Legislation: Agricultural Land Bill to be tabled this year?

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Legislation: Agricultural Land Bill to be tabled this year?

The controversial Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the financial year, according to Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Delivering her 2018/19 budget vote speech last week in the National Assembly, the Minister said that – once in force and implemented in conjunction with the 2014 Property Valuation Act – the proposed new piece of legislation is expected to ‘give impetus’ to interventions informed by the ‘principle of just and equitable compensation’ in section 25 of the Constitution (property), reports Pam Saxby for Legalbrief Policy Watch.

Nkoana-Mashabane chose not to refer to sub-section 25(3), which lists some of the circumstances relevant to property expropriation in the public interest, including its current use and market value. This notwithstanding, she described the role of Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee recently tasked with reviewing section 25 as considering ‘possible’ amendments to provide for expropriation of land without compensation. It remains to be seen whether this points to a more circumspect ruling party approach to the issue. Meanwhile, interested and affected parties have an additional two weeks to submit their views, as Legalbrief Today has already reported.

draft Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill released over a year ago for comment among other things provided for the introduction of category and district-specific caps on the amount of land any individual may own. At the time, it was envisaged that the proposed new statute would: make it mandatory for affected land holders to identify portions of their property for redistribution; and restrict the ownership of agricultural land by foreign nationals to leasehold of between 30 and 50 years, unless ‘a black person as defined in the Employment Equity Act’ should hold a ‘controlling interest’.

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