ANC studies new tax to help drive shift in land ownership
Enoch Godongwana, head of the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, says there are many views on the idea of a land tax
The ANC is investigating a land tax as another way to drive its redistribution, according to the final resolutions from its Nasrec conference released by the party.
The head of the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, Enoch Godongwana, said on Monday there were many views on the idea of a land tax, and he confirmed the governing party was investigating a tax instrument to drive land redistribution. He said one view was for taxing land held for speculation, but this would be discussed further at a party workshop on land.
The party’s final conference resolutions were publicly released last week. Interestingly, the final resolution released is silent on amending Section 25 of the Constitution.
This is in line with public comments by ANC leaders last week, including MPs Vincent Smith and Mathole Motshekga, who are on Parliament’s joint committee on constitutional review. They said at a dialogue on land last week that it was not a foregone conclusion that the Constitution would be amended.
Motshekga told Business Day that the committee would be crisscrossing the country in the coming months to gauge the views of ordinary South Africans on the matter. He said experts, as well as former judges who have expressed views on amending the Constitution, would also be free to contribute during the public hearings.
Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, who leads a government task team on land, said the emerging view in the ANC was not to amend the Constitution but to beef up existing legislation. He said while the Constitution had been amended many times, amending Section 25 would be the first time the Bill of Rights was changed.
The ANC’s resolution on land redistribution, released last week, also contains more detail than the much-debated land expropriation without compensation, which the ANC voted for in a parliamentary motion brought by the EFF.
The conference resolution says the expropriation of land without compensation "should be among the key mechanisms available to government to give effect to land reform and redistribution. In determining the mechanism of implementation, we must ensure that we do not undermine future investment in the economy, or damage agricultural production and food security.
"Furthermore, our interventions must not cause harm to other sectors of the economy." It says the governing party’s approach to land reform had to be based on three elements: security of tenure, land restitution and land redistribution
"Concrete interventions are required to improve the functioning of all three elements of land reform. These interventions should focus on government-owned land and should also be guided by the ANC’s Ready to Govern policy document, which prioritised the redistribution of vacant, unused and under-utilised state land, as well as land held for speculation and hopelessly indebted land," the resolution reads.
It also says the acceleration of the land reform programme should be done in an "orderly manner" and that "strong action" must be taken against those who occupy land unlawfully.
There have been recent reports of land occupations in various parts of the country.
The ANC resolution says the government should further put in place measures for the land tax, support for black farmers and preferential allocation of water rights and infrastructure provision to black farmers. It should also accelerate the roll-out of title deeds to black South Africans to guarantee security of tenure and provide instruments for financial collateral.
Measures should also be put in place to "democratise control and administration of areas under communal land tenure".
Godongwana said the NEC subcommittee might hold a workshop on land reform at the end of April. This formed part of the resolutions and was aimed at developing a more detailed approach to accelerating land reform and reporting back on the land audit, he said.