Forestry Ownership

8 December – As FSA predicted, National Assembly fails to pass constitutional amendments to allow land expropriation without compensation

As FSA had predicted for the last four years, the National Assembly failed to pass the amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation on Tuesday. The ANC failed to muster the required two-thirds majority as neither the DA nor the EFF supported the amendment. In the end, 204 MPs voted in favour of the bill and 145 against, with no abstentions. A total of 267 votes are required for a two-thirds majority. Some opposing the amendment reiterated that there is no need to amend Section 25, and this bill falls foul of the Bill of Rights. The vote resulted in increased polarisation between the ANC and EFF.

As reported by FSA on numerous occasions, a chasm between the EFF and ANC on which form the amendment should take was apparent from the start of the process. It was clear that the writing was on the wall for the bill in May this year. Even though President Cyril Ramaphosa distanced himself from state custodianship, the ANC included a provision to place some land in state custodianship – which is in the bill adopted by the committee. This did not appease the EFF as the EFF still states that all land should be in State custodian. Interestingly on Monday, the ANC caucus, in an unusual step, issued a communiqué on its position ahead of the debate, perhaps anticipating the outcome of the vote. The ANC stated that the debate is part of a continuum and not an event. Whether or not the ANC gets a two-thirds majority, land reform and in particular, the land redistribution programme and programmes that address the hunger for land and support, will continue through policy, programme and further draft legislation that will be brought to Parliament. FSA has always supported the need for land reform and will continue to do so using legislation and practices which are just, fair and equitable.

The Expropriation Bill, a piece of legislation separate from the constitutional amendment, is still before Parliament but is unlikely to be passed, given the failure to amend the Constitution.

We believe the result of the vote signals a return to responsible governance and the assurance of property rights in South Africa. FSA will continue to monitor all developments and keep our members informed.

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