Africa
S. African National Assembly approves process to amend Constitution for land reform
Last Updated: 2018-12-06 14:35 | Xinhua
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The National Assembly (NA), or Lower House of Parliament, agreed on Tuesday that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make land expropriation without compensation more explicit.

In a sitting, the NA voted in favor of a report submitted in mid-November by Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) which recommends that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make it explicitly clear that expropriation of land without compensation by the state in the public interest should be one mechanism to address the injustices of the past, inflicted on the majority of South Africans.

The report was approved by 209 lawmakers, while 91 others have voted "No", with no abstentions.

Speaking in the debate before the vote, Vincent Smith, MP of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said the party believes that the land reform project "is about healing the wounds of the past, restoring our dignity, reclaiming our identity and unlocking the economic resources of our country."

"Without land redistribution, we will never achieve a united South Africa," he said.

Thandeka Mbabama, MP of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), said the DA acknowledges that effective land reform must be prioritized and pursued with greater urgency to redress past land dis-possessions, but to address this, "we do not need to change the Constitution, we need to change the government."

"Let us be clear: effective land reform is possible without threatening food security, without undermining commercial farming, without destroying social cohesion and without changing our Bill of Rights," Mbabama said.

The report now goes to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), or Upper House of Parliament, for consideration. If the NCOP approves the report, a bill, which will legalize land expropriation without compensation, may be introduced.

Details of the bill would have to be published in the Government Gazette at least 30 days before it is introduced. This is to allow for public comment.

The NA may consider and vote on the bill only after at least 30 days have passed since its introduction.

Once the legislative process is completed, the bill will be submitted to the President to be signed into law.

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