Parties set to challenge 'flawed' process around land expropriation
Political parties opposed to the amendment of section 25 of the constitution have hinted that they will take the process on legal review to have it set aside on the basis of procedural flaws.
But they will wait until the two houses of parliament have approved the report of the constitutional review committee. The committee is believed to be in favour of the constitutional amendment that will allow the state to expropriate land without compensation.
The parties - DA‚ COPE‚ African Christian Democratic Party‚ the IFP and Freedom Front Plus - held a joint press conference in parliament where they claimed that the process was flawed and that hundreds of thousands of written submissions were disregarded and ignored by the committee.
They also claim that the committee did not allow for MPs opposed to expropriation without compensation to engage substantially with the proposals of those in favour of amending the constitution.
For example‚ numerous stakeholders‚ including the Institute for Race Relations‚ participated and made written submissions‚ but their submissions were not even looked at‚ claimed FF Plus’s Corné Mulder.
Other MPs revealed that they had suggested that members of the Kgalema Motlanthe-led high-level panel and the surveyor-general be invited before the committee but these suggested were rejected.
“The process itself has to be followed properly‚ one has to look at the process in terms of submissions that weren’t entertained‚ submissions that were arbitrarily decided not to be part of the submissions. This is about changing the bill of rights‚ it’s not just any legislation‚ therefore the process must be perfect‚” said DA MP Annelie Lotriet‚ a member of the committee.
While representatives of the opposing parties felt it would be jumping the gun to announce their plan of action‚ they did indicate that legal action was very likely. “If you talk about legal relief‚ if we believe that the process is fundamentally flawed‚ the logical thing is to take that process on review and have the whole process set aside‚” said Mulder.
“That’s a legal question that the legal people would advise us on if need be‚ and that decision will be taken at the right time if need be‚” he added.
“At this point we will follow the process to its logical conclusion … that the report be tabled in parliament‚ that it be debated and we will look at the different options. We think the process was fundamentally flawed. We will participate in that process and I don’t think one should jump the gun‚” added Lotriet.
Parliament is expected to debate and adopt the recommendations of the constitutional review committee on November 27.
DA MP Thandeka Mbabama described the ANC and EFF’s agreement on land expropriation as “a convenient coalition”‚ saying it was a vote to take land rights away from South Africans.
Mbabama said the vote on expropriation of land without compensation would allow the government a perfect cover to avoid having to explain its rank failure over the past two decades to take land reform seriously.
“That is why the ANC has adopted it with such enthusiasm when they voted against it last year‚” she said reading a statement from the like-minded parties.
She claimed that the parliamentary process was merely a formality and that the adoption of the report was a forgone conclusion and that it would be used for electioneering by the ANC and the EFF.
The parties were at pains to reiterate that while they opposed the amendment of the constitution‚ they did not oppose land reform. “The land issue is a delicate and sensitive one. It is indeed a social justice imperative which all South African must rally around‚” said Mbabama.
“Sadly‚ the land issue has been used by some political parties as a political gimmick to score cheap political points and to further deepen the divisions in our society.”
She said SA did not have a constitutional problem but an ANC one‚ and that the country needed a land policy which empowered and supported black beneficiaries of land reform through the adequate funding of programmes and genuine commitment from government.
“Changing the constitution will not do this‚” she said.