South Africans will have only a month to submit comments on the government’s plan to amend the Constitution to provide for expropriation of land without compensation before the constitutional review committee will begin public hearings. Regardless of the arbitrary deadlines set by the National Assembly for the committee, this allotted time is inadequate and constitutionally suspect. The Constitution has been amended many times; this is not a new process. But the proposed amendment will change Section 25 — the property rights provision — which is part of the Bill of Rights. This will be the first time a substantive, rather than a technical, amendment is made to our highest law; the first time the Bill of Rights will be amended. A Bill of Rights for SA had been considered in 1910. It was given serious consideration again in the 1960s and beyond; and, eventually, after the 1987 Dakar Conference, a process was followed which led to the enactment of our Constitution. The process required...

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