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'New act to accommodate land expropriation without compensation urgently needed'

Former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs says an expropriation act could include a clause dealing with expropriation without compensation, but it would have to indicate under which circumstances.

Former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The need for a new act of Parliament to accommodate land expropriation without compensation is urgently necessary.

This is according to activist and former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs.

Sachs has addressed the Constitutional Review Committee which is on Friday hosting a colloquium on Section 25 of the Constitution of South Africa.

The colloquium follows a parliamentary resolution that calls for the Constitutional Review Committee to conduct public hearings to determine the desirability and modalities of a review and amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution that will enable expropriation of land without compensation.

"The need for a new expropriation act that is contextualised in the framework of the Constitution in the debate, in the resolution of Parliament I would say, is absolutely necessary. It could be possible that the expropriation act would include a clause dealing with expropriation without compensation," says Sachs.

Sachs says an expropriation act could include a clause dealing with expropriation without compensation, but it would have to indicate under which circumstances.

He says Section 25 was not drafted at Codesa more than 25 years ago, as this merely dealt with the transition from apartheid to democracy and said nothing about property rights.

Committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith says there are currently two schools of thought.

One is that the Constitution in its current form is not an impediment to expropriation without compensation, while the other calls for the amendment of the Constitution.

FOOD SECURITY

Smith has stressed that land expropriation cannot threaten the nation's food security.

He says there is universal acceptance that land reform, land restitution and redistribution need to be accelerated.

Smith says Parliament is not oblivious to the fact that the process towards land expropriation without compensation has caused a lot of anxiety and panic.

“There’s also an acceptance that whatever we do, we must not threaten food security, we must enhance agricultural production, but we must also disrupt the apartheid spacial plan. That’s what it’s about”

He says parliament and MPs will now host public hearings and embark on a national roadshow where government's message will be communicated to the masses. The committee must then report back to parliament by 28 September.

It will now be up to the two groupings to convince Parliament on which direction to take.