Yesterday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted our comments opposing the Expropriation Bill to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, and we encourage South Africans to make their voices heard on this disastrous legislation before 28 February 2021.
The DA is opposing this Bill in the strongest possible terms as it has a number of worrying issues that endanger people's property rights:
Several of the points in the Expropriation Bill are ill-defined and leaves room for government to take advantage of citizens and unfairly expropriate their property, like defining and expanding on what in the "public interest" entails.
Intangible property is mentioned once in the Bill and never expanded upon. This could allow government to expropriate more than just land or property like houses, and ventures onto things like copyright, patents and intellectual property. Determining the value of this would require specialist knowledge and this category of property should ideally not be included in this Bill.
The way the Bill allows for the expropriation of State land affords government the right to refuse said expropriation. Citizens are not afforded the same right, and in a Constitutional democracy it is unacceptable that the State has more rights than individuals.
Should property be damaged during the expropriation process, the Bill allows that it should be repaired to a reasonable standard, but fails to define this standard or make provision for an independent expert to oversee the repair.
The Bill provides that municipalities or municipal managers should respond to requests for information regarding property to be expropriated within 20 days, but fails to state the repercussions should a response not be forthcoming.
Encumbrances, like mortgages, should be taken into account when valuing property set to be expropriated, but the Bill does not adequately allow for this.
Section 12 of the Bill has a number of concerning issues;
The lists of circumstances under which nil compensation can be paid currently states "included but not limited to... " which opens the door for an unlimited number of new circumstances to be introduced. The list must either be scrapped from the Bill or be deemed sufficient as is, but government cannot be allowed to add circumstances to the list on a whim.
The fact that control over land is placed above the rights of title deed holders would create fertile ground for land grabs and land invasions and would leave the owners of the land powerless to oppose this. A definition for "exercise control over" must also be provided.
Prejudices against land prospecting for investment purposes is also highly concerning.
The State should be obligated to negotiate in good faith and not just "attempt to reach an agreement".
Disputes should be settled before expropriation has occurred, and not after as currently in the Bill.
The Bill should outline the specific acceptable purposes and uses of land which is expropriated by the expropriating authority.
Email should be added as a method of delivery in Section 24.
The DA encourages all South Africans to make submissions to the committee before the public participation process for the Expropriation Bill comes to an end on 28 February 2021.
Submissions can be emailed to Ms Nola Matinise at firstname.lastname@example.org, it can be sent on WhatsApp to 060 550 9848 and submitted via this Submission Page. A request to make oral submissions to the Portfolio Committee can also be made.