MPs seek help with land submissions
● Parliament is getting external help to assist with processing close to a million written submissions on the issue of expropriation of land without compensation.
This is according to Vincent Smith, a senior ANC MP and chairman of the constitutional review committee, which has been mandated to review section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property.
Smith said the winner of the contract would be tasked with acknowledging receipt of all submissions, analysing the content and categorising the submissions according to those who support or oppose the issue.
The contract was due to be awarded on Friday but its value is not yet known.
This is a departure from how parliament usually processes legislation, as MPs normally deal with public submissions with assistance from full-time parliamentary staff.
“We are not going to have time as MPs to read all . . . of those submissions,” said Smith.
“What we said is we need a resource that will go through each document because [the committee staff] will be with us in the field. It was an open tender and I was told that people have responded.”
The written submissions on land are estimated to have hit the one million mark as scores of boxes were delivered to parliament by various interested parties two Fridays ago, the deadline for submissions.
The committee will begin public hearings in Springbok in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, with another one scheduled for the next day in the Limpopo town of Marble Hall.
Smith said they were expecting a preliminary report in early August from the service provider, which would help MPs decide who to invite for oral presentations in parliament as it was not practical to call everyone who had made a written submission.
Explaining this approach during a committee meeting on Thursday, parliamentary official Thuli Twalo said some submissions were substantial, while others were mere one-liners.
“We also want to know what each submitter is saying about the review or amendment of section 25 of the constitution,” said Twalo.
“We will have some quantitative and qualitative information as well in that report in terms of who are the submitters and what are they saying.”
African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart noted that while they appreciated the number of written submissions, legislators were constitutionally bound to go through every submission they had received.
Swart said MPs would have to find a way of assessing the submissions despite the report of the service provider.
We are not going to have time as MPs to read all of those submissions
Chairman of parliament’s constitutional review committee