The Standing Committee on Infrastructure met in-person and virtually to be briefed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on the Expropriation Bill [B232B-2020], and to discuss its programme for public consideration of the Bill.
The Committee was satisfied with the national Department’s presentation and asked questions mainly to gain clarity on the specifics of the Bill.
Members were concerned with the timeframes that had been designated in the Bill. They felt that the stipulated timeframes would not allow for the process to be done efficiently. They were satisfied to know that the timeframes were only guidelines and that they would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Committee was also concerned with the 1913 cut-off date, and the effect that would have on claims for restitution.
The Committee sought clarity on many aspects of the Bill, such as the intersection of religious and property rights, the role of the provincial offices in the expropriation process, and case law on expropriation and compensation.
Clarification was sought on the definition of ‘property.’ There was uncertainty if it meant land and buildings only, or if it included other personal property, possessions and intellectual property.
The Committee was presented with a number of advertising mechanisms for the Bill. It hoped to start advertising the Bill as soon as possible, to allow for sufficient time for the public hearings it planned on holding. They made decisions on the areas for the public hearings and the newspapers that the Bill and public hearings would be advertised in. However, they were concerned that they would not have enough time to allow for sufficient public participation and agreed to request an extension from the NCOP. It was agreed that the advertising campaign would begin on Monday, 10 April.
The Chairperson introduced herself, asked the Committee Members and officials to introduce themselves, and shared apologies from Mr T Simmers (DA), the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, Mr A Lili (ANC), and Ms C Murray (DA). She said that Mr J Londt (DA), National Council of Provinces (NCOP), would join the meeting at a later stage.
The purpose of the meeting was for the Standing Committee to be briefed by the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and the NCOP on the Expropriation Bill [B23B-2020]. She noted that both the Department and the NCOP were represented in the meeting, the Committee had a legal advisor present, and she requested that the Procedural Officer (PO) also engage as the Committee worked toward resolutions on the Bill.
Briefing on Expropriation Bill [B23B-2020]
Ms Nana Mhlongo, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Policy Research and Regulation, DPWI, said the purpose of the Bill was to outline how the expropriation process should be done by organs of state. They would present the process and procedures to be followed in terms of expropriation.
A Department official provided the Committee with an overview of the Expropriation Bill. He said that the Expropriation Act of 1975 was still law and had not been enacted in accordance with the property clause of the Constitution. The Bill aimed to give effect to the property clause and covered the administrative decisions to expropriate.
He said expropriation could occur only for a public purpose or in the public interest. Public purpose included infrastructure building, and public interest included land reform and access to natural resources.
He said the Bill was more detailed than the 1975 Act, and provided an overview of the expropriation process and highlighted the key steps:
Public purpose or public interest needed identification;
Notice of intention to expropriate;
Notice of expropriation;
Possession of expropriated property;
Withdrawal of expropriation; and
(See attached document for details)
The Chairperson thanked the presenters for the presentation and noted that Mr Londt had not joined the meeting. She said he would not be able to attend the meeting and that his input would have been covered in the DPWI's presentation. The meeting would proceed with the discussion on the presentation.
Ms Jacqueline Gooch, Head of Department (HOD): Western Cape Department of Infrastructure, said the Department would be responsible because of the roads portfolio, as previously it would expropriate property for road purposes and go through the necessary process and ensure compensation was paid. She asked how this would fit into the presented Bill because there were slight differences and changes compared to the previous Bill. She asked for clarity on how provinces would expropriate property, particularly for road-building purposes.
The Chairperson thanked the HoD and asked if the Premier’s Office had anything to contribute.
A representative from the Premier’s Office said that they had no input at that time.
Mr Y Abrahams, a representative of the Muslim community, said mosques were considered under the term ‘Waqaf.’ Waqaf meant that the designated property was not owned by one individual or organisation, but rather that the property belonged to Allah (God). He asked how the concept of Waqaf would be respected or considered in terms of the expropriation of property.
