South Africa: Land Expropriation - Amending the Constitution Left to Sixth Parliament

It has been resolved: The Sixth Parliament will have to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

On Tuesday at the second to last sitting of the Nation Assembly this parliamentary term, the legislature adopted the Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution, which recommends that the committee would not be able to complete its work by the end of the Fifth Parliament's term, and that the Sixth Parliament be tasked with amending the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

The committee was established in 2018 after Parliament adopted the report of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which recommended that Section 25 should be amended to allow expropriation of land without compensation.

Introducing the report, committee chairperson Thoko Didiza said addressing the "mischief of land dispossession" is what the drafters of the Constitution intended with Section 25. She said "as we all know, we have not been able to ensure all have access to land and security of tenure".

DA MP Thandeka Mbabama said the committee's mandate is to make "explicit what is implicit".

"On whose behalf is the Constitution amended?"

She said it is certainly not on behalf of millions of South Africans and amending the Constitution will not solve the many problems with land reform.

"Who are the ANC and EFF trying to fool?"

She said it is clear from the input of experts that the committee listened to, that it is not necessary to amend the Constitution.

EFF MP Phillip Mhlongo said the ANC last year delayed the constitutional review process, and now the Constitution will not be amended before the Fifth Parliament rises on Wednesday, while the EFF insisted that it be done before the end of the term.

To landless South Africans he said: "This ANC thinks that your pain and suffering should be prolonged a little longer."

He said for 25 years the ANC "stood firm in defence of the settler minority".

IFP MP Elphas Buthelezi said Section 25 does not have to be amended.

"We must never think this will solve our problems. It is never a silver bullet."

NFP MP Sibusiso Mncwabe said those MP's who will be fortunate enough to return to the Sixth Parliament, should make amending Section 25 their highest priority.

UDM MP Mncedisi Filtane said they support amending the Constitution, but they have always advocated for a consultative process.

They are opposed to the notion that productive land must be "left untampered".

FF Plus MP Corné Mulder said the work of the ad hoc committee builds on the work of that of the CRC's report, and that report is flawed.

"This whole process was about electioneering."

Cope MP Deidre Carter said her party remains opposed to the amendment.

"It is hard not to draw parallels between the ANC and other populist movements who sell their party faithful snake oil remedies which ultimately lead everyone to ruin, and the likes of crack-pot religious leaders who led their faithful to ideological mass suicides - like Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple," Carter said.

ACDP MP Steve Swart he appreciates that it is a sensitive issue. He said while the ACDP supports justice, they do not support expropriation without compensation.

"This is a political game that is being played to regain votes that were lost," Swart said.

As ANC MP Pumzile Mnguni came to the podium, opposition MP's mockingly said "point of order!", "substantive motion!", as Mnguni often raises points of orders when ministers are criticised by opposition MP's.

He said expropriation without compensation was a resolution by the ANC at their conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

He said the house took the resolution to amend the Constitution in December last year, and they must now "ensure that we move forward".

"In the Sixth Parliament the Constitution will be amended, led by the ANC, whether you like it or not, you'll have to live with it."

The report was approved with 210 members voting for its approval and 61 against. There were no abstentions.

While the bells were rung before the voting, ANC MP's started singing. They were joined by the handful of EFF MP's in the house.

The office of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said in a statement that he is pleased with the adoption of this report, and others, during Tuesday's plenary.

"The ANC remains committed to its resolution of the expropriation of land without compensation as one of the mechanisms to address the original sin of land dispossession and landlessness in South Africa. We are confident that the 6th Parliament will conclude this process of correcting this original sin," reads the statement.

Source: News24

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