EXPROPRIATION BILL: parliamentary process updates

Summaries of key developments are provided below, in reverse date order.

The National Assembly's Public Works & Infrastructure Committee is processing the Bill during the first leg of its second passage through Parliament.

22 December 2021

The National Assembly intends prioritising this Bill next year, according to Parliament's media statement on its work during 2021. This is noting that, among other things, the Bill's revised version provides for 'certain instances where expropriation with nil compensation may be done in the public interest'.

7 December 2021

Although there was not sufficient support from National Assembly members to pass the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill, during Tuesday's debate Justice & Correctional Service Minster Ronald Lamola referred to several pieces of proposed new legislation that will be used to give practical effect to ANC policy on accelerated land reform. Those yet to be tabled include a Land Restoration Bill. According to the party's parliamentary caucus, a ‘new way’ will be found to use land expropriation with no compensation as an instrument of land reform, using existing provisions in the Constitution. Meanwhile, Parliament will proceed next year with its work on the revised Expropriation Bill.

27 November 2021

The National Assembly is scheduled to debate the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill on Tuesday 7 December. Seeking to amend the section 25 of the Constitution (property rights) to expressly provide for expropriation with nil compensation when deemed just, equitable and in the public interest for land reform purposes, the Bill will require the support of two-thirds of the House to be passed.

25 November 2021

The Department of Public Works & Infrastructure has received ex parte advice from Advocates Geoff Budlender and Uday Naidoo on whether to include a definition of 'property' in the Expropriation Bill. This advice was circulated during yesterday's meeting of the National Assembly's Public Works & Infrastructure Committee and underscores the pitfalls of attempting a comprehensive definition of the term.

As a result, the committee is unlikely to heed widespread calls in written submission on the Bill for property to be defined. They appear to have been made in the context of concerns about the negative implications of expropriation with nil compensation for private property ownership and economic development. A Constitution 18th Amendment Bill providing the framework for land expropriation with nil compensation is waiting to be debated in the House.

17 November 2021

Having been briefed on input during the public participation process, the National Assembly's Public Works & Infrastructure Committee has finally come to terms with the magnitude of its task in attempting to ensure the revised Bill passes constitutional muster. Deliberations will begin in earnest next year.

There are many misconceptions about its purpose in the context of the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill, which is now waiting to be debated in the House. Concerns about the Expropriation Bill's negative implications for private property ownership and the broader economy appear to have underpinned most written submissions opposing it.

By contrast, at grassroots level the Bill is widely perceived to be pivotal to facilitating access to land in the context of redress for past injustices.

Key issues raised in written and oral submissions that may result in amendments include:

  • redefining the terms 'property' and 'expropriation'

  • clarifying what is meant by 'nil compensation', and

  • dealing with the Bill's perceived implications for water and mineral rights.

On Wednesday 24 November, the committee is scheduled to receive:

  • a response from the Department of Public Works & Infrastructure to input during the public participation process

  • recommendations from parliamentary legal services on the way forward, and

  • a view from the Office of the State Law Adviser.