Mr S August (GOOD) referred to slide 12 of the presentation, which stated: “The power to withdraw an expropriation must be exercised within three months from the date of expropriation.” He asked what would happen if there were changes and an expropriation had to be withdrawn, but the three-month date had passed. He asked for clarity on this and if there was some leeway regarding the three months.
Mr P Marran (ANC) commented that the previous Act of 1975 was still in effect, and it did not make provisions for the public interest or public purpose. He noted that Section 25 of the Constitution which dealt with property stated that property could be expropriated. He highlighted that the Constitution allowed for restitution only as far back as 1913, and emphasised that the Khoi and the San had been dispossessed of their land before 1913. He asked how this issue could be dealt with.
Mr Marran asked if there was case law where a decision had been made about what fair compensation was. He asked for clarity from the legal advisor on whether there was such case law, and what it was. Section 25(8) of the Constitution stated that provisions should not stop to get to public purpose or public interest.
Mr I Sileku (DA) asked where the desire to expropriate would arise from, and what mechanisms would need to be considered. He asked if it could just be a neighbour who did not like a particular individual and therefore felt that the individual’s land could be expropriated, or advocate for a need to expropriate the land. What mechanism would be put in place to make sure that expropriation did not happen because of personal issues? How would the process of expropriation come about?
Mr Sileku said that he understood the issue of compensation, and asked what would be considered when the time for compensation came. Would an evaluation of the property at that particular time be considered, as well as the sentimental value of the property? If individuals did not want their land expropriated because of sentimental value (graves, ancestral homes, etc), what would happen? How would the need for expropriation and sentimental connection be balanced?
He asked for clarity on the definition of property. Did it mean land, or include other things in an individual’s possession?
The Chairperson asked what would qualify as ‘urgent,’ commenting that saying 'urgent expropriation' would be confusing if, for example, it was given a year. This would mean that it was not an urgent matter. She asked for clarity on what was meant by ‘urgent expropriation.’
She asked what would happen in the case of nature reserves, for example. Who would need to get the compensation, because Cape Nature was government land, and the responsibility would be given to the Department of Infrastructure? She asked how the Department would be empowered to talk to illegal land invaders on a piece of land to make sure that they could be moved. She was trying to clarify who would be able to receive the compensation and who would not be able to. She highlighted spatial planning within municipalities and legislation that was in the works about the Khoi and the San and the ownership of the land and asked where the budget would come from to address these issues and champion spatial planning in municipalities. She noted that the available funds were not enough and that while the Bill was important, massive costs would be attached to it. She asked if a budget had been drawn up and if the Committee could have access to it.
A representative from the Premier’s Office noted that the legal opinion provided by the national Department had referred to a previous memorandum prepared by Advocate Budlender SC. She asked if the national Department could share that memorandum with the Committee because it would help them to see some of the legal thinking about some aspects of the Bill.
The representative from the Premier’s Office said that the national colleagues might not know how the comments on the draft national legislation had been collated. It had been a collaborative effort, and for such an important Bill, legal services had managed the process and provided legal and technical input on the draft legislation, and comments were collated from all provincial departments into one set of comments which was submitted under the signature of the Premier, as the Western Cape Government’s comments. It was their constitutional mandate and was in the spirit of good intergovernmental relations. She said that a response to the comments was hardly ever received from the national Department, and that had made it difficult to continue their work. This meant that the provincial departments were unable to fully understand and work through their concerns, and was then unable to share a comprehensive response with their clients and the provincial executive. It was disappointing that their comments were not taken into consideration, because ultimately they had come from the provincial department which would need to implement the legislation. She requested that the comments be considered because they might help the process and provide technical insight.
The Chairperson handed over to the National Department to respond to the questions and input.
An official from the National Department said he would try to respond to most of the questions but would get back to the Committee if there were some for which he did not have answers.
