Foreign Land Ownership Report: Department of Land Affairs briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURAL AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 October 2007
FOREIGN LAND OWNERSHIP REPORT: DEPARTMENT OF LAND AFFAIRS BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr R Mohlaloga (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Land Affairs presentation on Report of the Panel of Experts on Ownership of Land by Foreigners in SA

Relevant documents
Report and Recommendations on Land Ownership by Foreigners in South Africa [Gov Gazette No 30239] as of 14 September 2007
Speech by Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs: Ms Lulama Xingwana

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Committee met with the Chief Director of Policy Development at the Department of Land Affairs to receive his presentation on the Report of the Panel of Experts on Ownership of Land by Foreigners in South Africa.

There was a widespread perception that ownership of land by foreigners was denying access to South Africans to land in their motherland. The Cabinet in August 2004 had requested the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs to investigate the extent of the phenomenon. The Minister had appointed a committee, the Panel of Experts, supported by a technical team from the Department of Land Affairs.

The Panel of Experts had concluded that it was justified to regulate land for the purpose of land reform and housing purposes. The Panel established that a national policy on the regulation of foreign ownership of land was not incompatible with the global norm. Some form of regulation was therefore important, irrespective of the extent of ownership and use of land by foreigners.

The Panel of Experts recommended the amendment of the Deeds Registries Act of 1937 (No. 47 of 1937) and Regulation 18 to provide compulsory disclosure of information on race, nationality and gender of the parties concerned. It was important to realise that the recommendation for disclosure of race did not represent a return to old ways of thinking. It was for information purposes. Currently it was not known who owned what by race and gender. Without that information, it was not possible to measure progress in transformation by land reform.

The Panel recommended further that:
- there must be special ministerial approval for certain changes in land use and disposal of certain categories of land to foreigners;
- there should be a permanent inter-ministerial oversight committee to monitor trends in foreign ownership of land and changes in land use;
- an inter-departmental task team to drive the amendments to the Deeds Registries Act and Regulation 18 of the Act;
- the prohibition of private ownership of land by foreigners (and, in some cases, South African citizens) in certain areas on grounds of national interest, environmental considerations, and national security;
- a limited temporary moratorium on the disposal of State land to foreigners;
- the current Land Use Management Bill was well placed to achieve the rationalisation and harmonisation of land use planning and zoning laws;
- medium and long-term leases of public land as a viable mechanism for future acquisition of land by foreigners; and measures, including assets seizure, to prevent fronting.

The Department had affirmed that the issue of nationality, race and gender was important for the purpose of knowing who owned South Africa as well as for determining the extent of transformation in the ownership of land across race and gender configurations over time.

The Committee agreed that ownership of land by foreigners should be regulated, but did not agree to the extent of such regulation. Some Members (one from the ANC, three from the DA) disagreed with the Panel’s recommendation that data on race should be collected and included in the title deeds of properties, as proposed by the Panel of Experts. The view was expressed that the Panel’s first recommendation constituted the ‘re-racialisation of land ownership’ by stealth and that apartheid had started with small, piecemeal changes. Property rights were the cornerstone of a free economy. There was discussion as to whether ownership of land by foreigners was of benefit or otherwise to ordinary South Africans. Members shared their concerns about ‘fronting’, an old phenomenon, and the need to prevent foreigners from effectively owning and controlling land that was nominally in South African ownership. Concern was expressed about increasing poverty, especially in rural areas.

The Chairperson noted a proposal that the Report be tabled in Parliament for debate but ruled that the Committee, when ready, would itself deliberate further on the Report.

MINUTES
The Chairperson apologised for a thirty-minute delay in beginning the meeting. This was because of an urgent request to meet with representatives of District Six, which resulted in a conflicting appointment. He apologised also for the cramped accommodation of the committee room. He introduced himself as the new chairperson of the committee from 04 September 2007, and welcomed Dr S M B Sibanda, Chief Director of Policy Development at the Department of Land Affairs, and the observers, including many journalists. The British Vice-Consul and the Parliamentary Observer from the German Consulate attended.

Department of Land Affairs presentation
Dr Sipho Sibanda, Director of Policy Development, said that in the past five years there had been growing public concern over the proliferation of foreign ownership of land in South Africa. This was perceived as especially a problem in the coastal areas, in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. There was a widespread perception that ownership of land by foreigners was denying access to South Africans to land in their motherland. The matter had to be addressed urgently.

