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Expropriation Bill 2020

Contents:

  1. Expropriation Bill, 2020  (sien Afrikaans onder)

Expropriation Bill, 2020
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development together with the Minister of Public Works released the latest version of the Expropriation Bill, which has been approved by Cabinet and certified by the state law advisors and will now be tabled in Parliament.  This will be the fourth attempt to introduce a new Expropriation Bill in Parliament since 2008. The latest version of the Bill is essentially the same as the version that was before Parliament in 2013, save for clauses 12(3) and (4) which provide for the possibility of nil Rand compensation to be paid, in certain cases where it is regarded to be just and equitable to do so. This will however be subject to the right to have recourse to the courts and subject to the requirements of just administrative action.

The particular clause dealing with the possibility of nil Rand compensation, reads as follows:

(3) It may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid where land is expropriated in the public interest, having regard to all relevant circumstances, including but not limited to—
(a) where the land is not being used and the owner’s main purpose is not to develop the land or use it to generate income, but to benefit from appreciation of its market value;
(b) where an organ of state holds land that it is not using for its core functions and is not reasonably likely to require the land for its future activities in that regard, and the organ of state acquired the land for no consideration;

(c) notwithstanding registration of ownership in terms of the Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (Act No. 47 of 1937), where an owner has abandoned the land by failing to exercise control over it;
(d) where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the land; and
(e) when the nature or condition of the property poses a health, safety or physical risk to persons or other property.

(4) When a court or arbitrator determines the amount of compensation in terms of section 23 of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No. 3 of 1996), it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid, having regard to all relevant circumstances risk to persons or other property.

The following should be noted:

  • The Bill states that it may, in certain circumstances be just and equitable to pay R nil, not that it will be the case,
  • The requirement of just and equitable means that the decision to do so, will have to be weighed up in terms of all the rights protected in the Bill of Rights.  It cannot be taken lightly and will have to be justified.
  • The circumstances in which a nil Rand determination can be awarded is not limited to the circumstances listed, but may be applied also in other circumstances that are considered to be just and equitable,
  • Subsection 3(a) requires that nil compensation may be possibility where land is not being used and the owner does not intend to develop it or to use it to generate income.  Both requirements must be satisfied.
  • Regarding subclause c, there is a concern over when an owner will be considered to have abandoned and who will determine that.  It will probably require evidence that the landowner intended to abandon the land.  There is also a concern that cases may arise where landowners abandon land, not because they choose to, but because they are forced to by crime or land invasion.
  • Subclause  (d) is in line with the current formulation of section 25 of the Constitution, but there is a longstanding concern over what kind of subsidies and state assistance  will be taken into account.  Many past subsidies had nothing to do with racially discriminatory purposes.
  • Subclause ( e)  confuses a potential reason for expropriation with the compensation issue and is also quite vague and a cause for concern.
  • Subclause (4) is an improvement on the previous (2019) formulation, that read as follows: “where land is occupied or used by a labour tenant….”.  This has now been deleted.  Nil compensation will only be considered once a labour tenant claim has been determined by a court or arbitrator.  Nevertheless, the principle of nil compensation in labour tenant claims is still problematic and questionable.

The definition of expropriation, that was inserted in the previous parliamentary process is still a serious cause for concern as it opens up the possibility of state interference with property rights or acquisition on behalf of third parties that will not attract compensation.  BUSA strongly opposed this in the NEDLAC process. Agri SA and Kwanalu will keep on raising this point.

It needs to be noted, on a positive note, that the Bill provides for full access to the courts to determine any disputes whether they relate to the purpose of expropriation or the amount of compensation.  Expropriation is also a measure of last resort and the state must first attempt to reach an agreement with the landowner. Section 2(3) requires that: “a power to expropriate property may not be exercised unless the expropriating authority has without success attempted to reach an agreement with the owner or holder of a right in property for the acquisition thereof on reasonable terms.”

Agri SA and Kwanalu will fully participate in all further consultation processes and keep its legal options open.  The Bill will now be tabled in Parliament where it will first be dealt with by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, which is likely to call for public hearings.  Thereafter it will be referred to the National House of Provinces and provinces will need to obtain mandates on the Bill. Both Houses will have to vote on the Bill.  Agri SA and Kwanalu will participate in the process every step of the way.

Please click here for the Bill: 43798gon1082

Please be aware a great deal of incorrect information is being circulated this includes old incorrect messages which are being forwarded on various groups.  Kwanalu will inform members on any further developments.

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Die Minister van Landbou, Grondhervorming en Landelike Ontwikkeling tesame met die Minister van Openbare Werke het Sondagmiddag die jongste weergawe van die Onteieningswetsontwerp  openbaar gemaak tydens ‘n media konferensie.  Die wetsontwerp is reeds deur die Kabinet goedgekeur en deur die staatsregsadviseurs gesertifiseer en sal nou in die Parlement ter tafel gelê word. Dit sal die vierde poging wees sedert 2008 om ‘n nuwe Onteieningswetsontwerp deur die Parlement te voer.  Die jongste weergawe is in wese dieselfde as die een wat in 2013 oor die Parlement was, behalwe vir klousules 12(3) en (4) wat voorsiening maak vir die moontlikheid van nul Rand vergoeding in sekere gevalle waar dit regverdig en billik geag word. Die besluit sal egter onderhewig wees aan die reg op toegang tot die hof en die beginsels van billike administratiewe geregtigheid.

Die klosule wat handel met nul vergoeding, lees soos volg:

(3) It may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid where land is expropriated in the public interest, having regard to all relevant circumstances, including but not limited to—
(a) where the land is not being used and the owner’s main purpose is not to develop the land or use it to generate income, but to benefit from appreciation of its market value;
(b) where an organ of state holds land that it is not using for its core functions and is not reasonably likely to require the land for its future activities in that regard, and the organ of state acquired the land for no consideration;

(c) notwithstanding registration of ownership in terms of the Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (Act No. 47 of 1937), where an owner has abandoned he land by failing to exercise control over it;
(d) where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the land; and
(e) when the nature or condition of the property poses a health, safety or physical risk to persons or other property.

(4) When a court or arbitrator determines the amount of compensation in terms of section 23 of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No. 3 of 1996), it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid, having regard to all relevant circumstances risk to persons or other property.

Daar moet gelet word op die volgende:

·        Die wetsontwerp bepaal dat dit regverdig en billik mag wees, nie sal wees onder alle omstandighede nie.

·        Die vereistes van regverdigheid en billikheid geld, wat beteken dat al die fundamentele regte van die partye geweeg moet word.  Die besluit van nul vergoeding kan nie ligtelik geneem word nie en moet geregverdig kan word.

·        Die omstandighede waaronder nul vergoeding moontlik is, is nie beperk tot die wat gelys is nie, maar kan ook toepassing vind in ander omstandighede waar dit regverdig en billik geag word.

·        Subklousule 3(a) vereis dat waar nul vergoeding oorweeg word vir grond wat nie gebruik word nie, daar ook bewys sal moet word dat die eienaar geen bedoeling het om dit te gebruik of ontwikkel nie. Daar moet aan beide vereistes voldoen word.

·        Ten opsigte van subklousule 3, is daar ‘n bekommernis oor wanneer ‘n eienaar geag sal word grond te abondoneer/ versaak het en wie daaroor sal besluit. Daar sal waarskynlik getuienis gelei moet word dat die eienaar die bedoeling gehad het om die grond te versaak.  Daar is egter ‘n risiko van eienaars wat grond nie uit vrye keuse verlaat / versaak nie, maar gedwing word deur omstandighede soos misdaad of grondbesetting om dit te doen.

·        Subklousule (d) is in lyn met die bestaande formulering van artikel 25 van die Grondwet, maar daar is lank reeds kommer oor watter subsidies en staatshulp alles in ag geneem kan word.  Baie van die subsidies van die verlede is gegee met oogmerke wat niks met rassediskriminasie te make gehad het nie.

·        Subklousule (e) het te make met ‘n moontlike rede vir onteiening en behoort geen rol te speel by vergoeding nie.

·        Subklousule (4) is ‘n verbetering op die 2019 formulering wat gepraat het van grond wat huurarbeiders gebruik of okkupeer.  Die nuwe formulering maak dit duidelik dat slegs eise wat reeds as geldig uitgewys is, moontlik nul vergoeding tot gevolg kan hê en dat ‘n hof of arbiter dit sal vasstel.  Nietemin bly die beginsel van nul vergoeding vir huurarbeider-eise onaanvaarbaar en kan dit bevraagteken word.

Die definisie van onteiening wat ingevoeg is tydens die vorige parlementêre proses, bly ‘n groot kopseer, omdat dit die deur oopmaak vir staatsinmenging en die regulering van eiendomsreg in omstandighede waar die staat nie die  self verkry nie,  maar vir derdes bekom en waar geen vergoeding betaalbaar sal wees nie.  BUSA het ernstig teen die definisie beswaar gemaak tydens die NEDLAC proses.  Agri SA sal aanhou om hierdie probleem uit te wys.

Dit is belangrik om daarop te let dat die wetsontwerp voorsiening maak vir volle toegang tot die hof waar dispute ontstaan, hetsy oor die rede vir onteiening of die vergoedingsbedrag.  Daar word ook erkenning gegee daaraan dat onteiening ‘n laaste uitweg is en dat die staat eers moet poog om tot ‘n ooreenkoms met die grondeienaar te kom.  Dit is positief.

Die wetsontwerp sal nou dien voor die Portefeuljekomitee op Openbare Werke, wat die wetsontwerp sal debatteer en waarskynlik openbare verhore sal hou.  Daarna sal die wetsontwerp verwys word na die Nasionale Raad op Provinsies wat provinsiale mandate moet verkry. Beide Huises sal moet stem oor die wetsontwerp.  Agri SA sal ten volle deelneem aan verdere konsultasie-prosesse en hou ook al ons regsopsies oop