South African opposition reaffirms opposition to amending Constitution for land reform


South Africa’s opposition on Friday reaffirmed its opposition to amending the Constitution to pave way for land expropriation without compensation.

“The Constitution is not and has never been a barrier to land reform,” the major opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said.

Friday marked the deadline for political parties to hand in their submissions on the Draft Section 25 Amendment Bill, being prepared by Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee tasked with amending the Constitution. The committee will have to finalize its work by March 31 next year.

“The Democratic Alliance (DA) can confirm that the party has taken the decision to not make any submissions on the Draft Bill as we strongly believe that Section 25 of the Constitution should not be amended,” said Annelie Lotriet, Chairperson of the DA’s Parliamentary Caucus.

The DA will, however, carefully and thoroughly study all the submissions made by other political parties, in line with its long-held position on advancing land reform that does not entail land expropriation without compensation, said Lotriet.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has pushed for amending section 25 of the Constitution to make explicit that expropriation of land without compensation is a legitimate option for land reform so as to address the historic wrongs caused by arbitrary dispossession of land, and in so doing ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programs.

The DA, however, maintains that the barriers to land reform have been and continue to be corruption, constrained budgets and a lack of political will.

The Constitution in its current form includes legitimate mechanisms for land redistribution, including expropriation without compensation, based on just and equitable compensation, Lotriet said.

“For this reason, the DA will not be making any submissions to the Ad Hoc Committee to initiate and introduce legislation amending Section 25 of the Constitution, as we believe that the amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of implementing expropriation without compensation will undermine the core values of our Constitution, and amounts to nothing more than confiscation,” she said.

The DA unequivocally supports a legal and constitutionally outlined processes for land reform, and such a process is possible without compromising the hard-fought Constitution and should be expedited, Lotriet said.

If land reform is not approached carefully, the consequences will be disastrous, Lotriet warned.

“The DA will continue to unashamedly fight to protect our Constitution and individual property rights, while ensuring land ownership for more South Africans,” she said. Enditem

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