New version of Expropriation Act ‘still bad legislation’, says SAIRR

2013-03-28 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A new version of the Expropriation Act has been tabled by the Department of Public Works, which makes provision for expropriation also to occur for the sake of the redistribution of land.

Anthea Jeffery, head of special research at the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR), said the new legislation scared her.

“The new legislation, the third attempt in the past few years, is better than the previous version, but it is still bad legislation.

“The new legislation will allow the government to expropriate any assets at a sum that could be lower than market value. It also includes shares and patents.”

Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said yesterday that the new legislation was necessary because the existing legislation was obsolete and unconstitutional.

“The intention is not to take land left and right. The major objectives for which the new act is necessary are for the government’s infrastructure programme and for land distribution.

“But compensation will be paid for expropriation.”

The new legislation also makes provision for a court process for parties that feel they have been short-changed.

Cronin warned, however, that the new legislation did provide that the expropriation cannot be halted if parties are unhappy with their compensation and want to take the process to court.

“The expropriation will still go ahead in such a case, but the possibility exists that a court may rule that a dispossessed party should receive more.”

Cronin said it was not the government’s intention to target shares, patents and other rights.

“Not in the least. If it looks that way, the legislation has to be honed.”

Jeffery said the new legislation also conflicted with the government’s new national development plan.

“That plan provides that property rights must be protected,” Jeffery said.

Cronin said the act would not mean that the government could simply take land as it pleases.

“The constitution does not allow it. The whole point is to get a piece of legislation that is in line with the Constitution and that will eliminate uncertainties regarding expropriations.”

All parties involved in an expropriation process must be able to go to the act to be guided in the process.

“The current legislation is not adequate,” he said.

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