Valuer-general slashes state land purchase costs by R84m
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