He responded to the question of how the provincial department would fit into the process. During the presentation, he had said that organs of state possessed the power to expropriate in terms of their own legislation. He noted that there should be provincial legislation for the purpose of expropriating. He gave an example, and said that he had previously worked in the land reform restitution programme, and the Restitution of Land Rights Act had one provision that provided for expropriation -- Section 42(E). The Department had developed its own expropriation process that was guided by a booklet on how expropriation for restitution purposes should be dealt with. He said that if the province had empowering legislation, they would be entitled to have their own expropriation process, as long as it did not clash with the framework legislation.
In response to the question of the concept of 'Waqaf,' he said that religious and property rights were enshrined in the Constitution. Looking broadly at the Constitution and how it gave effect to the different and competing interests, it was advised that the Bill should be looked at on a case-by-case basis, and a balance of rights approach had to be used by looking at the public interest and the interests of those affected. He said that all circumstances had to be looked at, especially those that had been specified in the Constitution, and then a decision should be made. Facts and circumstances would be different provincially with regard to mosques, but 'Waqaf' would apply despite location, and because of the different circumstances, different outcomes would be likely.
He said that all decisions taken in terms of the Expropriation Bill could be taken on review through the court or a mediation process. He could not make a blanket statement on the outcome of the expropriation of 'Waqaf' properties but emphasised that the Constitution granted religious rights and that a balancing of rights was necessary. He emphasised that 'Waqaf' would be taken seriously and respected.
The Department official asked for clarity on the question about the extension of time in the expropriation process.
Mr August repeated his question about the three-month deadline -- if the three-month deadline was missed, would there be space for an extension of the process?
The Department official responded that there was a provision in the Bill that provided for an extension of time under various instances. Any timeframe in the Bill would be somewhat flexible, depending on the circumstances surrounding the particular case.
In response to the question of the Khoi and San communities, he again highlighted his time working in the restitution programme. He said the entity had been the first to negotiate restitution claims. It was unfortunate that the Restitution of Land Rights Act was a limited process because of the 1913 cut-off date and the closing of the lodgement date. He highlighted an amendment that had been passed to extend the period but was currently suspended because of a court case. He noted that there were claims that had been lodged after the amendments. The 1913 cut-off date was a big issue in the country. During his time at the restitution programme, there had been many debates around the issue. Some people had felt the problem was the date of 19 June 1913, which was the date that the Land Act came into effect and that the legislative discrimination had started from that date, which was why that date was chosen. He commented that other people thought the chosen cut-off date helped avoid uncertainty because going back would create confusion because of all the dispossessions that had taken place, and that there were no comprehensive and consistent records of these dispossessions.
The official responded to the question about case law for compensation. He said that there was case law in the Land Claims Court. He was unsure of the name or specific details, but it dealt with the process of compensation. He highlighted another case in the Land Claims Court which dealt with the issue of the sentimental value of property and noted that it was a factor when considering compensation. He referred to a Constitutional Court case -- the Haffajee case -- which dealt with the issue of compensation and when it would be dealt with, at the beginning or end of the process. The case had concluded that it was not prescribed and that it could be dealt with at any stage, but it was advisable for it to happen at the beginning of the process. He said that there were guidelines for compensation.
In response to the question of what would trigger expropriation, he said organs of the state could expropriate for a public purpose or in the public’s interest only in terms of a law of general application. Those were the parameters, and if one went outside those parameters, they would be treading on the territory of acting arbitrarily and without authority, because there would be no legal basis for making a decision on expropriation. The guideline would be expropriation for a public purpose, public interest, and legal instrument. He provided examples of public interest and purpose, including roads, bridges, hospitals, power stations and land reform. He highlighted a case handled by the Department of Public Works on behalf of SanPARKS, where SanPARKS had wanted to expand the Marakele National Park and had requested that the Department expropriate a farm adjacent to the park. The Department had done due diligence on the case and decided that it was in the public interest to expropriate the land.
