South Africa: Land - the People Speak - Expropriation Debate Moves to Free State, Mpumalanga

(file photo).

With the Northern Cape and Limpopo done and dusted, the Constitutional Review Committee will now set its sights on the Free State and Mpumalanga for public hearings on a possible amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

On Monday, the committee's delegation in the Free State will have its hearing in the Samson Sefuthi Community Hall in Botshabelo, and the delegation in Mpumalanga in the AG Communio Hall in Mbombela.

The public hearings are part of the CRC's process of ascertaining whether a review of section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses are necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and propose the necessary constitutional amendments where necessary.

This follows the adoption of a motion to this effect in the National Assembly in February.

Last week's hearings in the Northern Cape and Limpopo saw much support for an amendment to the Constitution, with especially supporters of the EFF making their voices heard.

The arguments for amending the Constitution focused mostly on the historical dispossession of black people through colonialism and apartheid, leading to their impoverishment and destruction of their culture, and the lack of redress since 1994.

Most of the arguments against an amendment centred around its expected dire economic impact, that is a way for the governing ANC to gloss over their failures in land reform and that the Constitution already provides enough measures for effective land reform.

The quality of arguments presented has set the standard for other provinces, said committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith in a statement. Smith headed the delegation in Limpopo.

"The delegation has always maintained that this is not a referendum where it considers how many people are for or against the amendment.

"What matter is the quality of arguments made and Limpopo has delivered valuable points of consideration for the committee to ponder."

After Saturday's hearing in Thohoyandou, the DA's Geoffrey Tshibvumo was allegedly attacked by four unknown men.

Tshibvumo explained that the attack followed a dispute during the hearings where EFF members accused a DA member of making oral submissions before the committee on more than one occasion, which is against the rules.

EFF leader Julius Malema had to speak to the crowd to calm them down.

Despite the fact that the issue of land is a highly emotive issue, the hearings went on with minimal interruption, said Smith.

"In instances that there were interruptions members of the delegation were collectively able to quell those interruptions to enable the hearings to continue," said Smith.

The full committee will, on the conclusion of all public hearings, ponder the merits of the arguments made and make its own recommendation for consideration by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

The recommendation will be made by September 28, 2019.

Source: News24

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