The parliamentary committee formulating legislation to amend the constitution to pave the way for expropriation of land without compensation has agreed to extend the deadline for public comment to the end of February.

This follows pressure from organisations and various lobby groups who called for the comment period to be extended because the festive period made it difficult for most individuals and organisations to table detailed submissions on the contentious proposed legislation.

In December, parliament published an invitation in the Government Gazette calling on the public to provide written submissions on the draft legislation.

The initial deadline was January 31.

Committee chair Mathole Motshekga said the committee unanimously resolved to extend the deadline to February 29. This is mainly because the bill was published over the festive season and the public did not have sufficient time to comment meaningfully, he said.

There are fears that land expropriation without compensation, which is meant to address skewed land ownership dating back to the colonial and apartheid eras, could rattle investors and hurt SA’s already struggling economy.

The Banking Association SA (Basa), which represents all registered banks in the country, previously said that while it is necessary for the country to deal with land reform, it has to be done without discouraging investment.

The ANC is now also proposing shifting arbitration powers from the courts to the executive in terms of possible compensation to be paid.