Responding to the question of what would happen if an individual did not want to sell their property, he referred to an instance that was no longer applicable in the land reform programme. In the Restitution Act, before it was amended, there had been a requirement of a feasibility certificate. The Department had been required to issue a feasibility certificate stating that it was feasible to acquire the particular property for restitution purposes. This had resulted in those affected using it as an opportunity to delay and challenge the Department, so it had been taken out of the Restitution Act. This showed that there was a requirement for due diligence to be done, and that the affected party could respond through using this tool to impede the processing of a claim. He added that there was a provision in the Act that all claims had to be referred to the Land Claims Court, and that they had to issue a court order, but this was no longer a requirement and only those where there was a dispute had to be referred to the Land Claims Court.
In response to the questions on the budget, he said that expropriation had been on the agenda since the 1960s. The current Bill was an improvement on the old process to align with the Constitution. Organs of state used this mechanism to achieve some of their functions in an expedited manner. He said the power of expropriation was available only to the state, and no private individual could expropriate. Whatever purpose was behind the expropriation -- for example, the roads programme -- one would have to budget for the programme. Expropriation should be a tool for entities to achieve other objectives. The entities should budget for their own needs. A separate budget for expropriation was not necessary, because expropriation should be included in the budgets of the different departments.
The Chairperson thanked the respondent. She asked for clarity on his last response -- if there was no budget for expropriation, what would the new Bill be fixing from the old legislation, because what he had described was already taking place?
Mr Sileku gave a practical example, stating that if a person had agreed that their land was to be expropriated for public interest but the compensation amount was disputed, would there be potential for a counter offer?
When compensation occurred, would the individual receive compensation for the transportation of any personal property or belongings to a new location?
Mr Marran asked if there was case law for expropriation without compensation. He was asking this because many people were concerned about people being compensated for land that had been acquired unjustly. Did the legal advisor know of any case law that was pertinent, because the model of willing-buyer/willing-seller resulted in landowners inflating prices? In reference to restitution, he noted a court case that stated that new claims could not be dealt with until the previous claims, submitted before 31 December 1998, had been dealt with. This could be bypassed only by writing directly to the Minister and motivating why a new claim should be dealt with. He asked if the Bill would assist the Khoi and the San communities and those who had failed to submit claims before the 1998 cut-off date.
The Chairperson asked about the alignment between the Bill and the Land Reform Act. It was her understanding that the Bill spoke to when the Government had a purpose for an identified piece of land. What would happen if there was already a land claim attached to a property that was selected for expropriation -- how would the Bill address that? She asked how the Government would handle discrepancies in the monetary value of the property that would be given by individuals or through evaluation.
The Department official said that during the application of the 1975 Act, there were homelands and self-governing countries that used their own laws. In 1994, the 1975 Act became the law for the entire South African territory. It was old legislation that did not take into account the requirements of the Constitution -- firstly in terms of the administrative justice provisions, secondly in respect of the aspect of public interest, and thirdly in respect of access to the courts. He said that this Bill was an attempt to create a streamlined framework for the procedures that could be used by an expropriating authority. He referred to his previous example of the restitution programme, and how they had developed their own process. The Bill was a framework to guide expropriating authorities.
He said this Bill would function in the same way as the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, which was a framework that guided organs of state on how to deal with each other. It provided the steps of the expropriation process. Expropriating authorities who managed legislation were not stopped from developing their own expropriation processes as long as they complied with the framework, or the framework could be used directly. The Bill was important, because it ensured that organs of state complied with the Constitution, and it created a unified approach to dealing with expropriation.
He responded to the question regarding the provision of a counter-offer in the Bill. He said the earlier versions had referred to a counter-offer, but it had been advised that it be removed from the Bill. Even if it was not specifically addressed in the Bill, clause two of the Bill required parties to negotiate before the power of expropriation could be invoked. This would allow for a counter-offer. He said that they would look into the need to specify the potential of counter offers.
The official responded to the question of whether the Bill would assist the Khoi and San, and those who had failed to file restitution claims on time. He said that the Bill was a framework which applied to all organs of state. The restitution programme was one of many organs of state, and this was why the Bill did not refer explicitly to restitution.
