Parliament, Thursday, 05 March 2020 – Residents of Mtubatuba and the surrounding areas have called on the delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation to fast-track the amendment and its implementation.
“This process is taking too long; we have made our opinions clear in 2018 when the Constitutional Review Committee was here,” said one resident, as he pleaded with the committee to fast track the amendments. Many others echoed these sentiments.
Chairperson of the delegation, Advocate Bongani Bongo reiterated the explanation that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) focussed on evaluating South African citizens’ opinion on the desirability of changing Section 25 of the Constitution. The Ad Hoc Committee’s focus is on how exactly this should be done and the wording to be used.
To this end, the majority of residents called for the full removal of Section 3, which speaks to the amount of the compensation, and the time and manner of payment. This they said is to be replaced as follows: Clause 25(1) should read that “the state, including Parliament, executive and judiciary carry an obligation to redress imbalances of the past through enactment of laws that will achieve redress and equitably redistribute all resources”. They suggested that Clause 25(2) clearly state that property may be expropriated without compensation (a) only in terms of law of general application, (b) or a public purpose or in the public interest. Remove Clause 25(3) they said, and replace this with “the state should be the custodian of all South Africa’s natural resources, inclusive of land, mineral resources, and water, and relevant legislation should be passed to clearly define and contextualise state custodianship of natural resources. Clause 25(7) – removal of this subsection”.
The committee also received submissions of the view that amendments to Section 25 of the Constitution is not necessary for meaningful land redistribution, and will in effect lead to dangerous and retrogressive steps in its effects on the national economy. A representative from the South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA) told the delegation that an amendment will not fix the systemic institutional capacity. What is needed, he said, is a grant component for a blended fund for land reform and development, partnerships with the private sector and timeous support for new farmers. “Real tenure security, preferably in the form of title deeds, will lead to real broad-based economic empowerment and an increase in per capita income of citizens,” the delegation was told. A reliable uncontested land audit is needed to measure progress with land reform.
Another resident spoke about the possible effects of the amendment on agricultural production and also made reference to instances of land transferred thus far. In this resident’s opinion, farms awarded to claimants through the land claims process have only been successful and remains functioning by engaging farm companies to operate them. Farms purchased by the state based on “willing buyer, willing seller” have a high rate of failure, with a general cessation of farming activities, destruction of buildings and other farming infrastructure.
Acknowledging that land distribution is a necessity, the submission included various proposals to ensure that agricultural production is maintained during the distribution. This includes amongst others, a national agricultural and management policy aimed at developing strategies for bringing all agricultural land into a national agricultural production plan, and the enforcement of the state’s regulatory function to enforce compliance with good agricultural and financial management.
Advocate Bongo, in closing the hearing, highlighted their importance, especially the importance of providing everyone with an opportunity to provide input on this sensitive matter.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER OF THE DELEGATION, ADV BONGANI BONGO.
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