Parliament - The Democratic Alliance said on Thursday it has urged Speaker Thandi Modise to ensure that the committee tasked with drafting a constitutional amendment on land reform note the warning from the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land that the process risked undermining the core values of the Constitution.
DA spokeswoman Glynnis Breytenbach said the panel's report made it plain that changing section 25 of the Constitution was not necessary, as it already allowed for expropriation without compensation, and that any amendment aimed at large-scale expropriation without payment would be unconstititutional in itself.
"Our letter to the Speaker requests that sections of the final report of the land panel must be discussed and read into the record of the ad hoc committee on land.
We believe that the amendment of the Constitution would be a move that will condemn our economy to inevitable collapse," Breytenbach said.
She added that the barriers to land reform lay not in the Constitution but in incompetence and corruption.
"The Constitution is not a barrier to land reform. The barriers to land reform have been and continue to be corruption, constrained budgets and a lack of political will. Amending the Constitution is nothing more than an attempt by the ANC to hide its failures in land redistribution and reform."
The panel's report, which was released at the weekend, finds that land reform in the past 25 years since the advent of democracy has failed to address transformational objectives inherent in the Constitution.
It states that section 25 in its current form allows the State and courts to conclude that under certain circumstances appropriate compensation would be nil.
Breytenbach pointed out that the report warns that if "the purpose of the amendment is to implement expropriation without compensation wholescale and without conditions, then such a motion would offend section 1 of the Constitution and would in effect, collapse the core underlying values of our Constitution.”
She said the DA requested the Speaker to ensure that the findings be discussed as a matter of urgency by the ad hoc committee,
The report argues that questions of value and just compensation are contextual and that it may be inadvisable to use a policy or legislative intervention that lays down "hard and fast rules", but better to leave it to limit the determination to the discretion of the courts and the relevant minister, based on the facts of any particular case.
It notes an alternative view in the panel that there is no need for an amendment but that there may be a political need to make explicit the circumstances in which land may be expropriated without compensation. But the report cautions that any such amendment cannot interfere with the principle of proportionality, stating that it is inherent in the Constitution, and should therefore require a 75 percent majority for implementing any change.
African News Agency (ANA)