Draft land bill pub­lished

Min­is­ter re­leases draft of ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill for 60-day com­ment pe­riod

Weekend Witness - - News - PHILLIP DE WET

PUB­LIC Works Min­is­ter Thu­las Nx­esi yes­ter­day morn­ing pub­lished a draft of the new ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill, kick­ing off a 60-day com­ment pe­riod.

The draft law spells out in de­tail how ex­pro­pri­a­tion — mostly with com­pen­sa­tion — will work, de­tail­ing how val­u­a­tion should be done, how dis­putes should be set­tled, and how money should be paid.

No prop­erty, in­clud­ing land, may be ex­pro­pri­ated ar­bi­trar­ily or for any rea­son other than the pub­lic in­ter­est, the law holds. But the ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill also specif­i­cally holds that “it may be just and eq­ui­table for nil com­pen­sa­tion to be paid where land is ex­pro­pri­ated in the pub­lic in­ter­est” — un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances

Here are the five kinds of prop­erty the new ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill says could be sub­ject to ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion: Aban­doned prop­erty Zero com­pen­sa­tion could be fair “where the owner of the land has aban­doned the land”, the draft law holds.

It does not specif­i­cally re­fer to hi­jacked build­ings in cen­tral busi­ness dis­tricts, but le­gal ex­perts have pre­vi­ously spec­u­lated that such build­ings would be easy tar­gets for ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion. Prop­erty owned by the likes of Eskom and Transnet Not pay­ing com­pen­sa­tion could be just “where the land is owned by a sta­te­owned cor­po­ra­tion or other sta­te­owned en­tity”, the ex­pro­pri­a­tion bill says.

The more than 700 state en­ti­ties in South Africa in­clude many with ex­ten­sive land hold­ings sur­round­ing var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties — in­clud­ing such ur­ban gems as Eskom’s Megawatt Park head­quar­ters north of Jo­han­nes­burg. Land held for spec­u­la­tion It may be eq­ui­table to pay nil com­pen­sa­tion “where the land is held for purely spec­u­la­tive pur­poses”, the draft reads.

It does not spec­ify how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween land snapped up for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment and land bought with the idea of flip­ping it for a profit. Land into which state has al­ready in­vested more than its value Ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion could be done when the mar­ket value of the land is less than the value of “di­rect state in­vest­ment or sub­sidy” spent ei­ther to buy it, or on cap­i­tal im­prove­ments made.

There has been spec­u­la­tion that failed land re­form projects, where gov­ern­ment has heav­ily sub­sidised com­mu­nity farm­ing projects, could be sub­ject to ex­pro­pri­a­tion and re-re­dis­tri­bu­tion. Farms with labour ten­ants — or just por­tions of such farms Ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion may be ap­pro­pri­ate where “the land is oc­cu­pied or used by a labour ten­ant”, the draft law says.

Labour ten­ants are de­fined as peo­ple who live or have the right to live on a farm, or in some cases those who had par­ents or grand­par­ents who worked on a farm in re­turn for liv­ing there. They also in­clude some peo­ple who had the right to crop­ping or graz­ing.

The draft bill also makes pro­vi­sion for par­tial ex­pro­pri­a­tion, which could be used to ex­pro­pri­ate only sec­tions of farms, but also has a mech­a­nism where those af­fected by par­tial ex­pro­pri­a­tion can ask for the full prop­erty to be taken in­stead. — Busi­ness In­sider SA.

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