Land Expropriation: Parties square off in Parliament as possibility of court challenge looms

Members of parties supporting an amendment of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation mitigated against a possible court challenge by parties opposed to the change at Wednesday's rather brief meeting of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee.

The committee met to go through a summary of the observations of parties on the committee's process of determining whether section 25 of the Constitution should be amended after parties presented their views on Tuesday.

At Tuesday's meeting, it became apparent that the parties opposed to an amendment are gearing up for a court challenge as they raised concerns with the process followed and declared that they "reserve their rights". 

The committee started with co-chairperson Stan Maila apologising for the draft document with the combined observations not having been distributed earlier. He gave members 15 minutes to read the document.

When the 15 minutes were almost over, all the MPs representing parties opposing an amendment – the DA, FF Plus, IFP, Cope and the ACDP – left the Old Assembly Chamber together.

"Caucus of opposers!" ANC MP Madipoane Mothapo said.

Stan Maila

Requests for adjustments to report

Upon their return a few minutes later the committee started working through the 5-page document page by page, with members allowed to propose corrections.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu, fresh from appearing before Parliament's ethics committee, said it was not a common view in the committee that there were racial attacks and intimidation during the committee's public hearings, and asked that the report be amended to state that some members observed this.

"If you leave it at that, it might be a limitation in a court process," he said.

Floyd Shivambu

ANC MP Vincent Smith asked for a similar change to a sentence in the report which stated that some parties spread misinformation at the hearings. 

"That's a very serious allegation, chair," he said.

Smith, who was previously one of the committee's co-chairpersons, said at the public hearings that he chaired no political parties spread misinformation.

'Points of difference' section suggested

Shivambu said: "Delete it chair, that statement is highly objectionable."

He said it was not a statement of fact made by the committee.

The ACDP's Steve Swart said it was a reflection of an observation that was made.

NFP MP Sibusiso Mncwabe said the way the point was phrased "renders our work invalid".

ANC MP Dikgang Stock said he agreed with Shivambu that the sentence must be scrapped completely.

Shivambu then proposed that the matter be put under a section of the report to be called "points of difference".

This was agreed to.

A few similar points were raised.

'You can't have it all'

When this was done, Maila asked if every party was satisfied that its views were covered in the draft report.

Corné Mulder Tebogo Mokwele

FF Plus MP Corné Mulder said the party had 15 recommendations, and not all of them were in the draft report.

"We would like to see it all covered," he said.

"You can't have it all, honourable Mulder," Maila said.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said the DA also had several points excluded, but she didn't insist on their inclusion.

"It is not our report," she said.

Committee expected to adopt report

Smith said the DA's stance was a "deliberate attempt" to have the report challenged and asked that the party's recommendations also be included.

"If they don't want to contribute, then let it be," Maila said.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said his party had also made recommendations that were not covered.

"We don't have the superiority complex that everything we say must be covered," he said.

Shivambu said: "We're not doing a cut and paste of every party document."

The meeting will reconvene on Thursday to deliberate on the recommendations and adopt the report.

Usually, committees seek consensus but matters can also be put to a vote, which seems to be the likely scenario in this case.
 
 


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