Parliament’s Joint constitutional review committee has been granted more time to allow for more submissions on whether section 25 of the South African constitution should be amended or not.
Joint Constitutional review committee chairperson, Lewis Nzimande says they have been given the go ahead to extend the hearings, and are expected to submit a report to parliament next month.
“Because of the volume of the written submissions we couldn’t finish in time to report by the 28 September and we’ve therefore requested an extension to conclude our work and report to parliament by end of November.”
The committee will hold the hearings in parliament on the 25 and 26 October and are currently expecting 19 oral submissions from individuals and groups.
Nzimande says after they have heard these submissions, they will then put together a report and will be expected to submit their recommendations by the end November.
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As the debate on land expropriation continues, various organisations and individuals have called for the matter to be extended to look at cases prior to 1913. However, the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 only allows for cases that occurred after the Land Act of 1913 to be considered for restitution.
Anthony Williams, of Indigenous First Nations Advocacy of South Africa (IFNASA) says the constitution’s approach on the land issue is flawed.
“When you talk about land dispossession after 1913, it doesn’t make sense that this very same constitution that promotes the redress of the past injustice, if one takes section 25, sub-section 1 for arguments sake. It states that no law should prohibit anybody from redress of the past injustice. And later in the same section, it bars some of the people who rightfully own this land. So it (SA constitution) is disingenuous, it is a contradiction, it’s a piece of legislation that is filled with contradictions.” says Williams.
Artist/Activist, Masello Motana agrees with Williams, saying land dispossession in South Africa had been happening way before 1913. She cites the beheading of three African kings that happened in the 19th century, mentioning the deaths of Jantjies, Bambatha and Hintsa as examples of people killed because they did not agree to give up their ancestral land.
“I felt that it was important to represent their voices, because I felt that this so-called consultative process was not bearing those stories in mind. How the actual dispossession happened prior to 1913, which for me were the most grievous. That is when they used to chop people’s heads off and burn their lands.” says Motana.
An expert on land restitution and academic, Professor Cheryl Walker says the 1913 date was agreed upon leading to South Africa’s democracy in the early 1990’s.
“This is the date set in the Constitution, as negotiated in the early 1990s – when there was recognition that opening up land claims for pre-1913 dispossessions would lead to conflict and confusion, given the overlapping claims that would result, depending what cut-off point one legislated.” says Walker.
Parliament’s Rural Development and Land Reform committee is on the other hand looking at the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 and recently held public hearings on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill which seeks to amend the current restitution act to a certain extent.
Lewis Nzimande says those calling for the land question to look at matters of dispossession before 1913 should approach the correct parliamentary committee to raise their concerns.
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