October 19, 2019

Title deeds being granted while section 25 process unfolds

The government has started the process of handing over title deeds to South Africans across the country who wish to own their own properties, even as the parliamentary ad hoc committee to change section 25 of the Constitution decides the way forward for the future of property ownership in South Africa, writes JAN-JAN JOUBERT.

Answering a parliamentary question by ANC MP Mohatla Tseke, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu revealed that according to the government’s count, a total of 818,371 title deeds to land and housing currently belonging to the state will be transferred to beneficiaries in due course.

This announcement is in line with repeated statements by President Cyril Ramaphosa that landless South Africans want to own the homes and land that they occupy, and puts the president at odds with the EFF policy that the state must own all land, and lease it to beneficiaries for renewable terms.

According to Sisulu, the handover of property currently held by the state is continuing apace. In the Western Cape, 60 title deeds were handed over in August. In the adjacent Eastern Cape, 500 title deeds were handed over in July, and in September more title deeds will be handed over in Cala, Middelburg and Cradock.

In North West, 209 title deeds were transferred in the Rustenburg area and 250 more will be transferred in the province by the end of September. Limpopo’s recent transfers number 490, but in the Free State the process has been held up.

According to Minister Sisulu, the handover of property currently held by the state is continuing apace.

KwaZulu-Natal saw 500 deed transfers in July and 50 more in the first half of September, which has been followed up by the handover of title deeds in Pietermaritzburg, Umzimkhulu, Vryheid and Durban.

In Gauteng, 219 title deeds were transferred in Johannesburg in August, while Mpumalanga saw 700 title deeds in the Barberton area were transferred in the same month.

The government plans on granting a total of 82,562 title deeds in the Eastern Cape, 53,471 in the Free State, 88,714 in Gauteng, 136,047 in KwaZulu-Natal, 40,602 in Limpopo, 57,157 in Mpumalanga, 16,874 in the Northern Cape, 54,071 in North West and 16,882 in the Western Cape.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary ad hoc committee on changing section 25 of the Constitution which is engaged in refining the details of expropriation without compensation met on 11 September to map out the legislative road ahead for the controversial and important constitutional amendment.

Committee chairman and senior ANC MP Dr Mathole Motshekga said although each new parliament is not bound by the decisions of its predecessor, the newly constituted committee will build on the work of its equivalent in the previous parliament.

It will therefore take into account the public hearings which were held in 45 towns and cities across the country, the report of the high level panel chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe and the presidential advisory panel on agriculture.

Motshekga warned that the courts will probably have to pronounce on the committee’s outcome, whatever they decide. He then mapped out the way forward.

Firstly, the committee will hold a workshop of experts to advise it, and Motshekga wants to invite what he calls the best brains in the country to participate. These would include, but not be limited to, University of the Western Cape academics Prof Ruth Hall and Prof Ben Cousins, Prof Quinton Johnson from Nelson Mandela University, former judges Albie Sachs, Dikgang Moseneke, Sandile Ngcobo and Johan van der Westhuizen, Adv Tembeko Ngcukaitobi, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Black Lawyers Association, as well as AgriSA, Khoisan leaders and church groups such as the Dutch Reformed Church, which Motshekga said owns a lot of land.

The DA will be adding names to be added to the workshop, to strengthen it and make it more representative, the party said. DA MP Adv Glynnis Breytenbach immediately added the names of former President Kgalema Motlanthe and Adv Wim Trengove, adding that there were more to come.

After the workshop, parliamentary legal services will brief the committee, after which draft legislation will be produced. Although the deadline for the committee is 31 March 2020, Motshekga said it should not allow deadlines to paint it into a corner, and that the end of June next year is probably a more realistic target date for completion of the process.

The Freedom Front Plus’s Dr Corne Mulder agreed that a slower and more thoughtful, thorough approach was preferable. In this he was supported by IFP MP Inkosi Elphas Buthelezi.

ANC MP Mandla Mandela agreed with the slower approach, saying that it was key to the essence of South African democracy that all voices be heard and that the process that is followed be above reproach.

According to EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu, too much time was being wasted intellectualising on issues and holding workshops when all that had to be done was decide on the exact wording of the constitutional amendment which the ad hoc committee was expected to implement.

The committee then adjourned and will now propose names of experts to be invited to brief it in the workshop, which will be held shortly.

Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Sunday, 22 September 2019 21:15

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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