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Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Bill Heading for Parliament

February 27, 2020

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

The Draft Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill will be tabled in parliament during the first quarter of 2020.

The agriculture, land reform and rural development department announced this in Government Gazette 43045.

Last year, parliament called on the 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.

The Constitutional Court set a deadline of April 2020 to amend the act.

According to the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development, women have no ownership rights in terms of the act.

The committee instructed the department to establish “how many women have had land transferred to them under this Act and registered at the Deeds Office”.

According to the explanatory summary, the draft 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 intention 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 the recognition of conversions that took effect in good faith in the past; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

Meanwhile, in a briefing in parliament on responses to the 2020 State of the Nation Address, the department confirmed that it, in consultation with the public works and infrastructure department, recommends that the Draft Expropriation Bill must be reviewed to expand its scope to cover land reform broadly and simplify the procedure to expropriate.

The department will provide for a land reform provision in the draft bill.

It confirmed that government stands ready, following the completion of the parliamentary process to amend section 25 of the Constitution, to table an Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible.

As regards the commercial use of hemp, the department indicated that the Commercialisation Strategy for Hemp will be concluded by 30 June 2020.

As part of the process, steps are being taken to declare cannabis (hemp) as a kind of plant under the Plant Improvement Act, 1976 and Plant Breeder’s Rights Act,1976; register new hemp varieties; zone hemp production areas and set phytosanitary conditions for hempseeds.