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Advisory Panel on Land Reform Recommendations Under the Spotlight

March 18, 2020

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

The recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture are being incorporated into the agriculture, land reform and rural development department’s annual performance plan.

The department confirmed this during a briefing in parliament on responses to the recommendations of the Panel.

The Panel’s final report was released in July 2019.

The Advisory Panel was set up in September 2018 to support the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform.

According to an earlier statement, the report provides recommendations for immediate action.

“These include immediate allocation of allocated land, building on and refocusing private partnerships, and strengthening of food systems and rural-urban linkages.”

The report also calls for a Consolidated National Land Reform Policy Framework with a new White Paper that addresses current gaps to include urban land, address spatial transformation and climate change.

Land administration should also be added to the Framework in order to strengthen Land Restitution, Redistribution and Tenure.

Some of the recommendations include speeding up and refocusing land reform to address inequality and historical injustices; amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land in limited circumstances to be set out in an Expropriation Bill and outlined in a Compensation Policy; a proactive, targeted area-based approach for land redistribution with land identification and acquisition occurring at municipal level; the envisaged White Paper to specify the range of land acquisition methods to be pursued for land identified as required for land redistribution or restitution in the following sequence: (a) calls for land donation, (b) negotiated acquisition, (c) expropriation; the drawing up of a Donations Policy to incentivize donating property; the setting up of a Land Reform Fund combining state and private finance to support land reform; reform of the Land Claims Court to be renamed the Land Court; setting up the office of a Land Rights Protector to investigate corruption in the acquisition, allocation and transactions of land; the drafting of a Land Records Bill enabling the majority of citizens, who hold property ‘off-register’, to record and register their property and the extending of land reform to urban areas including an Urban Land Reform Policy.

In terms of supported recommendations, the department revealed that the Draft Land Court Bill has been developed and will be submitted to cabinet in quarter 1 of 2020/21. It provides, amongst others, for dispute resolution mechanisms in line with the CCMA approach.

Other updates include that work is in progress under the leadership of the IMC on Land Reform and Agriculture on the release of state land; the development of the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Masterplan has commenced and will be completed in June 2020 and Water Policy Reforms are underway with the water and sanitation department.

Policy frameworks, policies and legislation targeted for 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 include the Deeds Transformation Policy and Bill; the Land Administration Policy and Bill; the Agrarian Reform Policy; Revised White Paper on Land Policy and the Land Redistribution Bill; Land Valuations and the Land Compensation Policy and Urban Land Policy.

The department also announced that an integrated Programme of Action for the IMC on Land Reform is being drawn up to include the supported recommendations.

In another briefing the department provided an update on the implementation of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Programme.

The programme flows from the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act that came into force in 2015.

The briefing focused on the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the requirements of the act together with key policy implications.

The department confirmed that the National Spatial Development Framework Implementation Charter will be developed by June 2020.

As regards the role of traditional leaders in the implementation of SPLUMA, the department pointed out that the model as proposed in the Limpopo Draft Spatial Planning Law will be explored to inform possible amendments to the SPLUMA.

A Land Summit with the Institution of Traditional Leaders is on the cards for May/June 2020 and issues raised by the Institution on SPLUMA will be discussed at the summit.

Meanwhile, the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution has decided to postpone all committee activities, including the public hearings.

Given the recent announcement by president Ramaphosa on measures to combat the coronavirus, the committee holds the view that “it is in the interest of all South Africans to postpone the hearings until further notice”.

According to the statement, the public will be notified on the resumption of the hearings.