Proposed amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution
11 December 2019
On 6 December 2019, Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee published the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill (Amendment Bill) for public comment. In terms of Parliament’s Notice, the public has until 31 January 2020 to submit written submissions on the proposed Bill.
The Ad Hoc Committee is tasked with the drafting of the amendment to section 25 of the Constitution - the property clause - to make “explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to expropriation of land without compensation, as a legitimate option for land reform”.
The Foundation is concerned about the fact that such a critically important Amendment Bill is being published for public comment during the festive season. It appears that these concerns were specifically discussed at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on 3 December 2019, but Parliament’s legal services informed the Committee that a similar process had been followed with Bills in the past. The Amendment Bill is apparently to be sent to the House of Traditional Leaders and provincial legislatures in December, and will also be published again in a national newspaper early in January 2020.
It must be emphasised that although there have been 17 Amendment Bills proposing amendments to the Constitution, it is the first time that South Africa’ young democracy has to deal with an amendment to a right in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights forms the “cornerstone of democracy in South Africa” and it enshrines the “rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom” in terms of section 7 of the Constitution. It is therefore vital to ensure meaningful public participation.