Land expropriation: Committee 'can read written submissions', no need for 'oral presentations'

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Parliament's ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution resolved not to allow oral submissions.
Parliament's ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution resolved not to allow oral submissions.
PHOTO: iStock
  • The ad hoc committee on Section 25 will not hear further oral submissions from stakeholders who made written submissions.
  • Parliament has already given the committee two deadline extensions to complete its work.
  • Throughout Friday's meeting, tempers simmered.

The ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution resolved on Friday not to allow oral submissions from stakeholders who have already made written submissions.

Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said the members of the committee are literate.

"They can understand and read the written submissions without having to listen to oral presentations. All views, those made at the public hearings, as well as the written submissions, will be taken into account when deliberating on this matter. The quality of the process determines the quality of the product," he said.

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While this decision was supported by the EFF – who, like the ANC, supports an amendment – it did not sit well with the DA and FF Plus, who oppose an amendment.

In a statement released after the meeting, DA MP Annelie Lotriet said it is "inconsistent with constitutional provisions on public participation and Parliament's obligations on public involvement in its processes". 

In the statement, Lotriet said:

In his rush to meet deadlines, Motshekga is short-circuiting parliamentary processes and denying South Africans their right to be heard on one of the most consequential pieces of legislation since the dawn of democracy.

FF Plus MP Corné Mulder raised a similar point during the meeting.

Keeping with the programme

He also said there is a precedent that committees invite stakeholders to deliver oral submissions. He said, if it is not allowed now, it will set a new precedent.

Motshekga said the committee isn't rushing; it is merely keeping with the programme it has adopted.

He said Parliament had been "tolerant" with the committee, giving it two deadline extensions to complete its work.

"But, at the same time, we must not abuse Parliament by failure to be loyal to our decisions."

Motshekga also said the "need to hear additional voices has not arisen".

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the matter had already been canvassed widely.

"There's never been – since 1994 – a deeper and more thorough consultative process than this one," said Shivambu.

"We know who stands where."

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Lotriet said the DA will submit a statement of objection to Motshekga.

"We will ask that this statement of objection be read and put on record at the ad-hoc committee's next scheduled sitting," she said in her statement.

Throughout the meeting, tempers simmered.

Motshekga tried to keep the peace, despite an accusation by DA MP Thandeka Mbabama that he is biased.

"I'm not in this chair to put one political party above another. My constitutional obligation is to treat all equal. Don't fear that I'm going to discriminate against anybody on the basis of their political party," he responded.

The committee is expected to adopt the Bill on the constitutional amendments by 19 March.

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