Parliament has passed the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill and sent it to president Ramaphosa for assent.
The bill, designed to provide for the application for conversion of land tenure rights to ownership, was tabled in parliament in May 2020.
The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces NCOP for concurrence in December 2020.
The bill aims to amend the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act, 1991, so as to:
• provide for the application for conversion of land tenure rights to ownership;
• provide for the notice of informing interested persons of an application to convert land tenure rights into ownership;
• provide for an opportunity for interested persons to object to conversion of land tenure rights into ownership;
• provide for the institution of inquiries to assist in the determination of land tenure rights;
• provide for application to court by an aggrieved person for appropriate relief;
• provide for the recognition of conversions that took effect in good faith in the past; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
In 2019 parliament called on the agriculture, land reform and rural development department to initiate work on the bill.
The Constitutional Court ruled on 30 October 2018 that section 2(1) of the 1991 Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act is constitutionally invalid as it discriminates against women.
The section deals with the conversion of land tenure rights into ownership.
The act provides for the upgrading and conversion into ownership of certain rights granted in respect of land.
In an earlier briefing to the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development, the department confirmed that the proposed amendments only deal with matters raised by the Constitutional Court in the Rahube and Senqu cases.
The department added that there are other sections of the act that, if challenged on the same basis as sections 2 and 25A, will certainly be declared unconstitutional.
“A decision was made based on the advice of the Office of Chief State Law Adviser that the Bill must be a narrow one only addressing the sections that have already been challenged. The decision was made taking into account the tight time frame given of 18 months within which (to) amend the Act.”
The department pointed out that it is currently reviewing all tenure laws including urban and rural tenure systems and the act is also the subject of the comprehensive review process.
The committee passed the bill with amendments.
A new clause 4 on application of act was inserted stipulating that the provisions of the act, excluding sections 19 and 20, shall apply throughout South Africa.
The department briefed the select committee on land reform, environment, mineral resources and energy on the bill earlier this year.
The department emphasized that, in reviewing tenure laws, government will strengthen already existing rights to make them legally secure as required by section 25(6) of the Constitution.
The department emphasized that efforts already made to ensure legally secure tenure in accordance with section 25(6) of the Constitution will not be reversed.
The select committee adopted the bill without amendments.