Race to pass amend­ment bill be­fore 2019 poll

Daily News - - NATION -

PAR­LIA­MENT is rac­ing against time to craft a bill to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion be­fore the elec­tions, after the ANC and EFF pushed for the adop­tion of a re­port en­dors­ing ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of South Africa has in­di­cated that the elec­tions will be held in May, and Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa is ex­pected to an­nounce a date.

ANC MPs were unan­i­mous in both Houses of Par­lia­ment that they wanted to fi­nalise the process be­fore the polls.

The Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces yes­ter­day fol­lowed the Na­tional As­sem­bly by adopt­ing a re­port on the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

But the DA has promised to take the mat­ter to court and chal­lenge the process.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Land Re­form Mce­bisi Sk­wat­sha said they wanted Par­lia­ment to move with speed in amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. “For us it is not im­por­tant who we fol­low. For us the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion must hap­pen. The next step is for Par­lia­ment to quickly amend the Con­sti­tu­tion,” said Sk­wat­sha.

But AgriSA said it would chal­lenge the land ex­pro­pri­a­tion process in court.

The Bank­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa has also cau­tioned against this, say­ing there was no need to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The banks are sit­ting on R145 bil­lion in loans from com­mer­cial farm­ers.

Some ANC MPs warned against land grabs, say­ing the process had to be done in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner.

Co-chair­per­son of the con­sti­tu­tional re­view com­mit­tee Lewis Nz­i­mande said the process needed to be con­cluded be­fore the elec­tions.

“The House must ur­gently es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to take this mat­ter fur­ther. This must be con­cluded be­fore the rise of this House next year,” said Nz­i­mande.

Vusi Mag­webu, of the DA, said land re­form was not a prob­lem, as the ANC had failed to ad­dress it in the past 24 years. He said amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion would not change any­thing.

“Will chang­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion stop the cor­rup­tion at Mala Mala, or at the Estina dairy project in Vrede in the Free State?” asked Mag­webu.

This was in ref­er­ence to the al­leged cor­rup­tion at the two mas­sive farm­ing pro­jects that has cost hun­dreds of mil­lions of rand.

The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity last week dropped charges against those im­pli­cated in the Estina dairy project.

But Te­bogo Mok­wele of the EFF said they needed to deal with the land ques­tion be­fore the elec­tions, adding that the NCOP should not wait for too long be­fore they fi­nalised ev­ery­thing.

“We have to ap­pro­pri­ately re­spond to the pain of our suf­fer­ing,” said Mok­wele.

Mce­bisi Sk­wat­sha

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