NA fails to pass Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill

eighteenth amendment
13 Dec 2021

The national assembly (NA) has failed to pass the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill.

During a debate earlier this week on the bill, the NA was unable to garner the two-thirds majority required to pass the bill.

The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution adopted the report on the bill in September 2021.

The bill was tabled in parliament in the same month.

In a statement at the time, the committee chairperson, Dr Mathole Motshekga, indicated that the report on the bill in its entirety, as well as the memorandum on the objects of the bill, were endorsed by the majority of members in the committee.

The multiparty ad hoc committee tasked with initiating and introducing legislation amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation was set up in July 2019.

In 2020, the national assembly re-established the ad hoc committee.

The revised bill sought to amend the Constitution so as to provide that:

  • Where land and any improvements thereon are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil;
  • National legislation must provide circumstances where the amount of compensation is nil;
  • Land should be a common heritage of all citizens that the state must safeguard for future generations;
  • Conditions should be fostered to enable state custodianship of certain land in order for citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis; and
  • To provide for matters connected therewith.

According to Dr Motshekga, the report is “based on the will of the people. We will do our level best to change the land ownership patterns of our country”.

The second draft of the bill was adopted by the committee on 3 September 2021.

There were three votes against the bill and no abstentions.

During the debate, 204 MPs voted in favour of the bill and 145 against, with no abstentions.

267 votes are required for a two-thirds majority.

Speaking during the debate on the bill, the justice and correctional services minister, Ronald Lamola, declared that the bill sought to “make explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution”.

He added that there is “no silver bullet or one legislative instrument that can solve our land reform challenges, we need a myriad of policies and legislation to resolve this challenge”.

Referring to the Expropriation Bill currently before the NA, the minister highlighted that the bill “sets the circumstances under which land may be expropriated with nil compensation, for instance where land is occupied by labour tenants, where land is unused but only kept to generate income from its appreciation; where land is abandoned and pose a health and physical risk to the people”.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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