The Cabinet had considered the matter in August 2004, and requested the then Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Ms Thoko Didiza, to investigate the extent of the phenomenon. On 24 August 2004, Minister Didiza appointed a committee, the Panel of Experts, supported by a technical team from the Department of Land Affairs. The Panel’s first task was to examine the impact, extent and trends of the acquisition of land and investment in land in South Africa by non-South Africans.

Secondly, they were to look at the extent to which the lack of a comprehensive policy and legislative framework contributed to the acquisition, investment in, and use of land in South Africa by non-South African citizens.

Thirdly, they were to study how Government should monitor and control by policy, legislative and other means any negative effects of land acquisition and use by non-South African citizens.

Furthermore, they were to study the impact on property values of land acquisition and use by non-South African citizens. They were to distinguish between land use for residential, commercial, agricultural, eco-tourism, general tourism, game-lodge and golf course purposes.

In order to justify the study and recommendations, they undertook a comparative and international study of foreign practices, laws and policies with regard to acquisition and ownership of land by non-citizens in order to shed further light on the issue of land ownership by non-South African citizens. This study included Europe, North America and Australasia.

The Panel of Experts was expected to complete their task between August 2004 and March 2007. In March 2007 the Panel submitted their report to the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

The Report provided indicative data of ownership of land by foreign individuals (natural persons). It did not pronounce on corporate ownership of land, because that was a very complicated and detailed matter that the Panel found necessary to study separately. The Panel engaged consultants to examine corporate ownership and present a separate report. That separate study would be available later.

Ownership by foreign natural persons was significantly higher in percentage terms in coastal and game farming areas and in terms of land in the categories of erwen, agricultural holdings, farmland and sectional titles. Individual foreign ownership varied between about 1% for residential houses to 3% for sectional title properties. The values of these properties were more or less in line with their number.

Corporate ownership was more problematic to determine and clear distinctions at a statistical level between foreign and South African owned land was not yet possible. This was the basis for the Panel’s recommendations for disclosure. A clear distinction between foreign corporate and non-foreign corporate ownership of land was not yet possible, for a number of reasons. To obtain information on companies not included in the CIPRO database it was necessary to source information through the Master of the High Court or third parties. The consultants were given only three months to do their work. Their investigation was dependent on information obtained from people with whom they had to correspond. They had obtained very few responses. If the consultants had been allocated a period of one or two years, they would have had more opportunity to complete their work, because they would then have been able to obtain court orders to compel certain parties to report to them. From their progress within their allocated three months, the picture that emerged was not encouraging.

Given these problems, the Panel of Experts then recommended that the only way to secure sufficient data on corporate ownership was to require disclosure of titles past, present and future for all juristic persons in South Africa as well as corporations. The Department had abandoned the idea of research as the main means to determine the extent of corporate ownership of land. By requiring disclosure of titles it would be possible to determine exactly who owned South Africa.

However, it would be problematic to implement that disclosure recommendation. Slide 11 of Dr Sibanda’s presentation showed that business and other corporate bodies owned 4.5% of all the residential houses in South Africa. These houses occupied 4% of the total land used for residential housing; the value of those houses was 64% of all the houses in the country. Businesses and other corporate bodies also owned 27.5% of all the farms in South Africa, which had a combined value of 78% of the total value of farms in the country.
It was clear that although the number of properties in each of the four categories and their physical size was relatively small, their value was very high. It meant that they were properties mainly in the upper market, which also meant that they had a high value for purposes of speculation. It was therefore important to interpret the statistics in terms of not only the number of properties but also their value and therefore their possible impact on the property market.

The Panel of Experts concluded that in the light of all the above, it was justified to regulate land for the purpose of land reform and housing purposes.

The Panel established that South Africa’s lack of a national policy on the regulation of foreign ownership of land was certainly not the global norm, including countries with comparable economic systems, comparable levels of development, and countries with more advanced economies.

Some form of regulation was therefore important, irrespective of the extent of ownership and use of land by foreigners.

The Panel has only just completed and presented to the Department of Land Affairs its report on the determination of the extent of foreign ownership and use of land through corporations and trusts. The results of that study would be made available at a later date.

It would be wrong to assume that because the percentages were so miniscule the percentages were unimportant. It was the value concerned that was important. It was recommended to establish policy in line with international trends.

