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Parliament, Sunday, 01 July 2018 – A delegation of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee has concluded the Limpopo leg of public hearings considering the possible amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. The overall analysis of the four areas visited is that generally the hearings have been successful.  

The delegation visited Marble Hall, Mokopane, Tzaneen and Thohoyandou and conducted full day hearings. Despite the fact that the issue of land is a highly emotive issue the hearings went on with minimal interruption. “In instances that there were interruptions members of the delegation where collectively able to quell those interruptions to enable the hearings to continue,” said Mr Vincent Smith, the Co-Chairperson of the Committee.   

The attendance of these hearings by members of the public has been impressive in Limpopo and the Committee is hopeful that in other provinces the trend will continue. The delegation apologises for the small venues that have been utilised so far because the attendance of the hearings has far exceeded expectations leading to full halls requiring overflow areas in all the four areas visited. “On behalf of Parliament, I would like to extend a word of gratitude to the people of Limpopo for having come out in their number to contribute to this important discussion of land,” Mr Smith emphasised.   

The quality of arguments presented has set the standard for other provinces. The delegation has always maintained that this is not a referendum where it considers the how many people are for or against the amendment. What matter is the quality of arguments made and Limpopo has delivered valuable points of consideration for the committee to ponder.

Those that support the amendment of Section 25 have largely based their argument on the need for redress for colonial and apartheid era dispossession. Secondly, a strong belief that land holds the key to economic emancipation of a majority of poor black South Africans was also advanced. Thirdly, this group emphasised that landless people have the skill set to make productive use of land if they are to get it.

Those that are against the amendment have generally raised concerns on the impact the possible amendment will have on the economic survival of the country. This is because they believe expropriation will drive away potential investors from the country. Secondly, they argued that the current constitution provided for the expropriation of land and that it was the lack of political willpower that has led to the failure of the land reform process. Thirdly, this group believes that the amendment of Section 25 will threaten food security in the country. According to this group the state should not be the custodian of land and people must own their title deeds.

The full committee will, on the conclusion of all public hearings, ponder the merits of the arguments made and make its own recommendation for consideration by the mandating houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The recommendation will be made by 28 September 2019.

The delegation will from tomorrow visit Mpumalanga to hear views of people in that province on this matter. The delegation encourages the residents of that province to come out in their numbers to add their voices to this debate.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CO-CHAIRPERSON OF THE JOINT CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE, MR VINCENT SMITH 

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