Court dismisses AfriForum's urgent bid to interdict Parliament's land expropriation report

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High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

AfriForum's urgent application to interdict the adoption of the Constitutional Review Committee's first report into land expropriation without compensation has been dismissed.

The Western Cape High Court on Friday dismissed the urgent application that MPs be interdicted from moving to adopt the committee's report in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

After arguments were heard on Thursday, judges Vincent Saldanha and Nape Dolamo delivered their judgement on Friday.

This relates only to the first part of AfriForum's case - the argument to hear the matter urgently.

The second part of the application is to have the report reviewed and set aside, which will be heard at a later date.

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee adopted the report on November 15, recommending that section 25 of the Constitution should be amended to allow expropriation without compensation.

The gist of AfriForum's case is that the public participation process was flawed because about 176 000 of the hundreds of thousands of written submissions that the committee received were deemed duplications and not considered in the report.

On Thursday, Advocate Etienne Labuschagne, SC, appearing for AfriForum, argued that this means that the opinions of the thousands of people who supported AfriForum and sent submissions via AfriForum's website were discounted.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who appeared for Parliament, described AfriForum's case as "embarrassing" at least three times, and said the Joint Constitutional Review Committee's report stated that the majority of written submissions were opposed to amending section 25, thus AfriForum's views had been taken into account.

Judges Saldanha and Dolamo also questioned whether AfriForum was trying to interfere in the work of Parliament, in which case it should have gone to the Constitutional Court.

The dismissal of the urgent application means the report can be debated and adopted on Tuesday if Parliament so chooses.

The process will now go through a number of phases.

The report recommends Parliament appoint a mechanism to draft the wording of an amendment and that this must be done before before the 2019 general elections.

This process around the wording of the amendment will require another public participation process and will have to be passed with a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

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