President Jacob Zuma’s decision to refer the controversial Expropriation Bill back to Parliament has been given the nod by business rights watchdog AfriBusiness.
Law and policy analyst Armand Greyling said on Tuesday the proposed bill had to be tested by law.
“Zuma is correct in being cautious of signing the bill into law, as there seems to be discrepancies in the public participation processes utilised by both the portfolio committee on public works and the National Council of Provinces [NCOP],” said Greyling.
AfriBusiness, together with other civil organisations, submitted petitions to the presidency in June 2016 that the policy document not be signed into law.
AfriBusiness challenged the substance of the bill, as well as the process that led to its acceptance.
“Zuma is correct in giving heed to the warnings from submissions made to the presidency, and AfriBusiness will be looking forward to parliament’s answers to the presidency regarding the process followed towards the bill’s acceptance,” said Greyling.
On Monday the presidency said Zuma had asked Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and Thandi Modise, NCOP chairperson, to advise him on the process followed by Parliament in passing the Expropriation Bill.
The bill was passed by Parliament earlier this year and referred to Zuma to rubber stamp it.
The bill seeks to give the state greater powers to expropriate land from private individuals or companies for the “public purpose” or in the “public interest”.
Zuma however received a number of objections and submissions to the bill being passed into law.
The presidency said the petitions raised a number of procedural issues which included that:
– The NCOP had fumbled in its procedures in some provinces, which was inconsistent with the Constitution;
– There had not been sufficient consultation with the public; and
– The bill had never been referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders, as required by law.
“Accordingly, the President has requested Parliament to advise him on process followed in passing the Bill,” the presidency said.