Public hearings on land expropriation a problem

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“The decision taken by the ANC at its NASREC conference in December of 2017 on the expropriation of land without compensation and the mandate of the National Assembly to the constitutional review committee in February this year is crucial to the agricultural industry and the economy,” Fanie Brink, an independent agricultural economist.

Brink responded to an article in Rapport yesterday in which mr Vincent Smith, the chairman of the committee, said that the committee’s sole task was to make a “recommendation to parliament whether the property clause is a barrier to land reform and or it is necessary to amend the clause.”

“This view is not in line with the decision of the ANC and the statements made by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address in February this year.”

He said the decision made by the ANC during its conference made a clear condition regarding the implementation of land expropriation constitution, namely that “in determining the mechanisms of implementation, we must ensure that we do not undermine future investment in the economy, or damage agricultural production and food security. Furthermore, our interventions must not cause harm to other sectors of the economy.”

During his Address, the president also said “… the policy, … should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production and improves food security. The government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution.”

The condition was then accepted by the National Assembly, which was a specific assignment to the constitutional review committee. The chairman, however, said now that “… if we find it necessary to amend the Constitution, we will not make any suggestions as to how it should be amended,” because the committee is of the opinion that it is likely that the standing committee on justice will have to do if necessary.

“The committee simply turns with these statements its back on sustainable agricultural production, food security and economic growth and ignores the specific mandate on which the National Assembly has decided and is totally unacceptable.”

Brink said the planned public hearings would then be a total waste of time and money if the committee only wants to determine whether “… the property clause is a barrier to land reform and whether it is necessary to amend the clause” and not want to complete the entire assignment, and the committee will have to thoroughly consider whether it will be enough consultation to amend such laws in terms of the earlier pronouncements by the constitutional court in this regard.