In a statement on Sunday morning, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen has slammed reports that the ANC may be trying to reopen written submissions to the public on land expropriation without compensation.
In a front-page report in Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, the weekly reported that the ANC had been placed on the back foot by a preliminary report on the written submissions government will receive on moves to change the constitution.
Parliament passed a motion earlier this year to change section 25 to make it easier to expropriate property without compensating owners for it, and resolved to consult the public nationally on its views on the way forward.
A multi-party committee, which is dominated by ANC MPs, recently wrapped up a massive countrywide consultation process in communities in every province, ending in the Western Cape.
It’s understood that many of those who spoke at the public hearings were in favour of changing the constitution. An estimated 2,700 people made oral submissions at hearings attended by about 24,000 people.
However, the ANC top six are reportedly furious that ANC branches allegedly spent too much time focusing on the public hearings instead of written submissions, the deadline for which ended in June.
The committee has reportedly received more than 700,000 written submissions on the matter; the vast majority are understood to be against land expropriation without compensation, according to a senior source in the ANC that Rapport describes as completely reliable.
The major problem for the ANC is that the submissions process has now closed and it would have to use its majority in the joint constitutional review committee to reopen the window for further submissions.
The chairperson of the committee, ANC MP Vincent Smith, told Rapport he would not allow such a reopening, as it would undermine the integrity of the process. He said he would need an order of the Constitutional Court to change his position.
Steenhuisen said in his statement on Sunday that the ANC’s alleged attempt “to undermine the recently concluded Constitutional Review Committee’s (CRC) land hearings by running a parallel process through its branches to influence the outcome of the hearings is dangerous and undermines the authority of parliament”.
He added: “The work of the CRC is entirely funded by parliament, not the ANC, and the fact that the ANC irregularly gained access to these submissions before parliament did utterly undermines the current parliamentary process. This proves that changing the constitution to allow for EWC is just an electioneering effort that seems to have backfired,” alleged Steenhuisen.
He added that the ANC had also “apparently earmarked 139 farms, belonging to farmers who previously rejected offers under the ‘willing buyer, willing seller model’, to be expropriated without compensation”.
“While some compensation will be offered, the value will be determined by the valuer-general, expropriation notices could be issued if the offer is rejected, and then tested in court. Reports indicate that this process is already under way, again bypassing parliamentary processes,” he said.
He said the ANC was in panic mode after President Cyril Ramaphosa “prematurely announced that the ANC will move to expropriate land without compensation and amend the constitution”.
“It is very clear that the ANC-proposed amendment to the constitution is being pursued with the intention of being railroaded through parliament not for the good of South Africa, but in a desperate attempt to bolster its election campaign.”
He said the country could not be held to ransom by a party that had decided to go “down the path of populism to salvage its waning political fortunes to the detriment of the national economy”.