The Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture made their final report to the President public on 28 July. It says immediate action is necessary for a Land Records Bill. This will be the main driver of South African land reform. A single national data portal for all land-related information is the aim.
The panel estimates that 60% of all South Africans have no recorded rights for the land they occupy.
Urban land is more important for land reform
Demand for land is much greater in urban areas. Most of South Africa’s population lives in cities, towns or peri-urban areas.
Who are the people without recorded land rights?
- Residents of informal settlements
- Beneficiaries or occupants of state-subsidised housing who don’t have title deeds yet
- Beneficiaries whose information in the deeds registry is not up to date
- ‘Off-register’ farm dwellers and labour tenants
- Residents of communal areas
Who is affected by a Land Records Bill?
Everyone: Individuals, households, extended families and communities, both customary and non-customary. This is an exciting development for South Africa. We all need to follow the progress of the Bill closely because it affects everyone.
Who will pay for the national data portal?
The report recommends a separate ring-fenced budget line for rights recordal, registration and administration.
How fast will it take for the Bill to come through?
The government must hold urgent consultations (overseen by an expert working group) before it can draft the Land Records Bill. The report says the government must prioritise the Bill and table it in the next Parliament.
Will existing deeds registration practices change?
If the panel’s recommendations are accepted the legislature will amend the Deeds Registry Act and the Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill at the same time. Low-cost technologies and blockchain options are being explored.
What will happen if there is a dispute about who has the land right?
The working group must look at how to facilitate arbitration of locally-registered rights and how to reflect the rights in the deeds registry.