South Africa: Amending Section 25 - When Election Rhetoric and Real Law-Making Collide

Land reform is favouring businesses over poor individuals, two researchers have claimed.

Amid above-inflation electricity tariff hikes and steep petrol price increases, Eskom's restructuring and the political noise some eight weeks before the 8 May elections, land expropriation without compensation has slipped somewhat out of the spotlight. But the parliamentary ad hoc committee on changing Section 25 of the Constitution is ploughing on.

When political rhetoric and law-making collide, there can be odd consequences. In early December 2018, the National Assembly adopted the constitutional review committee's recommendation that there should be a constitutional amendment to expressly allow compensationless land expropriation. And that should be done before the current Parliament rises for elections, as it will on 20 March 2019.

That such a deadline would not be met was clear even in the then absence of a polling date, as the committee adopted its report on 15 November 2018 on some nine months' work, including 34 countrywide public hearings.

At a media briefing, ANC constitutional review committee member Vincent Smith was clear:

"The process of actually amending the Constitution will not going to happen until after the elections."

Linguistic slips were blamed for the deadline that slipped into the report; it was not fixed before the report went to the House, and was...

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