The Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) on Thursday adopted its report in favour of an amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to make it legally possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest. This JCRC’s adoption of the report comes after the first hurdle, i.e. the public hearings and written submissions were completed earlier this year. The report must now go to both houses of parliament, which may only consider the report after the 2019 elections.
The African National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF) and the National Freedom Party (NFP) voted in favour of adoption of the report. The Democratic Alliance(DA) and the Congress of the People voted against the committee report.
According to a parliamentary statement the rules governing the committees of Parliament, all political parties represented in the national legislature could participate in the deliberations and public hearings on the matter, but only those whose names have appeared in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) as members of the JCRC, could vote on the matter. Visiting members have voting rights.
Committee co-chairperson Mr Lewis Nzimande expressed his gratitude to the thousands of South Africans who participated in the process of helping the committee come to a decision on the matter. “This has truly been a massive project. We have seen people queuing for long periods, just to make sure they have a say on the matter. The committee did not expect the volume of responses from the public it received. However, this is a reminder to all of us of the importance of land to all South Africans. The committee is truly humbled by your participation in enriching our work” Nzimande noted.
The JCRC was mandated by the National Assembly and NCOP 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. A call for written submissions were made and a series of public hearings were held in all nine provinces, followed by oral presentations in Parliament. Thereafter Members of Parliament were given an opportunity to make recommendations and/or observations.
Committee acting co-Chairperson Mr Stan Maila said the committee has tried as much as possible to accommodate all views in its report. “It was clear during this process that there was total agreement that there was a need for urgent and accelerated land reform in order to address the injustices of the past, which were inflicted on the majority of South Africans. The hunger for land amongst the dispossessed was clear.
Citizens of the Northern Cape who attended and made their submissions at the hearings or in writing should be proud to have participated in the making of law. The overwhelming voice of the province supported the expropriation of land without compensation.
The Institute for Race Relations has in the meantime made its intentions clear to stop the process. The organisation believes the process is flawed. “This is nationalisation by another name, a change that will have disastrous economic, social, and political consequences for all South Africans. the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation”.