With the land expropriation bill saving been submitted to Parliament on Friday 9 October, plans are well underway for government to initiate a process whereby land can be expropriated without compensation.
While many are concerned that the bill, which seeks to replace the existing Expropriation Act of 1975, will facilitate the unreasonable takeover of farms as was the case in Zimbabwe in the 1980’s, government have been quick to insist that the new reformed act will only serve to facilitate fairness.
Land expropriation bill explained:
Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said that the law is being amended to ensure that any expropriation, if it were to take place, would be in line with the Constitution.
“The Chief State Law Adviser has now certified the bill as Constitutional. This paves the way for the next step in the process whereby the bill has been gazetted on Friday 9 October 2020, and submitted to Parliament,” she said.
In the interests of “fairness”, the bill will operate in a way that allows for government to seize control of land in limited, exceptional circumstances, including:
- where the land is not being used and the owner’s main purpose is not to develop the land or use it to generate income, but to benefit from the increase of its market value;
- where a government institution holds land and is not using the land for its “core functions” and is not reasonably likely to require the land for its future activities in that regard
- where an owner has abandoned the land by “failing to exercise control over it”
- where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the land; and
- when the property poses a health, safety or physical risk to persons or other property.
IMC: ‘Bill does not prescribe nil compensation’
The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform have said that under these circusmtances, it is not necessarily the case that the property will be expropriated with no compensation agreement.
“The bill… does not prescribe that nil compensation will be paid in these circumstances. The bill provides that the amount of compensation will be determined by the courts,” said De Lille.
Section 25(2) of the Constitution reads:
“Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application–
- (a) for a public purpose or in the public interest; and
- (b) subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.”
The new act is set to be aligned with these principles, said De Lille, who added that the the expropriation bill has been drafted separately from parliaments review of the constitution.
“We must emphasise that the drafting of the Expropriation Bill was separate from the work of Parliament in reviewing section 25 of the Constitution. The bill has been drafted to be consistent with section 25 of the Constitution as it currently stands. The Chief State Law Adviser has certified that it is so consistent,” said De Lille.
Read the original article on The South African