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Vincent Smith: It’s important that South Africans are heard on land issue

Smith says their main objective is to ensure that citizens are provided with an opportunity to raise their views in the interest of participatory democracy.

Co-chairperson of the constitutional review committee Vincent Smith during a media briefing in Kempton Park, Johannesburg 24 June 2018. The committee is tasked with reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution for the expropriation of land without compensation. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee says it hopes that the public hearings on land expropriation will give a clear understanding on whether South Africans believe the Constitution should be amended.

Hearings are expected to kick off this week, starting in Limpopo and the Northern Cape on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Parliament has finalised a programme for countrywide hearings. Find out when it happens in your province. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

The committee has been assigned to review Section 25 of the Constitution which speaks to the right of property ownership.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith says that their main objective is to ensure that citizens are provided with an opportunity to raise their views in the interest of participatory democracy.

He says they are not concerned with political parties mobilising at the hearings ahead of next year’s elections.

“We think that it’s important that South Africans’ voices are heard. So, when we take our decision, it’s a decision that’s fair, a decision that’s rational and a decision that has been widely considered.”

Smith says it's important for all South Africans to understand that the hearings are open to all.

“It’s imperative that instead of some viewing the hearings on land expropriation as a threat to their livelihoods, we must take advantage of the process as a right that everyone enjoys under the Constitution to express their views in order to build a just, fair and inclusive society.”

Earlier, the committee announced that it has appointed a service provider to assist with analysing the public's submissions into land expropriation.

The chairperson says by the closing date for written submissions, 15 June, they had received more than 700,000 submissions from the public.

WATCH: #Landreform: More than 700,000 submissions received for land claims

The process is expected to run until 4 August.

Thereafter public hearings will be held in parliament for 10 days to grant those who had made written submissions but would also like to make oral submissions an opportunity to do so.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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