Thoko Didiza. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Thoko Didiza. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

National Assembly house chair Thoko Didiza was elected on Tuesday to chair the parliamentary ad hoc committee tasked with redrafting the property clause of the constitution to explicitly allow for expropriation without compensation. 

The committee met for the first time on Tuesday to elect a chair and consider its programme.

In December, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) adopted a contentious report that called for an amendment to section 25 of the constitution to make it explicit that expropriation without compensation could be used to address skewed land ownership patterns dating back to the colonial and apartheid eras.

The ad hoc committee consists of 11 voting members of the National Assembly and will be made up of six members from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from other parties. The committee will also consist of 14 nonvoting members of the National Assembly — two from the ANC, one from the DA, one from the EFF and 10 from other parties.

The debate on the issue has polarised the country and spooked investors, with the proposed amendment set to be challenged in court by various stakeholders and political parties.

The matter could eventually be processed by the next parliament after the elections, which will take place in May. This means the amendment might not happen at all if the ANC and EFF fail to secure a two-thirds majority between them.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu congratulated Didiza on her election. She served as land affairs minister under former president Thabo Mbeki between 1999 and 2006.

“The resolution of the land question forms part of the founding principles of the ANC. In essence, it is the ultimate expression of transformation and restitution. With this in mind we wish the committee well as they embark on this historic process,” Mthembu said.