The Panel of Experts’ first recommendation was that there should be compulsory disclosure of nationality, race and gender and other information. Members who had received the Report would know that other information included on page 38 of the Report: apart from indicating nationality, race and gender, it was necessary to indicate citizenship when registering a title deed, and whether a permanent resident if not a citizen; the South African identity number or foreign passport number and details would also be required. Dr Sibanda did not detail the other information and documentation required. It was however a comprehensive list of information that was required in order to determine who owned South Africa in the final analysis.

The Panel recommended, as a measure to secure disclosure, the amendment of the Deeds Registries Act of 1937 (No. 47 of 1937) and Regulation 18 to provide information as described above by the parties concerned at the time of registering title deeds. This was the first and most important of all the recommendations. This was similar to the requirements of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001/2005 (FICA). This was not unique to South Africa. The United States of America had similar measures. It was important to realise that the recommendation for disclosure of race did not represent a return to old ways of thinking. It was for information purposes. Currently it was not known who owned what by race and gender. Without that information, it was not possible to measure progress in transformation by land reform.

The second recommendation of the Panel of Experts was that there must be special Ministerial approval for certain changes in land use and disposal of certain categories of land to foreigners, especially if such change or disposal had the potential negatively to impact on the State’s constitutional obligations to land reform, for example, land subject to land restitution claims or land earmarked for redistribution or integrated human settlement. Currently there existed a State Land Disposal Committee and there were provisions for the establishment of Provincial State Land Disposal Committees. These committees had no jurisdiction over municipal land that continued to be incorrectly and unconstitutionally categorised as ‘private land’. Furthermore, not all provinces had functional Provincial State Land Disposal Committees. As the third tier of government, municipalities might own and dispose of land registered in their name. This category of land fell within the ambit of public land, not private land. Overall objectives of government were to be considered when disposing of land owned by all three spheres of government in the spirit of co-operative governance as required by the Constitution. For that reason, the national, provincial and municipal spheres of government should be represented at the Provincial State Land Disposal Committees to achieve the synergy required by the Constitution.

The third recommendation was that there should be established as a matter of urgency a permanent inter-ministerial oversight committee consisting of at least the Departments of Agriculture, Land Affairs, Provincial and Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and Housing. The purpose of this committee would be to monitor trends in foreign ownership of land and changes in land use; and recommend to government appropriate corrective interventions.

An interdepartmental task team should support this oversight committee. The ministers concerned should appoint persons with the relevant skills to the committee. This inter-departmental task team would also be involved in giving effect to the recommendation dealing with disclosure. This task team would drive the amendments to the Deeds Registries Act and Regulation 18 of the Act.

At present it was necessary to constitute the inter-ministerial committee and the inter-departmental task team. The task team would be required to process responses from the public following the expiry of the sixty days permitted for public comments on the Report, consolidate the final report, and give effect to the first and third recommendations of the Report.

The fourth recommendation was the prohibition of private ownership of land by foreigners (and, in some cases, South African citizens) in certain areas to be classified on grounds of national interest, environmental considerations, and national security; for example, National Key Points, coastal areas, conservation areas, land close to military installations, water catchment areas and land along borders or international boundaries.

The fifth recommendation was a limited temporary moratorium on the disposal of State land to foreigners. This moratorium would be effective for about two years, and would apply in certain cases also to South African citizens who did not qualify for redress under the national land reform policies. This moratorium was not a blanket prohibition but it was meant to prevent certain spheres of government and organs of state form disposing of land that might be used for land reform and human settlements for the dispossessed and marginalised individuals and communities.

Such a moratorium could be lifted once the ministerial approval process and the inter-departmental/ministerial oversight committee suggested above had been established and were operational.

Legislation, including municipal by-laws and ordinances, that categorised land belonging to any organ of state or sphere of government, as ‘private land’ would be unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court might be approached for an order under section 167(5) of the Constitution for an appropriate declaration.

The sixth recommendation was the rationalisation and harmonisation of land use planning and zoning laws through enactment of overarching national legislation as an urgent priority. The current Land Use Management Bill (LUMB) was well placed to achieve this recommendation. A review of current practices in the zoning and rezoning procedures, the development of golf estates, hobby farms, polo estates and game farming ought to be brought under the preview of the special ministerial processes and the inter-ministerial/department al oversight committee.

