Govt proposes changes to Expropriation Bill

The department of public works complained that the Bill excluded the right to go to court.

FILE: Government has proposed changes to the Expropriation Bill. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The government has proposed changes to the Expropriation Bill to allay concerns land or other property could be seized at the whim of a low-level bureaucrat.

Parliament's public works portfolio committee is deliberating on the Bill.

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin set out the department's response to criticism of the Bill during public hearings last month.

The South African Institute of Race Relations(SAIRR) complained then that the Bill excluded the right to go to court over the decision to expropriate, and that it gave the public works minister powers that were 'too broad'.

The deputy minister proposed amendments entrench the right for owners to challenge the decision to expropriate their property as well as the amount of compensation in court.

Cronin's also suggested re-wording a clause relating to the minister of public work's powers.

"That gave the impression, unintended on our side, that any organ of state, on any matter, could approach the minister of public works for an expropriation. That was not the intent."

He blamed weak drafting of the clause on his department's part, saying it had opened the door to misunderstanding.