Race to pass amendment bill before 2019 poll
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.