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New Bill to advance land reform


The Expropriation Bill which has recently been passed in Parliament will advance land reform and replace the so-called unconstitutional Expropriation Act of 1975.

Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, briefing the Public Works Portfolio Committee on Wednesday, said the 1975 Act is inconsistent with the current Constitution of South Africa in several key areas.

These areas include the recognition of rights of tenants and farm workers; the basis for payment of compensation and the rationale for expropriation, said the minister.

The recently endorsed Bill seeks to align the Expropriation Act with the Constitution in order to provide a common framework to guide land reform in South Africa.

In 1998, South Africa's government embarked on a process of land reform following the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Black, Indian and Coloured South Africans from their land during apartheid.

Those who had been disposed of their land were given until 31 December 1998 to lodge their claims with the Land Claims Commission.

In the past farmers claimed that they were not receiving appropriate market value prices for their properties, but now this issue is clarified under the new Bill, said the minister.

"Whereas the 1975 Act narrowly focused on the market value as the sole determinant for the negotiations preceding expropriation, the proposed new Bill takes the holistic view and considers other relevant factors such as the current use of the property, the history of the acquisition, the extent of the direct state involvement and subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the property."

Also important to note is the creation of the Expropriation Advisory Board which will advise all expropriating authorities to consider all factors before expropriation takes place.

The minister highlighted that the Expropriation Advisory Board would also determine compensation for a property.

The Bill is expected to go before Parliament in the coming weeks; thereafter the public will be encouraged to comment.

By August 2007, the Land Claims Commission had settled 93% of claims lodged by claimants dispossessed of their land during Apartheid's forced removals.

This 93% translates into a settlement of 74,559 of the 79,696 claims lodged before the deadline.

The commission is mandated to transfer 30% of commercial farm land to black beneficiaries by 2014, translating to about 25m hectares of land. – Nthambeleni Gabara and Michael Appel, BuaNews


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