Bill raises fears that large-scale expropriation could be used to accelerate land reform
The contentious expropriation bill is not the draconian law property owners and investors may think it is, analysts say.
The bill, which President Jacob Zuma referred back to Parliament in February, citing lack of public consultation, will allow property, both fixed and movable, to be expropriated for a public interest as well as a public purpose. This has raised fears that large-scale expropriation could be used to accelerate land reform.
The ANC leadership is split on land reform, with Zuma saying the Constitution should be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation. The ANC has decided to convene a meeting to deal with the issue before its policy conference in June.
Michael Evans, public law partner at Webber Wentzel, said that until now, land expropriation had been tackled in the expropriation legislation that predated the Constitution by two decades. "It is a draconian piece of legislation which confers extensive powers on the authorities [including government departments and municipalities] to expropriate. Little protection is given to property owners," said Evans.