The Constitution 18th Amendment Bill will be re-published for public comment for the next three weeks. The Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution to Expropriate Land Without Compensation took this resolution on Friday.
Parliament’s legal service was tasked to look into the various proposals which the ANC, EFF, and Al Jama-ah wanted to be included in the Bill. It briefed the Ad Hoc Committee on its opinion on the political parties’ proposals. Intensive deliberations were done – clause by clause – by members of the committee soon after the legal services gave feedback.
These deliberations also saw the rejection of some of the proposals from the EFF, Al Jama-Ah, and the Freedom Front Plus to change certain clauses in Section 25. However, the proposed amendments made by the ANC were approved and the new Bill was adopted. The ANC’s Cyril Xaba proposed that the new Bill should be published for comment.
“We are substantially complying with the object or the purpose of that requirement. I think the requirement was that we must consider sending this back to the public. We are proposing that it must be for three weeks and we are proposing that it must be for a written submission. And if for whatever reason Parliament says in actual fact you should have come back to us before we went to public. And then Parliament will tell us then. We will cross the bridge when we get there,” says Xaba.
However, the EFF disagreed that the Bill should be sent back for public comment. EFF Chief Whip, Floyd Shivambu, argued that it is was a procedurally flawed move.
“There is no provision in the Constitution or the rule of the National Assembly that gives you the right to re-publish the bill after deliberations by the committee. Publish hearings were conducted. Nowhere had we ever republished a bill after it had been deliberated by the committee. Once the committee has deliberated upon and considered all public submissions, it then tables that to the House for consideration and decisions. That is what procedure dictates. That is what procedure dictates. So what you are doing now is an innovation which is inconsistent with the prescripts of the rules of the National Assembly or the Constitution,” says Shivambu.
Finally, the decision was taken to publish the Bill despite the objections.
Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson, Mathole Motshekga, says this is a supplementary process to complete the work.
“Honourable members I think we have agreed on publication of the Bill informed on what came from our debate and public hearings. So this is really a supplementary process to complete our work. This new Bill we have voted on invites the public to make supplementary submissions. And for supplementary submissions, we allocate three weeks. And then if we have erred members have said if we make our report Parliament will correct us,” says Motshekga.
The Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip, Corne Mulder, and DA Member of the Ad Hoc Committee, Annelie Lotriet, gave their reasons for not supporting the re-publication of the Bill.
“What do we intend to finish? Do we intent to finish with a Bill or report? Be that as it may,- I will also not support the proposal at the moment,” said Mulder.
“We also can’t support it at this particular point because we would much like to know what the legal services opinion would be and the guidance in terms of the correct procedure,- because we now have different views on this, So, therefore, we cant support it at this particular point,” Lotriet said.
The Ad Hoc Committee has until the end of August to report back to the National Assembly on whether the property clause should be amended to expropriate land without compensation or not. It would require two-thirds of the votes in the National Assembly to change Section 25 of the Constitution.
Full deliberations on the bill in the video below: