Nkwinti promises to bring land ownership legislation to Parliament this year
DESPITE furious opposition from many quarters, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on Friday promised to bring legislation prohibiting foreign land ownership and setting ownership ceilings to Parliament this year.
The proposed ban on foreign land ownership was first mooted in the land reform white paper and was widely criticised. Opponents have said foreign direct investment would be driven away from the country. A variety of agricultural and financial institutions have expressed this view.
Introducing his budget vote to the National Assembly, Mr Nkwinti said the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill would be brought to Parliament this year. “With regard to land ceilings and the prohibition of land ownership by foreign nationals, there has been outright rejection from the greater part of the sector.
“This matter has divided the sector across racial and class lines. The lines have become sharply drawn here. The prohibition of land ownership by foreign nationals has drawn a sharp response from, particularly, the Banking Association of SA/Agricultural Business Chamber (Basa/Agbiz) and Agri SA. The basis of their rejection is that it will drive away foreign investment, not only in the agricultural sector, but in the economy as a whole.
“We certainly do not agree with this view. Our conviction is that any investor, whether foreign or national, wants policy certainty. Once they understand what the policy is, they adapt accordingly.”
He said his department had come up with the policy proposals on the ceilings, for both natural and juristic persons, due to the historical need to address the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. The policy proposals were as follows:
• Small-scale farms: The ceiling for a viable small-scale commercial farm should be 1,000ha;
• Medium-scale farms: The ceiling for a viable medium-scale commercial farm should be 2,500ha; and
• Large-scale farms: The ceiling for a viable large-scale commercial farm should be 5,000ha.