Land expropriation oral presentations continue in Parliament

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) will this morning continue listening to oral presentations in Parliament on whether an amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution is necessary to effect land expropriation without compensation.

The committee on Thursday heard 10 organisations, including the National House of Traditional Leaders, South African Human Rights Commission, Helen Suzman Foundation, Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (IFNASA) and AfriForum.

Several faith-based organisations also addressed the committee on the matter, including the Southern African Catholic Bishops and Every Nation Church.

The co-chairperson of the CRC, Lewis Nzimande, said all the contributions made will take the process forward.

"It was overall a good day. Emotions ran a bit high when Members of Parliament felt insulted by the manner in which presentation was delivered by AfriForum. It is a pity they wasted the opportunity to contribute to a way forward for all South Africans, as their presentation did not speak to the subject matter of whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation" said Nzimande.

IFNASA told the committee that it wants recognition from South Africa as the first nation of the country. It further disputed that it was driving a wedge between indigenous people of the land and articulated that it never said all land belongs to Khoi and San people.

First Nation Church said land reform must be informed by biblical principles.

The House of Traditional Leaders expressed its support for the amendment of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation but said that should exclude land under traditional leaders.

The Helen Suzman Foundation said expropriation without compensation cannot be justified if the beneficiaries come from the wealthier sectors of society.

The South African Human Rights Commission told the committee that women should benefit from land redistribution.

The Foundation for Human Rights said there are instances where compensation need not follow expropriation.

Nzimande said Thursday’s session was a continuation of the process which happened in all the provinces. It’s another attempt by the committee to deliver on its mandate to facilitate public participation.

The oral presentations in Parliament follow the public hearings that were held across the country.

The CRC held a total of 34 hearings in all nine provinces, listening carefully to the diverse views expressed by citizens throughout the country.

Government is proposing a review of Section 25 of the Constitution, which will pave the way for the expropriation of land without compensation due to the fact that despite the country being 23 years into democracy, many South Africans remain dispossessed of land.

Section 25(2) of the Constitution currently states that property may be expropriated only in terms of the law of general application for a public purpose or in the public interest, and subject to compensation.

Section 25(3) makes clear that the amount of the compensation and the time and manner of payment must be just and equitable, reflecting an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected, having regard to all relevant circumstances, in the current use of the property; the history of the acquisition and use of the property; the market value of the property; the extent of direct State investment and subsidy in the acquisition, and beneficial capital improvement of the property.

A land audit done by the government revealed that only 13% of the land is in the hands of government. About 87% of the land is in the private sector, while black South Africans still lag far behind and own only 4% of the land. –