South Africans will have to wait another two months before they know whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for land to be expropriated without compensation.
The Joint Constitutional Review Committee has requested more time to process all the inputs and expects to be ready with a final report only in November. The committee was due to report to Parliament on Friday.
This is the committee's second postponement on the controversial issue whose process involved hundreds of people participating in public hearings and thousands of written submissions delivered to Parliament. The initial deadline had been August 30.
Chairperson of the committee Lewis Nzimande said in a statement on Thursday that the committee had requested a postponement after considering the volume of public inputs received on the matter and realising that it would not be able to meet the Friday deadline for the report, as set by Parliament.
"We have therefore already made a request to the presiding officers for an extension of the deadline, stating our reasons. We expect the request to be successful," Nzimande said.
"In its request for a postponement the committee did not request a specific date, keeping in mind the busy parliamentary calendar in the fourth quarter of the year. All committees of Parliament will be concerned with budget review and recommendations reports (BRRRs) until the end of October, which will receive preference. The committee thus had to take this into consideration.
"It is, therefore, expected that the committee will finalise its work by November 2018," said Nzimande.
Next week the committee will listen to further oral submissions on the matter, as decided by its meeting last week.
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 is necessary to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and also to propose constitutional amendments where necessary.
MPs must then present a report to Parliament, which will now be at the end of November. If the Constitutional Review Committee recommends that the Constitution be amended, and Parliament adopts the recommendation, then another committee, probably the Portfolio Committee on Justice, will be tasked with drafting the amendment to the Constitution.
President Cyril Ramaphosa hinted earlier this week that next year's general election would be held before the end of May. It is unlikely that this process will be concluded by then.