expropriation bill

Expropriation Bill: SA divided on equitable land access

Andile Sicetsha - 28.02.2021

South Africans have one last chance to make submissions to the Expropriation Bill.

The Expropriation Bill has resurfaced as a divisive topic and on Sunday, the public has one last chance to submit their views on the question of equitable access to land.

Expropriation Bill: How to submit a comment

To allow a greater turnout, Parliament’s public works committee extended the submission deadline to Sunday, where ordinary South Africans can participate in the dialogue around expropriation.

There are two ways to submit a public comment on the Bill:

  • Submissions can be emailed to Nola Matinase at expropriationbill@parliament.gov.za;
  • submitted via this form; or
  • sent via WhatsApp on 060 550 9848.

Those who wish to partake in verbal submissions must indicate so in their comments.

What will happen when the Bill is passed?

At the centre of this historic process, the democratic government wants to rectify the wrongs of the past by repealing the existing Expropriation Act of 1975 which, among other things, allows for the government to purchase land at market prices.

The refurbished Bill, if passed, will grant the government Section 25 powers to expropriate land without compensation. Meaning, where it is deemed that land must be expropriated, there are a number of factors that will determine whether compensation should be granted or not.

According to Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys, these include:

  • The current use of the property;
  • The history of the acquisition and use of the property;
  • The market value of the property;
  • The extent of direct state investment and subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the property;
  • The purpose of the expropriation.

Here is the proposed expropriation process

Contrary to the fearmongering propaganda fueled by opposing parties, the expropriation process will not be an open market for ordinary South Africans to grab whichever private land is available.

The process is a tedious one and involves different organs of state following a due process that has been set out in conjunction with the Constitution.

The Bill specifically states that property will only be expropriated for a public purpose or interest and will largely be overseen by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

Should this Bill be passed into law, it will seek to fulfil its core objective that is stipulated in Section 2 of the Act, which states:

“No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.”

Here is a summary of the expropriation process, should it become law:

  • The process starts with due diligence, where an investigation must be launched to determine the suitability of the property for expropriation and the existence of registered and unregistered rightsholders of such property. Also, it must be determined by the mayor of the municipality in question if the purpose of the expropriation will impact future engineering services, infrastructure and town planning.
  • A detailed notice of intention to expropriate must be issued to the property owner/s and a 30-day period must be given for any registered and unregistered rightsholders to submit a response.
  • If the expropriation is not contested, the rightsholders will have to submit a compensation amount they deem to be just and equitable. From there onwards, negotiations on the compensation will take place with both parties involved in determining the ‘equitable’ value of the property.
  • Once everything is greenlit from both ends, a date of expropriation will be issued to the rightsholders with all the relevant details on the outcomes of the agreement.

Of course, the nuances involved in such a tedious process will likely see further steps taken between the first and last point listed above. Issues of contestation, property valuation and other factors will determine the outcome of the process.

However, there is still a long way to go before the Expropriation Bill is passed. Right now, the matter is under consideration by the National Assembly. Afterwards, the Bill will be dissected further by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and a final document holding the views of every South African will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

It will be his sole discretion to pass or throw out the Bill. With his signature, it could be passed into law.

The original Bill can be read here.