The finalisation and tabling in parliament of the Draft Land Court Bill was highlighted by the deputy president, David Mabuza, during replies to questions in the national assembly yesterday.
Discussing plans to fast-track land reform, the deputy president pointed out that the proposed legislation will provide for the setting up of the Land Court “that will focus on land matters, set out clear dispute resolution mechanism and strengthen jurisprudence on land related matters”.
At the end of April 2021, the justice and constitutional development department published the draft bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 44480.
The Land Court Bill aims to:
• provide for the establishment of a Land Court and a Land Court of Appeal;
• make provision for the administration of the courts and the judicial functions of the courts;
• make provision for administrative and budgetary matters relating to the courts;
• provide the courts with exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes arising from certain Acts of Parliament;
• provide for referral by Court for mediation or arbitration in respect of certain matters;
• amend certain laws relating to the adjudication of land matters by courts; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
According to the deputy president, other key legislative and policy interventions include finalisation of the Expropriation Bill currently before the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure, adoption of the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy, approved by cabinet at the end of 2020, that guides the allocation of land to different categories of beneficiaries and ensuring that the Land Donation Policy, also approved by cabinet in December 2020, is approved to guide land donation transactions by private sector players and institutions keen to contribute to the land reform programme.
The deputy president emphasized that the “Constitutionally-defined path of our land reform programme will continue to focus on balancing the needs of reversing the legacy of land possession and deprivation, with the vision of fostering nation-building, unity and social cohesion”.
He declared that access to land is an “act of social justice that cannot be delayed”.
The deputy president also indicated that cabinet has adopted a position paper on land administration and tenure reform for consultation with various stakeholders, a Land Summit with traditional leaders to find common ground on land tenure reform and approaches to land under the custodianship of traditional leaders is in the pipeline, an overarching Land Administration Policy Framework that prioritises the recordal of all land rights is under development, work on the National Spatial Development Framework designed to guide overall land use decisions across the country is being finalised and state owned land to address development pressures around urban and rural human settlements, agricultural production, and industrial development is to be released.