The Ad Hoc to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution this weekend held a successful public hearing in Polokwane, Limpopo. The hearing experienced none of the glitches it experienced two weeks ago when the meeting was disrupted by some members of the crowd.

This was the last of the countrywide public hearings the committee has undertaken this year. The committee conducted most of the public hearings prior to the announcement of the national lockdown in March this year, when with hearings were halted with three provinces remaining. These were finalised over the past three weeks.

Two weeks ago the hearings were interrupted when a group of Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) supporters tried to force their way into a hall that was already full, in terms of the Covid-19 Level 1 regulations. The EFF supporters did not want to wait outside for participants to finish making inputs and leave the hall so that others could be allowed inside.

Committee Chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga was happy that this time around people inside the hall complied with regulations, after political leaders called their supporters to order. He said most people called for land to be shared amongst all South Africans.

“We are absolutely confident that the way in which the meeting started orderly and the way participation is proceeding in an orderly fashion we will get the desired outcome. That is a matter of record which is coming out clearly from the public hearing throughout the country. We want the people to say it for the record themselves,” he said.

Most participants called for the process of the expropriation of land without compensation to be expedited. “We are tired. We want the land back. We want to be the owners of the land. We want to work the land,” said a frail-looking old man.

Mr Julius Matabane said this will address the imbalances of the past. At the same time, he complained to Members of Parliament that the Bill was not made available at the venue in Braille.

Mr Dineo Makura said Clause 2(c) should be amended to read: subject to without compensation or nil compensation in the law of general application. In terms of property, where compensation is found to be payable, the time and manner of compensation must be just and equitable. Furthermore, he said Clause 8 should include: no provision of this amendment may impede the state to expropriation of land without compensation.

A young woman said that the private ownership of land must stop. “White people have inherited our land. They inherited our copper. It’s painful. We also want to own that land. We also want to own those mines.”

Committee Member Advocate Bongani Bongo reminded participants that an amendment to the Bill of Rights in the Constitution required a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament. “Currently, no single political party represented in Parliament has that many seats. It will mean that political parties that feel the same about the land question will have to vote together.”

Dr Motshekga said in closing that if the amendment saw the light of day it “will be the greatest victory for all, black and whites, as it is a lasting solution to the challenges of South Africa. The people have spoken. Now that this has happened, we must vote in favour. The greatest thing that can happen is for MPs to vote in favour of the report recommending this.”

Rajaa Azzakani
9 November 2020