Extra constitutional time needed to draft land use bill

Muduzi Shabane, director general, department of rural development and land reform (DRDLR), told parliamentarians that there were so many challenges surrounding the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill that there was not sufficient time left to process the Bill in order to meet the Constitutional Court deadline of 17 June.

The Bill was therefore not proceeded with.

Once again the problems related to the apartheid era on the land issue and the fact that this had left a legacy of challenges around land use and planning, causing distortions brought about by separate development policies and Group Areas Act, were explained by DRDLR when briefing the relevant portfolio committee on the long delayed Bill.

Accompanied by Dr Nozizwe Makgalemele, deputy director general, DRDLR, Shabane said it had been known since independence that the legislation clearly had to be repealed but in June 2010 the Constitutional Court had ruled certain provisions of the anchor act and legislation on land use as it stood to be unconstitutional and invalid.

A decision had been taken to repeal that legislation and to replace it with the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, but it was now clear that the Bill could not be passed before the deadline and the Constitutional Court was being asked to extend the deadline for a further two years.

Questions arose from parliamentarians regarding the ability of smaller municipalities to manage the processes envisaged by the new Bill; what would happen in the case of conflict between the spheres of government; whether argument on the separation of powers would arise on what government wanted and what Parliament would accept and whether DRDLR realized that a two year delay would possibly cause more confusion, argument and insecurity.

These were indeed some of the questions being wrestled with, said the departmental representatives, and called for the right amount of time for further debate, consultation with legal experts, particularly on constitutional issues, and regain consensus thinking.

The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, DRDLR said, had been an attempt to bring about repeal on some of the issues that were causing blockages but it was impossible to debate these fully and hold public hearings across the country on the basis of the present document in the time allowed.

“ The matter was not going to go away”, Shabane told parliamentarians. The Bill will probably have to be re-introduced.


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