22 November 2018

South Africa: Parliament to Oppose Afriforum's Court Bid On Land

Photo: allafrica.com
Top: Farmhouse in the Free State. Bottom-left: National Assembly building. Bottom-right: Exterior of the Western Cape High Court.

Parliament has announced it will oppose the court application by AfriForum to have the report of Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee on amending section 25 of the Constitution set aside.

Earlier this year, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces instructed the committee to undertake a process to establish whether a review of section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses is necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

The committee adopted its report in favour of amending this section of the Constitution on Thursday last week. The proposed amendment is expected to fast track government's efforts to redistribute land among the country's citizens. Some sections of society, including the international community, have warned that amending Section 25 of the constitution would have detrimental effects on South Africa's already stuttering economy.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government have made reassurances that the process would not be handled recklessly as many critics anticipated.

"Specifically, the committee has recommended that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make it explicitly clear that expropriation of land without compensation by the state in the public interest should be one mechanism to address the injustices of the past, inflicted on the majority of South Africans," said Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo in a statement.

The adoption of the report, he said, followed an extensive series of public hearings from 26 June to 4 August. The drive saw Parliament take on a series of public consultations and receive thousands of written submissions made.

"Thousands of South Africans came to these hearings held in several localities in each of the nine provinces. They came to join the national conversation about land and its role in building our democracy and redressing the wounds of our past. The committee also held workshops and discussions at Parliament," Mothapo said.

He said the committee will present its report to both Houses of Parliament.

"Members of Parliament will engage in further debate at these sessions in which the report is considered," he said.

The inquiry, which the Constitutional Review Committee undertook, Mothapo added, will be remembered "as one of the most consultative, participatory processes of our democracy - outside of our regular non-racial elections".

"The process which the committee has now completed is in keeping with the responsibilities which our Constitution demands of Parliament as the legislative authority of our republic," he said.

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