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DA raises red flag on land reform draft bill

Apr 13 2017 17:54
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The agricultural land reform draft bill could possibly limit land ownership and impact job creation and investment, said the DA.

A statement issued by the political party labelled the current version of the Bill issued by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) “blunt and inaccurate”. The DA further encouraged members of the public to submit comment for the Bill before the new deadline of May 17.

“It seeks to introduce ironclad limitations on agricultural land ownership at a time where food security and foreign direct investment are increasingly fragile,” said the DA. The political party added that if the current version of the Bill was passed then it would have “adverse effects” on job creation, investment and “successful” land reform.

“While the need for land reform is undeniable, it is imperative that land reform be accelerated in a responsible manner, and with due consideration for Constitutional rights and investor confidence,” said the DA.

However despite the DA’s concerns about employment, according to aims outlined in the gazette, land redistribution should be achieved to support and promote “productive employment” and promote food security, among other things.

READ: What prevents expropriation without compensation in SA?

The Bill’s memorandum highlights aims to address matters of reform and land administration which were not “adequately” addressed previously.

“The current land tenure system can be traced back to the wars of colonial dispossession, which was entrenched through the heretic system of apartheid,” according to the Bill. As a result the proposed Bill seeks to “reverse the legacy” of colonialism and apartheid.

The DRDLR points out that shifts in land ownership between 1997 and 2007, particularly by foreign nationals, had not been tracked. “No comprehensive database exists to develop an understanding of such,” said the Bill. There is also no “reliable” information on land ownership by South Africans in terms of their race and gender and the use and size of land.

A Land Commission has been proposed to track information regarding private and public agricultural land. This information will enable the State to “effectively deliberate” on matters related to land, the Bill suggested.

It seeks to also provide a “transparent and more conducive” regulatory framework to deal with policies related to agricultural land ownership and use. This will also help the State monitor compliance with the Constitution in its task to redress past racial discrimination.

The Bill also unpacks how the Land Commission will operate, disclosures of private land, and redistribution of land. 

READ: Lindiwe Zulu: Land reform should not scare off investors

At a business forum held on Wednesday, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu explained that land reform was part of government’s plan for radical economic transformation. She said that it should not deter investors.

Zulu explained that radical economic transformation would address stability in the country. “It must not scare (off) investors, or (make them) think their investment is not safe. Their investment in South Africa is always safe.”

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

lindiwe zulu  |  da  |  sa economy  |  land reform  |  agriculture
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