 25 of the Constitution explicitly allowing government to expropriate land without compensation.

A constitutional review committee was established last year to give effect to the decision, taken by majority vote in the National Assembly, to amend Section 25, also known as the property clause, but members of Parliament (MPs) could not finish their work before the dissolution of Parliament in May this year.

Following the elections, the committee was revived through a motion by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), again by majority vote with 189 ayes and 67 voting against the move on Thursday.

As expected, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who initiated the move to amend the Constitution in the National Assembly in February last year, supported Thursday's motion, saying it was fundamental to addressing the land dispossession of black people during apartheid.

"The sixth Parliament has the rare opportunity to address all these past wrongs, to allow the natives who have lost so much to reclaim their dignity back by getting our land," said EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi.

"The property clause must and will be amended and the land will be expropriated without compensation for equal redistribution and use. No longer shall we have the tiny settler minority owning the bulk of land in South Africa. No longer shall we be treated as slaves in our land."

The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposed the move, saying the Constitution already provided government with the means to expropriate land in the public interest.

"This plaster that you are trying to use to fix this problem is a smokescreen to the government's failure of the last last two decades. It doesn't address the root causes of why land reform has failed," said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen. 

The ANC has nominated Mathole Motshegka to chair the committee, which will consist of 11 voting members -- six from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two MPs representing smaller parties in Parliament. 

African News Agency (ANA)