ANC irked by anti-constitutional amendment submissions to EWC panel

CAPE TOWN — Nothing wrong with taking a breath, the depth of which is in direct proportion to the importance of the decision to be made. That’s exactly what the parliamentary panel probing constitutional amendments to ease expropriation of land without compensation has done. Given that it’s considering nearly half a million written submissions most of which reportedly favour leaving the constitution unchanged, it’s hardly surprising, with the added bonus to the ANC of probably leaving the divisive question unanswered by law-makers until after next year’s elections. The consulting company that came up with the submission percentages in favour of and against, is unsurprisingly, not in the ANC’s good books. Perhaps they’ll cast around until they find one that can craft the data to their needs. What’s missing is a good explanation by the ruling party of why they’re questioning the figures – and the competency of the consulting company. – Chris Bateman

By Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) – A South African parliamentary panel will seek an extension to a Sept. 28 deadline to present its findings on possible constitutional amendments to ease expropriation of land without compensation, boosting the odds that the legislature won’t decide on the matter before next year’s elections.

The committee needs more time to consider public submissions on a possible policy shift and will discuss a new deadline for submitting its report to the National Assembly with Speaker Baleka Mbete, its co-chairman, Lewis Nzimande, said Thursday at a hearing in Cape Town.

Houses of Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa.

The ruling African National Congress decided in December that constitutional amendments are necessary to address racially skewed land-ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule, and told the parliamentary committee to see how the law could be changed. The potential erosion of property rights and fears of a Zimbabwe-style land grab has added to negative sentiment toward emerging markets and compounded a sell-off in the rand.

The committee received 449,522 valid written submissions and 65 percent of respondents favoured leaving the constitution unchanged, while 34 percent wanted it amended, an analysis conducted by recruitment company Silumko Consulting shows.

Lawmakers rejected the findings and questioned how parliament selected the company to collate the data and whether its staff is capable of doing a proper job. The panel has yet to decide how the submissions will now be evaluated.