South African Court Dismisses Application To Set Aside Report On Land Reform

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Cape Town   –     The Western Cape High Court in South Africa on Friday dismissed lobby group AfriForum’s application to set aside a parliamentary report on land expropriation without compensation.

Meting out the ruling, the court said a debate on the report could go ahead in the National Assembly before adoption.

Earlier this month, AgriForum approached the court, seeking an order to prevent the report from being passed onto the National Assembly for debate and adoption.

This came after Parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) adopted the report in favour of amending the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

Specifically, the committee recommends that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make it explicitly clear that expropriation of land without compensation by the state in the public interest should be one mechanism to address the injustices of the past, inflicted on the majority of South Africans.

The JCRC adopted its report following a series of extensive public hearings from June 26 to Aug. 4, as well as a number of workshops and discussions in Parliament.

AgriForum filed an application to the court after its request to have the report set aside was rejected by the Parliament, which reciprocated by filing a legal affidavit to counter AgriForum’s court bid.

Parliament argues that AfriForum is deliberately trying to frustrate Parliament’s legislative process.

The JCRC report, which will be referring to the National Assembly (Lower House) and National Council of Provinces (Upper House) for consideration, is an interim step, similar to a bill, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

“It is not final in effect. It may be accepted or it may not,’’ said Mothabo.

The ongoing land reform has sparked a heated debate in South Africa.

Opponents argued that the process will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.

But the government has assured that it will pursue the land reform without destabilising the agricultural sector, endangering food security in the country, or undermining economic growth and job creation.

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