South African Panel Seeks More Time to Weigh Land Policy Changes

(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.

South African Panel Seeks More Time to Weigh Land Policy Changes

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 favored 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.

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