Parliament votes on land expropriation today

The parliamentary vote on land expropriation that was put on hold last month, to allow political parties to focus on the local government elections, take places today

Expropriation bill: If public works minister Patricia de Lille is considering expropriating property, she may authorise an inspector to enter a particular property to ascertain if it is suitable. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

If public works minister Patricia de Lille is considering expropriating property, she may authorise an inspector to enter a particular property to ascertain if it is suitable. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The moment of truth has arrived for South Africa as Parliament will vote today (Tuesday, 7 December 2021) on whether compensation could be zero when land is expropriated.

While South Africans remain divided on the issue, Parliament will take a vote on section 25 of the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill, which provides for compensation to be nil if land and improvements on it are expropriated for the purposes of land reform.

Parliament will need a two-thirds (66.7%) vote to amend the Constitution to make expropriation and state custodianship over land an explicit constitutional mandate in Mzansi.

Opposing views

Food For Mzansi has done extensive coverage on the contentious bill and how the country’s decision makers and food producers feel about it. In previous interviews, the proposed amendment received some support while others have rejected it, maintaining that it threatens the country’s economic status.

Annelize Crosby, Agri SA’s head of land and legal affairs. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Agri SA argued that today’s farmers cannot be held solely responsible for the historical events and land injustices which had taken place during apartheid.

“We are very much supportive of a sustainable and orderly process of land reform. Orderly land reform happens in the form of legislation where there are processes that are fair to everybody. Sustainable [land reform] means that there is not just short-term vision but it must be a process that takes you into the future.

“But we are against expropriation without compensation. We want to be very, very clear on that,” Crosby highlighted.

Free State Agriculture, who has been vocally against land expropriation without compensation, previously warned that, should MPs ignore South Africans’ objections and fail to stop the bill, there would be dire repercussions for the country.

Dr Jack Armour, commercial manager of Free State Agriculture. Photo: Supplied/FSA

Dr Jack Armour, operations manager of FSA, said, “Property rights must be expanded to be accessible for all South Africans. The expropriation bill diminishes and threatens property rights.”

‘Propel the country forward’

Earlier in the year President Cyril Ramaphosa conceded that the country’s land reform programme was taking too long to address the challenge of land ownership inequality in South Africa.

Constitutional law expert Prof. Elmien du Plessis said that while government’s land reform to-do list might be long, finalising the bill could propel the country forward. “Government should finalise the expropriation bill and conclude the process of amending section 25 (and) give clarity and finality to the section process – whether it is an amendment or not – in order to restore a level of certainty,” she said.

Should the majority vote be obtained to amend the Constitution as proposed, the next step is for voting to go to the provinces and traditional leaders through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Experts reckon it is highly likely to obtain the same vote in the NCOP as in Parliament.

How to watch the proceedings

Today’s sitting starts at 14:00 and will be streamed on the parliamentary YouTube channel.

Some previous coverage on Food For Mzansi

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