South Africa: Sneaky Constitutional Amendment Guts Property Rights


The draft of the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, amending the property rights clause (Section 25) of the Bill of Rights, means the Constitution will no longer protect property rights. It permits expropriation without compensation at the whim of members of Parliament.

The draft amendment to the property rights clause of the Bill of Rights, sneakily published just as the schools closed for the holiday season in the hope that nobody would pay attention, is bad news for property owners.

(It is also bad news for grammar mavens, who would surely share my objection to the horrendously dissonant title "Constitutional Eighteenth Amendment Bill", preferring instead the "Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment Bill".)

It permits the court, "where land and improvements thereon are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, [to] determine that the amount of compensation is nil."

The amendment further requires national legislation to "set out specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation is nil".

On one hand, the draft explicitly limits the possibility of "nil compensation" to land and improvements thereon when they are to be expropriated for the purposes of land reform. The property rights section also explicitly says property is not limited to land,...

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