Picture: 123RF/LOES KIEBOOM
Picture: 123RF/LOES KIEBOOM

Parliament’s ad hoc committee dealing with the bill focusing on expropriation without compensation has decided to refer it to the National House of Traditional Leaders.

This is after parliament’s legal advisers recommended the move as the matter concerns land.

Traditional leaders are regarded as the custodians and stewards of the land they rule and need to be adequately consulted about issues of land redistribution. However, the ANC resolved at its conference in 2017 that traditional leaders should relinquish custodianship of the land held in trust by the government​.

On Tuesday, the committee was briefed by legal advisers on the redrafting of section 25 of the constitution that includes the property clause.

The amendment of the constitution is meant to ease expropriation of land without compensation to tackle skewed land-ownership patterns dating back to the apartheid and colonial eras.

There is growing concern among investors about the government’s proposals to expropriate land without compensation. Various commentators have warned that wholesale expropriation without compensation will discourage investment, threaten food security and negatively affect economic activity and job creation. This is while the country is battling to tackle low growth and high unemployment.

The draft bill also suggests that national legislation must set out specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation may be nil. The specific circumstances are yet to be outlined. In other words, there could be a situation where payment for expropriated land is not made but this “must be just and equitable, reflecting an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected, having regard to all relevant circumstances”.

The Banking Association SA, the industry body representing registered banks, has previously said that while it is essential for the country to deal with land reform‚ this has to be done without discouraging investment.

During public hearings in 2018, the association warned that an expropriation-without-compensation policy would result in high levels of debt impairments and that the value of property as security would be reduced‚ with many investors looking to divest from property to avoid future losses.

Mathole Motshekga, committee chair, said that due to the festive season the committee has also agreed that the bill will be published for a second time early in January 2020 for public comment. The public will have a further three weeks to provide input.

The ad hoc committee tasked with considering the matter said the process will be concluded by end-March 2020. The committee said it will involve local and international experts in its work.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za ​