Address by Mr ML Filtane MP in Parliament
Honourable Speaker and members
Chapter 2, section 9 and subsection 3 of the Constitution provides, “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race…”.
Most relevant to the debate this afternoon is section 25 of the constitution. Subsection 7 provides, “A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to restitution of that property or to equitable redress”.
I may as well, and of importance, refer to subsection 8 which provides, “No provision of this section may impede the state from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reforms, in order to redress the results of past racial discrimination, provided that any departure from provisions of this section is in accordance with the provisions of section 36(1)”.
The balance of the bill currently debated, seems to lean more towards the provisions of section 25 (7) to an extent that it may, by default, border on not satisfying the provisions of section 9 (3) read together with section 25 (8). This being the case, we argue that the bill requires to be balanced such that it does not exclude such people whose property was dispossessed before the set date. This may be contrary to the provisions of section 9 (2).
In any event, as it may be, a substantial amount of property was dispossessed before 19th of June 1913 and the bill will exclude such. . It should be remembered though, that the dispossession of properly was already moving towards the 3rd century of its existence. Many wars of resistance were fought to resist this cruelty.
It is our submission that for our eye to be able to serve justice and achieve the objectives of this bill, it must be stretched to the point of beginning.
By accepting the bill as it is, government would unintentionally and unavoidably exclude all ownership of unregistered rights prior 1913 and also permanently protect the registered ownership rights prior 1913 from this bill. One would never be able to expropriate the latter properties. This consequence is diametrically opposed to the very purpose of this bill, which is to address land reform needs and speed socio-economic transformation.
The second important matter, is that there has been no report confirming the state’s financial viability to be able to buy out the intended expropriates, in accordance with Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). One only needs to look at the extremely slow pace of current Land Restitution process under the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development. So passing the bill will be tantamount to an exercise in futility.
Thirdly, whereas the state would have authority to immediately take possession of property in the case of Urgent Expropriation, on the other hand, an expropriatee under normal circumstances, who may have an urgent need to vacate the property, and thus avoid further maintenance expenses, has to give the state a notice of no less than 20 days to vacate the property. This treatment of an expropriatee is out of balance with that of government faced with similar circumstances. This is a form of unjust treatment by government. Our Bill of Rights is against this imbalance.
Accordingly, the UDM does not support the Bill in its current form and suggests that it be reconsidered to, take care of the issues raised above. In fact, the issue of land should be high in the agenda of the
Economic Transformation Indaba we proposed during the debate on SONA.