Parliament, Sunday, 29 August 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure was implored by the residents of Bethlehem in the Free State to speed up the approval process of the Expropriation Bill to fast-track the redistribution of the land in the country.
Their rallying point was that 27 years within a democratic dispensation, the majority of South Africans still have not tasted the economic fruits of the democratic dispensation and many are still living in conditions of poverty with levels of unemployment rising on a daily basis. They highlighted the fact that even those who are employed get little salaries that do not meet even their basic needs. They said the Bill promises to break the historical obstacles of denial of access to the land for the majority of South Africans.
The participants were in agreement at Bethlehem that inaccessibility to the land by the majority remains a fundamental and a key problem in South Africa. A call was made by those who support the Bill for the provision of the land for human settlement for many families in South Africa who are subjected to inhumane living conditions in squatter camps.
Regarding reservations on food security, many participants highlighted that the passing of the Bill will not have an adverse effect on food security as there is enough pool of skilled and dedicated South Africans who will ensure that there is enough supply of food. Furthermore, they argued, the government will put in place strategies and mechanisms to deter any inadvertent consequences as a result of the signing of the Bill.
Faith-based organisations also told the committee that they support the Bill as it will ensure that land is available for the creation of worship and pastoral care centres given the escalating level of social ills whose victims are the African majority in the country.
Despite the overwhelming support for the Bill, some residents raised strong objections to it primarily because, in their view, the Bill will lead to disinvestment in the country. Furthermore, they argued that the passing of the Bill is unnecessary as there is enough provision for expropriation under Section 25 of the Constitution.
The committee will today hold the last public hearings in Frankfort.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE, MS NOLITHA NTOBONGWANA
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