Expropriation Bill: briefing by Department of Public Works & Infrastructure, with Minister

Public Works and Infrastructure

24 November 2020
Chairperson: Ms N Ntobogwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure
27 Oct 2020: Expropriation Bill: background and processing
Statement by Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform

In this virtual meeting, the Committee passed a motion of desirability, following a presentation by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on the Expropriation Bill [B23-2020]. The Committee agreed on the timeframe it would aim at for concluding public participation processes so that the Bill can be reported to the National Assembly by the end of July 2021.

The Department explained the history of the Expropriation Bill, the previous public participation process and highlighted new clauses.

Members requested clarity regarding ‘urgent temporary’ expropriation and the situations and timeframes in which this would take place. Concern was expressed regarding the so called supremacy clause and its function in relation to the Constitution, as supreme law of the country. Given that the majority of the 50 000 public inputs received expressed opposition to the Bill, Members asked in what instance the Bill would be withdrawn or revised, as a result. Members asked that the clauses that relate to ‘nil compensation’ be explained thoroughly. Members emphasised the need for the Immovable Asset Register to be updated and finalised urgently. Concern was expressed regarding the powers assigned to the Minister, as these related to expropriation of land. The Minister agreed that, following a Committee request, the Committee would be given access to the socio-economic impact assessment report and the summary of the inputs from the previous public participation process during the Fifth Parliament.

The Committee agreed that the public participation process would run from the 10 December 2020 to 10 February 2021, a 60 day period (instead of the mandatory 30 days) to accommodate those who would not be in their offices over the festive season nor have reliable internet connection.

Meeting report

Presentation of Expropriation Bill
Mr Johannes Lekala, Deputy Director: Expropriation, Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI),
presented clauses 1 to 11 and clauses 21 to 33 of the Bill, while Adv Geoff Budlender SC presented clauses 12 to 20 that related to expropriation without compensation. The presentation covered the history of the Expropriation Bill, the public participation process undertaken during the drafting of the Expropriation Bill and the briefing on the Expropriation Bill.

The Expropriation Draft Bill [X-2018] was published in the Government Gazette for public comment on 21 December 2018 [during the term of the Fifth Parliament]. Interested persons were given sixty days to submit written comments. Approximately 50 000 written responses were received. A large number stated that they were against the Expropriation Bill. The key issues raised in these submissions were summarised into two matrix documents (Annexures 1 & 2).

The Bill sought to repeal the Expropriation Act of 1975 and to provide a common framework in line with the Constitution to guide the processes and procedures for expropriation of property by organs of state and to provide for instances where expropriation with nil compensation may be just and equitable. The Bill brings certainty to South Africans and investors because it clearly outlines how expropriation could be done and on what basis. The Bill was meant to assist all organs of State, including the local municipalities where most of the vulnerable groups are located. Local, Provincial and National Authorities will use their legislation to expropriate in the public interest for varied reasons that seek to amongst others, promote inclusivity and access to natural resources which will benefit women, children and people with disabilities.

The Bill retains unchanged the substantive content of the earlier Bill that was before Parliament but incorporates a new clause 12(3), (4) dealing with instances where it may be just and equitable to pay nil compensation for expropriation of property in the public interest. The Constitution provides that compensation for expropriation must be “just and equitable” having regard to all relevant circumstances. The Bill outlines circumstances when it may be just and equitable for no compensation to be paid. It does not prescribe that no compensation will be paid in those circumstances. The Bill provides that the amount of compensation will be determined by the courts.

Ms A Siwisa (EFF) asked a question relating to the urgent expropriation. She referred to the clause that stated that ‘an expropriating authority may exercise a right to use property temporarily, if it is urgently required for a period not exceeding 12 months.’ Is this not going to open-up for more exploitation whereby [the owner] would be told that it was a ‘temporary expropriation’ and the next thing they would find was that it had moved from 12 months to five years? She requested that they explain in detail what this meant. Slide 20, on urgent expropriation said, ‘the period for temporary use may not exceed a period of 18 months ‘. Then it says it must not be exceeded for 12 months, she requested clarity regarding those timelines.

She referred to clause 13, the “supremacy clause”, she asked why it was considered a supremacy clause. The Constitution was the supreme law, how do the two fit into each other? Does it mean that this clause is the supremacy law which will rule out any other supremacy clause? Is it overwriting any other law that is out there?

