ANC Proposes Tax On Unused Land to Force Owners to Sell to the State

SOUTH AFRICA – The ANC has proposed more taxes for unused land to force owners to sell their land to the state in an attempt to fast-track its failed land redistribution programme.

Head of Economic Transformation Enoch Godongwana said the party was looking at a raft of taxes for unoccupied land or land bought for speculative purposes. Speculative land refers to land bought for investment, with owners hoping the undeveloped land will in time rise in value.

"We, in a sense, unashamedly put a proposal to tax land used for speculative purposes to force people to sell," Godongwana said.

Godongwana was speaking during a media conference at the party's Luthuli House headquarters to launch the governing party's policy documents ahead of the June conferences.

In the document on economic transformation, the party again commits itself to "returning land".

It said the market-based valuation of land must be facilitated and accelerated by the passing of updated expropriation legislation by Parliament.

Godongwana admitted that the party had no new policy proposals on land but they had "perfumed" past policy documents.

"Unfortunately I have to concede... 20 years since the signing of the Constitution we don't have an expropriation act which is in line with the Constitution," Godongwana said.

Stark divisions

The ANC is under pressure to fast-track its land reform and redistribution programme, with the majority of land still owned by the white minority.

In 2012, the ANC Mangaung conference agreed to drop the willing buyer, willing seller approach for the expropriation of land without compensation within section 25 of the Constitution.

Stark divisions emerged within the party after the Economic Freedom Fighters again offered the ANC its 6% to change the Constitution to enable government to expropriate land without compensation.

Some within the ANC decried the party's parliamentary caucus for rejecting the motion by the EFF in Parliament.

But the head of the ANC's education and health subcommittee Naledi Pandor said amending just one clause of section 25 would not resolve the land redistribution challenge.

"I think we need to move away from the way we are discussing this very important matter of land access and transformation, as well as distribution of ownership of land. It is a much more refined issue than the manner in which we are debating it. If you look at the full context and read all sub clauses of clause 25, you will find it's quite an enabling clause," Pandor said.

The ANC also said in its documents that there should be skills transfer for beneficiaries of land redistribution.

Source: News24; Photo: South Africa’s President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma