Land bill runs into criticism

2011-01-05 00:00

THE recently published Land Tenure Security Bill has drawn criticism from land owners and land rights organisations alike.

They believe the bill does not address the concerns of land owners or farm dwellers.

The government recently published the Land Tenure Security Bill which proposes to protect the rights of farm dwellers and to separate farm workers’ employment contracts from their right to reside in their dwellings.

Annelize Crosby, a legal practitioner representing farming organisations Kwanalu and Agri-SA, said the bill has positive attributes but there are already foreseeable problems for land owners.

“The bill does not adequately address the issue of land claims as they still continue to drag on and we are stuck there. It will also make evictions more difficult and more expensive for land owners who already believe the process takes too long.

“One of our main problems is that the new land act grants many rights to the farm workers which mostly are quite vague.”

Crosby said there are positive attributes such as the process of mediation and the establishment of agri-villages.

News24 quotes Agri-SA president Johannes Möller warning that the bill will make farmers more reluctant to hire more people, which will stifle employment in the agricultural sector.

“Under the new bill farmers will be very wary of hiring new employees and would always take into account the economic and policy implications of hiring new labourers,” he reportedly said.

The Association for Rural Development (Afra) said it believes the bill is a retrograde step.

Said Mike Cowling, a member of Afra,“The bill has failed to address the fundamental issue of real tenure security in respect of farm dwellers and occupants; none of the fundamental problems [such as procedural simplicity or real tenure security] have either been adequately addressed or addressed at all.”

He said Afra believes that the publication of the bill is merely a part of an ongoing process that will engage all stakeholders and role players in order to ensure that the fundamental issues concerning security of tenure in rural areas is adequately addressed.

“Tenure security must operate from the perspective of not only land owners, but also rural dwellers who in many instances have occupied commercial farms for generations and have no other place to call home.”

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