Parliament, Monday, 30 August 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure concluded its scheduled nationwide public hearings programme on Expropriation Bill [B23-2020] in Free State. In spite of measures to fight the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that limited conditions of movement, the committee is satisfied by the quality of inputs made by many South Africans across the length and breadth of the country.
“The public hearings on the Expropriation Bill underscored the importance of public consultation in making laws in this democratic South Africa because we have garnered insightful comments and inputs from South Africans. We are of the considered view that we are greatly enriched with information and our discussions when finalising the Bill will be guided by the many views we heard on the ground,” said Ms Nolitha Ntobongwana, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee heard calls of access to the land for different purposes from a diverse range of sectors. Northern Cape’s Kathu pensioners told the committee that the definition of property is vague and they fear that, that vagueness might threaten their pensions.
Mpumalanga’s traditional doctors told the committee that they need land to advance their practices also, faith-based organisations said that they need land for the development of worship and pastoral care centres given the escalating level of social ills whose victims are the African majority in the country.
In the farming community, commercial farmers highlighted the risk posed by the Bill on the economic future of the country while the emerging farmers who are forced to share small communal land and are unable to develop into fully-fledged commercial farmers, are calling for access to the land.
The Khoi and San communities are calling for recognition and land for their development along their cultural paradigm for the improvement of their socio-economic conditions. Women also called for land availability for purposes that included the feeding of their children. The committee will take into consideration all these demands as it continues with its legislative-making process.
These public hearings were held in line with Section 59 of the Constitution which compels Parliament to facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the National Assembly and its committees as well as Parliament’s strategic objective of enhancing access to its work, legislative-making process and improving public participation in general. The committee resolved to visit all provinces to garner public views on the proposed legislation.
The committee is satisfied that it has conducted an extensive consultation process as is required by the Constitution. “We visited four districts in every province and we are satisfied that we covered as wide an area in the country as is financially and logistically possible. We are thus reasonably satisfied that our hearings were extensive and all those who participated expressed their views openly without any restriction on any basis” Ms Ntobongwana said.
The committee will also in the foreseeable future invite stakeholders and individuals who have made written submissions indicating an interest to make oral presentations to afford them an opportunity to make presentations. “We will, following the oral submissions process, discuss views we got from the public hearings and written submissions to ensure that the report we table to Parliament is as inclusive as possible,” said Ms Ntobongwana.
The committee appreciated the willingness by the public notwithstanding the threat posed by the waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges to participate in the hearings and express their views on the Bill to ensure that the law that is finally agreed upon is responsive to the needs of the people.
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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