Ms S Graham-Mare (DA) asked what the threshold was for inputs that would render a bill unworthy to be processed further. She referred to the presentation where it was stated that there were ‘50 000 inputs made on the Bill, the majority of them were one liners that stated that they opposed the Bill.’ At what point do you say that there seemed to be a general consensus that there was opposition to the Bill and that they may need to withdraw it or look at revising it. What was the point of public participation, if one has 50 000 inputs, the bulk of which say ‘we don’t want the Bill’, but we ignore them and proceed regardless?

She requested clarity regarding the nil compensation. She referred to clause 12(3)(a) that stated ‘where the land is not being used and the owner’s main purpose is not to develop the land or use it to generate income, but to benefit from appreciation of its market value.’ What is the measurement with respect to whether or not a person is waiting for that land to appreciate? Who determines that? Who determines the point at which this is not just an investment, maybe they want to hold onto it and give it their children in the future? Under what mechanism was it determined that this was the only reason why that person was holding onto that land? She stated that it would disincentivise investment in property. She understood that they were looking at land redistribution, she fully appreciated that it needed to be done. She was certainly not disputing that. If they were disincentivising investment in property, will that not have an economic impact going forward? People would not buy property as an investment because of the risk of expropriation.

She referred to clause 12(3)(c) that stated ‘where an owner had abandoned the land by failing to exercise control over it.’ That was a measurement of whether or not that land was suitable for expropriation. She stated that there was a massive land invasion problem within South Africa. Nobody was doing anything to protect the land owner. There were cases where people had invaded property and the landowner had absolutely no control over the property anymore. Is that land now available for expropriation? Who determines that that is the case? What is the measurement of no control over the property? Suddenly title deeds mean less than actual physical control over one’s property. Is that fair, equitable and legal?

Ms M Hicklin (DA) stated that her biggest fear was this Expropriation Bill. She referred to the Immovable Assets Register (IAR), they have huge tracts of land, in the region of 85 000 hectares, which could be made available immediately. This was DPWI owned land that could be made available in rural and provincial areas that could be used for the very purpose that expropriation without compensation was designed to be used for, as she understood it. To redress the imbalances of the past by making sure that people have Title, by enabling people, particularly subsistence farmers, for example, to be able to start earning a dignified living, all of their own. This resided entirely in the hands of the DPWI, yet little has been done to actually expand on where those parcels of land really were. She stated that there was a story that was told to her, about coordinates being supplied for a piece of land, owned by the DPWI, and it turned out to be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This was because there was no IAR, that was concrete and complete. They were now going to add an additional register for DPWI to handle, that being land identified for expropriation without compensation. The details of the owners of that land would need to be added to that Register and then the process would need to be tracked. DPWI cannot get the first Register going properly, how are they going to get the second Register going?

She expressed concern regarding the fact that the allocation of land lay entirely in the hands of the Minister, according to the Expropriation Bill. How fair is that? That one person determines whether ones right to the land was superseded by another person’s right/claim to the land. They may all have the same modus operandi and motivations. How can one person be allocated the authority to determine and be ‘judge, jury and executioner’ on decisions taken with regard to expropriation. She referred to slide 16, clause 12(3)(b) where it stated ‘ an organ of state holds land that it is not using... acquired the land for no consideration.’ The state has a lot of land that was available. Why do we not start there, before looking at other areas of expropriation? What mechanisms do they or will they have in place in terms of the Expropriation Bill to ensure that it goes to the people that need it? These were flaws that needed to be addressed as a Committee. They needed to make sure that the average South African who had to benefit from expropriation, was covered by the Bill itself.

Ms P Kopane (DA) requested clarity regarding the overview of the public participation process. They were informed that the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) was consulted on the socio-economic impact of the Bill. The presentation was so silent about the impact assessment. For any Bill to be implemented, for any piece of legislation to be implemented, they needed to know the socio-economic impact. Could the Committee be given the report on that socio-economic study? How will it impact the implementation of the entire Bill?

Mr P van Staden (FF Plus) asked when the Ministry planned to start with the consultative public participation processes, specifically on this Bill. Will it be early next year? Or are they still planning according to this program?

The Chairperson stated that the Bill was introduced in the term [of the fifth Parliament], as all the speakers indicated, then it was rejected in Parliament and now it was coming back. There was an addition of two clauses that were contested the previous time. Clause 12(3) and 12(4) were the new additions. With respect to the new additions, is it required that they go through another round of public participation and public hearings? Or, as they are only two additions, does it go straight to Parliament?

