Parliament extends period for land expropriation submissions
The ad hoc committee looking into amending section 25 of the Constitution for the purpose of land expropriation without compensation has extended its deadline for written submissions by two weeks.
MPs met on Thursday to adopt the committee’s programme over the coming months as they travel across the country to various planned provincial meetings on the emotive subject.
One of the items on the agenda was a joint request for an extension for written submissions to June 30. The request was made by a number of civil groups.
The Helen Suzman Foundation, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, Accountability Now and others felt the 45 days provided were not sufficient.
After a debate on the matter, the committee decided to extend the deadline for written submissions from May 31 to June 15, bringing the total to 60 days.
Any further extensions could delay Parliament’s programme and affect its ability to meet the September 12 deadline to adopt its report, MPs argued.
MPs heard that around 140 000 written submissions had already been made. Committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith said the submissions could easily increase threefold as the deadline approaches.
Smith said the committee would be “ramping up” its capacity to deal with email inboxes and WhatsApp messages, through a request to IT and another for more personnel.
One person has made the same submission more than 60 000 times, leading to fears that some groups could be deliberately clogging up the system.
“As public representatives we must expose the right-wing opportunism that is happening here,” EFF MP Floyd Shivambu said.
Nonetheless, “all submissions will be considered”, Smith said.
There are also still two more phases of public submissions on the agenda.
From June 27 to August 6, MPs will split into two groups to visit all nine provinces.
Hearings will be conducted over four days at four venues in five province, while the remainder will have three, during that period.
“Let’s go on the ground and listen to our people. They want their land back,” Shivambu added.
Thereafter, there will also be an opportunity for oral submissions in Parliament from August 7 to 17.
A date for a colloquium with experts, academics, policy makers, faith-based groups, the South African Local Government Association and many others is planned for May 25, but that date could change.
Amendments to the dates and venues of the provincial meetings and the colloquium will be finalised next Wednesday, and published on Parliament’s website.