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Land reform status update - April 2021

The Ad Hoc Committee tasked with drafting an amendment to section 25 of the Constitution published the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment Bill for public comments late in 2019 and Agbiz submitted inputs in February 2020.

The bill seeks to retain just and equitable compensation but expropriation includes a proviso stating that a court may determine that it is just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid for land and improvements expropriated in the interests of land reform. The bill is followed by a memorandum that mandates national legislation to determine the specific circumstances in which nil compensation may be just and equitable.

Agbiz submitted comments that clearly convey our opposition to an amendment and provide thoroughly researched inputs on the wording while reserving our right to oppose an amendment in principle Provincial consultations were interrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown but were concluded early in 2021. It is still unclear whether oral submissions will be received as the committee has considered all written inputs but is unlikely to make substantial amendments. The only substantive comment taken on board by the committee relates to whether nil compensation should include improvements made to land expropriated for land reform.

The committee will seek clarification from the National Assembly in this regard. The revised Expropriation Bill is now of critical importance as it provides more detail surrounding the conditions that a court must consider when deciding whether nil compensation would be just and equitable on a case-by-case basis. Agbiz submitted comprehensive inputs on the bill during the Nedlac process, which was finalised in March 2020. The bill has now been tabled in Parliament and Agbiz has submitted comprehensive written inputs. Expropriation is, however, merely one element of the broader land reform debate.

Several outstanding issues predate the expropriation debate and are vital to the success or failure of land reform in South Africa. Policy decisions on a number of these issues were largely held in abeyance while an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) considered the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture. Two policy recommendations relating to land donations, beneficiary selection and land allocation have been published, and Agbiz is again at the forefront of providing inputs. This document is intended to place the latest developments on expropriation in context and provide an overview of the broader direction in which land reform is moving.


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