Today, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure conducted a clause-by-clause vote on the Expropriation Bill. This was the culmination of a gruelling 22 months of public hearings, written and oral submissions and a clause-by-clause debate.
The Expropriation Bill was never primarily intended to serve as a land reform instrument, but instead as an updated framework to govern state expropriation when done for a public purpose or in the public interest, and subject to compensation.
The Expropriation Bill as it stands today is a crude attempt by the ANC to sneak expropriation without compensation through the back door, inside of ordinary legislation. It is increasingly clear that the ANC intends to use the Expropriation Bill as a cynical electioneering tool – as opposed to a well-crafted Bill that replaces South Africa’s currently outdated expropriation framework – that dates back to 1975.
The Expropriation Bill remains deeply flawed and poses a significant threat to private property rights. The DA has sought through our fight in the Committee to ensure that state power is curtailed in favour of individual rights. Following our efforts, the Committee was presented with a substantially altered piece of legislation. While the Bill continued to promote the ‘expropriation without compensation’ narrative, it included clauses and amendments that allowed for owners to make counter offers on proposed compensation. This was an excellent step towards balancing the power of the state and the individual.
A further inclusion was a sunset clause that required the Expropriating Authority to use an expropriated property for the intended purpose and within a stipulated time frame, failing which the original owner had first right of refusal to repurchase the property. It is deeply unfortunate that the ANC refused to allow either clause to remain in the final version of the Bill.
As a result of the ANC’s failure to pass a Constitutional amendment to allow for expropriation without compensation, they are now attempting to amend the Constitution through the back door by including the ‘nil-compensation’ wording within ordinary legislation.
The Bill voted on in Committee today remains a mediocre piece of legislation that the DA believes will fail to pass Constitutional muster. The Bill relies heavily on an ill-conceived assumption that the government is benign, having only the best interests of its residents at heart. We all know that nothing could be further from the truth.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance voted against the Expropriation Bill in its current form. It is deeply concerning that the ANC continues to ignore the rights of individuals in favour of the entrenchment of state power. The Bill will now make its way to the National Assembly, where the DA will continue to fight the ANC’s unconstitutional attempts to shoe-horn expropriation without compensation into a Bill where it does not belong.
The DA will be ramping up our opposition to the Bill in the coming weeks and ask that the South African public join us in this important fight.