MPs and senior parliamentary staff packed the courtroom in which Afriforum is challenging the adoption of a report by Parliament's constitutional review committee recommending section 25 of the Constitution be amended to explicitly allow for land expropriation without compensation. Photo: Chantall Presence / ANA
CAPE TOWN - AfriForum was guilty of a "misuse of public participation" and "abuse of process" when they submitted duplicate submissions to Parliament on whether section 25 of the Constitution should be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation, the high court in Cape Town heard on Thursday.

Arguing in the case where AfriForum is seeking that Parliament's constitutional review committee (CRC) which has adopted a report in favour of amending South Africa's founding document, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for Parliament, said the civic right group should have waited for the parliamentary process to be completed before it challenged the national legislature in court.

Ngcukaitobi said arguments that over 170 000 written submissions were excluded were not correct, as AfriForum and others sent duplicates to the CRC.

"It's the same person making the same submission over and over again," he said.

In addition, Ngcukaitobi said the committee report, that is scheduled to be tabled for debate and approval in the National Assembly next week, did in fact record that the majority of written submissions were against a constitutional amendment.

"This report is a fair representation of both those who supported the amendment and those who opposed the amendment."

The exercise of public participation was never about numbers but about the "quality of contesting views", he argued.

"At best they fundamentally misconstrued what this exercise was all about."

Earlier, Etienne Labuschagne, for AfriForum, argued the case hinged on whether there was meaningful public participation in the CRC process.

"My clients assert a constitutional right to meaningful participation in proceedings before the constitutional review committee," said Labuschagne.

He argued Parliament unlawfully delegated its powers of analysing the hundreds of thousands of submissions received from the public to an external service provider.

The civic organisation want the court to interdict the National Assembly from adopting the report until such time the court makes a final determination on the legality of the process leading up to its approval by MPs in the CRC.

African News Agency (ANA)