New land ownership laws and policies planned for South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet has approved a number of new policies which aim to further regulate property and land in South Africa.

Chief amongst these is the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill which aims to provide for a ‘fair and balanced approach in the use of agricultural land’ in the country.

“The bill proactively protects agricultural land for food production through the establishment of Protected Agricultural Areas in which high potential agricultural land will be delineated for agricultural purposes and low potential agricultural land will be permitted for non-agricultural uses.

“The implementation of the bill addresses the threat to national and household food security,” cabinet said.

Cabinet also approved policies on land allocation and land donations.

Land donations

Cabinet said that the new policy aims to accelerate land donations as one of the ways to respond to the slow pace of land reform.

“The implementation of the policy will create meaningful opportunities for citizens in peri-urban and rural areas to participate in the economy. It puts in place incentives and guides land donations by owners of large tracts of land.

“The incentives come with prescribed empowerment responsibilities on the part of big institutional landholders that will donate land,” it said.

In February, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform published a land donations policy document, allowing groups to donate property to speed up the land reform process.

The document states that donations should be expedited from large institutional landowners. This includes agri-business, mining companies, financial institutions, churches and other groups.

“Specific procedures should be established to respond to offers of donations so that the department becomes responsible and expedites acquisition and transfer of the donated land,” the policy states.

“The state will also undertake an assessment of all state and public land that is suitable and available for distribution (donation) to the prioritised beneficiaries for agricultural and secondary agricultural production, residential and human settlement, commonage and industrial development.”

The policy accounts for donors who have preselected beneficiaries and land which will simply be given to the government to redistribute.

In cases where there are no identified beneficiaries, the farm dwellers, labour tenants, small families and cooperative farmers, the landless in informal settlements, women, youth, and persons with disabilities will be prioritised, the policy states.

Land allocation

Cabinet also approved a new land allocation policy, which provides for a ‘fair, credible and transparent process for beneficiary selection and land allocation in South Africa’.

The policy incorporates comments received during its publication earlier in the year and sets out to address, amongst others, gender inequality in land ownership.

“It prioritises the allocation of land ownership to women, thereby promoting the advancement of women in this regard. It also seeks to address the diverse land needs as expressed by communities for agricultural production, human settlements, commonage, residential and industrial development.

“The policy proposes the creation of an independent structure to process the land allocations and provides for an online application system to ensure full transparency to the allocation of the land,” cabinet said.

Read: Questions raised around South Africa’s land expropriation and international investors

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New land ownership laws and policies planned for South Africa