Expropriation: National Assembly re-establishes ad hoc committee to amend Section 25

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  • The National Assembly re-established the committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.
  • The original committee lapsed because it could not complete its work by the end of May deadline due to the lockdown.
  • The new deadline is 31 December.

The National Assembly adopted a motion to re-establish an ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

The DA, FF Plus and ACDP – who have been against an amendment since the motion to amend the Constitution had been passed in February 2018 – objected to the committee's re-establishment, with the impact on the economy a common concern.

The ANC, EFF, NFP and Al Jamah-Ah expressed its support for the committee's re-establishment, citing the need to correct a historical wrong.

The IFP does not support an amendment to Section 25, but supported the re-establishment of the committee on procedural grounds.

In the end, 237 MPs voted for the re-establishment, 89 against.

When voting in a virtual, hybrid sitting, each party's chief whip must inform the house how many of its MPs are in the chamber in Cape Town, how many are present on the virtual platform, and how they vote, as the usual voting system can't be used remotely.  

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said 44 EFF MPs were present on the virtual platform.

After the technicians verified all parties' virtual attendance, house chairperson Grace Boroto said the EFF only had 40 members present.

Before the voting, DA MP Annelie Lotriet said she delivers her declaration on the vote with a "tremendous sense of irony and utter disbelief".

READ | Ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to be re-established

She said hardly a week before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had delivered his adjustment budget, warning about the country's economic predicament and the need to attract investors.

"Investors will think twice before investing in South Africa," Lotriet said.

She said the ANC is removed from reality by its focus on expropriation without compensation during a pandemic.

Shivambu spoke about the historical injustice that needs to be corrected.

"Absolutely nothing is going to stop us from expropriating without compensation," he said.

"There is no corona that is going to stop expropriation without compensation."

FF Plus chief whip Corné Mulder said expropriation without compensation is a product of the ANC's factional battles, while the EFF brought the original motion to the house like "true hyenas".

He said the government is sending a signal to the world that they want to become like Zimbabwe.

Muted

"White people stole the land!" EFF MP Nazier Paulsen said via the virtual platform.

Boroto said he must be muted.

After ACDP MP Wayne Thring expressed his party's opposition to expropriation without compensation, Paulsen again interrupted: "He's an ungodly Christian!"

ACDP MP Steve Swart objected, and Boroto again said Paulsen must be muted.

She was, however, informed that, to mute Paulsen, all MPs on the virtual platform would have to be muted.

ANC MP Dibolelo Mahlatsi spoke about the injustice and the continued effect of depriving black people of land ownership.

She said:

The land was stolen and must be returned.

She said the ANC has considered the legal, economic and political implications.

She said the ANC will remain vigilant and not allow a process that collapses the economy. She appealed to "right-wing elements" opposed to the amendment to, for once, be on the right side of history.

In July last year, the National Assembly resolved to appoint the committee and give it the task to amend Section 25 of the Constitution. This after the Fifth Parliament's committee, with the same task, could not finish its work before Parliament rose for the 2019 elections.

Last month, all parties at the National Assembly Programming Committee agreed to let the ad hoc committee amending Section 25 lapse.

The committee had a deadline to finish its work by the end of May.

It was in the midst of an expansive public participation process when the coronavirus reached South Africa and social distancing measures were put in place to prevent its spread.

Hence, the committee could not continue with public meetings, which generally attracted groups of more than 50 people.

A week later, to the surprise of opposition MPs, the ANC proposed re-establishing the committee.

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