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May : ANC out to clear legal hurdles on land issue

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23 May, 2018

ANC out to clear legal hurdles on land issue

The ruling party wants expropriation without compensation to be included in the Expropriation Bill


A bill that might pave the way for the government to seize land without compensation - which has been back and forth between the Presidency and Parliament for the past decade - has to be updated to bolster the principle, says an ANC transformation committee.

This could set the stage for a replay of clashes in the ANC that could undermine President Cyril Ramaphosa and affect market sentiment.

The ANC's economic transformation subcommittee, briefing the media on Monday on the party's land summit, said that it was recommending the inclusion of expropriation without compensation in the Expropriation Bill, as it believed that the Constitution allowed the government to do so.

The ANC is pushing ahead to address the land question, uncertainty over which has already caused investor and market jitters. The ANC partnering with the EFF in Parliament to vote through a motion supporting land expropriation without compensation in February caused the rand to weaken and intensified investor fear, centred on damage to property rights and the financial sector, as well as the effect it could have on agriculture, land values and food production.

The outcome of the two-day meeting will be discussed by the party's highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), on Friday.

The recommendations may raise the hackles of those in the NEC who during the national conference in December pursued a populist and factional stance on changing the Constitution to include expropriation without compensation.

Their stance at the coming NEC meeting will be a test of whether the remnants of the Zuma faction are still on the attack or whether they have fallen in line.

When senior ANC leaders argued that the Constitution already made provision for expropriation without compensation, the Zuma group accused Ramaphosa and his supporters of backtracking on the party's Nasrec resolution.

ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola said on Monday the party's view, after the two-day land summit, was that section 25 as it stood allowed the government to expropriate without compensation, but the debate was that it had not been tested.

"[We must] put forward an expropriation bill, which will clearly stipulate expropriation without compensation and under what circumstances," Lamola said.

"The discussion in the workshop was that after that bill has been put in place we must look into the possibility of the president taking the bill to the ConCourt [Constitutional Court] ... to test the constitutionality of the Expropriation Bill to expropriate without compensation."

If the apex court came up with a different view or a different interpretation then the party would look at amending or clarifying the legislation.

Lamola said the ANC needed to ensure that the constitutional-review process was used to avoid ambiguity and bring greater clarity to section 25, if it was found that existing legislation impeded or slowed down effective land redistribution.

As it stood, seven national departments, provincial governments and local municipalities had expropriation powers. "We must simply proceed to expropriate, and to do so without compensation in certain circumstances, and if they are challenged they must not be scared to go to court and clarify the principle," Lamola said.

The head of the ANC's subcommittee on economic transformation, Enoch Godongwana, said the next step for the ANC would be two pronged. It would first develop its submission for the constitutional-review committee out of the recommendations made at the summit and would then outline a programme of action.

He said "quick wins" would be delivering land which was in government hands. The government would also need to look at its institutions and see whether they were able to deliver on this.

Lamola said the summit had also called for a redistribution bill, which would be a principal focus for the ANC.

He said restitution processes dealt only with people who had been dispossessed. There were many people who were not dispossessed but who needed land. Restitution was a lengthy process, with claims potentially taking up to 40 years to resolve, he said.

Source: Forestry South Africa
(Business Day)