As a fairly new democratic country, South Africa is, in many ways, still suffering from the consequences of the unforgivable apartheid era. Inequality is still rampant in our country, and despite being elected by the people, our Government still has a long way to go when it comes to serving those who voted for them.
Along with adequate service delivery, equal education and housing, the redistribution of land remains a contentious issue in South Africa. So in an attempt to reverse the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, the Government has published a Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, which, according to its memorandum, seeks to ensure just and equitable distribution of agricultural land to Africans. Furthermore, it will implement a register of land ownership that will punish those who have acquired land illegally and block foreign ownership.
A focal point in the Bill is the establishment of a so-called Land Commission that “shall serve as the principle structure to oversee the collection and dissemination of all information regarding public agricultural land (agricultural land vested in the national and provincial governments, in a public entity, in a municipality and in a municipal entity), and private agricultural land (land owned by South Africans, and that held by foreign persons)”.
Current agricultural land owners (foreigners and locals alike) will be required to submit documents to the Commission detailing specifics about their plots, which includes the race, gender and nationality of the owner and the size and use of the agricultural land, within 12 months of the Bill’s commencement date.
The Commission will then take this information and compare it yet-to-be determined “ceilings” or limits of ownership. If anyone possesses land that exceeds these parameters, they will legally have to forfeit the grounds, which will be considered, rather clumsily, as “Redistribution Agricultural Land”.
This surplus property will then have to be offered to Black South Africans at a specific price set by the original owner and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. If an amount cannot be agreed upon, the Government will be allowed to expropriate the land.
The Bill is still in draft form and the deadline for public comments was 16 April 2017.
For more articles about transformation in South Africa, read more about Gender Inequality in the Law.