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February : ANC plans to cap land ownership

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3 February, 2015

ANC plans to cap land ownership

by Natasha Marrian

THE African National Congress (ANC) says land ownership should be capped at 12,000ha and ownership of land by foreign nationals should be banned.

The party wants to deal "more firmly" with the land question. It is under increasing pressure - particularly as the country has in the past two years marked 20 years of democracy and the centenary of the 1913 Land Act - to move faster in redistributing land.

The pressure has intensified as new political players such as the Economic Freedom Fighters place land expropriation without compensation among their apex policy priorities. It has already started its land occupation programme.

A new leftist political entrant under discussion by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA is also set to prioritise land.

Both have accused the ANC of failing to live up to the tenets of the Freedom Charter, particularly on mineral resources and land. The charter stipulates that land must be shared by those who work it.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, speaking after a lekgotla of the national executive committee on Wednesday, said the ANC had urged its representatives in government to show "decisive and interventionist" leadership on land redistribution.

"Lekgotla has resolved that there should be a ceiling on land ownership of a maximum 12,000ha (and) two farms for both natural and all forms of legal persons," he said. "Land ownership by foreign nationals will also be prohibited; they will, however, be able to access land through leaseholds."

Whether this can be applied "retrospectively" to land already owned, will be tested first.

"It is an issue that will have to be tested constitutionally ... government should not wait for someone who is aggrieved (to take it to court)," he said.

The government would take a similar approach to 2004, when it was dealing with legislation on SA's mineral wealth.

"Its not a question of just running hard and riding roughshod (over) everybody, so all the categories of land will be looked into in that process," Mr Mantashe said.

The proposals were met with scepticism.

President of the African Farmers Association of SA Mike Mlengana called for further details. Limits on land holdings, he argued, could not be set nationally but should be localised at district levels to take into account environmental factors.

While he broadly agreed with barring foreign nationals owning land, he said this should not be the government's immediate focus.

"The debate right now should be on distributing land to South Africans and how to use it to alleviate poverty and promote food security," he said.

Agri SA president Johannes Moller pointed out that the proposals did not tie in with the National Development Plan and questioned the government's commitment to the 30-year blueprint for development.

He agreed that blanket land ceilings failed to take into account land-use patterns and environmental factors. On foreign land ownership, Mr Moller said while other countries sought to attract foreign investment, SA's government was shunning it.

"We are one of the few countries in the world to tell foreign investors where they can and can't invest," he said.

How the proposals will affect large users such as mining companies has yet to be determined. The Chamber of Mines declined to comment on Wednesday.

Source : www.bdlive.co.za