Expropriation bill: AfriForum will go to court

2008-05-15 00:00

Cape Town — Civil rights initiative AfriForum has warned that it will resort to legal action if the controversial proposed Expropriation Bill is promulgated.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel has demanded that the bill be declared unconstitutional in its current version.

AfriForum’s warning is contained in its written comments on the bill, which were submitted to Parliament’s portfolio committee on Public Works on Wednesday.

The Expropriation Bill is aimed at replacing the Expropriation Act of 1975, which, according to cabinet, does not conform with the Constitution. The 1975 act provides for expropriation for a public purpose, while the Constitution extends this to allow it "in the public interest".

The act requires compensation for market value, actual financial loss and "solatium" — a consolation for loss — while, in terms of the Constitution, the compensation must be just and equitable and reflecting an "equitable balance between the public interest and the interest of those affected".

The new law would allow the Land Affairs minister to decide on the amount of compensation to be paid after being advised by an expropriation board.

Kriel said the bill undermines the provisions of the Constitution regarding, among others, property rights, the right to access to the courts, the right to just administrative action and the authority and independence of the courts. "The fact that in terms of the bill, the state will have the right to expropriate any property, at an amount the state will determine … while the courts will only have the right to review the expropriation process followed, in effect amounts to the legalised theft of property by the state," Kriel said.

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