Ms Patricia De Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, stated that having introduced the Bill to Parliament on the 9 October 2020, it was up to Parliament to decide whether they wanted to do public hearings. That was the right of the Portfolio Committee. From the Department’s side, from December 2018 until March 2019 the public participation took place. The input was then considered in the drafting of the Bill. Annexure A was made available to the Portfolio Committee, to see what transpired during that process. They categorised the 50 000 inputs into different categories and that was certainly available.

She addressed the question raised by Ms Hicklin regarding the Immovable Assets Register, which they had briefed the Portfolio Committee on, the week before. As they explained previously, when they spoke of ‘land reform,’ it included redistribution, restitution, land tenure and expropriation. Expropriation was one mechanism for acquisition but it was not correct to say that there was no land redistribution, they have just seen that the Minister of Land Affairs, made available over 700 000 hectares of land for agriculture. The year before, in October 2019, Cabinet had approved 14 000 hectares, for human settlement purposes. DPWI also released almost 200 pieces of land for land restitution. It was an all-encompassing process. 85 percent of the recommendations made by the Presidential Advisory Panel were accepted by government. Land reform was not just about expropriation. Expropriation was one mechanism for acquisition, if and when it was needed. The Bill spelled out how it could be done. As it stood, the President had powers to expropriate, all nine premiers in the Country, all nine provinces, all municipalities have got powers to expropriate and all seven National Ministers have powers. What was absent was a law of general application that could bring consistency which was not provided for in the 1975 Act that this Bill sought to repeal. The question relating to the Minister’s powers was not correct.

Adv Geoff Budlender stated that it was important to start at the beginning and to recognise that in every country in the world, the law permits the state to expropriate property. This was not a peculiarly South African provision. There was nothing controversial about the principle of expropriation. It was called different things in different countries, in the United States, it was called ‘eminent domain’, and in the former British colonies they called it ‘compulsory acquisition.’ Everybody who owned property had the risk of having their property expropriated. What was controversial related to what compensation should be paid, what procedure should be followed and whether there were limits on the purposes for which expropriation might take place. The principle of expropriation should not be a controversial one; it had been part of the law as far back as anyone could remember and everywhere else in the world.

Similarly he thought it important to clarify that expropriation legislation does not deal with who was going to get the land. The land goes in the first instance to the state. If land was expropriated for land reform purposes, for example for land redistribution, it was not the Expropriation Law, nor the expropriation process that would decide who would be the beneficiaries. That would be dealt with by the Minister who was responsible for land reform. If land was expropriated for housing purposes, again it was not the Expropriation Minister who would decide who would get the houses, that was dealt with by the municipalities and the provincial governments, who were responsible for redistributing state owned land for housing. One needed to separate conceptually the notion of when may land be expropriated, what compensation and procedures were required and who would get the land. It was not so, that land qualified to be expropriated because it was occupied or because it had been this or that. There was always the potential that it could be expropriated, the trigger, was the trigger about compensation. Then against that background, recognising that expropriation was simply part of the ordinary law of every country in the world, it was not the expropriator who decided who would be the beneficiary, it was the state department that decided who was responsible.

He referred to a question asked by Ms Siwisa regarding ‘urgent expropriation’ which was dealt with in clause 22 of the bill. ‘Urgent expropriation’ would be applied when something was anticipated and they needed to get hold of the land for public purposes or use very urgently. An easy example would be in the case of a flood; something needed to be done on some land in order to reduce the flood. For example, canals needed to be dug, pipes needed to be inserted on private land. It allowed the State to move in and take the use of the property for a limited period of time while this disaster situation existed and while it was being addressed. It related to those sorts of situations, where there was a sudden need, a disaster, or crisis and private land needed to be used to solve the disaster or crisis. Clause 22 sub-clause 1 provided the following, ‘the use could only be expropriated’ what one needed to note that it was not ownership that was expropriated, it was the right to use the property. Then it stated in in clause 22 sub-clause 7, that if the expropriation authority wanted to extend that beyond 12 months, and the owner did not agree, then the expropriation authority could apply for an extension. Clause 22 sub clause 8 states that ‘that it could not be for more than 18 months.’ It was ordinarily for 12 months, a court could extend it, but not more than 18 months.

