Draft Expropriation Bill slammed by land rights body
Publish date: 07 January 2019
Issue Number: 805
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
The draft Expropriation Bill gazetted by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi for comment during the festive break was a disappointment and would not accelerate land reform, the Land Access Movement of SA (Lamosa) claims, according to BusinessLIVE. It believes the proposed legislation lacks justice and provides no equity for homeland dwellers. Lamosa, a federation of rural organisations advocating for land and agrarian rights, says the draft Bill is cumbersome and relies on too many legal steps for ‘incompetent and corruptible’ officials to get wrong. It also ignores the land rights of those who occupy land under customary law, makes the land of the 800 state-owned companies ’untouchable’ for expropriation by authorities without the concurrence of the relevant executive authority responsible for them, and leaves mining companies ‘scot-free to continue pillaging our land with impunity’. ‘Our government has again failed our poor rural people,’ Lamosa argued that customary law land owners required special attention under the Constitution. ‘Customary law owners of vast tracts of former bantustans and communal land require extraordinary protection and promotion of their rights,’ Lamosa said. This was partly recognised by the provisions of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act which Lamosa said would be undermined if the draft Bill became law. A ‘very sore point’ for Lamosa was that mining companies apparently could not be expropriated under the proposed law. The implication of the draft Bill was that mining rights granted or existing in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act could not be expropriated, or could not be expropriated at the same time that the surface land was expropriated.
Meanwhile, the Public Works Department has a portfolio of vacant properties with an estimated value at R7.4bn, notes another BusinessLIVE report. The reasons for the vacancies, Minister Thulas Nxesi said in written reply to a parliamentary question by DA MP Malcolm Figg, were that residential properties were no longer required by clients of the department; a lack of demand for the utilisation of specific properties either by government or the private sector; and a lack of funds by the department to rebuild, refurbish or develop the property for utilisation. The department’s property portfolio consists of more than 90 000 immovable assets. In reply to a question by NCOP member Edwin Makue, of the ANC, Nxesi said the department was in the process of rolling out its disposal framework, which would drive the process of letting out state-owned properties to the private sector. In reply to a question by EFF MP Leigh-Ann Mathys, Nxesi said the department had a total of 9 653 land parcels across the nine provinces that were not in use. The number of immovable assets leased out for private use was approximately 1 060, though this number was not static due to the expiry of leases, as well as renewals and new leases.