The parliamentary committee considering whether a constitutional amendent is needed to ease expropriation of land without compensation was pushing to finalise its report by November, co-chair Lewis Nzimande said on Thursday.

The constitutional-review committee set up by parliament to help it make a call on this sensitive subject has held hearings  nationwide and received hundreds of thousands of written representations.

The push by the ANC and the opposition EFF to amend section 25 of the constitution to make it clear how land should be expropriated without compensation has spooked investors amid growing negative sentiment towards emerging markets.

Some commentators have warned that wholesale expropriation without compensation will threaten food security and negatively affect economic activity and job creation as the country battles with high unemployment.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa and senior government officials insist the expropriation will be done in an orderly way that will not disrupt food security. It remains unclear whether parliament will be able to process any legislative amendments before the 2019 elections. 

The constitutional review committee was initially scheduled to report to parliament by the end of September. However, the committee requested an extension, citing the volume of the submissions it had received.

Nzimande said the committee would hold further hearings on October 25 and 26 in parliament. These stemmed from public requests to make oral presentations. Nzimande said there were 19 public requests to make oral submissions, and this number might increase. The list was still being finalised.

Ramaphosa announced in September that he had appointed the advisory panel to guide the interministerial committee on land reform chaired by his deputy, David Mabuza. The panel was mandated to review, research and suggest models for the government to implement a fair and equitable land-reform process that redressed injustices of the past, increased agricultural output, promoted economic growth and protected food security, Ramaphosa said.

Meanwhile, the constitutional review committee on Thursday elected Stanford Maila as the acting cochair. This came after embattled ANC MP Vincent Smith asked to be allowed to step aside from chairing any parliamentary committee until the ethics committee finished its investigation into allegations that he received monthly payments from controversial facilitie- management group Bosasa.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za