With respect to the supremacy clause, he agreed that the use of the term was a bit confusing. The Constitution was of course the supreme law of the country. The Bill provided, which was quite common place, that the Bill would apply to all expropriations. If there was an existing law which authorised expropriation, that expropriation must be done in accordance with this law, when it became an Act. There were municipal ordinances, there were old provincial ordinances, there were many other laws that dealt with expropriation and many of them were inconsistent with the Constitution. What the supremacy clause stated was that all other Acts of Parliament that dealt with expropriation were now subject to that Act. It did not imply that the Act was above the Constitution, the Constitution was the supreme law in all respects. The use of the word ‘supremacy,’ was a bit misleading.

He addressed the question asked by Ms Graham-Mare, regarding the instance if land was not being used, who would decide whether that land was going to be expropriated, whether compensation would be paid and so on. The short answer was that the Court would have to decide, he referred to the provisions of clause 3, the one that dealt with possible nil compensation. A court would have to decide, ‘does this land fall within this category’, ‘is it land that was not being used and the owner’s main purpose was to hold onto it and wait for it to appreciate.’ If yes, the court would have to decide, whether in that instance that justified nil market value. They would decide whether it did fall within the category, and if it did whether nil compensation would be just and equitable. The Expropriation Bill did not deal, and never would deal, with who would get the use of the land, that was dealt with by the body who would become the owner of the land, the National Government, the province or the local authority.

Adv Uday Naidoo stated that section 59(1)(a) of the Constitution prescribed that Parliament, specifically the National Assembly must facilitate public involvement in all its legislative and other processes, not just before the Assembly itself, but before its Committees. This issue was dealt with by the Constitutional Court in 2018, when an Act of Parliament was passed, and public consultation was facilitated. When an amendment act was sought, following consultation at the Committee level, an insertion was made in the Act to make it applicable to the Veterinary profession, but the ‘vets’ were not consulted. The amendment act was challenged successfully by the Veterinary Association of South Africa. The Constitutional Court found that the National Assembly and its Committees had failed to comply with their 59(1)(a) responsibilities. The answer was that, at least in so far as the new clauses were concerned, 12(3) and 12(4), public consultation would be mandatory, else the Bill would be vulnerable to Constitutional ‘attack.’

Additional Questions
Ms Hicklin stated that she heard what the Minister had said about there being a broader grouping of people who would decide on whether land was expropriated or not. The point she wanted to emphasise was that she implored the Minister, as the head of the Department, to ensure that the IAR got updated urgently. Until they had an appropriate, comprehensive and complete IAR, they could not begin the appropriate, proper, considered allocation of land. They were trying to ‘push water up a hill and it was flowing through their fingers’ because they did not have a clue exactly how much land they own and where. Until they got a comprehensive IAR, this process was doomed to failure.

Mr van Staden agreed with Ms Hicklin, it was very important to get the Register up to date, otherwise they would pick up some problems in the future. He referred to the previous consultation process that had 50 000 comments on the Bill. Would it be possible, as there were many new members of the Committee, to provide the inputs to the Committee from the previous round?

Ms Siwisa referred to the response from the Minister regarding the submissions that were made. When she looked at Annexure A, it seemed as if it was mostly entities; where were the people that were actually affected, because people on the ground in the rural areas, would they be consulted face-to-face to make their submissions? What happens to those who do not have access to internet? Those people would likely be the most affected by the Bill.

The Minister responded to Ms Siwisa’s question in stating that the public consultation must be undertaken by Parliament. It was mandatory. As members of Parliament they would need to decide how and where they would do the public participation, as explained by Adv Uday Naidoo. The Annexure provided was a summary of the 50 000 inputs which came in when DPWI gazetted the Bill in December 2018.

With respect to the IAR, it was not that they did not know where the parcels of land were that belonged to the State. The issues that were raised by the Auditor General, for the past four to five years, was related to the way they determined the value of the land. They had discussed it before. They now had an agreement with the National Treasury that if they wanted to dispose of land in terms of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA), that they would be allowed to use the municipal value. In GIAMA it did not state that they must dispose land at a market value, it stated that it must be at the ‘best value,’ that had sometimes caused a delay in disposing of land. There was a register, maybe 98 percent completed, and another two percent that must be added to the Register. They knew where those parcels of land were, located all over the Country, certainly that was one of the issues that was a priority for the Department, that they needed to digitise the IAR and that process had already begun.

Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting Director-General, DPWI, stated that in the last audit, the Auditor General had cast aspersions on the auditability of the asset register. The audit covered the existence of the assets; the completeness of the register; the rights; the obligations; and evaluation. They were qualified on one item, being the evaluation. The Asset Register was not qualified on issues of existence or completeness. There was a substantial improvement over that period of time that the Ms Hicklin referred to, where assets could not be located. He wanted to provide assurance that the IAR’s quality had improved substantially since that particular incident.

