The government has released a draft Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which the state can take land without paying for it for public comment.

It may be just and equitable for no compensation to be paid where land is expropriated in the public interest, the draft legislation, released on Friday, notes. 

The draft bill says land can be taken without pay if it’s occupied or used by a labour tenant; if it’s held for purely speculative purposes; belongs to a state-owned enterprise; and where the owner has abandoned it, among other circumstances.  

An expropriating authority may have the right to use property temporarily, if it’s urgently required, for a period not exceeding 12 months.

The public has 60 days to submit written comments on the bill to the department of public works.

Read the full draft bill below:

The passage of the bill through parliament is separate to plans by the ANC to  amend the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. 

The National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have approved a report that recommends the constitutional amendment. They will now establish another parliamentary committee to draft a bill needed to make the changes.

The ANC says the constitutional change is needed to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to apartheid and white minority rule. Farmers’ groups and some opposition parties say the changes will undermine property rights and deter investment.

The draft is the third version of the bill, with its first iteration released in 2008, according to Agri SA, the country’s biggest farming industry lobby group. While the proposed law provides more clarity on expropriation without compensation, which Agri SA opposes, its reach and definitions must be clarified “urgently”, it said in a statement. 

Agri SA said the definition of expropriation in the new bill is too narrow and is out of line with international trends, posing “the danger that the state can place all kinds of restrictions on ownership without compensating the owner”.