Parliament files court papers in response to AfriForum attempt to set aside land discussion report

Parliament on Sunday announced that it had filed an answering affidavit responding to AfriForum's application to set aside a report on its land discussion.

"In the affidavit, Parliament argues that AfriForum was deliberately trying to frustrate Parliament's legislative processes," spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.

"The report, which the committee adopted and will be referring to the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces for consideration, is an interim step, similar to a Bill," he added.

As such, suggested Mothapo: "It is not final in effect. It may be accepted or it may not."

"Parliament has asked the court to dismiss or strike AfriForum's application from the court roll with punitive costs."

The joint Constitutional Review Committee on amending Section 25 of the Constitution adopted its report earlier this month after months of public deliberation, recommending that the Constitution be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation.

Step before 'process of introducing a Bill'

Conservative lobby group AfriForum previously applied to the Western Cape High Court to have the report set aside.

This process saw members of the public across the country attend hearings, as well as meetings and workshops at Parliament to offer their viewpoints on issues around land expropriation.

"This is an additional pre-legislative step before the process of introducing a Bill."

Mothapo said that while a Bill may be introduced in the future if Parliament so decides, at that stage, Parliament would again invite further and full public comments, in terms of its constitutional obligations.

On Sunday, Mothapo said that from its point of view, AfriForum wanted to interdict Parliament at this stage because it alleged the committee should have considered each submission, including those that it admitted were duplicate submissions.

"The committee did not exclude any submissions except where those were enquiries, unrelated, blank or repeats."

'Duplicate submissions'

"AfriForum does not deny that the committee has considered the substance of those duplicate submissions," he suggested.

Earlier this week, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel told News24 that it hoped Parliament would decide to halt the debate and adoption of the report, expected next week.

"The vast majority of submissions was against an amendment. Thousands of our members' submissions were ignored," claimed Kriel.

He said if next week's debate remained scheduled to proceed, they would have to consider escalating the application by having it placed on the urgent court roll.

Previously, the ANC pledged its support to Parliament in opposing AfriForum's application, describing AfriForum as "hell-bent on delaying and derailing Parliament from satisfying the quest of our people to get their land back".

Parties opposed to an amendment – the DA, Cope, IFP and ACDP – raised concerns about procedural matters, notably the committee's handling of the written submissions.

The ANC, EFF and NFP voted for the adoption of the report.

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