CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s National Assembly (NA), the lower house, on Tuesday voted to reject a Constitution amendment bill which will allow expropriation of land without compensation.

The supporting vote of two-thirds of the members of the NA is needed for the adoption of the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill, whose purpose is to amend section 25 of the Constitution so as to provide that where land is expropriated for land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC), the largest party in the parliament, voted in favor of the bill in unison, while 79 members of the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and 40 members of the third largest party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) voted against the bill.

Most of smaller parties in the NA voted against the bill.
In total, 204 members voted in support of the bill and 145 members voted against it, with no abstentions, NA’s house chairperson for committees Cedric Thomas Frolick announced the result.

As required the majority has not been obtained in terms of Section 74 subsection 2 of the Constitution, the bill will not be read in the second time,” he said.

During a debate preceding the voting, ANC lawmaker Mathole Serofo Motshekga, who is the chairperson of Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution, said as ANC is in power, “ANC has other instruments that it will use to ensure that the people of South Africa get access to the land, so we are not worried about those who are not supporting this bill.”

The bill, which takes into consideration of public opinions through extensive public engagements, including public hearings and submissions, is aimed at addressing “the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land,” ensuring equitable access to land, and further empowering the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programs. 

South Africa’s land issue goes back more than a century to the 1913 Natives Land Act, which made thousands of black families forcibly removed from their land. The act limited African land ownership to seven percent and later 13 percent through the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act of South Africa.

It restricted black people from buying or occupying land except as employees of a white master. – Xinhua News.