Dangerous twist in debate on amendment of section 25
31 May 2021
Today, 31 May 2021, is the deadline for the Ad Hoc committee tasked with the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to complete their work. The ANC had at the last minute, proposed further amendments to section 25.
This followed bilateral discussions between the ANC and the EFF. The EFF’s proposal entails the deletion of the reference to the courts’ role in the proposed amendment of section 25(3). The EFF proposes that the entire sub-section 3, which makes provision for compensation for expropriation, be scrapped.
Furthermore, the ANC, during the meeting of the Ad Hoc committee, had suddenly and unexpectedly indicated that they would support an amendment to the wording of section 25(5) which stipulates that the state must introduce reasonable legislative and other measures to promote state custodianship of land. The EFF has long promoted state custodianship over all natural resources. The EFF is also in favour of scrapping the 1913 date for restitution claims in section 25(7).
The Ad Hoc committee decided to ask Parliament for a further 30 days to complete their work, which would be the third postponement of the deadline.
Parliament’s legal advisors indicated that the new amendments probably fall outside the committee’s mandate and proposed that the committee also request Parliament for an extension of their mandate and to allow for further public consultation on the new clauses. Some members, however, were of the opinion, that this was not necessary and that all the proposed amendments fall within the committee’s mandate to state explicitly what was presently implied in the Constitution.
Agri SA has monitored the Ad Hoc committee meetings throughout.
Willem de Chavonnes Vrugt, chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Land, described the latest developments as ‘extremely concerning’. Agri SA is strongly opposed to the scaling down of the courts’ role in expropriation disputes, and even more so when it comes to expropriation without compensation. The proposal regarding state custodianship is absolutely frightening, he said. It will send a shock wave through the agricultural sector.
Agri SA is in the process of seeking legal advice on the latest proposals. Custodianship of land will deprive all private landowners of their property rights without receiving compensation, giving control over all private land to the state. This is a recipe for an economic and humanitarian disaster, and an invitation for large-scale corruption, said De Chavonnes Vrugt.
He added that the state’s track record in terms of management of land was extremely poor. “Agri SA will oppose these proposals with everything in its power,” said De Chavonnes Vrugt. However, Agri SA remains committed to sustainable land reform and the extension of full ownership to new farmers.”
Issued by Annelize Crosby, Head: Land and Legal Affairs, Agri SA, 31 May 2021