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No decision yet on controversial Expropriation Bill

A decision on whether or not the draft Expropriation Bill will be withdrawn has yet to be taken, National Assembly public works committee chair Thandi Tobias-Pokolo said on Friday.

Although the Bill has been ”certified”, the committee is waiting for further legal opinion from the Public Works Department and Parliament’s legal advisors.

The committee, which is dealing with the Bill, wants clarity on whether certain clauses in the Bill are constitutional or not, she said.

A report is expected sometime next week.

A parliamentary document listing the status of Bills before Parliament issued on Thursday indicated that the Bill might be withdrawn.

A spokesperson for Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza said the ministry has no comment at this stage as the Bill was is in Parliament’s hands.

There has been widespread condemnation of the controversial legislation, which will allow for any property to be expropriated ”in the public interest”.

Various organisations and political parties, including the Afrikanerbond, the FW de Klerk Foundation, the African Christian Democratic Party, Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus, have called it ”the greatest single threat” to South Africa’s democracy.

They say it is unconstitutional and will have disastrous consequences, seriously damage the economy, threaten South Africa’s food security and damage race relations.

However, Tobias-Pokolo has previously stated that such fears are unfounded.

”Only properties which are in the public interest may be expropriated for public purpose when the Bill becomes law. Not all properties will be expropriated,” she said.

On Friday, Afrikanerbond managing director Jan Bosman called on the African National Congress (ANC) to be ”honest” about the Bill’s status.

”It appears as if the unconstitutionality and the draconian nature of the proposed Expropriation Bill have dawned upon the policy makers and responsible members of the governing party in Parliament,” he said. It is again important to emphasise that the Bill affects all property — not just land.

”Rather than adopting this ill-conceived and unnecessary Bill, the government should instead enter into serious negotiations with organised agriculture and other affected interests to reach agreement on a land-reform process that will be just and equitable, non-divisive, effective, economically acceptable, expeditious and agriculturally sustainable.

”It is now appropriate for the ANC, also in this case, to admit that it was a mistake to introduce this Bill and to provide an undertaking for the unconditional withdrawal thereof,” Bosman said. — Sapa

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