Land expropriation bill to 'urgently' redress past 'injustices': Mabuza

11 October 2020 - 17:56 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Public works minister Patricia de Lille says the expropriation bill outlines how and when expropriation can take place.
Public works minister Patricia de Lille says the expropriation bill outlines how and when expropriation can take place.
Image: Gallo Images

SA's new land expropriation law is a sign of government's “urgency” in dealing with the “injustices of the past”.

This is according to Deputy President David Mabuza, as government's interministerial committee on land reform on Sunday announced the publication of the expropriation bill.

The bill — which is aimed at ensuring land is redistributed for cultural, human settlements and industrial development — was gazetted on Friday.

“The publication of this important bill is a cogent indication that government is indeed at work to realise, redress and fulfil the aspirations of the people to have an equitable society.

“It is a recognition of the urgency required to address the injustices of the past and restore land rights in a responsible manner, while ensuring that food security is maintained, that equitable spatial justice is achieved, and that continuation of investment to expand our industrial base is secured,” Mabuza said.

The bill, the committee said, was set to replace the current Expropriation Act of 1975.

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille said the bill also spelt out how and when expropriation could take place. She said the existing legislation was inconsistent with the constitution.

“Our constitution expressly authorises expropriation to redress injustices of the past,” she said.

The bill was also part of the agriculture development programme, De Lille said.

According to the committee, the chief state law adviser had certified the bill as constitutional.

“This paves the way for the next step in the process whereby the bill has been gazetted on Friday October 9 2020, and submitted to parliament,” De Lille said.

The bill would be subjected to parliamentary processes, she said.

According to the committee, various existing laws give the president, at least seven national ministers, all provincial premiers and municipalities powers of expropriation.

“What is needed is a law of general application that will ensure that any act of expropriation is in compliance with the Constitution of South Africa, 1996,” the committee said.

It said the department of public works and infrastructure drafted the expropriation bill after a lengthy consultation process that included receiving about 50,000 comments from South Africans.

The department also consulted business, labour and community stakeholders through the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). 

“We must emphasise that the drafting of the expropriation bill was separate from the work of parliament in reviewing section 25 of the constitution. The bill has been drafted to be consistent with section 25 of the constitution as it currently stands,” said De Lille.