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Monday Feb 25, 2013

Land reform to focus on barring foreign ownership

Land reform efforts are focusing for now on not allowing foreign nationals to own agricultural land in South Africa, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Friday.

Ownership of land by foreigners "in other spaces in the country" would be looked at later, he said.

Responding to a question - on whether his saying earlier this month that foreign nationals would no longer be able to own land in South Africa applied to both urban and rural land - he said he had been referring to the country's 82 million hectares of agricultural land.

"We're talking about the 82 million hectares of agricultural land. They (foreign nationals) own it there, they've got farms everywhere in the country, whether they're game (farms) or whatever commodities out there.

"So when we talk about land owned by foreign nationals, we're talking about agricultural land, the 82 million hectares across the country."

The question of land owned by foreign nationals in other parts of the country "is a question we're discussing with Public Works and other departments that have got land vested in them".

Nkwinti referred to his proposal for establishing a land management commission, which, he said, would go "beyond agricultural land. It then affects land that is controlled by other departments, and therefore it will also affect foreign land ownership because these are properties we're talking about - land and landed properties".

Foreign ownership of land outside of agricultural land would be dealt with by the commission. Nkwinti did not say when this would happen.

He said his department was busy with an audit to establish the race and nationality of landowners in South Africa. Records in deeds offices did not reflect race or nationality.

Nkwinti repeated that once the process was completed, foreign nationals would not be able to own agricultural land in South Africa, only lease it.

Asked whether this might not jeopardise the government's policy of attracting foreign direct investment, Nkwinti said foreign ownership of land could not be placed off-limits.


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