The Joint Constitutional Review Committee has adopted a report that recommends – explicitly – for Section 25 of the Constitution to be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.
A majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs), who formed part of the committee and were empowered to vote in terms of the rules of the committee, ruled in favour of the report’s adoption and for it to be referred to the National Assembly for consideration.
The adoption comes after a lengthy public consultation process that saw a number of organisations making submissions on the Bill and public hearings being held countrywide on a process that has attracted local and international interest.
While the DA proposed against the amendment of the Constitution when the joint committee met to deliberate the report before its adoption on Thursday, the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu moved for the adoption of the report with an additional recommendation that Parliament establishes a mechanism for the amendment to be drafted and concluded during the current term of Parliament.
In a media briefing following its adoption, the co-chairpersons of the joint committee outlined the process that will follow the adoption of the report.
Co-chairperson Lewis Nzimande said: “In two weeks’ time, there will be a debate [on the report]. I think there was a consensus that we will want to have a debate in the House [National Assembly] when we are adopting the report,” he said.
Nzimande said after the debate, and depending on the resolution from the House, the report will be forwarded to either a Portfolio Committee or an ad hoc committee, which will convene to determine its programme.
With the Constitution having being amended 17 times before, this is the first time that an amendment will be made on a section in the Bill of Rights, and this will necessitate for an intensive public consultation process to take place.
“That committee… is bound to draft a Bill which will be issued out for 30 days for the public to comment and then after the 30 days, they will reconvene and set up a proper programme. So Parliament will issue a proposed Bill to members of the public to amend Section 25 of the Constitution,” Nzimande said.
He said the committee that will be tasked with this responsibility will then determine the programme that will give details of the timelines of the processing of the Bill.
Stan Maila, who is also a co-chairperson for the Joint Constitutional Review Committee, said amending a section in the Bill of Rights will require a majority vote in the House.
“For Parliament to amend a clause in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution is very strict. It needs a two thirds majority vote from the House. It is not something that is taken very [lightly], so that will be the first thing that needs to happen before the other processes,” he said.