Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Opposition to land bill persists

By SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI Time of article published Jan 30, 2020

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Johannesburg - Opposition parties are not backing down and have continued to reject proposals for changes to the Constitution that would allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Their discontent comes as the national legislature races against time to meet Friday’s deadline for written submissions on the bill to amend section 25 of the Constitution.

The DA and ACDP said on Wednesday that there was no need for the ANC government to amend parts of the country’s highest law. According to the two parties, provisions in the Constitution allowed for the expropriation of land.

The DA said it would on Thursday hand over thousands of written objections against the expropriation of land without compensation. The handing over of the written submissions by DA caucus chairperson in Parliament Annalie Lotriet, party chief whip Natasha Mazzone and Justice spokesperson for the party Glynnis Breytenbach would take place ahead of the meeting of the ad hoc committee on land expropriation.

The DA said the problem was not the policy on land reform, but a lack of political will by the government.

ACDP deputy leader Wayne Thring, meanwhile, said the ANC should not be allowed to take over the powers of the courts to adjudicate on compensation. He added that the land reform programme did not require constitutional amendments.

“The Constitutional Court should be given the opportunity to determine the parameters of the application of section 25 (as presently worded). This will make the present amendment unnecessary,” Thring said.

“The ACDP does not support the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, and in particular section 25, was carefully drafted to protect property rights and allow for orderly land reform, and should not be amended.”

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said it would on Thursday head to Parliament, where it would “deliver the names of over 200000 South Africans who oppose government’s attempts to undermine property rights through expropriation without compensation”.

“While land reform and restitution are vital in South Africa, these objectives must - and can be - achieved without destroying property rights, which are a vital cornerstone of any democratic and prosperous society,” IRR campaigns manager Hermann Pretorius said.

Chairperson of the ad hoc committee Mathole Motshekga said the committee would discuss the programme for its public hearings on land expropriation. The committee plans to host public hearings in various provinces.

The deadline for Friday for submissions was set by the committee last year despite complaints by other parties that it was too soon, as people would not have had time to consider the bill on amending the Constitution, particularly shortly after the festive season.

Political Bureau

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