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NCOP Greenlights Expropriation Bill Amid Provincial Dissent and Debate on Land Reform

Published March 20, 2024
2 months ago

In a landmark session, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has passed the controversial Expropriation Bill, setting the stage for significant changes in South African land ownership and property rights. The Bill, which is set to replace the outdated 1975 Expropriation Act, received substantial support with seven out of nine provinces voting in favor; the Western Cape province cast the lone dissenting vote while the North West did not submit a final mandate.

The Expropriation Bill's intention is to provide for the expropriation of land and property for public purposes or in the public interest, reflecting the transformational objectives of a democratic South Africa. The ANC's Mandla Rayi heralded the Bill, emphasizing its alignment with the constitution and its role in facilitating the development and equitable distribution of land to provinces.

In contrast, the Western Cape's stance, articulated by DA delegate Cathlene Labuschagne, has been markedly critical. Labuschagne accused the ANC of broadening state control over property to compensate for its missteps in land restitution, alleging corruption and incompetence in addressing land claims and redistribution targets.

The discourse also touched on the broader issues of land reform and food security within the country. President Cyril Ramaphosa, addressing the National Assembly, acknowledged both progress and challenges in the land reform initiatives, noting a current achievement of 25% against the targeted 30% land restoration to Black ownership by 2023.

The President drew on the insights of economist Wandile Sehlobo to assert that, at the current pace, the land reform goals could be surpassed by 2030. This response was part of his answer to concerns about maintaining food security amidst the ongoing land reform program.

Having cleared the NCOP, the Expropriation Bill is now on its way to President Ramaphosa's desk for final ratification. The President's assent will not only codify the Bill into law but will also mark an evolution in the government's approach to tackling the legacy of land dispossession that has long shadowed South African society.

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