The seventh recommendation was that all three spheres of government should be covered by all the recommendations in the Report and that government and all organs of State ought to lead by example in implementing the regulatory regime on foreign ownership of land and a general prohibition of disposal or change in land use that might undermine land reform, the attainment of integrated human settlements, and compromise the sovereignty of the nation and the citizens.

The eighth recommendation was that, in line with the practice in some countries studied; the government might consider medium and long-term leases of public land as a viable mechanism for future acquisition of land and interests in land by foreigners. Leaseholds had time limits and might be less controversial than full ownership rights.

The ninth recommendation was enabling omnibus legislative amendments to give effect to some of the recommendations through a comprehensive general laws or land matters amendment bill, similar to judicial matters amendment bills that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development use. The advantage of such and approach is that the consequences to other pieces of legislation that might arise from amendments to a specific Act or Acts were easily catered for in a single Bill.

The tenth recommendation was that measures should be included in any policy formulation to apply sanctions, including assets forfeiture, to prevent fronting. Fronting had been identified as an issue that could undermine the Government’s policy on land reform and regulation of ownership of land by foreigners.

The constitutional authority for the recommendations were substantiated by Sections 21(3), 25(5) and 26 of the Constitution dealing with the right of every citizen to enter, to remain and reside anywhere within the Republic; and the State’s constitutional obligation to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enabled citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis; and the right of everyone to have adequate access to housing; and the State’s constitutional obligation to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.

On 20 March 2007 the Report was presented to the senior managers of the Department of Land Affairs, who also accepted the Report with the recommendations. The senior managers made the following provisos: that the report be edited and integrated properly to allow easy reading and logical flow of issues raised; and that institutional preparations for the implementation of the recommendations should be examined.

Consultation with Department of Land Affairs top management occurred on 15 June 2007. The Department endorsed the first recommendation. The Department agreed that the issue of nationality, race and gender was important for the purpose of knowing who owned South Africa as well as for determining the extent of transformation in the ownership of land across race and gender configurations over time.

The Department similarly endorsed the second and third recommendations. The Department supported the fourth recommendation subject to linking this effort with the policy and legislative requirements of the Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998), the National Environmental Management Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003), the Protected Areas Act, 2004 (Act No. 31 of 2004), the Integrated Coastal Management Bill, and the Land Use Management Bill, and other measures.

The Department agreed with the fifth recommendation, that there should be a moratorium on the disposal of State land. However, it was not possible to impose a moratorium on the disposal of privately owned land in the absence of an enabling policy and legislative framework.

The Department supported the sixth recommendation and affirmed that it must be taken forward in terms of the Land Use Management Bill (LUMB). The Department supported the principle of the seventh recommendation. The Department supported the eighth recommendation in the sense that it was a viable alternative to giving outright ownership of State land to foreigners. The Department supported the ninth recommendation and tenth recommendations, the last as a cautionary measure.

On 18 April 2007 the Report was presented to the Social and Economic Clusters and useful inputs were received.

On 18July 2007 the Minister presented the Report to the Cabinet. The Cabinet deliberated on the Report in the presence of three members of the Panel of Experts and Dr Sibanda. The Cabinet generally supported the Report and its recommendations and approved that it be finalised before release for public comment.

The Panel of Experts had since addressed the issues raised by the Cabinet. As such, the Report contains everything that the Cabinet had instructed it to do. The Department had, in liaison with the GCIS, developed a comprehensive communications strategy.

The Report had been published in the Government Gazette.

Discussion
Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked if the percentage of ownership by foreigners (slides 7 and 8) reflected research done or was an estimate; the Committee had not been impressed by some information in other presentations so did not want to accept any assumptions. He pointed out that it was correct to refer to ‘spheres’ not ‘tiers’ of government (slide 19). He asked about the role of clusters. He asked why the Land Use Management Bill (LUMB) (slide 29) was making such slow progress; despite its introduction as far back as 2001, it had still to reach the Committee. He asked what was the Department’s view of the proposed moratorium; this it would be a very long process, since ‘the wheels of government moved very slowly.’ He asked for Dr Sibanda’s comments on fronting.

