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Expropriation Bill under scrutiny in Parliament

The SAIRR has attacked the draft law as unconstitutional and says it's not in the public interest.

FILE: The bill is intended to provide a just and equitable framework for expropriating land and other property. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The controversial Expropriation Bill is under the spotlight in Parliament where three days of public hearings have kicked off.

The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) has attacked the draft law as unconstitutional and says it is not in the public interest.

Government says the bill is necessary to replace the old Expropriation Act, which is not in line with the Constitution.

The bill is intended to provide a just and equitable framework for expropriating land and other property.

The SAIRR's Dr Anthea Jeffery says the Expropriation Bill is in conflict with the constitution, particularly Section 25, the so-called Property Rights Clause.

"The bill does not allow the courts to examine and rule on the validity of the expropriation. The key question is, is the expropriation really in the public's interest."

Jeffery says this violates another Constitutional right to have legal disputes settled by an independent court.

The institute has drafted its own bill, which it claims will ensure that expropriations and compensation are fair.

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin says criticism of the bill by the SAIRR is based on a misreading of the draft law.

Jeffery criticised the bill for allowing the payment of compensation sometime after a property has been expropriated.

However, Cronin says it's not the government's intention to leave people high and dry.

"Just to flag a couple of issues, first of all the starting point that Dr Jeffreys makes is based on the misreading of the bill."

Cronin added that the bill provides for 80 percent of what is deemed just and equitable compensation, to be paid over at the time of possession, while there's provision for a delay in paying the full amount, this must be granted by the courts.