The Chairperson asked if any other Members had anything more to add or any other questions.
Ms Gooch asked for clarity on the definitions in the Bill. She said the Bill referred to property continuously, and the definition of ‘property’ referred back to Section 25 of the Constitution, which stated that property was not limited to land. There had previously been questions about intellectual property that people had acquired, developed, and effectively owned and the fact that property could be a value of a company. She stated that the definition of property was not limited to land, but when reading the Bill, it referenced valuations and capital improvements which went back to the construct of property being land or buildings. She asked how the consideration was within the Bill by correctly and understandably going back to the Constitution’s definition of property, but the manner in which the Bill had been formulated for aspects around compensation and others had gone back to the property as being land and buildings. She asked if there had been a consideration of whether there had been intent on expropriating property that was not land or buildings, and how that would be covered.
The Department official responded that there was an awareness that the project could pan out that way. At the time of starting the project, the Department had not been able to conceptualise how other forms of property could be expropriated, and therefore it had focused on property as land and buildings. He said that they had to be forward-looking to the concept of property as it was explained in the Constitution. He acknowledged that Ms Gooch was correct and that the Department was aware that there were other forms of property where there was no practical understanding of how expropriation could occur. At the current stage of development of the law, the Department had not reached a point where they could say that there should be a specific legislative policy for the issue.
Ms Gooch said that in the transport sector, the National Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation needed to access the latest information that was held by a private party. They had gone through a long process to argue that it was information that the state-owned. There had been a similar issue in the South African Police Service (SAPS) involving databases and information that was held by a private party, but by implication could be seen as the property of the state. She asked if there was room in the way that property had been defined, that could be seen as property that could be expropriated. Where did that leave the process?
The Chairperson thanked the respondent for providing the necessary clarity. She indicated that the Committee would hear from the legal advisor.
Legal advisor's comments
Adv Romeo Maasdorp said he had not been aware that he needed to address the Committee. He thanked the national Department for the presentation and responses. He had simplified the Bill so that it was easier to understand how it fitted into the larger scheme of things. He said Bills provided an enabling instrument and provided for an executive authority (i.e., the Minister) to make regulations on 'the how.' He stated that in this instance, the Constitution was the enabling instrument, and the Bill provided 'the how.' He described the Bill as a framework or general guideline which also allowed individual expropriating authorities to craft their own specificities to give effect to the Bill within the prescribed framework.
He noted that he had not detected anything unconstitutional in his initial review of the Bill. He emphasised that the Bill solidified the spirit and the administrative justice purposes envisaged in the Constitution. He was comfortable in stating that the Bill in its present form was sufficiently sound. Moving forward with submissions from the public on their opinion, the Bill’s integrity would be tested. He was hopeful that that process would ensure a more emphatic and conclusive characterisation of the Bill. He had read the submission made by Adv Naidoo to the NCOP, where certain issues had been raised, but he did not view them as being sufficiently substantive or profound to justify a response at present.
The Chairperson thanked the Adv Maasdorp. She asked if it came to a scenario where a department had to refer to the Minister of Infrastructure with regard to the Bill, would there be a time limit for the Minister to respond? She asked this because in many instances when concerns were sent to a minister, it took a long time to receive a response.
The Department official replied that the Bill did not speak to that level of specificity. It sounded like an administrative issue where perhaps the concerns had not been sent to the correct person.
The Chairperson made an example of building a school, and the Minister of Education did not get approval for the expropriation process. The Minister of Education would then go the Minister of Infrastructure to take over the expropriation process. She asked if it was referred to the Minister of Infrastructure, there would be a timeframe for the Minister to respond and run the process.
Ms Mhlongo said that the Bill was silent on those timelines, because the emphasis was on the investigation that needed to happen, depending on the aspects relating to the particular property, and that would be included in the due diligence of the case. Setting a prescribed timeline would not allow for the specificities of each property to be considered. All that was required was to ask if the expropriating authority had done the proper investigations, and there was a clear demonstration that if it was a public interest matter, it could stand its ground. She said that this was why a timeline was not specified.
