Parties call for landowner audit: Daily Dispatch

THE Economic Freedom Fighters want an audit into farms, land owned by the state and communal land in the province.

EFF legislature leader Themba Wele claimed there were farmers without title deeds. “We want the audit as soon as possible. The only people that will have a problem are white farmers [who] sell at ridiculous prices without even having title deeds,” Wele said, adding the EFF would engage with stakeholders, including traditional leaders, to pressure the state to hold the audit.

But rural development and land reform department spokesman Thobile Mxotwa said the department was already busy identifying legal land owners.

“The land audit was done [in 2012-13] into privately owned and state owned land. We found most of the land belongs to individuals. The state only owns about 14%.” He added the department planned an in-depth probe into ownership of privately owned land. “We will continue with the land audit, [we] will do a second phase. We want to know who owns what,” he said, adding a land commission would be set up to register and identify land owners.

“The bill has been drafted and is going to be sent to cabinet for approval and parliament for passing. We want to know how much land belongs to white, black, Indian and coloured. We also do not know how much land belongs to foreigners,” Mxotwa said. In future foreigners would not be allowed to own land; they would only be able to lease.

DA provincial leader Athol Trollip said his party had also been calling for a land audit for years in vain.

“We want to know how much land the state owns. They keep saying they want a target of 30% of commercial farm land to be transferred to black African farmers yet they are not transferring ownership to black farmers.”

“I would support a land audit to find out how much land the state owns, also how much black and white South Africans own. But I could not support a land audit that is aimed simply at one sector of the society,” Trollip said.

A paper presented at a land tenure summit last month recommended that total prohibition of land ownership by foreign nationals would address the “problem” of government not owning as much land as it wants. — siphem@dispatch.co.za

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