Land Expropriation: AfriForum vs Parliament to be heard on Thursday

AfriForum's application to have the Joint Constitutional Review Committee's report on section 25 set aside will be heard on Thursday.

Parliament will oppose the application. 

The parties' legal counsel appeared briefly before Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe in the Western Cape High Court on Monday where they said that they would file their heads of argument by Tuesday morning, and that they agreed that arguments would be heard by two judges on Thursday.

The small courtroom was packed with a crowd that included members of the organisation Black First Land First.

The committee's report, in which it recommends that section 25 of the Constitution is amended to allow expropriation without compensation, was adopted by the committee on November 15, despite opposition parties – the DA, Cope, FF Plus, ACDP and IFP – being opposed to an amendment, highlighting what they considered procedural problems with the committee's handling of the hundreds of thousands of written submissions as their main concern. The ANC, EFF and NFP voted for the committee to adopt the report. Committee co-chairpersons Stan Maila and Lewis Nzimande said afterwards that they were certain the committee had followed due process. 

The written submissions are also AfriForum's major concern.

AfriForum 'undermining the will of the people'

AfriForum's attorney, Willie Spies, said three quarters of a million submissions were made. 

"The constitutional duty of a committee of Parliament is to consider those reports. That did not happen," he said.

"Those reports were outsourced to a third party service provider, and the third party service provider considered the reports and the third party service provider made the decision which of the inputs to regard and which to disregard. And in total 180 000 were disregarded. It is not the work of any committee to disregard any written submissions."

AfriForum is asking the court to set aside the committee's report and that the adoption of the report is interdicted. The National Assembly is scheduled to debate and adopt the report on December 4. 

Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the legislature would ask the court to dismiss the application and strike it off the roll "because it is ill-advised and it is intended to frustrate Parliament's constitutional right to process its own business". 

"In this particular case, it is also intended to gag the great majority of South Africans who came out to express themselves."

He said AfriForum was setting out to undermine the express will of the people and the internal processes of Parliament.

"And that cannot be allowed," he said. "We believe court processes shouldn't be abused because of AfriForum's deep pockets." 

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