The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has come under fire over the deadline for submissions on the controversial draft Land Tenure Security Bill.
The proposed bill was published on December 24 last year with a February 22 deadline for public comment.
The draft bill includes the establishment of agri-villages for farm workers in rural areas to address the housing challenges facing the agricultural sector.
The bill covers people living on farms and their families, farm workers and their families, and farm owners and their families.
However, land rights organisations and farmers’ organisations have slammed the department, saying there wasn’t sufficient time for consultation on the bill.
The KwaZulu-Natal-based Association For Rural Advancement (Afra) and Agri?SA have written to Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s office requesting an extension on the deadline.
“We certainly don’t think there was enough time.
We are unhappy about the time frame given for consultation. This is a controversial piece of legislation,” said Agri SA’s Annelize Crosby.
Mike Cowling of Afra said the consultation process had been problematic due to the bill being published during the holiday season, with stakeholders only getting about four weeks to study it.
“The bill was not even available in a single indigenous language, which means most people affected by it cannot understand its contents,” said Cowling.
Afra has written a letter to the minister requesting that the deadline be extended by 30 days to allow for a proper national consultation process.
Cowling said they might be forced to consider taking the matter to court depending on the response of the minister’s office to the extension request.