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Expropriation Bill adopted, despite ‘no votes’ from all opposition parties

Our land, our life, our futureThe Expropriation Bill‚ which will set the rules under which the state can lay claim to urban and rural property‚ was passed by the parliamentary portfolio committee on public works on Tuesday.

The African National Congress (ANC) voted in favour of the bill, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) voted against‚ the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) abstained and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party was yet again absent from proceedings.

The bill will now be debated in the National Assembly‚ and voted upon. If passed‚ public hearings and a vote in the National Council of Provinces will follow. Should the bill be adopted‚ it will be sent to President Jacob Zuma to sign into law.

The bill gives the Minister of Public Works the right to expropriate land for a public purpose (such as building a road or erecting a power line) or in the public interest (for instance‚ to institute land reform).

It sets out the law of general application for property expropriation‚ as required in section 25 of the Constitution.

The bill details the process to be followed‚ including the time given as notice of expropriation‚ the exact steps‚ how the price of the land is determined and what the appeals processes are. If the owner of the land is unhappy s/he can approach the courts to determine a fair price for the land.

The ANC used its majority on the portfolio committee to have the bill adopted‚ but no opposition parties supported it.

The DA raised 21 objections‚ including that the key terms “property”‚ “value”‚ “expropriation” and “owner were so loosely defined that it could have unforeseen consequences. DA MP Anchen Dreyer also raised issues regarding how the value of land was determined‚ and that the authorities can‚ theoretically‚ take ownership of a property before making any payment for it.

The IFP believes the bill’s provision that the expropriated former owner of a property remains responsible for the upkeep of the property for a while after expropriation to be nonsensical.

The EFF opposes the bill because the party wants expropriation without compensation to white owners‚ claiming that land was stolen from black south Africans.

The UDM opposed the bill because it believes the definition of “property” to be too limited‚ it believes the land dispossession compensation date should be set earlier than 1913‚ and that the economic viability of properties must be assessed before they are expropriated.

Source: TMG Digital/TMG Parliamentary Bureau


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Our land, our life, our future: Black South African challenges to territorial segregation 1913 – 1948 by Harvey M Feinberg is a groundbreaking study of the 1913 Natives Land Act and its consequences, which is central to the past century of South African history.

Readers interested in early 20th century South African history, and in the current debates over land policy and access to land, will be intrigued by this rich vein of new material, and will find that it includes important background information for the post-1994 restitution process.

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