MPs back land reform but split over need to change Constitution

Voting together, ANC and EFF MPs ensured the constitutional review committee backed the move by an overwhelming majority on Thursday.

The Constitutional Review Committee on 15 November 2018 adopted its final report that recommends the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - A joint sitting of Parliament is set to debate and adopt the recommendation that the Constitution be changed to allow for expropriation without compensation at the end of November.

That’ll mark the next step in the journey to amend Section 25 the property clause.

Voting together, African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) ensured the constitutional review committee backed the move by an overwhelming majority on Thursday.

But the road could get rockier when Parliament eventually gets down to the nitty-gritty of hammering out a bill that will give effect to the decision to change the Constitution.

All parties back land reform, but they’re split over the need to change the Constitution to do it and the integrity of the process so far.

But even more hard talk and horse-trading lie ahead once work starts on crafting the actual amendment bill. And while the ANC and EFF have been united so far, they differ on what they want this to achieve.

“The EFF position is, the state must own the land – all of it,” says EFF leader Julius Malema.

But nationalisation is not ANC policy.

Veteran MP Vincent Smith says: "A mixed ownership of land, which inter alia includes individual ownership, with title deeds issued to beneficiaries, direct state ownership, trust and communal land custodianship, must be ensured."

The EFF wants the bill done and dusted before Parliament rises early in 2019, ahead of the May elections.

Smith, however, has made it clear this won’t be possible in the time remaining.

When the 18th constitutional amendment does finally come before Parliament, it will need a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, and the support of at least six of the nine provinces in the National Council of Provinces because it will be changing the bill of rights contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)