NCOP should reject the Expropriation Bill – IRR

Bill’s presence in statute book could spell disaster for economic growth and foreign investment

IRR calls on NCOP to reject the Expropriation Bill and fulfil its role as upper house

8 February 2023

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has called on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), in particular its Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure, to reject the Expropriation Bill, which was adopted by the National Assembly in September 2022.

The NCOP is the upper house of Parliament, and the National Assembly the lower. Both houses must approve legislation before it can become law. The National Assembly failed to heed numerous and sustained warnings from civil society regarding the dangers represented by the Bill.

Since 2008 when the Expropriation Bill was first mooted, the IRR has warned of the risks to property rights, and thus the prosperity built upon property rights, that would result should the Bill be adopted. The Bill remains dangerous today, despite repeated revisions over 15 years.

Among other things, the Bill makes it significantly easier for government to expropriate property, and more difficult for property owners – whether farmers, businesspeople, or homeowners – to protect themselves against expropriation. Most contentiously, the Bill makes provision for so-called ‘expropriation without compensation’, an unconstitutional phenomenon incompatible with human flourishing.

If adopted, the Bill’s presence in the statute book could spell disaster for economic growth, foreign investment, and the delicate balance of power between government and civil society.

‘Upper houses in legislatures are designed to act as a brake on the often reckless passions of lower houses, which is why they are rarely directly elected. They are forums for calm reconsideration of what the lower house might have deemed an open-and-shut case,’ says Martin van Staden, IRR Deputy Head of Policy Research.

‘The Expropriation Bill is a textbook example of a harmful policy adopted for reasons of political expediency and for the incumbent government to take as much undeserved power away from civil society as it can. Society stands to gain nothing from the Bill’s adoption and to lose much. It is in these textbook examples where upper houses must intervene and restore measured sanity,’ adds Van Staden.

The IRR is in the process of preparing a formal submission to the Select Committee. View the IRR’s previous submission (to the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure) on the same Bill, as well as the IRR’s campaign to stop the Bill, here: https://irr.org.za/campaigns/stop-the-expropriation-bill

Issued by Martin van Staden, Deputy Head of Policy Research, IRR, 8 February 2023