The Chairperson asked if any other provinces had submitted commentary and if the comments had been considered in the Bill. She asked if no provinces had submitted comments and if that was why the Western Cape had not received a response.
The Department official said that there had been a public participation process, the Bill was gazetted, and comments had been invited. The Department had engaged with specifically identified organs of state. If the history of the Bill was looked at, it would be seen that it had previously been in Parliament and had been rejected by Parliament because it was going to expire. The Department had been given a short timeframe to re-present the Bill to Parliament and had had to consult again with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). He said it was possible that not all of the concerns were comprehensively covered due to various delays, but in the submissions from the previous process, all were considered. He was not sure of the particular entities that had sent in submissions, but a list would be available in the Department’s records.
The Chairperson thanked the respondents, and said she would like to see the submission list and the submissions, especially the Western Cape’s submissions, because they would be responsible for creating their own process. She was worried about the short time frame given to the Committee, because they had quite a bit of work to do with various municipalities. It was possible that the Committee would request an extension for the public hearings.
The Chairperson thanked the National Department for the presentation and their responses, and excused them from the meeting.
Committee Programme for consideration of Expropriation Bill
The Chairperson said that the purpose of the remainder of the meeting was to determine the way forward for the Bill. They would consider the advertisement of the Bill and identify where it would be advertised. The tricky part was that usually, the Committee would work with the stakeholders directly, but this Bill concerned everyone in the province. This meant that they would have to depend on the advertisements to ensure that the public knew and understood the Bill. The Committee would be dependent on the Procedural Officer for advertising. She handed over to the PO to discuss what mechanism the entity would be able to use to raise awareness for the Bill.
A representative from the PO unit said that they had been informed about the Bill and the Standing Committee’s intention to do public hearings. The approach to public hearings depended on the areas the Committee decided to go to, where the PO would reach out to colleagues within the specific municipalities, stakeholders and Community Development Workers (CDWs) to create awareness of the Bill and to co-ordinate participation on the day of the public hearing. Normally, the PO worked with the procedural office once an interest had been identified, to co-ordinate transport, pick-up points and encourage participation. He said they would contact Thusong Centres to advertise the Bill and public hearings on their notice boards.
The Chairperson asked if it was possible to speed up the process and for the PO to do more than what had been described. It would be difficult for the Committee to identify stakeholders because the Bill had the potential to affect everyone. This meant that the Committee would be dependent on the PO for awareness of the Bill and the public's contribution. Involving the CDWs should not be a problem, but wanted to know what the PO’s expectation of that involvement was. She noted that previously the system had been to talk about the Bill and why it was important for communities to attend the public hearing and submit comments. If this was going to be dependent on the CDWs, it would be difficult to get feedback, because before the public hearings, the Committee would engage with the PO on what to expect at the public hearings and the demands that might be brought up. She asked how they could ensure that they got the right information if they used the CDWs.
The PO official responded that the normal procedure once they had reached out to the various stakeholders, would be that the PO received an invitation from the stakeholders if support was needed for the process of the public hearings. If it was the Committee’s desire, they could go to the areas approximately a week before the hearings in the form of a pre-hearing session to create awareness of the Bill and explain the purpose and structure of the public hearings and submission process. The PO would be able to do this and provide feedback to the Committee if the Committee desired.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee was interested in the pre-hearing sessions. The Committee would also appreciate the PO's assistance with transport for the public to the hearings. The Committee would communicate with the PO on when they were ready to begin the process. She asked the Committee if they had any questions for the PO.
Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) said that there were more than 25 municipalities in the Western Cape, and asked if it would be more appropriate to do public participation according to the districts.
Mr August asked if the PO would use social media to raise awareness, where they would be able to focus on a specific area. He stated that it was possible to advertise in a particular municipality.
