Parliament, Saturday, 24 April 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure has concluded the first two public hearings on the Expropriation Bill in the North West Province yesterday with an overwhelming view that the Bill could be a tool to advance economic development especially for the youth of the province.
The committee which is on a countrywide public hearings drive, was told by a number of participants where it held public hearings in the province that the current challenge of the lack of access to land for economic activities by the majority of South Africans, was hindering skills development and inhibiting entrepreneurial spirit among young black South Africans in particular.
The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Nolitha Ntobongwana, said: “The view was that the Bill must be an enabler for access to land, not only for agricultural purpose, but for initiatives that will help in the fight against the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
The majority of participants in the past two legs of hearings in the North West Province have called upon the committee to ensure that the Bill is assented into an implementable piece of legislation and its implementation must be fast-tracked given the very long history of contradiction of the exclusion of the black majority from their land in South Africa by the brutal systems of colonialism and apartheid.
There were participants who expressed their pessimism about access to land, arguing that the expropriation of land from those who own it currently, remains a pipe dream to the majority of South Africans. They told the committee that there are many black South Africans who are restricted at subsistence and small-scale farming levels as they don’t have access to land for large-scale and commercial farming purposes.
The committee raised its concern over the continuation of horrendous treatment of farmworkers which was highlighted by participants during the hearings. “The integrity of all employees across all sectors of the economy must be respected at all times, and their subjection to unfathomable and severe treatment by their employers is unacceptable and condemned by the committee in strongest terms,” Ms Ntobongwana said.
Although the Bill received overwhelming support at the two previous public hearing venues, however, there were views against it. The arguments that were highlighted included an anticipation of the far-reaching negative impact of the implementation of Bill on, among other things, homeownership, food security, and economic stability. Furthermore, according to the opposing views, the Bill will inevitably entrench a process of expropriation without judicial oversight.
The committee also heard a range of challenges faced by the people where public hearings have taken place in the province. Those challenges included the non-delivery of services to the people, slow pace of land reform, lack of agricultural support especially to rural communities, lack of delivery of houses especially to deserving people, and the deepening poverty and unemployment.
“While this process is intended to receive public comments in relation to the Bill, we cannot close our ears to the concerns expressed by the people. As a listening Parliament we have committed to taking those challenges to the relevant committees in Parliament to ensure that those committees follow and attend to those matters,” Ms Ntobongwana emphasised.
The committee expressed its appreciation for the patience and orderly conduct displayed by the residents of North West as it tried to enforce adherence to the Adjusted Level 1 Covid-19 regulations. “We are hopeful that the tolerance witnessed so far, will be maintained throughout the hearings in the province. We must all be mindful and adhere to the regulations as they are intended to save lives,” Ms Ntobongwana emphasised.
Meanwhile, the committee has noted comments that confused the public
hearings conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on the Expropriation Bill, with the hearings undertaken by the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation amending Section 25 of Constitution. While the processes are interrelated, they are different. This process proposes a legislative framework that realizes the Constitution.
The committee will today interact with communities in the Mahikeng.
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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