Expropriation without compensation not 'silver bullet', says De Lille as bill submitted to Parliament

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Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Jaco Marais/Netwerk24
  • The government's Expropriation Bill 2020 has been submitted to Parliament for introduction after it was gazetted last Friday.
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said expropriation without compensation was not the silver bullet for land reform.
  • In July 2018, Deputy President David Mabuza chaired an Inter-Ministerial Committee on land reform.

Expropriation of property without compensation is not a silver bullet for land reform and redress, says Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.

The Presidential Advisory Panel's report on land reform and agriculture has agreed no compensation is only but one acquisition mechanism that in appropriate cases will enable land reform and redress.

The panel's work is now contained in the Expropriation Bill 2020.

At a press briefing on Sunday, De Lille said the bill had been submitted to Parliament for introduction.

De Lille was joined virtually by Rural Development, Land Reform and Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

READ | Expropriation without compensation: Process to amend the Constitution is under way again

The bill, gazetted on Friday, is set to replace the Expropriation Act of 1975 that is inconsistent with the Constitution.

De Lille said:
Expropriation of property with nil compensation is not a silver bullet. It is only but one acquisition mechanism that in appropriate cases will enable land reform and redress, as agreed by the Presidential Advisory Panel Report on Land Reform and Agriculture.

She added the Constitution provided that compensation for expropriation should be "just and equitable" having regard to all relevant circumstances.

"The bill outlines circumstances when it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid. It does not prescribe that nil compensation will be paid in these circumstances. The bill provides that the amount of compensation will be determined by the courts," De Lille said.

Parts of the Bill states:

  • It may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid where land is expropriated in the public interest, where the land is not being used and the owner's main purpose is not to develop the land or use it to generate income, but to benefit from appreciation of its market value.
  • Where an organ of state holds land that it is not using for its core functions and is not reasonably likely to require the land for its future activities in that regard, and the organ of state acquired the land for no consideration.
  • Notwithstanding registration of ownership in terms of the Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (Act No 47 of 1937), where an owner has abandoned the land by failing to exercise control over it.
  • Where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the land and when the nature or condition of the property poses a health, safety or physical risk to persons or other property.
  • When a court or arbitrator determines the amount of compensation in terms of Section 23 of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No 3 of 1996), it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid, having regard to all relevant circumstances.

De Lille said the bill brought certainty to South Africans and investors as it clearly outlined how expropriation could be done and on what basis.

"This legislative certainty is critical as we rebuild our economy and invest in our communities. This existing Expropriation Act dates back to 1975. The Presidential Advisory Panel Report pointed out that it is inconsistent with the Constitution, and the correction of this has been long-delayed. The panel pointed out that the 1975 act undermines the constitutionally enshrined principles of lawful, procedurally fair and reasonable administrative justice," she added.

READ | Land report: AfriForum says 100 000 submissions not considered, Parliament wants case dismissed

Deputy President David Mabuza said: "It is recognition of the urgency required to address the injustices of the past and restore land rights in a responsible manner, while ensuring that food security is maintained; that equitable spatial justice is achieved; and that continuation of investment to expand our industrial base is secured."

South Africans will have the opportunity to have their say as Parliament considers, debates and consults on the bill through the next process.

The bill can be accessed here.

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