CRC report on land wasn't leaked to ANC NEC - Smith

A report summarising the written public submissions to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation was not leaked to the ANC NEC, the committee's co-chairperson Vincent Smith said on Wednesday.

The CRC met to discuss a preliminary report on the written submissions and a preliminary report on the public hearings that took place all over the country.

There were reports in the media that the ANC national executive committee had seen a report on the written submissions and wanted to reopen the process of written submissions to allow ANC branches to also make written submissions. DA MP Annelie Lotriet raised this at the start of the meeting.

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"There was no document leaked," said Smith.

"The first time the document surfaced was when you received it," he told the committee.

"Nobody received the report. There was no report made public."

A service provider was appointed to compile a report on the written submissions.

The report in question during Wednesday's meeting is based on 149 886 submissions, with 300 708 submissions still being analysed. The final report will be done by the first week of September.

Of the 149 886 submissions, 60 157 (40.14%) indicated that Section 25 of the Constitution should be reviewed, and 89 327 (59.6%) indicated that it shouldn't, with 402 (0.27%) undecided.

'It's a pure setup'

"I think you were set up by the company (that handled the report)," EFF leader Julius Malema said to Smith.

"This is a setup."

He questioned the impartiality of the service provider who compiled the report, and suggested it might have been compiled to serve a certain narrative.

"There are no neutral people in this country, particularly on this issue," he said.

"It's a pure setup."

Malema suggested that the company be called before the committee.

He and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, also questioned whether written submissions were a true reflection of the country's view, as many poor people did not have access to email to submit a report, and postage was also expensive.

"It is not true that these written submissions are a true reflection of the view of the people," Malema said.

The vast majority of speakers at the public hearings were in favour of amending the Constitution.

MPs also questioned the terms of reference for the service provider, as politicians shouldn't be involved in procurement processes.

The committee decided that the company which compiled the report would be called next Wednesday, and MPs would be provided with the terms of reference and demographic information of the company.

'Voice of the people'

Malema also took issue with the preliminary report on the public hearings, which was compiled by Parliamentary staff. He complained it "went to town" on submissions against an amendment, but was light on those in support. He said he needed to "feel" the voice of the people in the report.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach supported Malema's suggestion that MPs get access to the written submissions and recordings.

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Cope MP Deidre Carter also complained that some points, mostly against an amendment, were not contained in the report.

Smith said it should be possible to make the recordings available to MPs and that all the written submissions should also be available.

The committee was instructed by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to ascertain whether a review of Section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses was necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and propose the necessary constitutional amendments where necessary.

The instruction came after the National Assembly adopted a motion to this effect in February, which was brought by the EFF and supported by the ANC after they made an amendment to the motion.