New approach to land reform

Playing fields altered in land reform legislation….

Gugile_NkwintiIn a newly proposed Bill on property valuation, the government’s new policy in respect of rural development and land reform department is more clearly expressed with the proposal of an office of a Valuer-General.  Public comment on the Bill is called for.

It appears that the minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti, will table in Parliament a Property Valuation Bill primarily, and presumably, to establish an entity to carve through the current settlement process problems surrounding money settlement terms.

“Willing-buyer-willing-seller” not working

The new proposals, in the background rationale to the draft Bill, state that “the willing-buyer-willing-seller approach to land reform is not working at a sufficient level to achieve the desired land reform targets”. It goes on to say that government’s plan is to deliver 25 million hectares of commercial agricultural land by 2015 and so far, only 25% of this has been achieved.

The explanatory memorandum of the Bill says, “New legislation is required to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution which provide for land reform and land restitution and to facilitate land reform and land restitution through the valuation of property in order to determine the purchase price for or payment in respect of property”.

Market value to be “assigned”

The approach involves market value being assigned to specific pieces of land. The Bill says that the minister’s concern is that actual market value is not being applied in a number of land reform initiatives. Escalated prices tend to be offered. This slows down the entire land reform process and this is where the office of the Valuer-General will come in.

Objectives of the bill includes the establishment, functions and powers of the Office of the Valuer-General; the appointment and responsibilities of the Valuer-General; provision for the valuation of property that has been identified for land reform or expropriation for purposes of determining a value as well as property that has been identified for acquisition or disposal by a department, organ of state or a municipality and to provide for the repeal of the Land Affairs Act.

A review committee is to be established to deal with objections to valuations.

Further Bill backdates claims

In tandem, the minister has also published a draft Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill and both drafts give the public until 22 June 2013 to make comment.

This proposed legislation intends extending the date for lodging a claim for restitution to 18 June 2018 and backdates the period to much earlier periods in South Africa’s land restitution history apparently to accommodated some of the San tribe issues.

This bill will also introduce penalties for the fraudulent lodging of claims.

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