Residents of Eastern Cape district cautiously support Expropriation Bill - Parliament

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  • Joe Gqabi district residents say the Expropriation Bill should result in equal access to land for all.
  • The Bill hit a snag when the ANC and EFF failed to reach an agreement on state custodianship.
  • The term of the ad hoc committee has been extended until the end of August.

The majority of residents of the Joe Gqabi district in the Eastern Cape support the Expropriation Bill because they believe it to be the solution to ensuring equitable access to land.

This is according to a statement issued on Saturday by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. The committee is in the Eastern Cape, conducting public hearings on the Expropriation Bill.

"The majority of residents of Joe Gqabi district supported the bill, largely because to them expropriation promises to be a tool to reverse injustices of the past, while ensuring equitable access to the much-needed land. The risk posed by unfairness was highlighted by residents as a factor that has a potential to undermine the good intentions of the Bill," the committee said in its statement.

"Emerging farmers used the opportunity presented to them by the hearings to decry the perennial challenge of the unavailability of land, especially to the previously disadvantaged people living in townships and rural areas.

"Traditional leaders also expressed their support for the Bill and highlighted the longstanding link between traditional leaders and land."

ALSO READ | Land expropriation plans hit major stumbling block

Several participants told the committee that support for the Bill is on condition the expropriation of land will translate into increased production, food security, job creation, pushing back the frontiers of poverty and, above all, shaking the walls of inequality in South Africa.

Meanwhile, dissenting views were based on the Bill's vagueness in defining property - which, according to dissenters, would lead to dissipation of investment into the country and put livelihoods at risk.

Citizens also used the public hearings to air various complaints related to the land reform process, the no issuance of title deeds and lack of support to emerging farmers, the committee said.

"The committee has committed itself to passing the complaints to the relevant parliamentary committees to ensure follow-up on the complaints and the delivery of service in the end."

In a separate process, the deadline for Parliament's ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution was extended to 31 August after political parties failed to reach common ground on whether the state should be the sole custodian of expropriated land.

The third biggest party, the EFF, wanted expropriation without compensation, with all land expropriated and held by the state.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is opposed to state custodianship of land. He told the National Assembly that people wanted title deeds, adding that a move to entrust the government with land could kill entrepreneurial spirit.

The governing ANC could need the EFF's support to pass the amendment in the National Assembly. The DA, FF Plus and the ACDP are opposed to the amendment.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the public hearings are about the Expropriation Bill and not the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution as previously stated. 

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