Parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) has effectively confirmed that the Constitutional amendment allowing for land expropriation without compensation will go ahead.
The CRC was instructed by the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces to ascertain whether a review of section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses is necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and also to propose constitutional amendments where necessary.
According to a report by the Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten, a number of parliamentary steps must still be considered – including an official discussion of the committee report on Wednesday and a vote in both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
In addition, parliament will have to establish the mechanism for the drafting of the constitutional amendment in a process that would entail further public hearings.
“But for all intents and purposes, it’s done,” she said.
“Whether that happens before the 2019 elections depends on the parliamentary calendar – parliament rises in early December and returns in early February 2019,” it said.
An accompanying statement released by parliament on Tuesday (13 November) showed that the ANC, EFF, UDM and NFP all offered their support of the Constitutional amendment.
The combined votes of these parties are expected to be more than sufficient for the two-thirds majority required to make the change.
The committee heard from the African National Congress (ANC) that although everyone has the right to dignity, for centuries this right of the majority of the people of South Africa has been trampled on.
The ANC indicated that the original sin has to be corrected and it was clear that the people at the public hearings wanted the Constitution to be changed in order to be explicit and clear.
The party further reminded the committee that its role is merely to tell parliament whether it is desirable or not to amend the Constitution.
EFF, NFP and UDM
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) made it clear that this process was not a referendum and that there should not be an overemphasis on numbers but rather on substantive issues that were raised.
The EFF said it was clear from the comments that land was not a class division but rather one that divided the nation along racial lines, with whites regarding land as their privilege.
The National Freedom Party and United Democratic Movement were also in support of an amendment of the Constitution.
The African Christian Democratic Party told the committee that although it is in support of justice, reconciliation and nation-building, it cannot support expropriation of land without compensation.
It feels the current provisions in the Constitution adequately make provision for land redistribution.
The Democratic Alliance told the committee should this process be allowed to continue; it will not pass constitutional muster.
The party added that it felt the process was rushed.
IFP, COPE, FF+
The Inkatha Freedom Party, the Congress of the People, and Freedom Front Plus informed the committee that the Constitution in its current form is not an impediment to land distribution, but it is rather the state machinery and the executive that hamper the process.