Analysis: People at the hearings on land expropriation in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. There were more than 449,000 submissions, to the review committee, according to Silumko Consulting. Picture: THULI DLAMINI/SUNDAY TIMES
Analysis: People at the hearings on land expropriation in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. There were more than 449,000 submissions, to the review committee, according to Silumko Consulting. Picture: THULI DLAMINI/SUNDAY TIMES

Parliament’s constitutional review committee will seek an extension to a September 28 deadline to present its findings on possible constitutional amendments to ease expropriation of land without compensation, boosting the odds that the legislature won’t decide the matter before the 2019 election.

The committee needs more time to consider public submissions on a possible policy shift and will discuss a new deadline for submitting its report to the National Assembly, committee co-chairman Lewis Nzimande said on Thursday.

The ANC decided in December that constitutional amendments are necessary to address racially skewed land ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule, and asked the committee to investigate how the law could be changed. The potential erosion of property rights and fears of a Zimbabwe-style land grab have added to negative sentiment towards emerging markets and compounded a rand sell-off.

The committee received 449,522 valid written submissions and 65% of respondents favoured an unchanged constitution, while 34% wanted it amended, an analysis conducted by recruitment company Silumko Consulting shows.

MPs rejected the findings and questioned how parliament selected the company to collate the data and whether its staff was capable of doing a proper job. The panel has yet to decide how the submissions will now be evaluated.

There was drama in parliament on Thursday when MPs sent away the little-known company, which was due to provide a summary of the arguments for and against amending section 25 of the constitution.

It later emerged that Silumko, a recruitment and data capturing company, had initially been hired to assist parliament with the collection of submissions and not the drafting of a report.

The summary and analysis of the submissions received will be crucial in the drafting of the final report by the joint constitutional review committee established by Parliament.

Nzimande said the confusion should be blamed on parliament. This came after MPs across the political spectrum poked holes in the report’s credibility. Some MPs described the report as "amateurish" and without a clear methodology.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, whose party is opposed to amending the constitution, said questions have to be asked about parliament’s procurement processes. With Bloomberg

phakathib@businesslive.co.za