Update: 1 August 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the ANC will move forward and change the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation.

The proclamation comes after nationwide public hearings around the issue seem to indicate that the public are in favour of the motion.

The ruling party  is now set to make a submission to the parliamentary process under way to this effect.

“… the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be affected,” said the President in a statement.

While it is clear that the majority of South Africans are in favour of land expropriation without compensation, opposition parties and some industry experts aren’t as convinced and have warned against the possible negative consequences.  Essentially, they maintain that the South African economy will take a major hit since investor confidence will drop.

For now, it seems it is a matter of waiting to see just exactly how the ANC plans to implement this change in the Constitution.

Dominating headlines and trending on social media, land expropriation without compensation is an unavoidable and somewhat contentious topic in South Africa.

The motion, which was originally put forward by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, calls for an amendment to the Constitution’s so-called “property clause” to permit the expropriation of land without compensation and clarity on how this will proceed.

“You’ll see, once we find land is owned by the state, we’re going to find a lot of idle land which is not being used for any purpose. And that land should then immediately be made available to be used, particularly by the previously disadvantaged people,” said Malema in an interview with News24.

How far along is the process?

At the moment, the motion is sitting with Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee, which will determine the fate of the proposed amendments.  The committee comprises various members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.  The board will consider proposals from the public, political parties and civil society before reporting back to Parliament before 30 August 2018.

If the motion is passed, does it become law immediately?

Changes to the Constitution can only be made if two thirds of the National Assembly and six out of the nine provinces via the National Council of Provinces vote in favour of the amendments.  This means that 267 of the National Assembly’s members must vote for the proposed amendment; the ANC currently has 249 MPs and the EFF 25.

“Should this occur, section 25 of the Constitution will be amended,” clarifies Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, Managing Director of LAW FOR ALL. “As it stands, the section states that land can only be seized by the state for a public purpose or in the public interest and it’s ‘subject to compensation’. This motion seeks to eliminate the ‘compensation’ bit, meaning previous owners won’t receive payment or recompense”.

We know the EFF’s stance, what about the other parties?

The political parties in full favour of the motion are the IFP, UDM, NFP, Agang, AIC and APC.

The ANC is in favour of the expropriation of land, but maintains that it should not be all land, but focus on specific plots that can be utilised for land reform projects.

The DA, while “fully committed to redressing the history of violent land dispossession in South Africa, strongly opposes the amendments.  In a recent statement, DA MP and rural development spokesperson Thandeka Mbabama said the following: “We believe it is possible to achieve the aims of land reform and to do so in a way that truly empowers black people and strengthens the economy. We reject the opportunism of launching an attack on the Constitution to deflect from the failures of the ANC-led government.”

Joining the DA in opposing land expropriation without compensation are Cope, the Freedom Front Plus and the ACDP.

So, what now?

As mentioned, the Review Committee has until 30 August 2018 to Parliament on the proposal to amend the Constitution.