NEWS
28/03/2018 15:40 SAST | Updated 28/03/2018 15:41 SAST

There Will Be No Whingeing Or Scaremongering At Expropriation Hearings, Warns Land Committee Boss

The policy intervention deadline in August will decide how South Africa’s property rights regime will be changed.

Marco Longari/ AFP via Getty Images
South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Vincent Smith, the co-chairperson of Parliament's constitutional review committee to consider whether the Constitution should be amended to allow easier land expropriation without compensation, has warned that his hearings will not allow "whingers" and "scaremongers" to make representations.

Countrywide hearings on the most important policy intervention of the year start soon, to clear an end of August deadline to decide how South Africa's property rights regime will be changed.

"Our vision is to create a common future for all who live here, black and white."
Vincent Smith

"Our vision is to create a common future for all who live here, black and white," said Smith, who said this was the starting premise of the hearings.

"There should be no looking for scapegoats and there should be no hysteria. What we do think and what we do agree with is there has to be engagement and finding practical solutions," said Smith as he closed a high-level land dialogue in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

By August 30, the committee he chairs with Mathole Motshekga, must recommend to Parliament whether Section 25 of the Constitution, which governs property rights, should be amended or not.

HuffPost reported earlier that an ANC task team is considering a way of providing for land expropriation without compensation, which did not require amending the Constitution.

READ MORE: ANC Floats New Deal On Land Expropriation Without Compensation

"Beyond the amendments or otherwise, what are the best mechanisms to ensure, (because what is certain) there must be land reform," said Smith. He said the committee needed to finish its work timeously as the uncertainty could cause an investment go-slow as landowners feared losing their land.

Earlier, Agri SA executive director Omri van Zyl said: "The farmers are uncertain. They think people are going to pitch up and take their land. There are 20,000 farms on the market. It creates a bad situation for agriculture. Agriculture is a low-margin business and people are divesting from the sector because of the uncertainty."

"The farmers are uncertain. They think people are going to pitch up and take their land."
Omri van Zyl

The dialogue has focused on numerous examples of partnerships between big commercial farmers and emerging farmers on the returned land. These have included partnerships in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal where the sugar industry has had to farm on land, 40 percent of which was under land claim.