MPs attending a sitting in the National Assembly at Parliament. File picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS
Cape Town - Flaring tempers between MPs and various institutions characterised the third day of oral submissions on the possible amendment of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

MPs on Friday grilled representatives from the Helen Suzman Foundation, who told Parliament that amending section 25 of the Constitution was “unhelpful and misplaced”.

The foundation’s head of research, Charles Simkins, said it opposed the amendment but proposed that legislation is used to address land reform.

“The focus on changing the Constitution to address these challenges is unhelpful and misplaced. A clearly defined legislative and administrative framework has to be established with detailed decision-making criteria, run by sufficiently-funded state agencies.

“Unless this is done, the process will be derailed by corruption and elite capture and stormed by litigation. This will also have a negative effect on the economy. It will damage business confidence and undermine the constitutional basis of our democracy,” said Simkins.

The foundation’s view was met with outrage by EFF leader Floyd Shivambu, who charged that by not supporting the constitutional amendment, Simkins showed support for the status quo where land belonged to and benefited a few.

“Are you saying we should maintain the apartheid party relations where the white minority are in ownership and control of the land at the expense of the black indigenous population who were dispossessed through violence, murder and rape?

“Are you saying that we must just keep the status quo? If not, what else must we do except remove a stumbling block that says that if we were to amend and take back the land, there must be payments because the Constitution mentions payments and amounts?” challenged Shivambu.

United Democratic Movement MP Mncedisi Filtane joined in to chastise the foundation, saying that Parliament intended to amend the Constitution to favour positions of the majority.

“Basically, what you are doing is trying to persuade us to take our attention from the real thing. Constitution does not have provisions for expropriation without compensation, which is what this debate is about.

“We are talking about a Constitution that does not protect the interest of the majority of people,” said Filtane.

The SA Human Rights Commission also appeared before the committee, saying it supported expropriation of land without compensation provided it is done through legislation.

The public hearings emanate from the written submissions from South Africans received by the deadline of June 15. The hearings end today.

Political Bureau