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South Africa’s National Constitutional Assembly has passed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill which, among other things, prohibits foreign ownership of land and aims at speeding up land reform programme which had been stalled by the willing-buyer, willing seller model.

The move follows in the direction of Zimbabwe which discarded the willing-seller, willing buyer option after it became clear that the system had stalled land reform and the move resulted in a successful fast track land reform programme.

South Africa’s Minister of Land Reform Mr Gugile Nkwinti was elated that the new law would speed up the land reform process.

The Bill was passed in Parliament on Monday after a protracted resistance from opposition Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus- white hegemonic parties- for the protection and perpetuation of white interests and privileges.

The passing of the Bill allows for the re-opening of land claims which were closed in 1998 and the new deadline for the land claims has now been set for December 31 2018.

Claimants who failed to meet the 1998 deadline are supposed to show good cause why they were eligible for consideration during the new window.

Media reports in South Africa quoted Mr Nkwinti dismissing proposals by the DA MPs, saying they were attempting to protect their interests as land owners.

There’s a fundamental difference between their approach and ours, he said. Theirs is that land restitution is a project that must be done as soon as possible. Ours is a programme, land restitution is a programme for social justice and as a programme for social justice it is endless.

Responding to a question on what would happen with land owned by foreign nationals — and whether they would be forced to sell it or convert it to leasehold, Mr Nkwinti said this was a moot issue.

“The question of retrospectivity is a moot question in terms of South African constitutional jurisprudence. It’s a moot issue,” he said.

Source : The Herald

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