Despite all the chaos and controversy the erupted in parliament last week, President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) still featured several key announcements, particularly in the areas of energy and land reform. Apart from a substantial windfall for Eskom in order to address the countries ongoing electricity woes, Zuma also announced a proposed bill that will seek to limit foreign land ownership in South Africa.
The move has yielded mixed reactions, with particular questions over the future of foreigners currently in possession of land in the country. But according to Dr. Anwar Nagia, chairperson of the District Six Beneficiary and Redevelopment Trust, the proposed bill would remove some of the “unfairness” in the relationship between those owning, and those leasing land.
“With the basic British Pound at R7, the Euro at R13, and the Dollar which is almost R12, large tracts of highly commercial and valuable land at all our sea boards, and institutions like game reserves are being bought up (by foreigners). This will be denied to the native South African population for another 100 years,” he explained.
Should the new ‘Land Holdings Bill’ be approved, foreign nationals will be prevented from owning land in South Africa. Instead, they will be required to take up long terms leases should they wish to own land within the country. This is seen as more beneficial to South Africans; as the land will at all times remain under local ownership.
The move will also limit the amount of land owned by a single individual or entity to around 12 000 hectares. Foreigners will only be allowed to own land in a business capacity, provided the main shareholder of an entity is controlled from outside the country.
Nagia however suspected the bill’s implementation would likely delay the countries ongoing land restitution processes in urban areas, including in District Six.
“I think the bill is progressive. I think we must just guard against the fact that there might be a sufferance of urban restitution, where that is not a priority in the same intensity,” he explained. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)