Opposition parties have criticised the manner in which the Section 25 Committee handled the submission on the second bill aimed to amend the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.
This happened when the committee met to receive the report on the submissions and a draft revised bill that were compiled without their consultation by the parliamentary legal services.
The decision was taken by the management committee, consisting of chairperson Mathole Motshekga and the parliamentary staff.
The public participation process drew 148 891 written submissions over a three-week period.
DA MP Annelie Lotriet said it was very clear that the committee was with utter contempt.
Lotriet said the explanation to fail to consult did not hold.
“There was nothing that prevented you from calling a meeting of this committee to decide on those matters. It is irregular and not procedural,” she told Motshekga.
Lotriet charged that clearly there was no intention to involve the committee and also stated that some matters in the revised bill were mentioned by one submission.
Her colleague, Glynnis Breytenbach, said procedurally there was something seriously amiss.
“This committee was not involved in the sifting of the public participation results,” Breytenbach said.
Freedom Front Plus chief whip Corne Mulder said whether they liked the public participation cherry picked submissions that were not discussed by the committee.
Mulder said the problem was that they could not be selective in what they did.
“We can’t disregard the outcome of the public participation process,” he added.
Mulder said they were going in the wrong direction, but the bill should be taken to the House to make a decision.
But Motshekga stood his ground and defended the decision to compile the report and use it to draft the third bill without consulting the committee.
He said the initiative was taken given the constraints of time.
“The revised bill was produced by the parliamentary legal services on instruction of the management committee, which was informed by the fact time was not on our side.
“The reason we have a management committee is that it must provide leadership taking into account circumstances that prevail, so we don’t breach the rules of Parliament,” Motshekga said.
Motshekga said the revised bill was not binding and that it would need to go to the parties to take further mandates.
“If there is anything in the bill that does not arise from the report, members have the liberty to raise issues, and necessary corrections will be made.”
Meanwhile, the committee members have until Tuesday to consult on the third revised bill.
The bill provides for moving the deadline restitution for land dispossession from 1913 to January 1800 and doing away with state custodianship of expropriated land.
It also provides for the exclusion of the communal land in the expropriation of land without compensation, among others.
Briefing the committee, Charmaine van der Merwe of the parliamentary legal services said they have three options on the bill to be taken to the National Assembly for adoption.
One of the options is to adopt the second draft taken for public comment without making amendments.
There is another option to tweak the second bill after accepting the inconsequential amendments.
The third is to adopt the third revised bill and ask for permission to extend the scope of committee work.
The last option will also require an extension of the committee’s lifespan to allow consultation with departments, provincial legislatures and the National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders because the clauses dealing with restitution deadline and excluding communal land from expropriation were material amendments.