Val­uer-gen­eral slashes state land pur­chase costs by R84m

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

MIN­IS­TER of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form Gugile Nk­winti has ap­plauded the val­uer-gen­eral for sav­ing the coun­try al­most R90 mil­lion on the pur­chase of land as part of the land re­form pro­gramme.

The gov­ern­ment would have paid al­most R90m more to buy land, but the in­ter­ven­tion of the val­uer-gen­eral in re-eval­u­at­ing the prices brought down the fees paid by the state.

Nk­winti, in a writ­ten Par­lia­men­tary re­ply yes­ter­day, said they paid R84m less than they would nor­mally pay for the land in the land re­form pro­gramme.

The of­fice of the val­uer-gen­eral was set up a year ago and within that pe­riod, it man­aged to save mil­lions of rand.

Nk­winti ap­pointed Chris Ga­vor as the val­uer-gen­eral to de­ter­mine prices for land.

The gov­ern­ment has been com­plain­ing for years it was pay­ing above mar­ket value for land in the land re­form pro­gramme.

It said this had been go­ing on for many years and the val­uer-gen­eral would as­sist in de­ter­min­ing prices and not leave that de­ci­sion to peo­ple who own land.

The ap­point­ment of the val­uer-gen­eral came after the ANC res­o­lu­tion at its Man­gaung con­fer­ence in 2012 for the es­tab­lish­ment of such an of­fice.

The party had also com­plained that the gov­ern­ment could not af­ford to pay huge prices for land.

The de­ci­sion of the val­uer-gen­eral would help save the state mil­lions of rand.

Nk­winti also said dur­ing his bud­get vote speech in Par­lia­ment two weeks ago that Ga­vor was the first val­uer-gen­eral in South Africa.

His of­fice was crit­i­cal in help­ing the gov­ern­ment to pay rea­son­able prices for land, in­stead of above mar­ket value.

The prac­tice of farm­ers charg­ing high prices for land also con­trib­uted to the slow progress of land re­form.

Nk­winti said there was a need to speed up the land re­form pro­gramme in the coun­try.

How­ever, he has com­plained that many peo­ple pre­fer cash rather than their land back.

Land has been a stick­ing is­sue in the last few months, with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma call­ing for the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

The ANC will dis­cuss land re­form at its pol­icy con­fer­ence at the end of June.

The is­sue of the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion is ex­pected to be dis­cussed at the con­fer­ence.

The ANC is also set to dis­cuss the speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of land re­form.

Par­lia­ment is cur­rently busy with two pieces of leg­is­la­tion on land re­form.

The Resti­tu­tion of Land Rights Bill was re­turned to Par­lia­ment by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court last year July to be fixed.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court gave MPs two years to ad­dress the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the bill.

It was re­ferred back to the na­tional leg­is­la­ture after the court found Par­lia­ment did not con­sult prop­erly on it.

Zuma also re­ferred back the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill early this year.

He has also re­quested Par­lia­ment to ad­dress cer­tain pro­vi­sions in the bill.

The Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill calls for the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land in the pub­lic in­ter­est or for a pub­lic pur­pose, and for the courts as ar­biters to de­ter­mine com­pen­sa­tion to the land own­ers.

AP­PLAUD­ING: Gugile Nk­winti

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