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Haste over land rights bill not just in aid of buying votes

Author: Aninka Claassens

AMONG the slew of “priority” laws hastily adopted at the final sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill. This is an exact replay of what happened in 2004, when the contentious Communal Land Rights Act was unceremoniously rammed through Parliament just as it closed for a national election.

The legislative process for the Communal Land Rights Act was so obviously flawed that it was struck down in its entirety by the Constitutional Court in 2010. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has tried to avoid the same thing happening to the restitution bill by paying lip service to consultation. But the unduly rushed legislative process may still fall short of the standards required by the constitution. There was insufficient time for the NCOP to take the outcome of the public hearings it did host into account in its consideration of a new five-year window for restitution claims.


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