Ms Kopane highlighted that her question had not been answered properly from the first round of questions.

Ms Siwisa referred to section 25 sub-section 3(b) of the Constitution, where it stated ‘history of acquisition.’ What does the Bill state, if it was found out that the land was acquired illegally?

The Minister stated that Adv Naidoo had responded to the second-part of Ms Kopane’s question, regarding public participation. The socio-economic impact study was part of the legislative process. Before a Bill could be introduced to Cabinet, the relevant Ministry was required to send it to the DPME to do a socio-economic impact study. The Department could certainly provide the Committee with that report from the DPME. She apologised for not responding to the question earlier.

Adv Budlender stated that the purpose of expropriation was to acquire ownership from the lawful owner or from those who hold informal rights. It does not deal with unlawful owners or unlawful holders, because they do not have the right of ownership. The essence of expropriation was that ownership was transferred from the current lawful owner to a new lawful owner which would become the state. If the land was illegally owned, if it was stolen in some way, or some other illegality, then the remedy was not to expropriate the land but to reverse the illegality and put the land back in the hands of the legal owner. It was not a question of illegal owners.

When people talk about the use, or the history of acquisition of use, very often that was a reference to land that was acquired through forced removals. That was often what was in people’s minds. Black people were removed from land; 3.5 million people were removed from land during the forced removals. Where land was acquired through a forced removal, that was a fact that a court may consider relevant in deciding how much compensation would be just and equitable. One could look around Cape Town particularly, not only Cape Town, it was quite a long time ago, but there were situations where people benefitted and profited from forced removals. It would be possible to argue in a court, that if you benefitted and profited from forced removals, one should give up that benefit and profit. That was the sort of history of acquisition and use that was most commonly referred to. That does not deal with illegal ownership, illegal ownership was not ownership at all and one does not have to be expropriated, because if one was there illegally, one was not the owner.

The Chairperson said that as the Committee it was their responsibility to take it forward as indicated, the Bill sought to correct and reject the Expropriation Act of 1975, it was agreed that it was long overdue. It did not talk to the Constitution that they adopted as the country in 1996, it talked to the Apartheid laws. As the Committee they would continue to debate this, to look at the public participation and comments. They had a role to play in taking in forward before it was adopted by Parliament.

She requested that they go to the second item of the agenda; she excused the Minister and her team.

Motion of Desirability
The Committee Secretary stated that according to rule 286 4(i), the Committee needed to adopt a motion of desirability, as they had just had a presentation from the Department. She quoted from rule 286 4(i), ‘After due deliberation the Committee must consider a motion of desirability, on the subject matter of the Bill and if rejected must immediately table the Bill and its report on the Bill.’ She requested that the Chairperson call for a mover for the adoption of the motion of desirability of the Bill and thereafter a seconder. If there was any opposing view, then they would record that on the minutes, or rather call for a vote, in an event where there was a need for a vote.

Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, asked for permission to clarify a point in relation to the public participation, which did not contradict what was said earlier in the meeting. She said that the Bill that was before the Committee at that moment, in its entirety, was introduced and open to public participation, not only with the reservation of the two new clauses, but the entire Bill, every clause. Focus could be streamlined to the two clauses that were new, but the entire Bill would need to be taken through the public participation process.

Ms Graham-Mare requested clarity. They were being asked to vote on the desirability of the Bill as it stood and then at what point would they determine whether or not they would proceed with public participation? Do they have to vote on the desirability first and then put it through for public participation? Or can they insist that the public participation happen before the desirability part of it?

Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) indicated that she would like to move for the motion of desirability in favour of it.

Ms L Mjobo (ANC) seconded the motion of desirability.

The Committee Secretary responded to Ms Graham-Mare, she stated that there was a presentation that was done on how legislation was processed in its entirety, which was the process they would follow when processing this Bill. Rule 286 clearly outlined what process should be followed; she would then zoom in to the actual process, to their draft project plan, which was tabled to the Management Committee (Manco) the day before. Prior to that they thought they should rather start with the motion of desirability as its part of the process that needed to be followed, it was a formality that was required.

