Minister could fall victim to own land cap rules | Fin24
 
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Minister could fall victim to own land cap rules

Feb 20 2015 14:02
Donwald Pressly

Cape Town - The ruling ANC’s initiatives to cap farm land ownership could land even the minister in charge of land restitution and reform in hot water.

Minister of Rural Development and Land Gugile Nkwinti owns three farms registered with the Cape Town deeds office. Collectively, they fall significantly below the suggested land cap of 12 000 hectares – but breaks the proposed rule that any owner cannot own more than two farms.

Anthea Jeffery, the South African Institute of Race Relations researcher, pointed out that the proposed cap on two farms could turn out to be more problematic than the 12 000 hectare cap “because some farming operations take place on … scattered land (slices)”.

According to information gleaned from the WinDeed Spider Report, Gugile Ernest Nkwinti, 66, owns three farms in Albany Road in the Dias district municipality in the Eastern Cape in addition to land at the prestigious Kenton-on-Sea coastal resort town. He bought the latter for R250 000 in 1995 – a 1 277 square metre property.

The first farm is Radway Green which is 5.7 hectares which he bought in 2005 for R375 000. The second farm, Melrose, is listed as just 3.1 hectares. He bought it for R45 000 in 2001. The third farm is known only as “Farm 454” of the Dias district, which Nkwinti purchased for R1 057 000 in 2011. It carries a bond of R1 500 000 with First Rand Bank Ltd.

In terms of the proposed legislation, the three farms would present a problem for Nkwinti. When a departmental spokesperson, Linda Page, was approached for comment, she asked that the minister could be asked at a media briefing at Parliament on Tuesday about the matter.

After President Jacob Zuma gave notice of the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill in his State of the Nation address on February 12, the presidency explained that foreign nationals could only be entitled to long term leasing of land with a minimum of 30 years – and would not be allowed to buy land in South Africa.

The bill would also regulate the amount of land that any individual could own, the limit being 12 000 hectares – this was the equivalent of about two farms.

However, it has emerged subsequently that a two-farm cap would also apply in terms of the legislation which must still be tabled in parliament and go through the normal process of passage through both houses.

It must in advance of that be sent to the cabinet for approval and go through a process of publication consultation. Then it will be put to parliament before being assented to by the president – so it could be over a year before the legislation is passed.

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