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Parliamentary Bulletin

26 August 1997

EXTENSION OF SECURITY OF TENURE BILL


Background

There are about 1.2 million farmworker households in South Africa. They make up one of the poorest and most insecure sections of our population. When they lose their jobs, they lose their housing. In the past, subsidies were provided to farmowners for farmworkers` housing.

What this meant was that public money was used without providing security for the workers.

The Government now wishes to protect the rights of farmworkers by ensuring that they cannot be unfairly evicted from their homes, homes in which their families have sometimes lived for generations.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Bill will be debated in the Chamber this week, and it will extend the rights of rural people who live on land not owned by them. This Bill has been developed in a wide consultative process, taking all stakeholders on board with the support of both Farmers` Organisations and organisations promoting the interests of farmworkers and the landless.

The Main Points of the Bill

  • to provide security of tenure for people living in rural areas
  • to protect occupiers of land in rural areas from unfair eviction
  • setting criteria and guidelines for eviction so that it is done in a just and procedurally correct way
  • setting out the basic rights and obligations of people living on land in rural areas not owned by them
  • setting out the rights and obligations of the owners of this land.

The Bill will apply to all rural land, such as farm land, rural land owned by tribes and peri-urban land.

The owners of land who evict people contrary to the provisions of the Bill will be liable for criminal prosecution, and suitable punishment. The court will be able to impose a jail sentence of up to two years, and or a fine.

The Bill creates mechanisms and criteria to help people to acquire long term security, either on the land where they are living or on other land. It will be possible to use subsidies from the Department of Land Affairs or the Department of Housing for this purpose.

The Bill also makes provision for the speeding up of this process by making it possible to release "block grants" -i.e. grants for a group of people or a community -- through provincial, district or local government, or bodies approved for this purpose.

Procedures for eviction

The Bill sets out the procedure by which the owner of the land may evict the occupier:

  • the owner may terminate the right of occupation of the land in terms of the current laws. He/she may terminate employment in terms of the Labour Relations Act
  • once the right of occupation has been terminated, and the occupier is still living on the land the courts will only be able to grant an order of eviction if they take into account various factors, such as how long the people have lived on the land, what the employee did to lead to the termination of employment.
  • if the termination of employment is not the result of the fault of the occupier, the owner will not be able to evict the employer unless suitable alternative accommodation is provided.

Key ANC Messages

  • For the first time, people who are the most vulnerable of our citizens, will be protected from vindictive and arbitrary eviction
  • The Minister of Land Affairs has been recognised as pioneering some of the most progressive land reform legislation in the world.
  • In this legislation the ANC reaffirms its commitment to the most needy of South African citizens, without unfairly undermining the interested of the very important agricultural centre.
  • The ANC once again proves that it is committed to reconciling the needs of interest groups who under the old regime were regarded as irreconcilable.

Other Important Achievements of Land Affairs

  • 1,8 Million Hectares of land have been approved for transfer by the Department of Land Affairs since 1994 and more than 400,000 people have benefited
  • the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act
  • the Restitution of Land Rights Act
  • the Communal Property Association Act
  • the Development Facilitation Act

These initiatives of the Department of Land Affairs resulted in the empowerment of thousands of disadvantaged South Africans.

Parliament today passed a motion congratulating the Minister of Land Affairs on the achievements of the Department .

     
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