It is ordinary South Africans' turn to speak about expropriation – Constitutional Review Committee

It is now the turn of ordinary South Africans to speak up about expropriation without compensation. Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee was quite clear about this when it made its final logistic arrangements for the upcoming public hearings in the country's provinces on Thursday.

The committee is looking into amending the Constitution's section 25 – the property rights clause – particularly whether or not to allow expropriation of land without compensation, after the National Assembly passed a motion to this effect in February. 

"There is no one who is going to get preferential treatment at all," co-chairperson Vincent Smith told the committee. 

"My view is, we're going as facilitators. We're not going to push the party line."

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu agreed that the MPs shouldn't turn the events into a circus by trying to upstage each other as political parties.

"We're not going to make any inputs. We can speak here (in Parliament)," he said. 

More than 500 000 written submissions

ANC MP Francois Beukman said the process must be inclusive. 

"Everyone must utilise this process. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

The deadline for written submissions closed last Friday, and more than 500 000 submissions were received.

READ: Land expropriation: Here's when Parliament's public hearings will be held in your province

"Don't come with your truckload of written submissions (to the public hearings)," Smith said, as these would no longer be accepted.

The committee's staff will appoint a service provider to deal with the massive amount of submissions, which will culminate in a report that will be handed to the MPs serving on the committee when they return from the provinces in August.

The committee decided that it would not accept anonymous submissions after Shivambu expressed his fear that it might be a "trap of reactionary forces against land reform".

Security measures in place

"There is a deliberate attempt to filibuster the whole process," he said.

ACDP MP Steve Swart objected to the assertion that right-wing people were trying to block the process. 

"Everyone has a right to make a submission," he said. 

The committee also heard that security measures had been put in place for MPs and the public.

ALSO READ: Land: Key facts ahead of Parliament's public hearings tour

The programme for the public hearings can be found here.

"We are ready to go," said Smith.

"We are going to be away from our families for two weeks. We're going as facilitators and [we will] allow South Africans to speak."

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