Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu says her department will be the first to use a constitutional amendment that will enable the expropriation of land without compensation, starting with state-owned land in Cape Town.
During a media briefing in Parliament ahead of her portfolio’s budget vote debate, Sisulu said her department intended to punt a clause in proposed draft legislation that said all public land identified for expropriation in cities would be used for housing purposes.
This after President Cyril Ramaphosa in his February State of the Nation Address said the government had earmarked state-owned “land parcels” for redistribution.
“We need to own and utilise public land for the purpose that we want to scale,” said Sisulu on Tuesday.
“With the new draft legislation for land expropriation in the pipeline, we will make sure that we are the first takers in the queue for expropriated land.
“In short, we will be the first expropriators as soon as legislation is passed.”
These state-owned land parcels could include land owned by entities like Eskom and Transnet, or land used by the military and other government entities.
News24 previously reported that the ad hoc committee to amend section 25 of the Constitution, recommended that section 25 should be amended to allow expropriation of land without compensation, which would be finalised during the current term of Parliament.
“We will not be in charge of the legislation, [the department of] public works will still be in charge of the legislation,” Sisulu continued.
“However, when legislation is put out there for comment we will be able to include our comments … and when that is done, our challenge will be Cape Town.
“Our target will be Cape Town, we have a lot of urban land here that is very suitable for human settlements.”
Sisulu said her priorities for her department this year would be to reverse entrenched spacial patterns, provide free housing to the indigent and support for low-income groups as well as ensuring that new housing developments were close to cities.
It would do this by owning and utilising public land for those purposes through the new legislation, as well as ensuring housing finances were available through the touted Human Settlements Development Bank.
Sisulu, speaking at the budget vote for her department a few hours later on Tuesday in the National Assembly, repeated her plans for expropriation.
“I’m glad Parliament has finally gotten to this point where we are able to expropriate land and I’d like to be the first taker,” she said.
“The draft legislation determines that no land will be expropriated for any other reason other than public interest. I cannot see that there is any greater public interest than what we represent in human settlements.
“In 2009, the Housing Development Agency [HDA] signed an agreement of alienation of ownership with the provincial government of the Western Cape to transfer land that belonged to them to the HDA, so that human settlements could be created for the people in the province.”
Then-DA premier Helen Zille reversed the legal agreement upon taking control of the province in 2009, saying the then-ANC government’s plan was “illegal and unconstitutional”.
“I am giving notice today that we will expropriate that land that had been given to us in 2009 and make sure it is given back to the HDA,” said Sisulu on Tuesday.