…..article dated 4 June 2021…..
ANC, EFF debate changes to Constitution on land….
Parliament’s especially formed Constitutional ad-hoc Committee comprising MPs from the ANC, FF and DA were given until 31 May to finalise the wording of the constitutional amendment required for the acquisition of land without compensation. Parliament now awaits to hear the result in order that the Bill can be finalised just before the end of the current parliamentary session.
Already, a sub-committee tasked to agree upon a specific wording for the change has failed to meet this deadline and has requested another four days in the remaining session period of Parliament. Parliament closes on 6 July and does not open until August 16.
Left with little option, Parliament granted the extension extending the deadline. The DA and FF+ have already rejected participation in any such process, having earlier decided they would vote against any change to the Constitution.
Two sides of a coin
The task given to sub-committee by the ad-hoc committee formed by the President has been to agree upon specific wording that will meet their objective of expropriation without compensation, enabling a possible amendment in the form of a Bill to amend the Constitution. They will then return to the main ad-hoc constitutional to further the EFF motion of 6 months ago calling for the change.
The stance of the ANC is to allow for ‘nil’ compensation subject to certain defined circumstance agreed upon by all parties in the National Assembly. The EFF platform is to proscribe state acquisition for land with no qualification and for no compensation, for all intents the ability to nationalise any land in the name of the state.
The ANC proposal
The original ANC objective was clearly laid down in the 2017 ANC NASREC elective conference in 2017, when Ramaphosa was elected ANC President,ANC radicals surprisng all by winning on the concept of nil compensation which resulted in the following ANC policy resolution at the time and which formed the basis of what is now being discussed with the EFF.
“Expropriation of land without compensation should be among the key mechanisms available to government to give effect to land reform and redistribution. In determining the mechanisms of implementation, we must ensure that we do not undermine future investment in the economy, or damage agricultural production and food security. Furthermore, our interventions must not cause harm to other sectors of the economy…”
All or nothing
Early on in meetings, the ANC have remained silent as the EFF proposed what could only be termed as nationalisation of land, The their main committee negotiator, Floyd Shivambu , told the selected MPs that “land is a natural resource and a common heritage which belongs to all under the custodianship of the state.” The debates have continued for a many hours and nw it s the clear that the EFF did indeed mean state nationalisation in the classic sense with all being acquired for zero compensation and entered as a state asset.
An opinion by the Parliamentary Legal Advisory team supporting the fact that the expropriation ability for no compensation already exist at law has been shunned by both the ANC and the EFF, who insist on calling for an eighteenth change to the Constitution for such a dispensation to enable land reform, they say. The DA has complained that all the governing party is doing is to establish a highly useful rallying tool for election campaigns.
The process of concluding a wording to change the Constitution represents the final task necessary, as the ANC sees it, to complete the passage of the Expropriation Bill on the subject, despite there being a strong body of public, academic, legal and analytical opinion that all tools for land reform and restitution already exist at law and under the Expropriation Bill itself to handle land acquisition by the State, whether it be for no compensation or not.
Where we are now
As we write, the ANC have rejected the call for nationalisation and, in a statement issued after the meeting which apprently ended abruptly,f the ANC is try a further compromise wording if time allows. If a compromise wording is found by both the EFF and ANC they will, in their opinion, have the requisite number of votes to adopt the constitutional amendment, this beingthey calculate 267 of the 400 odd seats, the threshold for a two-thirds majority in the House.
If, however, as the FF+ and DA have argued, the threshold to pass the constitutional amendment is not two-thirds but 75% since it amends the Bill of Rights, then the EFF/ANC proposal will fail by some 36 votes. New dates for further metings are being sort as this report goes out, 24 May.