CAPE TOWN– The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will soon table a Bill in Parliament to provide for the establishment of a Land Commission which will help the government to conduct a comprehensive land audit, says the Minister, Gugile Nkwinti.

Briefing the at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament here Tuesday, he said the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill has been put out for public comment and would be introduced in Parliament in the course of the current fiscal year.

“The Bill introduces a Land Commission because people who own land in South Africa must register with that Land Commission so that we know who owns South Africa so that we can use that as a measure to determine the extent to which land is being redistributed in the country,” he said.

The Minister said the Land Commission would be able to assist the state to determine the true extent of land ownership in the country. Land audits by the department had not been able to reveal the actual ownership and uses of land in South Africa as several parcels of land are administered by different departments, he added.

For example, some parcels of land are owned by Trusts, which he said are administered by the Department of Justice, while land owned by companies is overseen by the Department of Trade and Industry under the Companies Act.

The Minister said the Land Commission would serve as “the primary structure to oversee the collection, maintenance and dissemination of all information regarding public agricultural land and private agricultural land, including land owned by South Africans, and that which is held by foreign persons”.

He said once the Bill is passed into law, key instruments of the Land Commission will include: a register of agricultural land holdings; disclosures in respect of the present ownership of private agricultural landholdings, including the race, gender and nationality of the owner, the use and size of the agricultural land holding and any real right registered against and licence allocated to the agricultural land holding;

Prohibition on the acquisition of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; lease of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; disposal of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; determination of categories of ceilings of agricultural land holdings for each district, by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, after consultation with the Commission and having regard to such criteria and factors as may be prescribed;

Redistribution of agricultural land which is all agricultural land holdings that fall between or exceeds any category of agricultural land holding; and first right of refusal by the State in respect of redistribution agricultural land.

“[What the Bill] seeks to do in terms of pursuing that objective of the ANC (the ruling African National Congress party) resolution is that irrespective of the colour of the skin of the owner of the land, what it seeks to achieve is setting ceilings in terms of small scale, medium scale commercial viable farm and large scale, so that our people must then participate in this debate.. so that they have a voice to determining the extent to which a large scale commercial viable farm should be given the various pragmatic conditions across the country,” he said.