Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Draft Bill 2017

Call for comments opened 17 March 2017 Share this page:

Submissions are now closed (since 13 June 2017)

Rural Development and Land Reform

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reforms has published the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill 2017 and the Explanatory Memorandum and is asking you to comment.

The Bill seeks to:
▪ establish the Land Commission;
▪ provide for the composition, appointment, qualification and remuneration of members of the Land Commission;
▪ provide for the functions and powers of the Land Commission;
▪ provide for the delegation of powers by the Minister and the Land Commission;
▪ provide for the establishment and maintenance of a register of public and private agricultural land holdings;
▪ provide for the declaration of present ownership and acquisition of private agricultural land;
▪ provide for the submission of information on public agricultural land;
▪ provide for prohibition on the acquisition of agricultural land by a foreign person;
▪ provide for and regulation of lease by foreign persons;
▪ provide for the determination of ceilings in respect of agricultural land;
▪ provide for redistribution agricultural land;
▪ provide for investigations by the Land Commission;
▪ provide for the appointment and responsibilities of the chief operations officer;
▪ provide for funds for the Land Commission;
▪ provide for auditing of the financial statements and records of the Land Commission;
▪ provide for a certificate to be received as evidence;
▪ provide for searches;
▪ provide for manuals and guidelines;
▪ limit the liability of the Land Commission and its employees in respect of acts done in good faith under this Act;
▪ provide for the exemption from liability;
▪ provide for the forfeiture of unlawfully acquired land;
▪ provide for offences and penalties;
▪ provide for regulations.

Comments can be emailed to Adv Sello Ramasala at or by no later than Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

In order to improve the national land reform programme and achieve the vision of integrated and inclusive rural areas by 2030, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) has proposed policies to address matters of tenure reform and land administration that were not adequately addressed after the establishment of democratic institutions of governance in 1994.
The complexity of multiple tenure regimes as a result of a history of settler and imperial colonialism, dispossession and social engineering was acknowledged in the 1997 White Paper on Land Reform which proposed a further Green Paper on Tenure Reform. Currently, whenever the State expresses a land need for its service delivery objectives, it is often reminded that it has a large property portfolio that it should start with. The true extent of this portfolio and its development potential remains debatable. There is therefore a need for an accurate record of all public agricultural land, constant research and analysis on the development potential of the public property portfolio so that assets that are in danger of degradation and total destruction can be timeously identified for corrective action. The current land tenure system can be traced back to the wars of colonial dispossession, which was entrenched through the heretic system of apartheid; and, legitimized through laws such as the Natives Land Act of 1913; the Native Administration Act of 1927, the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936; the Group Areas Act of 1950; the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959; the Bantu Authority Act of 1951; and, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970.The aim of the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill is to reverse the legacy of colonialism and apartheid; and, to ensure a “just and equitable” distribution of agricultural land to Africans. Furthermore, the decade from 1997 to 2007 was characterised by significant shifts in ownership and land use including increasing acquisition of agricultural properties by foreign nationals in certain regions. However, the nature, extent, trends and impact of land acquisition, land use and investment in the country’s land by foreign persons remains unknown as no comprehensive database exists to develop an understanding of such. Related to this is the absence of reliable information regarding the extent of agricultural land holdings owned by South Africans in terms of race and gender as well as the use and size of the land in question. Thus, the core intervention introduced by the proposed Bill is the creation of a Land Commission which 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).