Tag Archive | Rural Development and Land Reform

Land Holdings Bill joins state acquisition trend

Any new land holdings by foreigners to be excluded…

bbc logoThe BBC on their website quotes Minister Gugile Nkwinti of Rural Development and Land Reform (RDRL) as stating that a Land Holdings Bill “would be introduced to the South African Parliament by 2019″ which would, quoting the Minister further, restrict to locals the purchase of new land in terms of South African law.

In the light of the ministry involved and its mandate, this is likely to mean “productive” or agricultural land.

On their website and under the heading “SA to fast-track bill to block land sales to foreigners”, the BBC further reported that according to Minster Nkwinti this “would not mean annexing of current properties as this would be unconstitutional”.

Too much owned by foreigners

A weaker rand and lenient property laws had contributed to the South African decision, said the BBC, and further quoted the Minister as stating that “7% of land in SA was currently owned by foreigners.”  Minister Nkwinti has since said it might be less than 5%.

A “foreigner”, said the BBC,  is as per “the definition used by the South African Department of Home Affairs”.

Gugile_NkwintiLocally, Minister Nkwinti has said that Bill is to be tabled urgently in Parliament but that he had “no problem with the Bill being processed in the financial year ending 2016”. It is important to realize, he said, that the Bill will apply to agricultural land ownership only, or what is termed “productive land”.

Other Bills in process on expropriation

When the first outcry against the Bill was heard in South Africa, the BBC continued, it was soon confirmed by the RDRL department that residential property was not being targeted. Most of the argument against the Bill has been on constitutional issues, backed by a fear that this is the “thin edge of the wedge” in terms of investment certainty, the BBC concluded.

The reason for the Bill, Minister Nkwinti also said during a local media briefing in the parliamentary precinct, was to “address land reform and food security in South Africa.” The property referred to was that which exceeded a 12 000 hectare ceiling and the minister added that “on the basis of a just and equitable principle we shall pay for any land.”

A separate Bill is now to be enabled whereby a state valuator post is established to evaluate whether a stated market price is fair or not and to process such acquisitions. How independent this valuator will be from state pressure is not clear.

This is all in tandem with an Expropriation Bill, stated as being more designed to meet state infrastructure requirement needs, the acquisition of land for state electricity transmission grids being quoted by Deputycronin  Minister Jeremy Cronin, who briefed Parliament on the Bill, as an example. However the Bill is unclear on the use of the words “in the public interest” and what constitutes  “property” in terms of the tabled Bill.

Also out for comment at present is a Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill tabled by the Minister of Trade and Industry which deals with the subject of foreign based investment in South Africa and the “protection” of local industry and local manufacturing.

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