Land committee receives 140 000 submissions, faces ‘nightmare’ planning for hearings

The parliamentary joint committee on constitutional review has so far received 140 000 written submissions about possible changes to land ownership rights and will request the National Assembly to extend the deadline to report back by August 30, according to co-chairperson Vincent Smith.

The written submissions and request for oral submissions opened on April 13 and will close on May 31 while the committee is left with the massive task of sifting through the genuine submissions and automated responses that some organisations encouraged their members to send repeatedly.

“Clearly someone is just clicking the send button,” Smith said in a telephonic interview with Fin24 on Monday.

Smith is due to give an update to the 24 members of the joint committee on Thursday, where they will also adopt a plan for the public participation phase in all 9 provinces as well as discuss how to handle the large volume of responses they have received so far.

After going through the valid written submissions, people who requested to deliver oral presentations will be invited before the committee.

The National Assembly in February adopted a motion for a constitutional review allowing for the expropriation of land without compensation and referred the matter to a joint constitutional review committee to review section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses, if necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

The committee has 24 members, made up of National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) members and is co-chaired by ANC MPs Vincent Smith and Musawenkosi Nzimande. Other members include Democratic Alliance MPs Glynnis Breytenbach and James Selfe and Economic Freedom Fighter leader Julius Malema.

Public hearings roll out

The public participation phase by the joint constitutional review committee was scheduled to get underway at the end of May, after written submissions close, but due to the NCOP running two weeks behind Parliament, members will need to be in the house to pass budget votes and Smith will propose that they begin on June 20.

The committee will split into two, inland and coastal provinces and Smith says they have allocated 4 days for rural provinces such as Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape, including one weekend day for those who are working to attend. Inland, smaller provinces will have 3 days of public hearings.

“It’s a nightmare, it will take a lot of planning,” Smith told Fin24.

The committee is working with provincial legislatures and mayors to ensure free access to venues for the hearings, such as city halls and assistance with transport for participants.

The Committee is targeting 350 – 400 people to attend each sitting in all 9 provinces and a team will arrive in the area a few days ahead of the hearings to advertise the event.

MPs can’t wait

Asked about the diverse nature of the MPs who will be involved in the hearings, Smith said that many members of the committee “can’t wait to get going”.

“Personally, I think it’s going to be a challenge, to tell MPs they’re going to listen, not to influence.

“It will have to be a balancing act, to keep the team as a team, not to push an agenda for their party which will be tempting.”

The motion in February to review the constitution was adopted along clear party lines, after a vote where 241 MPs voted for the motion with 83 MPs voting against it, with the ANC and EFF in favour and the DA and Freedom Front Plus opposing it.

Smith said that he feels the pressure from both sides of the public debate about the critical and often emotional issue.

“It’s almost damned if you, damned if you don’t.”

Request for extension

Smith will propose to committee members on Thursday that they ask the National Assembly to extend the August 30 deadline to mid-September in order to conduct the extensive public hearings process.

“The Constitutional Court has been clear in the past, can’t have a sham consultation… I’m not prepared to compromise about consultation”.

The ANC promised in its 1994 election manifesto to redistribute 30% of white owned commercial land within 5 years. By 2016, just 8-9% had been moved to black hands and the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ instrument used by the state has been criticised for the slow pace of land reform.

At its 54th national conference in December, the ANC adopted a resolution to expropriate land without compensation with the caveat that this should not affect food security or other sectors of the economy. — Fin24

Tehillah Niselow
Tehillah Nieselow
Tehillah Nieselow is a Journalist at Power FM. She Covers labour issues, strikes, protests and general stories
Advertisting

Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour
Advertising

Press Releases

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.