End of the road for expropriation without compensation

The plan to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation is effectively dead in the water, Rapport reports.

This is after the EFF failed to pitch for a Parliamentary ad hoc committee meeting on Thursday and Friday to discuss amendments to the Expropriation Bill.

These included proposals that the cut-off date for land claims be moved from June 1913 to as early as January 1800 and that traditional land be excluded from the provisions.

The changes were seen as a last-ditch effort by the ANC to please the EFF, which has called for more radical reforms to property ownership rights.

Neither EFF leader Julius Malema nor any other EFF MPs attended, and the party did not provide an excuse for its absence.

The ANC needs a further 37 votes in addition to its 230 seats from other parties to reach the two-thirds majority in Parliament it needs to amend Section 25 of the Constitution.

The EFF has 44 seats in Parliament and is the only major party that initially supported the amendment.

However, some legal experts argue the ANC actually needs 75% of votes in Parliament as the Bill would require changing the property clause of the Bill of Rights.

Should this be the case, it is practically impossible that the ANC would get the Bill passed, as the other big parties – the DA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus, and ACDP are all opposed to any constitutional changes to Section 25 or the Bill of Rights.

President Cyril Ramaphosa first confirmed the ANC’s intentions to amend the Constitution to explicitly allow for land expropriation without compensation in his first state of the nation address in February 2018.

However, the ANC and EFF have clashed over the changes proposed in drafts of the Expropriation Bill since then.

The EFF wants complete state ownership of land, which the ANC has insisted is equal to nationalisation.

The EFF also wants the role of the courts to be written out of the legislation, while the ANC has maintained the courts should be arbiters when it comes to the amount of compensation to be paid in cases of disputes.

In June, the ANC’s Top Five (six minus suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule) called off a meeting with the EFF that was aimed at finding common ground on the issues.

Following this week’s meeting, Freedom Front Plus MP Corné Mulder said it was clear that the EFF would not be satisfied with a compromise and would rather promise their voters it could nationalise all land.

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashathile earlier this week also told Bloomberg that the ANC might have to let go of the Bill and use the current Expropriation Act to achieve land reform.

“We think that there is room for us to do so with that Act, and we can test it in the courts if there are shortcomings,” Mashatile stated.

“But it seems that will be the viable way out under the circumstances.”

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End of the road for expropriation without compensation