On Wednesday, 28 September 2022, the final version of the Expropriation Bill will be tabled in Parliament for adoption.

While the Bill has transformed in a number of respects, the DA still has several concerns about the Expropriation Bill’s harmful effects on private property rights. There is no reason to craft legislation that threatens private property rights when the purpose of legislation on expropriation can be achieved without such sinister provisions.

The DA will be taking pro-active action in Parliament to fight the threat the Expropriation Bill poses to all South Africans.

The DA has proposed two amendments to the Bill, to be considered next week under National Assembly Rule 291. We believe these amendments will protect private property rights without impacting the ability of government to expropriate property when done for a public purpose or in the public interest and subject to compensation – as required by Section 25 of the Constitution.

The first amendment is to the definition of expropriation which currently only defines ‘direct expropriation’ by the state. It is our belief that indirect expropriation should also be covered by the Bill, as this will ensure that property owners affected by indirect expropriation are also entitled to compensation.

Indirect expropriation refers to a curtailment of rights where the state assumes custodial or regulatory control over property without there being a transfer of the property in question from the owner to the expropriating authority.

Without including this in the definition of expropriation, property owners will be at risk of losing their property without compensation.

Draft legislation before Parliament is already proposing instances where the State can declare that private property is required for conservation or biodiversity purposes and deprive the owner of such property without any form of compensation being paid.

Deprivation is not covered by expropriation, and our amendment aims to fix this.

The second amendment proposed by the DA focuses on the highly controversial nil compensation clause. The inclusion of this clause is a cynical attempt by the ANC to amend the Constitution through the backdoor, given that their Section 25 Constitutional Amendment failed to pass in Parliament.

The DA believes the inclusion of this clause will render the Bill unconstitutional. In addition, it is a direct assault on private property rights, as it remains open-ended despite the ANC’s attempt to disguise its nefarious purpose by listing 5 instances where nil compensation could be justified.

The DA’s amendment provides for only 2 instances where it may be permissible for government to commence from an offer of nil compensation for expropriation. In both instances, the property in question will already be owned by the State prior to expropriation.

The DA will always fight any attempts to place the State in a stronger bargaining position than private property owners.

The DA calls on all South Africans to support our efforts to protect private property rights, which are under threat from the Expropriation Bill. We believe our proposed amendments will achieve this protection. Without these important changes made to the Bill, the DA will vigorously oppose the adoption of the Expropriation Bill on Wednesday.

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Samantha Graham-Maré

Samantha Graham-Maré, MP is the DA Shadow Minister: Public Works and Infrastructure.

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