Parliament will extend the deadline for written submissions on the Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill relating to land expropriation without compensation.
In a statement on Thursday (30 January), committee chairperson, Dr Mathole Motshekga, said that the new deadline will be 29 February 2020.
This is mainly because the bill was published over the festive season, and the public did not have sufficient time to comment meaningfully on the bill, he said.
Concerns were also raised by non-profit organisation Dear South Africa which said that it had received numerous messages from South Africans that e-mails have bounced back from parliament with a message saying “returned because of unacceptable content”.
Parliament said that this was likely because of email filter settings and that a negligible number of emails were affected.
“Regarding the perception that Parliament was rejecting certain emailed submissions, the committee was told that 46 of the more than 140,000 submissions were rejected on the grounds of information technology safety filters used by parliament.
“The initial reports indicate that these could be videos that were sent or spam emails sent to the said address. The committee was assured that parliament is able to track the rejected submissions and the reasons for this.”
Motshekga clarified that the committee has not made any decision on inputs received thus far on the bill, and reminded all political parties that the door is still open for all to make submissions to the committee.
“We will consider all inputs irrespective of which political party makes the comment,” he said.
“All submissions carry the same weight. It is only after the closing date for written submissions and public hearings that the committee will deliberate and resolve on the matter.”
The committee also agreed to use platforms that are accessible and available to young people, for example a WhatsApp number, which will be made available as soon as it is set up.
The current draft of the bill states that the country’s courts should be the arbiter when determining whether the state should pay for expropriated land.
However, the ANC has indicated that it does not support the idea of courts being the decision-maker on whether or not the state will pay for land it expropriates.
It instead plans to give this power to the minister of land reform who will be the sole arbiter on land expropriation cases in the country.