Communal land owners who want to sell should give state first right to purchase

The Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Communal land owners wanting to sell their land should give the state first right to purchase. That is one of the proposals under the Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill.

The Bill is currently before the National Council of Provinces for consultation. The Bill has some lawmakers hot under the collar. They question certain aspects of the proposed amendments.

The Bill will however not affect land under traditional authorities, like the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu- Natal. Land Affairs and Rural Development Department says Communal Property Associations (CPA) are experiencing challenges.

One way to curb the sale of communal land without the consent and knowledge of beneficiaries is to offer the state first option to buy. “Now what we are introducing is an instance where this would have happened, the instance of the department, the department would have paid for that land to be restituted in the first instance. Now we are saying that where a CPA legitimately decides to sell land, it must first offer that land back to the department,” says the Department’s Sello Ramasela.

The Bill also intends to establish the office of a Registrar, who will oversee the management of CPA’s. “The registrar has a lot of powers here. I’m worried about the one the registrar may dissolve a CPA management structure or dismiss its members. There’s nothing that says at least with approval of the minister,” says ANC’s Nomawethu Gqiba.

DA’s Jacques Julius says;” We know the registrar is actually the Minister and the Department and that’s government. That’s government overreach. You are actually depriving people of their land.”

The Department has defended the need for a Registrar. “There is a process that at least must unfold before that happens. There must be a reason for the registrar to want to dissolve a committee or dismiss a member. The registrar must have heard the interested parties,” says Ramasela.

The proposed legislation, unlike the principal Act, will make financial mismanagement an offence. Destroying documents to hide corruption will also become a crime.

The public participation process will start after consultations with stakeholders. Click below for more on the story: