Public Works Minister Under Fire For Releasing Land Expropriation Bill For Public Comment

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has come under fire for releasing the Expropriation Bill for public comment during the festive season.

Nxesi released the bill on Friday for public comment, for two months (60 days).

Among the bill’s aims is the “expropriation of property for public purpose or in the public interest”.

It makes provision for situations where the government can pay “nil compensation” if it is just and equitable in cases where land is expropriated in the public interest.

The bill makes it clear that the cases of “nil compensation” will relate to labour, tenants, land held for speculative purposes, state-owned and abandoned land as well as where the market value of the land is equivalent or less than the value of the government’s investment or subsidisation in its purchase or its beneficial capital improvement.

It also states that a person or community whose land dispossession happened after June 1913 when the Natives Land Act was enacted, is entitled to restitution or other equitable redress.

The bill says no government’s law must impede it from taking legislative and other measures from achieving land, water and related reform to redress the results of past racial discrimination.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu described the Public Works Department’s decision to publish the draft legislation as “disgusting legislative opportunism because Parliament has resolved on a larger process to amend the Constitution”.

He said the bill’s call for public comments was irrational.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa described the bill as bogus legislation and asked where it had been discussed. The amendment to change the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation was passed before Parliament went into recess, and the deadline of March 31 has been set for the constitutional change to be finalised.

The EFF and the UDM support expropriation of land without compensation to redress dispossession of black people under colonial and apartheid rule.

In September, former president Thabo Mbeki wrote that the ANC’s policy that land would be expropriated from one national group without compensation and handed to another national group, represented a radical departure from policies faithfully sustained by the ANC during its 105years of its existence.

At its national conference in December last year, the governing party took a decision to expropriate land without compensation.

In response to Mbeki, the EFF’s spokesperson – Mbuyiseni Ndlozi – said the party’s central kernel was that land must be expropriated without compensation to resolve the historic and colonial question of the land dispossession of black people.

“For a more humane world, we must proceed on the policy of land expropriation, we must do this with all the full intuitions to make South Africa a better place to call our home,” Ndlozi said.