Members of the public now have a further three weeks to comment on a draft bill to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
This, as the National Assembly is gripped in a deadlock because a two-third majority cannot be reached while the ANC and the EFF disagree on the way forward. Public comment is described as “a supplementary process to complete the work,” says ad hoc committee chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga.
In December 2019 and January 2020 the committee also invited stakeholders and all interested South Africans to give written submissions on the draft Constitution 18th Amendment Bill.
“This was followed by intensive deliberations by the committee on what came out of the public participation process in comparison to what is in the initial bill.
“The committee has resolved to open the process up again as the initial bill was a compromised bill agreed to merely kick-start the process,” Motshekga explains.
Section 25 has great implications, he adds. “[This is] to provide that where land is expropriated for land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil.
“Further, to clarify that nil compensation is a legitimate option for land reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land.
“In doing so, [the Constitution would] ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programmes.”
‘Section 25 is an injustice’
Meanwhile, Free State Agriculture (FSA) president Francois Wilken reiterated that property rights are inextricably part of human rights, and no state has the right to alienate people from it.
According to Wilken, arguments that owners will be protected from exploitation by laws, restrictions and processes do not hold water.
“Irrespective of the risks established by the corrupt and falling state administration, property rights are a matter of principle and not a procedural matter. We need to protect it at all costs,” Wilken says.
FSA is convinced that the adoption of the amendment would represent a watershed moment in the country’s Constitutional order. This change, the farmers’ organisation believes, will establish the principle that a citizen’s property can be expropriated by the state without compensation.
“It is an injustice… [and] FSA will therefore oppose the Constitutional amendment during the public participation processes and, if necessary, do everything legally possible to stop the amendment.”
Members of the public can email their submissions to Vhonani Ramaano at email@example.com by no later than Friday, 13 August 2021. Enquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 083 709 8427.