Parly completes public hearings on words to be inserted on Section 25

Parly completes public hearings on words to be inserted on Section 25
ALMOST DONE: Parliament's ad-hoc committee on land expropriation without compensation is to conclude its business on the amendment of of section 25 of the constitution soon. PICTURE BY EWN

The community members want the piece of law removed and replaced with one that gives all people access to land.

A committee of Parliament appointed to investigate the possibility of changing the SA constitution’s section 25 completed its last round of hands the past weekend, hearing from community members how exactly the wording of this section should look like.

In Mpumalanga, the committee visited Mbombela, Ermelo and Middelburg, taking hands from community members who had come in numbers to express their views on South Africa’s most contentious issue.

The committee is chaired by Mathole Motshekga – a doctor of law by qualification and an ANC MP – but just like the Constitutional review committee of 2018 it was split into two groups to allow it to run the meetings across the country at once – with the group sent to conduct the hearings in Mpumalanga chaired by Bongani Bongo, an advocate of law.

The deadline for the public to submit their views on the legislative laws around the expropriating of land without compensation was Saturday 29 February 2020.

The committee will also have public hearings at Parliament from 17 to 19 March 2020.

Parly completes public hearings on words to be inserted on Section 25
Mandla Mandela, Nolitha Ntobongwana and Bongani Bongo during the hearings in Mpumalanga between 28 – 29 February and 1 March 2020

While few opposed the expropriation of land without compensation, crying that it would affect the food chain of the country, the majority though in Mbombela community hall, Ermelo district municipal building and Middelburg banquet hall felt the land ought to be shared amongst all people who live in South Africa.

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In their submissions, the EFF said the state should own the land, as it “carries an obligation to redress imbalances of the past”.

“The state should be the custodian of all South Africa’s natural resources, inclusive of land, mineral resources, and water, and relevant legislation should be passed to clearly define and contextualise state custodianship of natural resources,” the party of Julius Malema said in their submissions.

Parliament, the government and the courts should put in place laws “that will achieve redress and equitably redistribute all resources,” the EFF submissions read.

The ANC also supported the expropriation of land without compensation, “under conditions laid out in a law of general application”.

Bongo said they have heard the people and were now going back to Parliament to begin the process of amending section 25.

“We thank so much everyone who came to submit their views. We also thank the various members of our communities from different political parties for the tolerance they showed,” Bongo said when the public hearing closed.

“We have heard each and everyone of you, we have recorded all your views and we will take them back to Parliament and begin the process,” he said, adding the whole purpose is to correct past injustices where people were removed from land by the past white regime.

This follows the work completed by a Constitutional review committee appointed by Parliament in 2018 to investigate the possibility of changing the constitution.

Bongo said this last round of hearings were about getting from people how exactly the words on the constitution should look like.

“The whole aim is to make sure that all South Africans get access to the land without compensation,” he said.

(edited by ZK)
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