National Assembly to debate and vote on Constitution 18th Amendment Bill on Tuesday

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South Africans will soon know whether the Property Clause in the Constitution will be amended to allow for expropriation of Land without Compensation.

The Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill will be brought before the National Assembly for debate on Tuesday. The Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution adopted the Bill and its report in September.

The National Assembly will debate and vote on the Bill. It will require a two-thirds majority to pass the Bill although some say even a higher threshold since it relates to the Bill of Rights.

It started with an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) motion amended by the African National Congress (ANC) which was brought before the National Assembly on the 27th February 2018. This was on the same day of the 40th commemoration of the founding father of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe who died in 1978 at the Kimberley hospital now known as Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe hospital.

EFF leader Julius Malema said, “Almost 400-years-ago, a criminal by the name of Jan van Riebeck landed in our native land, declared and already occupied land by the native population as a no man’s land. Van Riebeck the first descendent of the Dutch arrived in the Cape will later lead a full-blown colonial genocide anti-Black land dispossession criminal project arguing that simply because our people could not produce title deeds, this land that they have been living in for more than a thousand years was not their own.”

Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill to be tabled before National Assembly on Tuesday:

After the debate, the EFF motion was passed after the DA called for a division to allow MPs to vote from their allocated seats. Reading the results of the vote, National Assembly House Chairperson Cedrick Frolick said, “The outcome of the division is as follows. Those in favour 241. Those against 83. There are no abstentions and the motion as amended is therefore agreed to.”

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee was tasked to investigate whether South Africans wanted the Property Clause to be amended. It conducted public hearings across the country and later reported back that the majority of South Africans wanted Section 25 of the Constitution to be amended.

This led to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee to initiate legislation to amend the property clause to ensure expropriation of land where compensation may be nil.

A draft Constitution 18th Amendment Bill was produced.

The ANC stated that it wanted certain land to be owned by the state but the EFF has been steadfast in its call for all land and natural resources to be under the custodianship of the State while other oppositions rejected any idea of Constitutional amendments.

EFF Chief Whip, Floyd Shivambu said they believe the ANC is failing the people.

“We still believe that the process was transparent and fair and consistent with what Parliament has mandated. We do not think that the draft Bill is going to permit the expropriation of land without compensation. We think it’s a sell-out Bill we are just revolving around the same question that the ANC is failing our people and the ANC leaves us with no option but to engage on extrajudicial processes of land reform here in South Africa.”

Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson, Dr Mathole Motshekga said he has no doubt that the programme would be followed.

“It is premature to judge and suggest that people should take the law into their hands because Parliamentarians are failing. Parliamentarians have not yet failed, Parliamentarians are hard at work. We have agreed on a programme and I have no doubt that that programme would be followed and would produce the desired results.”

After much toing and froing, the Bill was adopted by the Ad Hoc Committee in September, the Bill will be brought before the National Assembly for approval.

The Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), Lawson Naidoo said it is still unclear whether the Bill will achieve a two-thirds majority vote.

“Whether the Amendment Bill will muster the two-thirds majority that it requires in order to be assed is another matter and that is going to depend on political parties in Parliament. I think there were some political parties that made their positions fairly clear so far, but we’ll have to see what happened when the Bill comes before the House and exactly how parties vote on it.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is confident that the Bill will not achieve a two-thirds majority vote. DA Leader John Steenhuisen says the party will be voting against the Bill.

“We will be voting against it. I don’t think the ANC is going to have enough numbers to do this constitutional amendment Bill through the House. It’s not radical enough for the EFF. We believe that it is not desirable to amend the constitution. The constitution should only be amended under very very specific circumstances and we remain committed to ensuring that and reform in South African through other means other than amending the constitution. So it’s a completely unnecessary bill and we hope to see it defeated in the House.”

But, if it is passed, the DA has threatened to go to court.

“We are also ready for any legal challenges. We believe it’s going to require a special amendment because it impedes on other rights enshrined in Chapter 1 of the constitution, the Bill of rights, which would require to get a special majority in the House and not just simply the two-thirds majority and so we stand ready to challenge it legally should this Bill be passed in the National Assembly.”

Other opposition parties also remain divided on the Bill.

Freedom Front Plus (FF-Plus) MP, Wouter Wessels said the Bill, if passed, will only lead to further unemployment and collapse the South African economy.

“The Freedom Front Plus will on Tuesday vote against the Bill. Which seeks to amend the constitution to provide for expropriation of land without compensation. We believe that any form of expropriation without compensation will be the detriment of South Africa as a whole. It will lead to further poverty. It will lead to further unemployment and it will completely collapse the South African economy. We’re hopeful that the Bill will not succeed as the two-thirds majority will not be achieved.”

PAC president Mzwanele Nyontsho said, “The expropriation of land without compensation is not the PAC policy. The PAC is for land repossession. The PAC is for land restoration. We are a dispossessed nation. Our land was taken by force and our land must be returned to its rightful owners. Anyway on Tuesday as PAC we are going to vote in favour of expropriation of land without compensation because anything that irritates and annoys the White people, we are going to support it. As long as the white people are not happy and not comfortable with the land expropriation we are going to vote in favour of it.”

It will be in the National Assembly where the final decision will be taken on whether the Constitution will be amended for the 18th time.

A successful two-thirds majority vote requires 266 to 267 of the 400 members of the National Assembly to vote in favour of the Bill.