Parliament extends deadline for public comment on land expropriation bill

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The public will have another month to make written submissions on the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill.

The Ad-Hoc Committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution has extended the deadline for public comments to the end of February.

The initial deadline was 31 January.

Calls for the deadline’s extension came from various quarters, including the National House of Traditional leaders, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African National Congress (ANC).

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“We are at one that we extend the period for submissions to the end of February. So, we take that as our decision, unanimous consensus and then we should look at the programme for public hearings,” Ad-Hoc Committee Chairperson Mathole Motshekga said after a meeting over the issue.

As the parties reached consensus, one of the suggestions by the EFF was for Parliament to invite the public to also make their submissions through a platform like Whatsapp.

“There has to be a digital flexibility to the call for written submissions. So, being strictly limited to the e-mail is also a bit unfair. So, I think they must publish a Whatsapp line where our people can also submit. Both a Whatsapp line and an sms line. Whatsapp is actually more accessible in terms of numbers. More people have more Whatsapp than they have e-mail addresses.”

The ANC’s Bongani Bongo supported the EFF’s proposal.

The Ad-Hoc Committee is still expected to finalise the programme for public hearings that will be held in Parliament and across the country. These hearings are expected to kick in soon after the new deadline expires.

The Ad-Hoc Committee is also expected to ask the National Assembly for an extension to complete its work. The committee’s lifespan was expected to end on 31 March after reporting back to the National Assembly on whether Section 25 of the Constitution will be amended.