South Africa’s Parliament endorses report on land without compensation

South Africa’s parliament on Tuesday voted to adopt a report by the Constitutional Review Committee that recommends constitutional amendments to allow expropriation of land without compensation.

The National Assembly in February formed a joint Constitutional Review Committee in collaboration with the National Council of Provinces (NCP) to review section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses, where necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

Adopting the report is however just one step in the quest to change the Constitution to allow for land reforms.

According to Parliament, NCP has to do the same in a scheduled sitting tomorrow, after which a Bill may be introduced in the House.

Only the Executive, a committee of the National Assembly or an individual member of the National Assembly can introduce a Constitutional Amendment Bill in the National Assembly. A joint committee, even the Constitutional Review Committee, cannot.

Details of the Bill would have to be published in the Government Gazette at least 30 days before it is introduced. This is to give room for public participation.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is however against the plan, arguing that it would jeopardize property right and scare off investors.

The land expropriation without compensation debate has been a major talk in South Africa for years, with fiery EFF President Julius Malema calling for its implementation to address racial disparities in ownership that persist more than two decades after apartheid’s demise in 1994.

The South African government has in the past been condemned for its plan to expropriate land without compensation.

With threats of consequences, President Cyril Ramaphosa in September said no country would impose sanctions on his country over the government’s plans to redistribute land to address racial disparities in ownership.