The Draft Project Plan
The Draft Project Plan was presented. As it was a new Committee, they would take Members through each and every step of the process. The Introduction and tabling of the Bill was done on the 14 of October 2020 per the presentation by the Department. The process-planning presentation, which was done by the support personnel of the Committee, took place on the 26 October 2020. Thereafter the Bill was tagged as a section 76 Bill through the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM), of which Ms Ngema was part. That was done on the 29 October 2020. After that, the Bill was referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders through the Bills Office; this was done on the 6 November 2020. They were awaiting the comments of the National House of Traditional Leaders; they were supposed to submit this by the 6 December 2020. They were given 30 days to respond with comments after the Bill was referred to them. The Committee had heard the Briefing by the Department on the Bill and the motion of desirability had been completed that day (24 November 2020).

With respect to the public participation, after the Committee meeting they would call for public comments through radio, print and social media. In terms of advertising, there was a process that they needed to follow in terms of supply chain management. They would need to process the advertisement, which would give the public 60 days to make comments. Because of the timing of the advertisement, which would be the 4 December 2020, many people would not be in the office due to COVID-19 and/or the festive season. Manco decided that they should give the public at least 60 days, which would lapse on the 4 February 2021. After the call for public comments they would also consider oral submissions. Some of the stakeholders would be more comfortable submitting oral submissions to Parliament. The support staff of the Committee have scheduled this for the week of the 9 to 12 February 2020.

After they have considered all of that, they would then roll out public hearings in provinces, with the first one being Limpopo and the last one being the Western Cape, as the list goes. They have not yet allocated specific dates on that one, as that was tabled the day before at Manco. The decision was that they should go back to their calendar and check the framework of Parliament as well. However, a proposal that was made, that Manco was in favour, was that the Committee would not be split into two; they would deal wholly with the public hearings, so the whole Committee would travel to provinces. The target was four areas per province. That was why the dates were not flagged into the Draft Project Plan, as yet. Thereafter they would submit the final draft to the Committee for consideration. They were looking to submit the report on the Expropriation Bill by the 30 June 2021. That was when the final report would be tabled to the House as they projected.

The Chairperson stated that this would be something they would want to debate as a Committee especially the comment period. They had in the past experienced complaints regarding public comments in December, that was one of the reasons they were looking at a 60 day comment period as opposed to the mandatory 30 days.

Mr van Staden asked why they could not start the process of public comment in January 2021, for January and February, cancelling the problem relating to the Christmas season in December.

The Committee Secretary responded to state that she had presented a draft plan to the Portfolio Committee, they depended upon the Portfolio Committee to state whether the plan was acceptable as it was, or there were amendments to be made.

Ms Mjobo stated that she supported Mr van Staden’s proposal to move it to January 2021.

The Chairperson stated that there seemed to be no objection to that. On the issue of calling for public comments, which dates would they then advertise in January? She suggested that the 4 January the advertisement would go out calling for public comments. Then will it be 30 days or 60 days?

Ms Mjobo suggested that they continue with 60 days.

Mr van Staden agreed that they stick to 60 days for January and February 2021

The Chairperson stated that the reason they had 60 days was because they had the December holiday. If they were saying that it should go out in January, they would have to go back to 30 days. This Bill was of public interest to the majority of the population of the country. They wanted to ensure that it was tabled by the end of June 2021. Everything would land up moving later and they may not meet their June goal.

The Committee Secretary stated that the normal timeframe that was usually given was 30 days for public comment, however it may assist the Committee if they advertised now so that they could maximise on the people that would be able to submit the public comments right away in December until January as it currently stood on the Draft Project Plan.

Ms Mjobo suggested going back to square one.

Mr van Staden agreed with the December to January comment period.

Ms Ngema stated that in order not to create any flaws or any room for contestation, they should definitely give it the time. They must separate the time calling for submissions and the time when they start the public hearings. The two months suggested was looking good. In terms of the timeframe, generally it was the Committee that set its own timeframes. She was aware that with the National Council of Provinces there was a specific six week cycle but that does not impact so much on the process. The rule of the National Assembly was not set in terms of how much time must be taken for public participation.

The Chairperson suggested that they shift the date of the advert, so that they allow enough time, not 4 December, that the advertisement goes out on the 10 December 2020 to the 10 February 2021. She also suggested the end of July 2021 for tabling it with the House.

The Committee Secretary noted the suggestions and said she would make those adjustments and refer back to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that there would only be one team going out to the provinces; in January they would come back to the Members to indicate. They would be starting in Limpopo; they would not change the order of that. They would finalise that, they would look at what had been done by the other Committees, where four regions/districts were visited during the public hearings, four per province.

Committee minutes dated 17 & 18 November 2020
The minutes were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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