A new bill that will set out unique land ceilings for various districts in the country was published in the Government Gazette for public comment.
In the draft legislation, specific criteria will be used to determine unique land ceilings for various districts.
The bill also makes provision for the establishment of a land commission, which will play a key role in the determination of land ceilings, as well as the long-term lease of agricultural land by foreigners.
Although land owned by foreign nationals will not be expropriated, they will not be able to acquire agricultural land after the bill has been signed into law.
In terms of the draft legislation, the following criteria will be used in determining land ceilings:
- the type of land, including high, medium and unique agricultural land, as well as land used for grazing and planting purposes;
- climate factors;
- current production output, commodity specific limitations, the size of farms, sustainability of the farm, economies of scale, agricultural activities on the farm, as well as the number of farmworkers and their dependants;
- the type of soil, including soil depth and quality, grazing capacity, water availability and its quality, distance to markets and the available infrastructure.
Other factors which may be taken into account are the capital requirements for the various agricultural operations, expected income for households, annual yield and the relationship between product and price margins.
Land commission’s role
After determining the various categories for land ceilings following public consultation, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti will publish the criteria and stakeholders will have 30 days in which to give input and make comments.
Once ratified, the legislation will require the owners of private agricultural land to make a thorough declaration of their ownership of the specific land. It is proposed that this be done within 12 months.
Classification based on race, which was omitted in 1994, is making a comeback in the current draft legislation.
In the declaration, the land owner will need to state his or her race, gender and nationality, as well as the size of the land and usage.
In addition, owners need to declare the rights and licences granted for agricultural use of the land.
No race declaration for foreigners
Although foreigners also need to make declarations, they don’t have to make known their race or gender.
The legislation also stipulates that buyers of agricultural land need to declare their ownership status after 90 days of the purchase. In this instance new owners will also be obliged to declare their race, gender and nationality.