‘EWC constitutional amendment a ‘death knell’ for SA economy’

Omri van Zyl, executive director of Agri SA.

Yesterday’s vote in Parliament to amend Section 25 of the Constitution and allow for land expropriation without compensation (EWC) has sounded a death knell for South Africa’s economy, according to members of the agricultural industry.

In response to the vote – opposed by numerous political opposition parties, including COPE and the DA – Agri SA said it remained committed to pursuing “all credible avenues” to protect the interests of farmers, including taking the battle to court.

“Yesterday’s decision by parliament is not the final step in the process, and there is time and there are legal remedies remaining to halt an amendment,” said Agri SA executive director, Omri Van Zyl.

CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), Dr John Purchase, also weighed in, highlighting that the chamber had consistently maintained that it was not necessary to amend the Constitution to effect land reform in South Africa.

“This amendment to the Constitution will impact negatively on much-needed investment and harm the economy,” he said.

The report was adopted by Parliament yesterday after 209 MPs voted in favour, while 91 voted against.

Stan Maila, co-chairperson for the Joint Constitutional Review Committee, adopted the Bill and referred it to the National Assembly earlier this month. He said while the process was not a referendum, it was noted that 65% of the written submissions were in opposition of the amendment.

He added however that in light of the process not being a referendum, the number of people against the amendment of the Constitution was “not relevant”.

Depending on the resolution from the House on Thursday, the report could be forwarded to either a Portfolio Committee or an ad hoc committee, which will convene to determine the programme going forward.

“We are at a critical juncture in our history with regard to the land question and we urgently have to deal with the aspirations as well as the fears of all South Africans regarding this sensitive matter,” said Dan Kriek, Agri SA president. “A line has been drawn in the sand and Agri SA will do everything in its power to protect the interests of producers.”

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