The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution today continued with virtual public hearings regarding the amendments to the Constitution that would see the expropriation of land without compensation.

The committee previously resolved that it would hear oral presentations only from individuals and organisations that had requested this opportunity in their written submissions. The committee would not reopen the public participation process to allow for new requests.

Today the committee heard from, among others, the South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), AfriForum, Banking Association of South Africa (BASA), Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), Black First Land First (BLF), National House of Traditional Leaders and the Land and Accountability Research Centre.

Mr Ernst Roets from AfriForum told the committee that the “so-called hunger for land is a myth” and that his organisation did not trust the Members of Parliament (MPs) to make the correct decision regarding the expropriation of land without compensation, as MPs were out of touch with what is wanted on the ground.

Committee Chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga wanted to know from Mr Roets if he trusted South Africans to solve South Africa’s challenges regarding land and, if so, why his organisation approached the United Nations prior to this process to register as a non-governmental organisation in an attempt to garner support against so-called “land-grabs”. Mr Roets responded to say he trusts the people of South Africa, but not the politicians that represented them in Parliament.

Mr Lawson Naidoo from Casac highlighted that the Constitution already provides for the expropriation of land subject to nil compensation in some instances, and therefore an amendment to the Constitution is unnecessary.

Mr Andile Mngxitama from BLF said all land in the hands of white people is stolen property. Freedom for Religion South Africa said an exemption should be included in the Bill to protect land belonging to faith-based organisations. The SACBC said it the Bill should stipulated that any improvements made on the land should be compensated. They are not for or against the process, and said the term “expropriation of land without compensation” is “sloganeering”, which they will not be part of.

The committee will continue with the hearings today, with several government departments being given an opportunity to contribute to the process.

Rajaa Azzakani
25 March 2021