On 27 February 2018 Julius Malema through the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) put forward a motion to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. Out of the 13 political parties only 4 political parties namely, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (COPE), Freedom Front Plus (FFP) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) contested the motion. It was supported by all other political parties including the African National Congress (ANC).
The ANC in support of the motion called for parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee to review section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the “Constitution”) being the so called “property clause”. The Review Committee has been tasked to do so and to report back to parliament by 30 August 2018.
What can be expected?
The announcement of the motion for expropriation without compensation was received by many with fear and questions and for some, excitement. There has been a lot of misunderstanding over what is intended by the motion and if there is to be expropriation without compensation, what land is intended to be included and what form such expropriation will take.
Clarity of the position taken by the ANC may be found from the outcome from the Land Summit held by the ANC in May 2018. After the discussions held at the Land Summit, the National Executive Committee of the ANC reviewed the recommendations of the Land Summit and clarified the position on the topic.
The ANC has taken the position that section 25 of the Constitution must be used to implement the policy of expropriation of land without compensation. This is to test the assertions made in some quarters that the Constitution in its current form already enables expropriation without compensation. The ANC intends for parliament to table and pass a Redistribution Bill to enable government to ensure just allocation of land and this is to be done in conjunction with the Expropriation Bill. The Expropriation Bill has been in the works since 2011 and was sent back to parliament by the then President Jacob Zuma in 2016.
The ANC’s position on changes to section 25 of the Constitution entails considering whether or not the intention of section 25(2)(b) in its current form is clear enough to allow for expropriation without compensation. If the Constitution review process finds that this section does not allow for expropriation without the payment of compensation, and that this section in its current form will slow down the redistribution and reformation of land, then it should be changed.
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