ANC wants to defer land process until after election
The ANC wants to put on ice the process to amend the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. Party chief whip Jackson Mthembu told the Sunday Times in an interview that, once he's consulted with other parties in parliament, he will propose to Luthuli House that the process be deferred to the next parliament, after the general elections.
Mthembu said there would not be enough time for the ad hoc committee to meet the March 31 deadline to finalise the process.
This is the second radical ANC resolution that the ANC in parliament has halted. Last year it stopped the tabling of a motion to nationalise the Reserve Bank.
The latest move will fuel the belief held by President Cyril Ramaphosa's detractors that his backers are stalling the implementation of the Nasrec conference resolutions.
Mthembu on Thursday proposed to the National Assembly programming committee (NAPC) that the fifth parliament should conclude its business by March 20 so that MPs can be released early for electoral campaigns ahead of this year's general elections. The NAPC unanimously adopted the proposal after it was first agreed to at the chief whip's forum the previous day.
This means the current parliament will have only six weeks to wrap up its work including the appointment of new members to the SABC board, which is inquorate and thus cannot take legally binding decisions.
Mthembu argued that it would be impossible for the ad hoc committee, which has been set up to amend section 25 of the constitution, to finish its task by March 31, a deadline agreed to by the house last year.
The ad hoc committee would have to embark on a drawn-out public consultation process that, among others, involves written submissions and public hearings to be conducted across all nine provinces.
Such a process would take between six and 12 months to conclude.
"The issue is if there is no possibility of you concluding this work, why start it?" said Mthembu after NAPC meeting. He said it would be wasteful for the current parliament to start a process it would not see to completion. "You couldn't have done all the rigorous processes that are needed to amend the constitution. You need to first come up with a bill, and the process to come up with a bill is quite involved as well.
"After coming up with the bill, you still need to publicise it, gazette it, get written comments, and then you have a responsibility to have public hearings on the amendment to the constitution," said Mthembu.
The ANC has previously been accused of using the issue of land expropriation without compensation as an electoral tool to attract votes in what is expected to be a fiercely contested election. Mthembu denied that it had promised to amend section 25 of the constitution before this year's elections.
He said that his proposal to defer the matter to the next parliament was subject to consultation.