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Monday Aug 24, 2015

Property audit due for completion

A second land audit due to be completed next month will give the government details that show the pattern and racial profile of private land ownership.

Authorities hope the audit will be an improvement on the first, which did not include the race and gender of owners.

The first audit, commissioned in 2010 and released last year, showed that more than 79 percent of land was privately owned, while the state owned 14 percent.

The audit could not determine the exact ownership of the remaining 7 percent.

Discussion documents prepared for the ANC's national general council (NGC) in October describe the land management system as fragmented.

Information on land ownership by trusts and companies was held by different departments, making it more complicated to collect.

"Just before the advent of democracy, disaggregation of ownership by race was deleted in the Deeds Register.

"Trusts are controlled (through) the Department of Justice, which means land-owning Trusts are not easy to disaggregate in terms of race, gender and nationalities," says the ANC discussion document on land reform and rural development.

It said land-owning companies were also registered with the Department of Trade and Industry, and were also difficult to disaggregate by race, gender and nationality.

The audit was mandated by the party's national conference in 2012, which called for the state's capacity to monitor and collect information on the use of land to be improved, through regular audits and other measures.

The NGC is also expected to back moves to ban the ownership of land by foreigners, as articulated in the party's 2012 resolution on the land tenure system.

A call is also made to limit "the unsustainable use of land for elite purposes", such as the conversion of prime agricultural land to golf estates.

The discussion document proposes that there should be "no ownership of land by foreign nationals as a principle".

It suggests that ownership be converted into a long-term lease after the land audit has been finalised.

The slow place in achieving the transfer of land is again set to feature high on the agenda of the council, with the state also being under pressure to gain more land to meet other developmental targets, such as providing housing for the poor.

This is expressed in proposals in the discussion documents for legislative changes to secure more land to reduce huge housing backlogs.

It is suggested that the government target state-owned enterprises to get pieces of land from them for free.

This land would be transferred to municipalities, which are responsible for rolling out RDP housing projects.

"A strategy to facilitate the release of well-located public land to municipalities will be developed in co-operation with the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform and Public Works," the discussion document says.

"Public land and land held by parastatal organisations, where deemed suitable for housing purposes, is to be transferred to municipalities at no cost."

This strategy would be supported by the purchase of land from private owners at market prices, with the development of a funding model in the light of the expected high costs of buying private land.

Speaking at the release of the discussion documents this week, ANC policy head Jeff Radebe said that much had been done to implement policies to address the contentious question of land.

"While progress has been noted, we acknowledge that the implementation of policies has not been at the requisite rate," said Radebe.

Sunday Independent


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