Sapoa wands land reform talks

Johannesburg - The SA Property Owners Association (Sapoa) wants to discuss proposed legislation with the department of land reform, the organisation said on Thursday.

The department was expected to table five land reform bills this year, Sapoa said in a statement.

A piece of state-owned land nestled between Firgrove Way and Spaanschemat River Road in Constantia has been earmarked for land claims in terms of the old process. The claimants awaiting the settlement of these claims are among hundreds whose claims are yet to be settled. Photo: MICHAEL WALKER. Credit: CAPE TIMES

“Of particular concern to the commercial and industrial property sector is the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill which requires that the nationality of land owners be recorded - something seen as a precursor to limiting foreign land ownership in SA.”

Sapoa chief executive Neil Gopal said the policies could threaten investor confidence.

“We believe that an appropriate institutional environment - applicable to South Africans and foreigners alike - is critical to ensure long-term growth and stability of the property sector.”

Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said last week that the Bill would be brought to Parliament around November, but the cut-off point for foreigners to buy property would likely only come towards the end of the current administration.

Gopal referred to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's 2003 checklist for the foreign direct investment policies as an example of global best practice.

“Indeed, the checklist underscores not only the need for regulatory stability and minimal red tape, but also a non-discriminatory approach to both domestic and foreign investors.”

Sapoa agreed that a balance of financial, social and environmental goals were needed to redress past injustices in the property market.

“However, we are steadfast in our belief that secure land tenure, promotion of both domestic and international investment, and the allocation of land based on highest and best use is the optimal approach.”