Gauteng to target private land immediately 'to test Constitution'
The Gauteng government has made it clear that it will be targeting privately owned land and not only that owned by the state when it deals with expropriation without compensation and land reform.
Infrastructure development MEC Jacob Mamabolo told the provincial legislature that tampering with ownership patterns would be done with immediate effect as the Gauteng government would test the provisions in the Constitution that deal with property rights and would not wait for the constitutional review committee to complete its work on possibly amending section 25 of the Constitution.
The provincial legislature held a heated debate on land expropriation without compensation on Tuesday. The national debate has intensified investor fear, centred on damage to property rights and the financial sector, as well as the effect it could have on agriculture, land value and food production.
Recently Fitch Ratings said land reform in SA would probably be handled in a way that avoided significant economic damage. But Fitch sovereign analyst Jan Friederich said: "The policy will focus investors’ minds on the more general risks to property rights resulting from high inequality."
Mamabolo said during the debate: "When we talk of land reform and expropriation without compensation, we do refer in the main to privately owned land and not just government-owned land."
The ANC took a resolution that the Constitution should be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation at its conference in December.
Mamabolo told Business Day the Gauteng government would expropriate any piece of private land needed to meet public demand, which included property, land and buildings. Public interest could, for example, be for infrastructure development.
Mamabolo is a member of the task team appointed by Premier David Makhura in May tasked with developing a plan on rapid land release in the province, which included identifying land parcels owned by local, provincial and national government which could be allocated to qualifying people.
Gauteng recently saw instances of illegal occupation of land, as well as violent protests for housing.
DA member of the legislature Makashule Gana rejected any changes to the Constitution and said expropriation of land without compensation was nothing but "a way for South Africans to be perpetual tenants on the land of their birth where the land will be owned by the state".
The EFF has called for all land to be owned by the state and for individuals to be able to lease the land from the state. The ANC does not advocate this.