Expropriation without compensation to be finalised only after May election
Parliament’s ad hoc committee tasked with amending the constitution says MPs cannot finish their work in the current term of parliament
Investors rattled by the push to expropriate land without compensation will only know whether or not the amendment to the constitution will be passed after the national election on May 8.
Parliament’s ad hoc committee tasked with amending section 25 of the constitution — the property clause — confirmed on Wednesday that the proposed legislative changes would be finalised only then.
This means the amendment, which is meant to ease expropriation of land without compensation to address skewed land ownership patterns dating back to apartheid and colonial eras, might not be passed if the ANC and EFF fail to secure a two-thirds majority between them.
Thoko Didiza, who chairs the ad hoc committee, said on Wednesday that the committee had noted in a report to the National Assembly that MPs could not conclude their work in current term of parliament.
Parliament rises on March 20 for the constituency period ahead of the polls. However, in terms of the constitution, the assembly remains competent to function from the time it is dissolved or its term expires, until the day before the first day of polling.
The ad hoc committee recommended that the sixth parliament, which will be sworn in after the elections, be tasked with finalising the amendment to section 25 of the constitution.
In December, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces adopted a contentious report that called for a constitutional amendment to make it explicit that expropriation without compensation be used as a means to address skewed land ownership patterns.
Parliament’s legal advisers told members of the ad hoc committee in February that they would also have to refer the bill to the National House of Traditional Leaders. This process will also require 30 days, but it can run concurrently with the public consultation phase.
The committee was also advised to interrogate the recent court case involving parliament and lobby group AfriForum to prepare for any possible court challenges.
This was after the high court in Cape Town had dismissed AfriForum’s urgent application to stop the report by the joint constitutional review committee from being passed on to the National Assembly as an interim measure, pending its main court action.
In the second leg of its application, AfriForum wants a declaratory order that the adoption of the report on land expropriation without compensation by the joint constitutional review committee was unlawful, and so should be set aside. It wants the public participation process reviewed.
The expropriation debate has polarised the country and spooked investors, with the proposed amendment set to be challenged in court by various stakeholders and political parties.