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Comment Sought on Expropriation Bill

December 2, 2020

Parliament

Parliament seeks comment on the Expropriation Bill.

The bill was tabled in parliament in October 2020.

The bill, designed to provide for the expropriation of property for a public purpose or in the public interest, was published for comment at the beginning of 2019.

The public works and infrastructure department published the bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 43798 in October 2020.

The bill aims to:

• provide for the expropriation of property for a public purpose or in the public interest;
• provide for certain instances where expropriation with nil compensation may be appropriate in the public interest; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the explanatory summary, the proposed legislation intends to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution including the equality clause (section 9); the property clause (section 25) and the just administrative action clause (section 33).

The bill also seeks to set up a “uniform framework for the expropriation of property across the three spheres of government without interfering with the existing expropriation legislative competence of expropriating authorities”.

According to the department, the uniform expropriation procedures set out in the bill will ensure certainty to all affected persons and institutions.

The bill will ensure that expropriating authorities publish an intended or actual expropriation including reasons for the expropriation.

The proposed legislation will also ensure that expropriation notices are served on affected persons and provide an opportunity to interested parties to raise objections and make representations to the expropriating authority.

The public works and infrastructure minister, Patricia de Lille, recently pointed out that the Chief State Law Adviser had certified the bill as constitutional.

The minister added that a law of general application is needed that will ensure that any act of expropriation is in compliance with the Constitution.

She also emphasized that the drafting of the bill was separate from the work of parliament in reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution.

“The Bill has been drafted to be consistent with Section 25 of the Constitution as it currently stands,” she said.

The statement also highlights that the bill outlines circumstances when it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid but it does not prescribe that nil compensation will be paid in such circumstances.

The bill provides that the amount of compensation will be determined by the courts.

At the beginning of November, the bill was referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders for consideration.

In a recent statement following a briefing on the bill, the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure announced that the public participation process will be preceded by an advertisement campaign calling for public comments on the bill in print and on radio, to run in December and January respectively. Thereafter, public hearings across all nine provinces will be held.

Comment on the bill is invited until 10 February 2021.