Gauteng moves to expropriate 'idle' land without compensation

15 June 2018 - 10:00 By Penwell Dlamini
The Gauteng government has established a task team to expropriate "idle" land without compensation. File photo.
The Gauteng government has established a task team to expropriate "idle" land without compensation. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Gudella

The Gauteng government is planning to move speedily in its plans to expropriate idle land without compensation.

Provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said a task team assigned to identify unused land was already hard at work and had briefed the provincial government on its progress.

“They actually gave a report on Wednesday at the executive council. He [Premier David Makhura] gave them more time to go and complete their work. Within a period of two to three months‚ they are expected to submit their final report to the premier‚ on the basis of which the executive will decide on the next step‚” Masebe said.

In an interview with News24 Makhura said the provincial government was completing an audit of all unused privately owned land.

“We can expropriate land without compensation with immediate effect to test the constitution‚” he said. This approach would circumvent a parliamentary process that is reviewing the property rights clause of the constitution.

He said expropriated land would be given to residents to build houses‚ produce food and for industrialisation.

Masebe told TimesLIVE on Friday that idle land would be identified‚ whether owned by the state or privately.

“Whether it is in the city‚ the farms or whatever area. What we are doing is to look at the land that is idle which can be used for agriculture‚ industrial or residential development. It will not only be in the cities but in the entire province‚ as long as the task team identifies the land as idle‚” Masebe said.

“If it belongs to the state‚ it will be easy to deal with. If it is in the hands of the provincial government‚ municipalities‚ national government‚ processes will be followed to ensure that it is made available for use in those three categories. If it is privately owned‚ then it can be expropriated without compensation. Provincial government is acting on the basis that it is possible to expropriate land in the current law.”

On February 27‚ a motion for land expropriation without compensation was passed by a majority vote in the National Assembly. The matter was referred to the Constitutional Review Committee‚ which must report back to Parliament by August 30.

The Economic Freedom Fighters had proposed that an ad hoc committee be established to review and amend Section 25 of the constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest‚ without compensation.

Section 25 of the constitution – known as the property clause – states the government must enact laws and take other steps to help citizens acquire land to live on‚ and to claim back land lost after 1913.