Mr A Nel (DA) said that the Panel’s first recommendation constituted the ‘re-racialisation of land ownership’ by stealth. Apartheid had started with small, piecemeal changes. Property rights, Mr Nel affirmed, were the cornerstone of a free economy, as Finance Minister Mr Trevor Manuel had himself said only three weeks previously in Parliament. The Panel’s proposals would scare investors away; he referred to the example of Zimbabwe. No bank would lend to anyone whose collateral was uncertain. He asked why should the race of a foreign person be important, except for racial purposes. He suggested that Dr Sibanda and the Panel should speak to their own people in the Ministry and in the Treasury. He proposed that the Report be debated in Parliament.

Ms B Ntuli said that ordinary people were still suffering because of the old by-laws and ordinances. She said that there had been a case in Limpopo where land had been sold to a mining company without due process of consultation, and asked about the selling of land by councillors to foreigners. She also wanted to ask about the issue of fronting, as raised by Mr Dlali; fronting had made the people poorer than they had already been. She asked Dr Sibanda to elaborate on the constitutional rights of those who were to be evicted; they could not be evicted without a court order. However, many poor people, especially farm dwellers were being evicted, their homes were being demolished, and they were being treated ‘like animals.’

Mr A Van Niekerk (DA) said that the Democratic Alliance (DA) supported some of the measures recommended by the Panel. He asked what norms would be used. He asked if it was not possible to move forward and to examine the benefits and positive aspects of foreign investment. He asked to which race foreigners belonged.

Mr A Botha (DA) objected strongly to the recommendation for disclosure of race; moreover, he asked how it would be carried out, and whether the old tests of the apartheid era would be re-instated.

Ms C Nkuna (ANC) asked how the Panel proposed to determine if someone was being used as a front in a property deal.

Mr S Abram (ANC) thanked Dr Sibanda for his presentation. He said that the Panel’s recommendations came too late, as already much valuable land had been lost, especially in the coastal areas, in sales to foreigners, to whom such purchases could, in many cases, be transacted with pocket money. It was especially sad that the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront at Cape Town had been sold for an absurdly low price (R7 billion) to an Arab-English consortium, which had then the arrogance to brag about its purchase, claiming that it had secured a bargain for a piece of prime property that had surely been worth much more (R12 billion). There was no hope now of recovering the V & A Waterfront.

It was essential to regulate the sale of land and property to foreigners, but it was more useful to consider nationality than racial grouping: Mr Abram pleaded that the Department must not support any legislation to bring a return to racial classification in any form, for that would be a return to the dark ages. If such legislation were enacted, it would build a complex of racial consciousness in future generations. He asked what would happen in the case of mixed couples and affirmed that a South African was a South African. He asked what would be the cost of implementing the proposed measures.

Mr Abram said that much valuable agricultural land had been lost through change of use to game farming with consequent loss of food security. He admitted that he had become somewhat emotional, but he wished to emphasise that it was important not to adopt any hasty measures. At the same time, he was convinced that it was necessary to limit foreign ownership in the interests of poor South Africans, and expressed his agreement with Mr Dlali in that regard.

Dr Sibanda said that he would not respond to Members’ questions in sequence. He saw much wisdom in the views expressed by the Committee and that race was one of several variables not unique to the Panel’s recommendations; in the United States of America, race was included in enquiries into the progress of transformation. The disclosure of race was required for purposes of information to assist in determining how fairly the population was able to access resources. As regards gender, women were one of the most vulnerable groups in society. It was important to see the recommendation to require disclosure of that information in the way that it was intended. It was definitely not an attempt to step back into the past. Dr Sibanda said that he had travelled in the United States and he had observed that Jews had referred to themselves as Jewish Americans, Americans of Spanish origin had referred to themselves as Hispanic-Americans, Americans of African origin had referred to themselves as Afro-Americans, and so on. They regarded themselves firstly as Americans, and secondly to the ethnic or cultural group, for example, Hispanic American.

Dr Sibanda accepted the proposal that there was a need to limit the disposal of agricultural land. The findings on corporate ownership were based on CIPRO data and were a true reflection. He accepted that since 2000 deeds records had been problematic, but the Department of Land Affairs was working hard to correct its data.

The Department and the Panel did not deny that both local and foreign investment was of benefit to South Africa. However, there had to be a balance. Research had shown that such controls in other countries had not driven away foreign investment.