Mr Sileku commented that some municipalities were currently engaged in Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meetings and that it might be possible to use that as a platform to begin raising awareness on the Bill. He said it was important to use local radio stations to raise awareness, but noted that there might be language issues in raising awareness. When engaging with the public, it was important to get their input in order to get their opinion on the Bill, and it was important to raise awareness first so that the public knew why they were going to the hearings.
Mr Marran agreed with the previous speakers. He referred to the processes that municipalities followed, pointing out that they were in the phase of working on their budgets for the next financial year, and asked how they would be able to slot the public hearings into the programmes of the municipalities. He suggested that they cluster municipalities that were close to each other to ease the process.
The PO official said he had made note of the suggestions made by the Members, and in regard to the IDP meetings, this option would be considered. He would hand over to his colleague to discuss radio and television advertisements.
Mr Mathys Odendal, Media Officer, Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP), said he recognised that the need was to cast a wide net for advertising because of the reach of the Bill. He suggested that on the WCPP website, a central point of information on the Bill could be created, so individuals visiting the site would be able to access the Bill and the form to make a submission. The Committee could also create an online questionnaire for the website. Once the Committee gave them the green light, a general media release would be done, and that would be accompanied by voice clips explaining the Bill and the process, which could be shared with radio stations. That would be followed by media alerts for each specific public hearing. They were trying to arrange for interviews with local radio stations to create more awareness. He suggested using paid advertisements on Facebook, as this allowed for focusing on certain target groups and would cast a very wide net. He said that the budget for Facebook advertising lay with the communications department. Previously, a Facebook advertising campaign had been done for the State of the Province Address (SOPA) that had reached over one million people and it had cost only R10 000. This was good value for money and would allow for a wide audience. He said all of these suggestions would work together, because if somebody did not have access to social media they could be reached in another way.
Mr Odendal said that on Twitter and Instagram, general posts would be made about the Bill. These would be linked to the website where all the information could be accessed. Before the public hearings in each municipality, they would be able to do another post informing people of all the details and would be able to tag the various municipalities. Municipalities normally assisted by sharing these posts in order to make sure that members of the municipality saw the post. It was also possible to create posters to be sent to the municipalities for a more on-the-ground approach.
The Chairperson thanked the officials and was happy with the ideas and suggestions that had been made. She said that it might also be beneficial to allow for email and Whatsapp submissions.
Mr Odendal agreed that this would be possible.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Odendaal and redirected her focus toward the issue of newspapers. The Committee needed to identify the newspapers in which they would advertise the Bill. She suggested targeting local newspapers, and asked for his assistance in identifying local newspapers and radio stations.
Mr Odendaal said that they would be able to assist.
The Chairperson highlighted the mainstream newspapers that had been identified in the West Coast, the Cape Winelands, the Overberg, the Garden Route, the Central Karoo, and the City of Cape Town.
She said that the public hearings would occur in the following areas and groupings:
Knysna and Plettenberg Bay
Overstrand and Theewaterskloof
Prince Albert and Laingsburg
Bergrivier and Swartland
She explained that time was an important factor when considering groupings. Ideally briefings would begin at 17:00 and end at 20:00, but in some instances it was not feasible to try and transport many people from different areas efficiently.
Mr Marron asked that the information be sent to the Committee Members.
The Chairperson said she had also looked at the previous public hearings that had been held on expropriation, and noted that sometimes these meetings extended past the designated time.
The Committee Members commented that Cape Agulhas and Witzenberg were not listed.
The Chairperson noted the missing municipalities, and said she would fit them in. She added that previously not many people had attended the public hearings on expropriation, and that it was important that people were able to attend and engage.
The Chairperson said that she had created the list according to the radius of each municipality, to ensure that the distance between paired municipalities was not too far and would not hinder the public hearing due to transport times. While it would be beneficial for residents of the municipalities to attend the public hearings, there would be other ways for them to make their submissions if they could not attend. She suggested the idea of having boxes for written submissions. The boxes could be placed in areas where members of the community were likely to visit. They would try their best to make sure that every town had the opportunity to make a submission. They would likely need extra time from the national Department so that the public had sufficient time to make their submissions.
