The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has adopted a report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on the Review of Section 25 of the Constitution - paving the way for Parliament to set in motion a mechanism to draft the Bill enabling the amendment.
The NCOP sitting came after the report was adopted by the National Assembly following a majority vote on Tuesday afternoon. At the National Assembly sitting, the report was adopted after 209 MPs voted for the report to be adopted, while 91 voted against the adoption. There were no abstentions.
At the NCOP on Wednesday, eight provinces voted in favour of the report being adopted, with the exception of the Western Cape.
NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise said: "... The report has been agreed to in terms of Section 65 of the Constitution."
After the National Assembly sitting on Tuesday, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said his caucus would table recommendations of what happens next and what mechanisms would be proposed for such to take place.
Lewis Nzimande, an ANC MP, who was also the co-chairperson of the joint CRC, said 33 provincial hearings were held between June and August to solicit inputs from members of the public.
He said this was followed by an advertisement where the committee invited members of the public to make written submissions.
During public consultations, Nzimande said, members of the committee did all they could to educate members of the public on the proposed amendment.
He said it was essential that the amendment be affected as it would bring about equality.
Rural Development on hand to assist in land expropriation
Ahead of the report being approved, Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha said the department will be on hand to assist, if called upon, on the legislative process that would make it possible to amend Section 25 of the Constitution.
"I have studied the deliberations of the committee and I am aware that some of you are of the view that the current constitutional framework already permitted compensation. However, given the lessons learnt from the implementation of government's land reform programme, the decision to amend the Constitution to clarify the issue of land expropriation without compensation is most welcome," he said.
He said that now that the committee had completed its task and recommended the amendment of the Constitution, the next step was for Parliament to quickly embark on the process of amending the Constitution.
"It is inevitable that the Constitution will be amended. The next step will be the drafting of the appropriate legislation to give effect to the new Constitutional dispensation.
"While the process is essentially a Parliamentary process, the department will be actively involved and available to assist Parliament when called upon to do so. The department is eagerly anticipating the conclusion of this process," he said.
Skwatsha said the land reform process has been slow and while the government implemented it in a three-pronged approach - land restitution, redistribution and through security of tenure.
"The recent land audit of the department has shown that the ownership remains skewed and that black people remain largely landless," he said.
The audit showed that out of 76% of the national agricultural land, 72% was owned by white South Africans, while only 15% was owned by coloureds, five percent by Indians and 4% by Africans. Moreover, women only owned 13% of the farmland.
He said the time had come to heal the wounds of the past.
"I wish to conclude by asking - what else could be a more appropriate tribute to our late statesman and icon Nelson Mandela than to unanimously support this report?"