The Expropriation Bill has been identified by the people of the Ruth Segomotso Mompati District Municipality as an enabler that will ensure access to land for churches. The strong views were that with access to land, churches can play a critical role in combating socio-economic ills that are afflicting the communities in the district and in South Africa in general.

These views were expressed yesterday during the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure’s first leg of public hearings on the Expropriation Bill [B23-2020] in the North West Province’s Ruth Mompati District Municipality where the Christiana Town Hall was the venue. The committee is in the province as part of its countrywide public hearings to receive public views on the Bill.

In supporting the Bill, Bishop Dr Josh Malebye emphasised that the lack of land deprived the Church, which has the Bible as its tool to deal with socio-economic challenges such as substance abuse and poverty, that are exterminating as a planned genocide the majority of South Africans.

“The expropriation of land that was enshrined in a colonial constitution in 1913 deprived black people as well as the black Church at large. As we speak, it must be considered that there is Church land which is almost like the Ingonyama Trust. Traditional churches don’t have land. If churches have land they can build multi-purpose centres that can provide the necessary support in dealing with social ills facing the country,” Dr Malebye said.

There was also a strong view that expropriation of land should not be viewed for agricultural and business purposes only, expropriation of land should be understood in a broader context of multidimensional developmental purposes.

A community member, Mr Mahlogonolo Lekantsi, said: “I would like this committee to look into who exactly needs this land the most. We sometimes focus too much on farming and on business and we forget the main people, those who are not interested in politics but they have a simple interest to develop their communities’ skills. My request to the committee is to consider expropriation for sport facilities and skills development centres to ensure that development is multidimensional.”  

Also participating in the hearings, Councillor Mpho Pilane called for structured expropriation of the land to avoid any unintended crisis. “The issue of expropriation is long overdue. It should be done with a speed of a private jet. Land expropriation remains a non-negotiable issue that we need to clamp on like a hawk, because that on its own will address the historical imbalances that our people have been confronted with,” said Mr Pilane.

He said haphazard expropriation may create a crisis. He added: “We need to be explicit on which land needs to be expropriated.”

The overwhelming view in Christiana was that the community needed land for various purposes and the implementation of the legislation on expropriation must take place urgently.  

Meanwhile, the committee appreciated the patience and orderly conduct displayed by the residents of Christiana, as the committee enforced regulations according to the adjusted level 1 Covid-19 regulations.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Ntobongwana, emphasised: “We are hopeful that the tolerance we witnessed today will be carried right through the hearings. We must all be mindful and adhere to the regulations as they are intended to save lives.”

The committee continues with the  hearings in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality in Wolmaranstad.

By Malatswa Molepo
23 April 2021