Land expropriation without compensation. Few if any terms in recent history have invoked more debate, fear, hope, uncertainty among so many ordinary South Africans. The matter was thrust into the national spotlight in February in dramatic fashion.
Parliament overwhelmingly voted to adopt a motion which would look into proposals to change section 25 of the Constitution to allow the government to enact land expropriation without compensation.
Since then land expropriation has become the hot-button topic in South Africa and has at times exposed ugly divides which still exist in the country. Much of this division stems from fear and uncertainty about exactly what will happen if (more likely when) land expropriation becomes lawful.
Briefly.co.za has gathered 11 facts which every South African needs to know about what land expropriation without compensation means.
1. Expropriation without compensation is only one mechanism in government’s land reform process
There seems to be a common misconception among South Africans that land expropriation without compensation is the entirety of the ANC-led government’s plans to implement sweeping land reforms in the country.
The truth is that expropriation without compensation is one of several mechanisms available to the government to aid its stated aim of correcting the skewed property ownership pattern in South Africa.
2. The ANC’s approach to land is three-fold
The governing party has identified three elements which it believes are critical to the land reform process: increased security in land ownership, land restitution and land redistribution. The ANC believes all three elements need serious intervention to aid in making land reform successful.
The interventions will focus on government-owned land and will prioritise the redistribution of land which is currently vacant, under-used or unused, hopelessly indebted land and land held for investment or speculative reasons.
3. The economy won’t be allowed to suffer
Since the adoption of the policy in February the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa have gone to great lengths to assure citizens, businesses and investors that it will not allow expropriation without compensation to negatively impact other sectors of the economy.
DailyMaverick.co.za reported that the ANC’s policy documents clearly indicates that any land reform programs could and would not be allowed to damage investor confidence in South Africa or to place food security and agricultural output in danger.
4. Parliament held 34 public hearings in an exhaustive constative processes
Parliament’s Constitutional Review committee has embarked on one of the most extensive public consultation processes ever undertaken in the country. The committee has held 34 public hearings in all nine provinces.
The committee received more than half a million submissions of which 40 moved on to a second round of hearings which took place in Parliament last week.
5. The Constitution already allows for expropriation without compensation in certain cases
Many written submissions and Constitutional experts have argued against amending the Constitution because it already makes provision for land to be expropriated with just and equitable compensation.
Some have argued that in certain cases just and equitable compensation could mean no compensation given historical injustices.
6. The review process has been extended
The Constitutional Review Committee was due to deliver its report to Parliament by the end of August 2018 but this has already been extended to 28 September.
7. Any mayor, premier or minister can technically enact land expropriation
There is technically no legal obstacle preventing any mayor, premier or minister from enacting land expropriation without compensation, they all have the legal ability to do so.
The ability stems from an apartheid-era law which has never been corrected by the new Constitution.
8. Expropriated land will not be held by the state
The EFF has touted land expropriation without compensation as a key victory for the party but the EFF’s idea that the state is the custodian of all property in South Africa is not shared by the ANC.
As recently as last week deputy president David Mabuza said all expropriated land would go to individuals and would come with a title deed.
9. The ANC and EFF have the numbers in Parliament to pass a Constitutional amendment
Opposition party’s like the DA, Cope, IFP and Freedom Front Plus are firmly opposed to any amendments to the Constitution while other smaller parties are reserving judgement. This will mean little to nothing if as expected the ANC and EFF work together to pass the amendment.
The ANC and EFF have enough combined MPs to vote the amendment through Parliament and onto a draft constitutional Bill which will be open to public hearings.
10. No-one knows when expropriation will become legal
While the EFF has publicly stated it wants the entire process completed before South Africans head to the polls next year, that timeframe seems unlikely. The ANC has not commented on when it expects the process to be wrapped up.
Past amendments which were less emotive have taken months to pass, so don’t expect this one to be passed quickly.
11. The Constitution has been amended 17 times
The South African Constitution has been amended a total of 17 times since it was first signed into law by President Nelson Mandela in 1996. The most recent amendment gave a clear mandate to the Constitutional Court to be the highest court in the land in all matters.
For more amazing, funny and informative videos, please visit Briefly South Africa's YouTube Channel.
Do you have a story to share with Briefly? Visit our Facebook page where you can send us a message or leave us a comment. Your story could be shared online.