Non-profit organisation Dear South Africa has launched a new platform which enables South Africans to comment on the proposed Land Expropriation Bill.
The bill is aimed at amending the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of property without compensation.
Dear South Africa said that its platform provides a direct government interface which enables the public to have a say in favour of or opposition to the bill. It’s aim is to make commenting on bills easier and public participation more transparent.
Along with immediately delivering your comment to the government, the group said that the system keeps an accurate record of all participants and enables the organisation to present a report directly to parliament.
This process ensures that civil society holds a precise unbiased, publicly available live record of all input.
“This is not a one-sided petition,” said managing director of DearSA, Rob Hutchinson, who was previously part of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).
“Government treats petitions as a single submission, no matter how many signatories, whereas our official system ensures that each public comment is individually delivered, registered, acknowledged and considered in parliament’s decision-making process.”
As many as 82,000 participants had already voted on the platform by 07h00 on Tuesday (14 January), with the vast majority (69,000 votes) indicating they are not in favour of the bill.
Some of the most notable comments from people who have voted include the fact that it is ‘too broad’ and concerns that the amendment will allow the government to target bonded properties from citizens without any payment.
The AdHoc Committee on Amending the Constitution opened the first call for comment to produce a report for parliament in June 2018, a process which resulted in over 700,000 South Africans voicing their opinion.
While a large number of online and written comments were opposed to the bill, parliament has said that in its dialogues – which were held across the country – South Africans were largely in favour of land expropriation without compensation.
Written submissions on the bill must be received by no later than 31 January 2020.