The National Assembly has granted the Ad Hoc Committee on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution a 30-day extension to complete its work.

The Committee, tasked with coming up with legislation to enable amendments that will allow for land expropriation, made the request for the extension earlier this week.

Its lifespan ended at midnight on Monday. The Chairpersons in the National Assembly, Cedrick Frolick, says this doesn’t change the Committee’s mandate.

“The mandate of the Committee will remain the same. The Committee will be re-established and asked to report back end of August although they requested a 30-day extension, we are mindful that the House going into recess and even if they complete it in 30 days, the report would be there and wait for us when we return in August.”

Hearings 

Parliament held public oral hearings into the proposal to amend Section 25 of the Constitution. This follows a request by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to allow oral submissions on the proposed constitutional amendment.

The Ad Hoc Committee handling the matter has received over 200 000 written submissions. It is currently processing the proposal to amend the Constitution to give effect to land expropriation without compensation.

There is currently a huge debate on the feasibility of the amendment. However, labour federation Cosatu says it supports the Amendment and Expropriation Bill.

The highest law in the land

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is Act No 108 of Parliament of 1996. It is the highest law in the land. And therefore any law that is not in line with the Constitution becomes invalid unless and until it is rectified to pass constitutional muster.

The Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 remains the cornerstone of democracy as outlined in the Constitution. It is a chapter that makes provision for the protection of human dignity, the right to life, freedom of expression, equality, privacy, freedom of religion, freedom of belief and opinion. Other freedoms include political rights, freedom of trade, occupation and profession. However, all these rights are subject to limitations.

To change most of the Bill of Rights – requires a two-thirds majority vote. One example that requires a two-thirds vote is the property clause under Section 25 of the Constitution.

It is under Section 25 where the expropriation of land and property is provided for. However, this clause is currently being amended by the Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow the Expropriation of Land Without Compensation.

The Section 25 amendment is currently being done through the Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill. This means it is the 18th time that the South African Constitution is being amended.

 

– Additional reporting by Mercedes Besent