The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure will tomorrow begin oral submissions on the Expropriation Bill [B23-2020].
Having received a referral of the Expropriation Bill from the Speaker of the National Assembly on 14 October 2020, the committee resolved to process the Bill and embark on a public participation process, as per the National Assembly Rules and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The 1996 Constitution provides that the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and their committees must facilitate public involvement in their respective legislative and other processes. In its orders in several cases related to the legislative process, the Constitutional Court held that in giving effect to the constitutional obligation to facilitate public involvement, Parliament has broad discretion. This discretion must be exercised reasonably, given the circumstances, to provide a meaningful opportunity to the public to participate effectively in the law-making process. Within this regulatory framework, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure is considering the Expropriation Bill and processing the submissions received.
A call for public comment was advertised on 10 December 2020 in the print media and the parliamentary website, with a deadline of 10 February 2021. The committee takes the obligation to provide the public opportunities for meaningful and effective participation very seriously. After using radio promotions and social media platforms to enable more public participation, it extended the deadline for written submissions to 28 February 2021.
As of 28 February 2021, the committee had received 129 127 written submission, 122 627 via email and 6 500 on the whatsapp line. To ensure that the input received from the public is adequately understood, the bulk of the submissions continue to be processed, scheduled to be completed on 13 April 2021.
In order to benefit from the input of the public, and to provide a reasonable opportunity for everyone to participate effectively in the process of considering the Bill, the committee is planning to schedule further hearings for oral submissions.
The committee has scheduled the first round of oral submissions for 24 and 25 March 2021. It decided to schedule a second round of oral submissions as some written submissions from the public may include requests for oral submissions. In this way, all who wish to make oral submissions, and requested to do so in their written submissions, will be afforded a chance to make oral submissions during the second round.
The committee follows the Constitutional guidance contained in section 59 that it must facilitate public involvement in the legislative process and must conduct its business in an open manner. It therefore continues to exercise its discretion to deepen public participation through reasonable steps that enable public involvement that assists to further strengthen the Bill.