Use pandemic to expedite the Expropriation Bill – Committee

Chairperson hears that all deserted govt building should be allocated for housing, businesses or community projects

Covid-19 pandemic must be used to expedite the Expropriation Bill

8 May 2021

Gauteng’s Orange Farm residents believe that the Covid-19 pandemic must be used to expedite the implementation of the Expropriation Bill. This, they told Members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure at its public hearing in Finetown, can result in residents getting access to faster public healthcare, a police station, better housing, jobs and other economic opportunities.

They informed the committee that many people have lost their houses or rented properties after losing their jobs due to the Covid-19 lockdown regulations. This, according to the residents, would not have happened if they had owned the land or title deeds to the properties.

However, some residents cautioned that rampant corruption had to be stopped or the expropriation exercise would go the route of Zimbabwe, where politicians and senior civil servants handed out land to friends and family members.

Foreigners, according to the residents, must not be allowed to purchase land as it is the entry point to economic activity. They also informed the committee that criminal activity in their areas mostly emanated from foreign-owned businesses and properties. Therefore, they call for foreigners not to own land. South Africans must be prioritised as the rightful owners of the land.   

Some residents also expressed their concern that now that we are a democracy, land would only be expropriated after lengthy legal battles, while the colonial and apartheid governments just forced people off the land.

Residents further proposed that all deserted government and municipal buildings should be expropriated and allocated for housing, businesses or community development projects. In addition, members of the South African Communist Party and Fine Town residents rebuked Parliament for not giving them sufficient time to study the Bill and for failing to host workshops explaining its contents in detail. This, they proposed, would have allowed them to prepare better for the public hearing. Despite this, they gave their full support to the consultative process Parliament has embarked upon.

Committee Chairperson, Ms. Nolitha Ntobongwana, welcomed the input received and thanked the ward committees for attending. “This is the first public hearing where so many ward committees attended a public hearing,” she said. In addition, Ms Ntobongwana expressed her appreciation for the manner in which residents participated and contributed towards the discussions.

Issued by Faith Ndenze, Media Officer, Parliamentary Communication Office, 8 May 2021