EXPROPRIATION BILL TO BE REOPENED FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
This article was published on 25 November 2020 in Legalbrief Today, under Policy Watch
The revised Expropriation Bill will be reopened in its entirety on 10 December for a 60-day public commentary period – twice the amount of time normally allowed, to accommodate the festive season. This was agreed on 24 November 2020 during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Public Works & Infrastructure Committee (Parliamentary Monitoring Group), when members were briefed on the Bill’s contents. According to Advocate Uday Naidoo (who appears to have attended the meeting expressly to advise members on their obligations in terms of section 59(1)(a) of the Constitution), the committee is obliged to facilitate a public consultation process ‘at least in so far as the new clauses 12(3) and (4) are concerned’.
Sub-clause 12(3) proposes a list of circumstances in which land expropriation for nil compensation could be justifiable. Sub-clause 12(4) provides that, when a court or arbitrator determines the amount of compensation in terms of section 23 of the 1996 Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, ‘it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid, having regard to all relevant circumstances’. Otherwise, according to a media statement issued by the inter-ministerial committee on land reform shortly before the revised Bill was tabled in October, it ‘retains unchanged’ the ‘substantive content’ of a version returned to Parliament in 2017 by former President Jacob Zuma for a more robust public participation process. That version was withdrawn the following year, shortly after government’s intentions regarding amendments to section 25 of the Constitution were announced.
The committee is planning to hold parliamentary hearings during February 2021, followed by public hearings in all nine provinces. Its work on the Bill is expected to have been completed by the end of next June, at which point the proposed new piece of legislation will be tabled in the House for a second reading and sent to the NCOP, where more public hearings are likely to be held at committee level and in the provincial legislatures. The Bill has already been sent to the National House of Traditional Leaders, which was given until 6 December 2020 to comment on its contents.