A Christian perspective on the newly debated 18th Amendment Bill (expropriation of land without compensation)
News just in: The vote has just taken place.
Members of the National Assembly debated and voted today (Tuesday 7 December at 2pm) on the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill that seeks to amend section 25 of the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. In order for the bill to be passed by the House, it required a two-thirds majority vote (at least 267 yes votes), which did not happen. The ANC did not have enough seats to pass a constitutional amendment on its own and even though the EFF to support the bill, the required two-thirds majority was not obtained.
It is never the less important that we consider the bill for future debates with a clear and Biblical perspective. Cheryllyn Dudley writes as follows:
While the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) agree on land expropriation without compensation, they do not agree on how the amendment should be implemented. The EFF wants state custodianship of land and the ANC wants compensation in certain instances. The DA, who wants neither, has said they will challenge the bill in court if it is adopted by the National Assembly.
If the bill is passed by the NA, it will be sent to the NCOP(National Council of Provinces). At least six provinces would need to vote in favour for the bill to pass. If this happens it will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign it into law if he so chooses.
An Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) motion amended by the African National Congress (ANC) was brought before the National Assembly on the 27th February 2018. After the debate, the EFF motion was passed.
A Joint Constitutional Review Committee was tasked to investigate whether South Africans wanted the Property Clause to be amended and reported back that the majority of South Africans did. An Ad Hoc Committee was then established to initiate legislation to amend the property clause to ensure expropriation of land where compensation may be nil.
A draft Constitution 18th Amendment Bill was produced.
The process was transparent, as fair as humanly possible and consistent with what Parliament had mandated. The EFF have called the bill a “sell-out” and haS said the ANC leaves them with no option but to engage in “extrajudicial processes” of land reform.
The Bible, which has a lot to say about land and land distribution, clearly supports the view that there is nothing more important to the life of a people than land, and that land is essential for a nation to exist and an economy to prosper… the real wealth of a nation is in the potential of the land and its people, and a society’s level of poverty is linked to where that wealth is held and how the people and the land are allowed to develop.
The 21st century global reality is still that, where land ownership is in the hands of the government, religious institutions, or a minority elite, nations remain desperately poor and underdeveloped. In some of these poorer nations, land is owned almost entirely by one or all three. (Landa Cope, author of God and Political Justice).
We cannot get away from the fact that the distribution of land is closely linked to whether or not economic development actually addresses the scourge of poverty in a society. Yet there are so many blind spots on all sides of this issue and so many people would rather defend their fear and hate-based narratives at the expense of finding solutions, not perfect solutions, but workable solutions.
The way I see it is, if we do not genuinely work toward seeing land ownership and wealth increasingly in the hands of the people in South Africa, we are courting disaster. Keeping in mind that the Expropriation Bill includes the provision that while land and any improvements thereon may be expropriated without compensation, national legislation must set out specific circumstances by which to determine that the amount of compensation is nil. I am of the opinion that if this rational legislation does not go through we may be sorry in time to come that we did not support it. Responsible government, respect for the rule of law, due process with checks and balances are all, of course, key going forward- with or without the amendment passing.