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Land expropriation Bill 'matter of urgency'

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The government wants the Expropriation Bill to be expedited by Parliament as the legislation will unlock the country's growth potential and lead to the speedy expropriation of land for the multi-trillion-rand infrastructure programme.

However, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi warned yesterday that the approval of the bill was in the hands of Parliament, and everything would be done in line with the rules of the national legislature and the country's laws.

The tabling of the bill in Parliament last week comes after it was first withdrawn by then public works minister Thoko Didiza in 2008 following concerns about its constitutionality.

Nxesi, who was part of the social protection and human development cluster briefing yesterday, said the legislation was needed to free up large pieces of land to fast-track the government's infrastructure programme.

The bill calls for the expropriation of land for a public purpose or in the public interest. It allows the courts to determine the amount of compensation for the owners of expropriated land.

The government has invested more than R1 trillion in infrastructure in the past five years and plans to invest R4 trillion in the next 15 years.

Nxesi said the Expropriation Bill must be implemented in tandem with the Infrastructure Development Act, which was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma last June.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel tabled the Infrastructure Development Bill in October 2013 and it was adopted by Parliament before the elections in May.

Zuma signed it into law only a month later, when he assumed his second term of office. The bill aligns all infrastructure projects in the country across the three spheres of government.

The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee oversees all the infrastructure projects in the country.

Nxesi said the Expropriation Bill would speedily transform the nation. "The Expropriation Bill is an urgent matter because the government has embarked on a huge infrastructure project."

He said the bill had been taken to the National Economic Development and Labour Council, where it received support from all social partners.

He described this as a major milestone.

The Star

Author: IOL

Submitted 16 Feb 15 / Views 1892