New legislations to come before Parliament

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma will bring before Parliament legislations that he mentioned during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, including a Bill that seeks to prohibit foreign ownership of land.

The Presidency on Sunday said President Zuma referred to the Land Holdings Bill as a practice of limiting land ownership by foreign nationals and juristic persons, which is an established practice internationally.

The proposed policy states that foreign nationals and juristic persons are understood as non-citizens as well as juristic persons whose dominant share holder or controller is a foreign controlled enterprise, entity or interest, hence not all immigrants to South Africa will be excluded from land ownership.

“This category of foreign nationals that are non-citizens will not be able to own land in freehold from the time of the policy is passed into law, they will be allowed long term lease of 30 to 50 years,” the policy states.

According to the policy, it is recognized that this cannot apply retrospectively without constitutional infringements and as such those who have already acquired freehold would not have their tenure changed by the passing of the proposed law (the Regulation of land Holdings Bill).

However, the Presidency said in such instances, the Right of First Refusal will apply in favour of another South African citizen in freehold or the state if the land is deemed strategic.

“Furthermore, environmentally and security sensitive lands as well as those that are of  historic and cultural significance, and strategic lands (for land reform and socio-economic development) will be classified by law and land ownership by foreign nationals (non-citizens) in these areas will be discouraged,” reads the policy.

It is said that the policy will be affected through a call for compulsory land holdings disclosures. These disclosures will be in terms of race, nationality, gender, extent of land owned and its use.

The process will be managed through a Land Commission established, amongst others, to call for these disclosures, collect and assess the information and maintain it in collaboration with the national deeds registry.

The policy seeks to address problems such as the need to secure the limited land for food security and address the land injustice of more than 300 years of colonialism and apartheid.

“45% of the population (23 million South Africans) live on or below the poverty. 58% of this poverty stricken people are in rural areas. Access to a land allotment for households and rural entrepreneurs' and enterprises has shown to go a long way in addressing equity and poverty (two parts of our triple challenges),” the policy states.

The policy states that in many instances high value agricultural land has had its use changed to luxury and leisure uses and environmentally sensitive lands have also been inappropriately developed, and in some parts of the country an escalation in prices has been experienced which has made land in these areas inaccessible to citizens.

The proposed policy makes provisions for exemptions to access lands in classified areas based on certain conditions, primarily developmental.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

The Presidency said new laws will be introduced to further improve local government performance. It said the Intergovernmental Monitoring, Support and Interventions Bill 2013 will also be taken to Parliament.

“The Bill provides a legislative framework for effective interventions by provinces and national government in municipalities that need assistance. Currently, there is no national legislation regulating interventions in provinces in terms of section 100 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996,” said the Presidency.

The Presidency said government will also introduce the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership and Governance Bill, which will recognise the Khoi and San and close the existing gaps in the legislation, as there is currently no legislation that recognises the Khoi and the San.

Labour Legislation

The Presidency said the Department of Labour is investigating the Abattoir Sector for possibly setting minimum wages and conditions of employment, and that it will review the sectoral determination of agriculture, forestry, private security as well as wholesale and retail by March 2016.

“Government expects the finalization of the Employment Services Act of 2014. This is a milestone piece of legislation in that it formally establishes a public employment service in South Africa on a similar basis as that which exists elsewhere in the world,” said the Presidency.

It said the legislation will establish a free public employment mechanism where work seekers can register and be matched to vacancies that employers will be required to report to the department.

The Presidency said the legislation also formally regulates the practices of private employment agencies and temporary employment services, to prevent abuse of unsuspecting work seekers.

It will also facilitate the employment of foreign nationals in a manner that is consistent with the objects of this Act and the Immigration Act, 2002 and provide for the registration and regulation of private employment agencies.

“The Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 will be amended to improve benefits to beneficiaries and include public servants in the application of the Act.

“The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 130 of 1993 is to be amended to provide for rehabilitation, re-integration and early return to work of occupationally injured and diseased workers and to include and cover domestic workers for compensation for occupational injuries and diseases in a workplace,” said the Presidency.

It said the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 is being amended to elaborate on the responsibility of employers to create a healthier and safer working environment. -