CAPE TOWN, Aug. 5 — South Africa’s Parliament on Saturday completed its provincial public hearings on land reform as part of its efforts to accelerate land expropriation without compensation.
Parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee held a total 34 hearings in all nine provinces in the country, listening carefully to the diverse views expressed by citizens throughout the country, Committee Co-Chairperson Vincent Smith said.
The committee was instructed by both Houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces — to ascertain whether a review of section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses is necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and propose the necessary constitutional amendments where necessary.
The committee has succeeded in its task of listening to the people, Smith said.
“I am confident that this was a democratic process. Everyone who wanted an opportunity to speak, was allowed to speak,” he said.
Following the hearings, the committee will assess the hundreds of thousands of written submissions it received after which it will invite those submitters, who indicated that they wanted to make oral presentations, to hearings in Parliament, according to Smith.
Once the process had been concluded, the multi-party committee will deliberate extensively on this matter before it reports to both Houses of Parliament.
On July 31, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) would change the South African Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
His remarks prompted AfriForum, an association of South African white farmers, to call on the international community to get Ramaphosa to stop proposed plans to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
“We know that disrespect for property rights will have a negative effect on any country,” AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said, citing Venezuela and Zimbabwe as examples.
AfriForum argues that land expropriation without compensation will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.
But the ANC-led government has assured that land expropriation without compensation should be pursued without destabilizing the agricultural sector, endangering food security in the country, or undermining economic growth and job creation.
Since taking power in 1994, the ANC has made land redistribution from whites to blacks without compensation one of its main policies.
But land remains predominantly in white hands more than two decades after the end of apartheid, sparking growing discontent among South African blacks.