COSATU welcomes Parliament’s adoption of the long-awaited Expropriation Bill

19 March 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Parliament’s adoption of the long-awaited Expropriation Bill.   The Federation supports the Expropriation Bill as a necessary legislative overhaul of the existing 1975 Expropriation Act drafted during the darkest days of apartheid and which naturally does not reflect the progressive values and transformation mandate of the democratic Constitution of 1996.

The eventual passage into law of the Bill will mark an historic victory for the working class, the dispossessed and the downtrodden.  It will be a welcome step towards to honouring the African National Congress’ 2019 elections manifesto commitment to accelerate government’s efforts to ensure all South Africans have equal access to land, water and other natural resources.

The Expropriation Bill will be a key tool to capacitate government to accelerate land reform. The essence of this Bill is that government may use expropriation, including where relevant with full, partial or nil compensation; to support land reform, address the legacies of apartheid and the inequalities that still scar South Africa’s socio-economic landscape.

This is critical as South Africa remains one of the world’s most unequal nations. We have not managed collectively as a nation to overcome the legacies of colonialism and apartheid in many aspects. Land ownership remains overwhelmingly skewed towards white men.  Millions of largely African, Coloured and women South Africans remain landless.  This condemns millions to living in informal areas and backyard dwellings in our cities and towns. It denies millions of rural residents, farm workers and labour tenants their rightful opportunities to till and own land, and to contribute towards food security and reducing unemployment.

The Bill will help end the days of land reform and a cash strapped state being held to ransom by exorbitant compensations demands and remove the need to compensate unjust colonial and apartheid expropriations.

It importantly protects the rights of ordinary workers and South Africans from potential abuses by corrupt elements in the state. The Bill states clearly how expropriation processes must be managed and when nil or partial compensation may be utilised.  Legal recourse is provided for all parties. The Bill is progressive and in line with the Constitution and international norms. It provides a just and equitable balance and ensures the needs of workers and ordinary citizens are respected. 

COSATU urges the President to assent to this fair, rationale and pragmatic Bill.  We should not be swayed by opposition to the Bill from hysterical fringe right wing elements who stoked sensationalism on a matter requiring sobriety.  COSATU supports this long overdue Bill.  

Issued by COSATU 

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator 
Cell: 082 785 0687