The Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) today adopted its report in favour of an amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest.
The African National Congress, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the National Freedom Party all voted in favour of the report, the JCRC says in a statement. The Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People voted against the committee report.
“According to the rules governing the committees of Parliament, all political parties represented in the national legislature could participate in the deliberations and public hearings on the matter, but only those whose names have appeared in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) as members of the JCRC, could vote on the matter. Visiting members have voting rights.”
Committee co-chairperson Lewis Nzimande expressed his gratitude to the thousands of South Africans who participated in the process of helping the committee come to a decision on the matter. “This has truly been a massive project. We have seen people queuing for long periods, just to make sure they have a say on the matter. The committee did not expect the volume of responses from the public it received. However, this is a reminder to all of us of the importance of land to all South Africans. The committee is truly humbled by your participation in enriching our work.”
The JCRC was instructed by the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces to ascertain whether a review of section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses is necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and also to propose constitutional amendments where necessary. The committee then called for written submissions on the matter, holding public hearings in all nine provinces, followed by oral presentations in Parliament. Thereafter Members of Parliament were given an opportunity to make recommendations and/or observations.
Committee acting co-Chairperson Stan Maila said the committee has tried as much as possible to accommodate all views in its report. “It was clear during this process that there was total agreement that there was a need for urgent and accelerated land reform in order to address the injustices of the past, which were inflicted on the majority of South Africans. The hunger for land amongst the dispossessed was clear.
Mr Nzimande elaborated that this could only be addressed by amending section 25 of the Constitution, to be explicitly clear that expropriation of land without compensation by the state in the public interest should be one mechanism to accelerate the land reform programme. “South Africans have spoken, loud and clear, and we listened to their cry.”