Parliament accused of blocking submissions on land reform amendment

Parliament accused of blocking submissions on land reform amendment

- The conversation around land expropriation has been a long and difficult one

- Nevertheless, when it comes to changing the Consitution, every citizen is entitled to an opinion

- However, Parliament has been accused of blocking submissions allegedly containing 'unacceptable content'

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Time is running out for South Africans to weigh in on land expropriation, but a new disturbing development has brought the process into question.

A non-profit organisation claims that Parliament has been blocking submissions on the historical endeavour:

“With the call for comment closing on Friday, Parliament’s servers appear not to like the messages they hear from the public on land expropriation."

The non-profit organisation, Dear South Africa, opposes the draft bill and says its been receiving numerous messages from citizens whose emails have bounced back with a message saying 'returned because of unacceptable content':

“We examined the e-mails and could find nothing offensive or untoward in them, unless opposition to land expropriation is deemed unacceptable."

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BusinessLIVE reports that out of 155 000 submissions made through the NGO, over 80% opposed the amendment.

Rob Hutchinson, the founder of Dear South Africa, put forward that Parliament's rejection could stem from technical issues such as an overly sensitive spam filter.

Human rights lawyer Mark Oppenheimer has slammed this development, commenting that:

“Section 74 of the Constitution imposes an obligation on Parliament to facilitate and encourage public participation. The fact that e-mails are being rejected at all violates this obligation. This is clearly an emotive issue for a lot of people, and they want their voices to be heard. This is the first time that the Bill of Rights in the Constitution has been amended, and the fact that Parliament tried to smuggle it through in the middle of December — just before the holidays — shows bad intent.” gathered that the spokesperson for the Parliamentary ad hoc committee could not be reached for comment. Submissions close on Friday.

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