The proposed amendment to South Africa’s Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act is a clear attempt to “bamboozle” the homeless out of their ability to own property, the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry said on Friday.
If passed, it will inevitably trigger a Constitutional Court challenge, Cape Chamber president Janine Myburgh said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Parliament’s portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development adopted a report on the bill, which intends to amend the 1991act to provide for the application for the conversion of land tenure rights into ownership.
It also provides for a notice informing interested people of an application to convert land tenure rights into ownership, and to provide an opportunity for interested people to object to the conversion of land tenure rights into ownership.
In plain language, the amendment sets out to prevent the poor from gaining private freehold title to land, offering instead a government permit to occupy it, Myburgh said on Friday.
“Joined with the determination to allow expropriation without compensation of private land for social housing, it will put those who might benefit at the mercy of the State,” she said.
“They will never hold a title deed. Their homes will not be castles. They will be serfs’ cottages, no matter how much brick and mortar they invest in them.”
The proposed new law would also send another signal to potential investors that “South Africa is not open for business”, the Cape Chamber head added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s governing African National Congress has already come in for criticism over plans to amend the Constitution to allow for land to be confiscated without compensation, a move it says is necessary to reverse racist historical policies that gave more land to whites.
On Friday, Myburgh said amending the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act amounted to a “clarion call announcing that we intend to march swiftly back to a tribal past or, as it will probably be presented, to dance towards a socialist future”.
“Both are unattractive visions to investors both foreign and domestic,” she added.