Land expropriation law change ‘won’t happen before elections’

ANC MP Vincent Smith.
ANC MP Vincent Smith.
Image: Supplied

The ANC has conceded that it will be impossible to pass the constitutional amendment bill required to allow for expropriation of land without compensation before next year’s elections.

The ANC in parliament made the concession just hours after the constitutional review committee gave the nod for the house to make changes to section 25 of the constitution‚ which relates to property ownership.

This follows months of public consultation on the matter‚ a process which saw committee MPs travelling to all provinces to conduct public hearings and consider written submissions.

The text of the resolution adopted on Thursday morning stated that “parliament must table‚ process and pass a constitutional amendment bill before the end of the 5th democratic parliament in order to allow for expropriation without compensation”.

At a media briefing later in the afternoon‚ ANC MP Vincent Smith said they would change the wording before presenting it to a full sitting of the National Assembly because it would be impossible to pass the amendment before next year’s election or the dissolution of the current parliament.

“We will tighten up the wording to say exactly what we mean. Maybe the wording was not proper English‚ but the intention is for that body‚ whether it’s for the justice committee or the ad hoc committee‚ to be given a mandate.

“What’s very clear is that there will be no voting on the actual constitutional amendments before the elections‚” said Smith.

At the same time‚ several opposition parties — such as the DA‚ COPE‚ Freedom Front Plus and the ACDP — have threatened to challenge the matter in court‚ citing procedural flaws.

“They are really grasping at straws when they say there was bullying and intimidation during the public hearings ... it’s an attempt to discredit the process and we must reject that‚” said Smith.

But Smith was confident the matter was handled properly‚ adding that there was no need to refer it to the Constitutional Court before it was passed by parliament.

“The ANC is of the view that we can’t outsource our responsibility to the judiciary. The judiciary can’t be the default for what in essence is a political decision.

"We as politicians must take a this political decision on whether we amend the constitution and those who want to take it court should take it to court‚ but parliament cannot as a default go to the judiciary for what in essence is a political decision.”