Government finally explains how it plans to take land in South Africa

Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti has set out what to expect from the incoming land reform bill, and criticized recent comments by the ANC, saying that the country needs clarity on the ruling party’s current stance on land.

Speaking at a parliamentary media briefing on Tuesday, 28 March, Nkwinti noted that the ANC was still guided by the provisions in the Constitution and that this would inform the new land reform bill, as prescribed by the current agricultural land holdings bill.

“The Bill introduces a Land Commission because people who own land in South Africa must register with that Land Commission … so that we know who owns South Africa so that we can use that as a measure to determine the extent to which land is being redistributed in the country,” said Nkwinti.

Speaking specifically on President Jacob Zuma’s recent comments on “expropriation without compensation”, Nkwinti said that the comments reflected “aspirational ideas”, for the purposes of debate and would not form the basis of the new bill.

He noted that party would still debate the idea at its upcoming June conference but that the idea did not form part of the ANC’s current policy.

The new bill – key points

  • The department of rural development and land reform bill was officially published for public comment on 17 March, with private citizens given until 17 April before it is officially introduced to parliament.
  • The key purpose of the bill will be to establish a new land commission to address current transformation targets and redress the socio-economic injustices of the past.
  • The Land Commission would also be able to assist the state to determine the true extent of land ownership in the country, said Nkwinti. To aid in this auditing, there will need to be full disclosures in respect of the present ownership of private agricultural landholdings, including the race, gender and nationality of the owner, the use and size of the agricultural land holding and any real right registered against and licence allocated to the agricultural land holding.
  • To aid the Commission in its determinations of land, the bill will divide all qualifying commercially viable land land into three broad categories, namely small, medium and large-scale. This determination of categories will be performed by the minister and published in the Government Gazette at a later date.
  • It will then aid in the transfer of agricultural land, in line with the Constitution while also seeking to limit the amount of agricultural land any individual owner can hold beyond a certain threshold.
  • Those who own commercial land outside of the designated thresholds will then be compensated for the outstanding property using a just and equitable calculation.
  • The remaining portions will be transferred back to the State, or converted into a lease agreement.
  • Government has the first right of refusal by the state in respect of redistribution agricultural land.

Read: Special unit created as Pretoria land grabs spiral out of control: report

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