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'Adoption of land expropriation report was flawed'

The official opposition Democratic Alliance says the adoption of the report was flawed and an attempt to expedite election prospects of the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters.

FILE: In June, the Freedom Front Plus had collected 101,060 petitions against the expropriation of land without compensation. Picture: Lindsay Dentlinger/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties not in favour of a constitutional amendment to allow for land expropriation are gearing up for a fight.

The constitutional review committee has on Thursday voted in favour of a constitutional amendment despite objections from some opposition parties.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) says the adoption of the report was flawed and an attempt to expedite election prospects of the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters.

The Congress of the People called the report and its recommendations irrational and damaging to the country’s development prospects.

While some civil society organisations like the Institute for Race Relations have hinted at a court challenge, the parties are still exploring their options.

Freedom Front Plus MP and member of committee Corne Mulder said: “We cannot say what civil organisations and civil society out there may do or not do, but we, as political parties, will look at all options.”

Committee co-chairperson Stan Maila says there’s no basis for any legal challenge.

“From us as the chair, we’re of the opinion that we did everything possible to go by the rules and we hope the processes undertaken was quite fair and adequate enough.”

'CONVENIENT COALITION'

The opposition parties have slammed the recommendation that Section 25 of Constitution be amended as “a farce” and “a political gimmick”.

Briefing journalists soon after the constitutional review committee adopted its final report on Thursday, the DA, Cope, African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus slated the process followed as “fatally flawed” – with the Inkatha Freedom Party, which was not at the briefing, also objecting.

The five objecting parties have accused the ANC and the red berets of forming a “convenient coalition” to cover up the government’s failure to effect meaningful land reform over the past two decades and boost their parties’ chances in next year’s elections.

DA MP Thandeka Mbabama said: “The committee’s recommendations are a complete farce. Today in a convenient coalition, the ANC and the EFF voted to take land rights away from South Africans and decided to use their majority to recommend that Parliament should amend Section 25 to allow for [land] expropriation without compensation.”

Mbabama says the five opposition parties believe the parliamentary process was a mere formality - and the adoption of the report “a foregone conclusion”.

“The opposition does not oppose land reform – we oppose the amendment of the Constitution.”

She says the Constitution isn’t the stumbling block.

Corruption, constrained budgets and a lack of political will on the part of the ruling ANC have contributed to delays in land redistribution.

“The ANC and the EFF have essentially pushed this report through the committee despite errors in procedure.”

ANC MP Vincent Smith has rejected opposition accusations that the move is an elections ploy, or procedurally flawed.

“The entire process in our view has been fair, it has been transparent and it has been democratic.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)