Land bill calls for 'nil compensation' but it's unlikely to be passed

Without the support of the DA or EFF, the ANC does not have enough seats to attain the two-thirds majority required for a constitutional amendment

08 September 2021 - 17:13
The parliamentary committee appointed to initiate legislation amending section 25 of the constitution – which would allow for land expropriation without compensation – has adopted its report on the proposed bill. Stock photo.
The parliamentary committee appointed to initiate legislation amending section 25 of the constitution – which would allow for land expropriation without compensation – has adopted its report on the proposed bill. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/KOSTIC DUSAN

Land will be expropriated without compensation only in certain circumstances. This is if the proposed Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill is passed in its current form.

The National Assembly's ad hoc committee appointed to initiate and introduce legislation amending section 25 of the constitution – which would allow for land expropriation without compensation – has completed its work and adopted its report on the proposed bill.

The bill proposes an amendment of section 25(2)(b) of the constitution to read: “Subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court: Provided that where land and any improvements thereon are expropriated for purposes of land reform as contemplated in subsection 8, the amount of compensation may be nil.’’

The ad hoc committee indicated that proposed amendments under subsection 2 on “nil compensation” for expropriated land and any improvements should be read concurrently with subsection 3 of section 25, which makes provision for circumstances under which expropriation of land with zero compensation can take place.

Section 25(3) is amended to read: “The amount of the compensation as contemplated in subsection 2(b), and the time and manner of any payment, must be just and equitable, reflecting an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected, having regard to all relevant circumstances.

‘‘For the furtherance of land reform, national legislation must, subject to subsections 2 and 3, set out circumstances where the amount of compensation is nil,” proposes the bill.

It also included an addition – section 25(4)(a) – which reads: “The land is the common heritage of all citizens that the state must safeguard for future generations.”

If approved, section 25(5) will read: “The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable state custodianship of certain land in order for citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.”

The bill is, however, unlikely to pass through the National Assembly as the ANC (230 MPs), which supports the amendments, does not have enough seats to attain the two-thirds majority of 267 MPs required for a constitutional amendment.

It needs the DA (91 MPs) or the EFF (44 MPs) to attain this, but both parties have rejected the amendments.

The DA has never supported the amendment of the constitution to provide for expropriation without compensation while the EFF, which brought the initial motion for such an amendment, said it rejected the ANC's proposals as a fundamental departure from what was initially proposed.

The EFF is opposed to any compensation when land is expropriated. It also wants the state to have custodianship of all land for redistribution.

The bill says that under certain circumstances when land is expropriated, compensation must be zero.

“We don't believe that the manner in which the constitution has been amended now is consistent with that principle of having custodianship of all SA's land for equal redistribution. We stand to reject with contempt the proposed and sell-out proposal to amend section 25 in the manner that is not going to give land to our people,” said the EFF's Floyd Shivambu.

The ad hoc committee’s report will be debated by the National Assembly after the local government elections on November 1.

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