Land tenure Bill goes for public comment

Johannesburg - Government is pressing ahead with a new legislation which officials say aims at protecting farm workers from abuses and evictions.

Last week Cabinet approved the draft Land Tenure Security Bill and will be out for public comment in the next week. The proposed legislation will also separate farm workers' employment contracts from their right to reside in their dwellings.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti told farmers at a summit in Midrand on Saturday that the bill will protect the rights of farm workers and owners while at the same time enhancing the tenure rights of all farm dwellers. It will replace the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (ESTA) and Land Titles Adjustment Act 111 of 1993.

Millions of people, across the country, live on farms which they do not own and where they do not have secure tenure. These farm dwellers often face human rights abuses including evictions. Nkwinti said current legislation has been unable to protect farm dwellers and legislation has proven to be ineffective.

"The Bill will replace the ESTA and LTA and further introduces a Land Rights Management Board to support and sustain agri-villages which are intended to deal with tenure security sustainable human settlements and food production," Nkwinti said.

A draft green paper, which is currently before Cabinet, further proposes strategic partnerships between farmers and employees based on co-management and mentorship.

Nkwinti said tackling the issue of tenure rights of farm workers was one of the key issues contained in the department's land reform plans. He urged delegated at the summit on Saturday to device solutions to the collapsing land reform projects in rural provinces such as Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

Government had to set aside R208 million guarantee recently after the Land Bank threatened to take action against collapsing farmers. -BuaNews