Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti File 
picture: Dumisani Sibeko/Independent Media
Parliament – Expropriation without compensation was an aspiration and not African National Congress (ANC) policy, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.

Briefing journalists on several bills addressing land reform, an emotive issue in South Africa, Nkwinti said expropriation without compensation was on the agenda during a Cabinet lekgotla before president Jacob Zuma delivered his state of the nation address in February.

"It's one of the aspirations we expressed in the lekgotla. This is the direction we're going to take to the national policy conference in there is no determination in this regard yet," he said. Nkwinti said the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, which would, among others, bar foreigners from owning land in the country, would comply fully with the Constitution.

Foreigners would however be able to lease land. Nkwinti gave the assurance that "there will be no arbitrary taking away of their land".

Asked whether this proposed law would apply retrospectively, Nkwinti said they would approach the courts to seek advice.

"We said as a department we would seek a declaratory order on that point because South African law will not accept or agree that you dispossess somebody without just equitable compensation so we are mindful of that," he said.

A key feature of the bill is the creation of a Land Commission which would register all agricultural holdings in the country with owners having to provide details of their race, gender, and nationality.

"We will create a commission which will enable government and the people of South Africa to know exactly who owns South Africa and to what extent," said Nkwinti.

The bill, along with Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill, the Communal Land Tenure Bill, the Communal Association Amendment Bill, the Land Valuation Regulations under the Property Valuation Act of 2014, will be introduced Parliament this year.

While the legislation would be "constrained" by section 25 of Constitution, Nkwinti said expropriation without compensation was still on the table for possible implementation. "This was a decision there which is a big decision which will go to the June policy conference of the ANC and then ultimately to the national conference of the ANC for a policy position."