Section 25 of the Constitution remained sacrosanct. Dr Sibanda acknowledged that he should not have used the work ‘tiers’, and that it was correct to refer to ‘spheres of government’. If there were any violators in the process of land acquisitions for mining purposes, the Department of Land Affairs and the Department of Minerals and Energy must be notified. He took note that the period of two years for the moratorium on sale of state land to foreigners was insufficient; the Report could be amended.

With reference to the Land Use Management Bill (LUMB), Dr Sibanda said that the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs was angry with the Department of Land Affairs because it was apparently making little progress in presenting bills to Parliament; however, the Policy Development section and legislative unit had little capacity, with only one staff member legally qualified to handle the heavy workload. The Minister of Finance had offered to second a drafter, but with only two weeks available, it was not possible to take up the offer. The State Legal Adviser said that five weeks was needed. It was not possible to outsource, because qualified people were unwilling to take on such work under such time constraints for fear of compromising their professional integrity. He admitted that the Department had missed the deadline for presenting the Bill, which would now be presented in 2008-2009. The Land Use Management Bill (LUMB) was intended to repeal a plethora of old legislation. Hopefully it would provide many norms by the end of the next year.

The Chairperson said that the Department’s explanation for the delay in the Land Use Management Bill (LUMB) was not good enough. He concurred that the Minister was angry with the Department for the delay.

Ms Ntuli called upon the Department to work harder. She pleaded that people were losing their homes, indeed losing everything.

Dr Sibanda said that other sanctions, beside asset forfeiture, were required to deal with fronting. He said that illegal evictions were occurring on a daily basis when the landowner did not follow the due process of law. The Department was working towards prevention of illegal evictions and was planning an education plan for landowners, police and magistrates to make them aware of individuals’ rights when evictions were to take place.

The Chairperson said that it was important to beware of mistakes regarding race. The Panel’s proposals could be seen as inverse racism. It was important to respond pragmatically to the past in order to correct past injustices. It also had to be acknowledged that Parliament had made significant strides in dealing with ‘race’, for example, black economic empowerment and employment equity.

Advocate Holomisa (ANC) noted that the Portfolio Committee had initiated the Report. The ownership of land by foreigners had an impact on prices. Land ownership by foreigners was part of the issues addressed by the land reform programme.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) said that it was not possible to avoid emotion. There was a responsibility to collect factual information and report that information to the people for their benefit. He asked about how extensive was the survey on land ownership that had been conducted. Secondly he asked about progress with the redistribution of land.

The Chairperson said that the moratorium must apply to land in private hands as well as state land.

Dr Sibanda said that he had not been part of the team that had conducted the survey. The Panel had sought to reach a wide selection of people, but had experienced logistical problems. He said that 3.7 million hectares of land had been redistributed. Expropriation of land had been taking place since 1652. The Department’s legal opinion was that a moratorium on the sale of private land to foreigners would be unconstitutional.

Mr Dlali was uneasy with Dr Sibanda’s words ‘If we succeed’. It was essential to succeed on land issues in order to fulfil the ANC’s mandate. It was not possible to compromise on land issues. The ANC, a non-racial organisation, had been founded on the basis of land issues in 1912 and would celebrate its centenary five years from now.

Mr Nel proposed again that the Committee table the Report for debate in Parliament.

Ms Ntuli expressed further concern about fronting. She said that people found themselves in debt to banks, and in consequence the banks were taking away the debtors’ land that they desperately needed to make a living and for a home. The banks were then selling this land to the private sector. The Land Bank was an especially bad example. She asked if the banks could not give first preference to the State when selling repossessed land. She suggested that no land should be sold without informing the State first and obtaining its approval. It was unacceptable to acquiesce in the eviction of poor people, as a result of which they had no choice but to become squatters. It was necessary to take appropriate measures, even at the risk of making enemies.

Dr Sibanda said that while he could not pronounce on Ms Ntuli’s observation, because of the limitations under which he found himself because of his official position. He said that he retracted the clause ‘If we succeed’.

The Chairperson said that if the Land Use Management Bill (LUMB) had already taken seven years, one could expect the proposed moratorium on the sale of state land to foreigners also to take at least seven years. The Department had to grasp the issue of capacity.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Nel’s proposal had been formally considered but ruled that the Committee would, when ready, debate the final version of the Report rather than have it tabled in Parliament at this time.

Mr Nel asked what had happened to democracy.

The Chairperson thanked Dr Sibanda for his responses and the Members for their contributions.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

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