by Charles Castle, Manager, AfriBusiness
The business rights watchdog AfriBusiness condemns the racially discriminatory legislation published for comment in the Government Gazette on 17 March 2017.
According to the Regulation of Agricultural Holdings Bill foreign landowners who intend to sell agricultural land must first offer same to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (currently Gugile Nkwinti) for purchase, and if the Minister does not wish to acquire the land then it must be offered to a black person as defined in the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act no. 55 of 1998). Only thereafter may the property be offered for purchase to a white individual, which is a blatant form of direct discrimination against a minority group. Local agricultural landowners will, according to the Bill, be obliged to first offer land that they want to sell to a black person and then to the Minister.
The Minister in addition will, in terms of this Bill, have the power and authority to expropriate agricultural land where a price cannot be agreed upon between the Department and the property owner. The principle of “willing buyer and willing seller” therefore falls away completely, leaving agricultural land owners with no bargaining power to ensure that they receive a fair price for their property.
In terms of this Bill, no white person will have the right of first refusal as per the principles of a free and open economy to participate in the acquisition of any form of agricultural land. The scope of this Bill goes as far as to interfere with the inheritance of all South African citizens in that any sale of agricultural land out of a deceased estate will also be subject to the provisions of the Bill. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Bill will result in a fine or imprisonment not exceeding three months, or a combination of both.
“AfriBusiness will approach the Constitutional Court regarding the validity of this Bill if it is signed into law, as it will have a detrimental effect on the economy, food security and the principles of an open and free market system in a democratic society. This legislation directly discriminates against a minority group under the guise of land reform,” says Charles Castle, Manager at AfriBusiness.
AfriBusiness urges the public to submit comments to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform at RALHBill@drdlr.gov.za or firstname.lastname@example.org or deliver comments by hand at 184 Jeff Masemola Street, Pretoria. The public is also urged to sign and submit a letter of extension to the Minister as the period for public comment is not nearly sufficient to allow for proper public consultation and participation. This letter is available on AfriBusiness’ website at www.afribusiness.co.za.
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against direct discriminatory legislation.