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In the news 2013

Contentious property bill heads for public comment

Wyndham Hartley | www.bdlive.co.za | 15 March 2013

The controversial expropriation bill is back on the table following the Cabinet's approval of a rewritten bill, which it is to publish for public comment with the assurance that the unconstitutional clauses had been addressed.

The earlier version of the bill in 2008 drew howls of protest that it offended the constitution in removing from the courts the power to adjudicate fair compensation for property expropriated by the state.

Acting chief government spokeswoman Phumla Williams told a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, "Cabinet approved the release of the expropriation bill for public comment.

"The bill will repeal the Expropriation Act of 1975. The review of the Expropriation Act of 1975 became necessary to ensure consistency with the spirit and provisions of the constitution.

"The draft expropriation bill thereby seeks to achieve certainty and give guidance to those involved in or subject to an expropriation process, both for the state as well as a private individual," Ms Williams said.

The contents of the new bill are unclear, but the Department of Public Works gave the undertaking that it would soon be posted on its website.

In response to a question about the problems with the previous draft, Ms Williams said the problem areas had been addressed.

The 2008 bill sought to expand the grounds for expropriation from "a public purpose" to "in the public interest".

The bill also suggested the removal of the courts from the adjudication of fair compensation and placed this authority in the hands of officials.

It also provided for the expropriation of moveable property as well as immovable property.

The public works minister at the time, Geoff Doidge, eventually bowed to pressure and withdrew the bill after public hearings in Parliament. During those hearings there were warnings of the damage the bill could do to the property market and to potential investment in South Africa.

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