Parliament, Sunday, 15 March 2020 – The residents of Sedibeng District Municipality have told the delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution in order to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, that they support the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill because it is a tool that will jumpstart and accelerate the land reform process which stalled long ago.

There were participants who told the delegation that they submitted land claims when the government first created an opportunity for the submissions of land claims as far back as in 1995, but, they said, those claims have not been processed till to date. They said, they believe that the non-movement of their claims is as a result of the government’s inability to pay the unreasonable high prices the land owners perhaps charge for land.

The old citizens who participated in the hearings, told the delegation that they are afraid of death before they can taste the fruits of the land which was taken by force from their forefathers. Furthermore, they emphasised that they are optimistic that the amendment of Section 25 will be a catalyst that will inevitably return back the land that was violently taken from their forebears, a move they said, would be a first progressive step in the right direction of redressing the injustices of the past.

A majority of the participants said that compensation for the expropriated land would be a double jeopardy against the people who suffered land dispossession. Instead of compensation for the land, they suggested that the government should rather use the money for the empowerment of the land beneficiaries with the necessary skills, and for the provision of other necessary resources to ensure that the land is used productively.

That majority also emphasised that the land will undoubtedly create economic opportunities especially for the historically marginalised and poor South Africans. They said farming for sustenance that was first eroded by land dispossession and later by the introduction of forced labour in the mines, was the pillar upon which the African system of life was anchored.

They argued that the amendment of Section 25 will guarantee the reintroduction of the old tradition of farming among Africans and will salvage the poor families from the sting of high food prices. Also, the participants highlighted the fact that amending section 25 of the Constitution will unlock the potential of land to push back the frontiers of poverty and unemployment.

Despite the overwhelming support for the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, there were participants during the hearings who expressed their opposition to the view of amendment which was in the majority.
They based their opposition on grounds that the amendment will deprive South Africans of property rights. Furthermore, they said, while they support land reforms, however to them the land reform process is being compromised by the inability of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to spend its budget something which, they said, impacts directly on the process.

The Chairperson of the Committee and Leader of the Gauteng Delegation, Dr Mathole Motshekga, said the spirit with which the public hearings took place shows the encouraging sign of the evolution of participatory democracy in South Africa.

“Our beloved former President Nelson Mandela instilled in us the confidence to resolve our problems amongst ourselves. It is that spirit that enables South Africans, black and white, to gather and to share their views irrespective of which views they support,” Dr Motshekga emphasised. He further emphasised that public participation process remains the mainstay of South Africa’s democracy.

The delegation concludes the Gauteng hearings in the Germiston City Hall today, 15 March 2020. After the completion of the Gauteng hearings, the committee will conduct the hearings in Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces.


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