Mr August asked for clarity on the dates that the public hearings would occur. It was important to consider that winter was in the offing, and that there were many public holidays which may constrict the hearing process.
The Chairperson said that the NCOP required the negotiating mandates by 14 June, so submissions would need to have been submitted before then. They would request an extension because it was unlikely that the advertising and public hearings could be done comprehensively before then. If the extension was declined, it would be made clear to the NCOP that there had not been sufficient public engagement, and the Bill would not be able to go through.
She said the adverts had to go out first, and they were unable to provide a date for the first public hearing because they were still in the process of confirming the areas.
Mr Johan Vermeulen, Senior Committee Coordinator, agreed with the request for an extension. He said that it was important to remember that they would be left with a Catch-22 situation, because it sometimes took a while for the NCOP to respond. If the Committee wrote to the NCOP, it might take a while to receive an outcome, but the Committee would not be able to continue with the advertisements because they would not know the NCOP's decision. A lot of the Committee’s actions were dependent on how quickly the NCOP responded.
The Chairperson said the Committee would need to prioritise communication with the NCOP. She asked Adv Maasdorp how empowered the Committee was to ask for an extension, or to sacrifice some public hearings.
Mr Maasdorp replied that the nature of the Bill and the prescribed timeframe would need to be considered. It had to be considered what measures in the timeframe would be reasonable and appropriate to ensure that there would be sufficient public participation. It was unlikely that the Committee would reach every person in the province, but the assessment would be based on whether the Committee had taken reasonably sufficient steps to make sure that people had access to engage with the Bill and make submissions. The timeframe would be considered when trying to see if the Committee had made sufficient effort to engage the public. He said that it would definitely be assessed.
He said that 15 public hearings within the budget seemed efficient, but looking at the number of people that could be affected, 15 public hearings did not seem enough. He added that there was no set rule, and many things had to be considered.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Maasdorp for providing insight into the matter.
Mr Sileku said that it would be difficult to reach everyone, but having various different methods of public participation would be beneficial. He emphasised the need for written submissions, and said having many methods of public engagement would safeguard the Committee if there was contestation about public participation.
He said the Committee should create two options in terms of waiting for a response from the NCOP for an extension. If they did not get an answer in sufficient time, they should begin with the public participation rather than waiting. It was important to consider the implications of waiting for the NCOP, as it would be perceived that the Western Cape had done nothing in terms of public participation for the Bill. He commented that the NCOP needed only five provinces to deliberate on the Bill, and the NCOP might say that they would not grant an extension and did not need the Western Cape’s input.
The Chairperson asked when the advertisement process could begin, and how much time would be needed.
Mr Odendal replied that they worked with the date that the adverts went to print, and they would run concurrently on all the platforms. They needed three days from when the Committee gave the go-ahead. When the adverts were released in the newspapers, the social media posts would begin.
The PO official said that the work of creating awareness would start immediately. There would be some information that they required from the Committee. Based on the number of public hearings, there might be a limitation for pre-hearing sessions because they would need to go to all the areas. The PO was also supporting the Department of Transport with pre-hearing sessions, so it might be difficult to do pre-hearing meetings in all the designated areas.
The Chairperson said that they would begin with newspaper advertisements and social media posts the following Monday. This would allow the public three weeks to give comments.
The Chairperson highlighted the newspapers that would be utilised. These were:
Tygerberger De Grendel
The Cape Argus
Mr August asked if was not important to ensure that the newspaper selected was available or distributed in all the areas. He felt that the newspaper that had the widest reach should be chosen.
The Chairperson said that Mr Odendaal would identify the local radio stations.
She would forward any communication regarding the dates of the public hearings to the Committee.
Mr Brinkhuis asked if a member of the public would be allowed to speak to the Committee on a housing issue.
The Chairperson replied that she would not be able to deviate from the agenda, but would hear from the member of the public after the meeting.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee Members and the officials for their engagement.
The meeting was adjourned.
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