Biz-Community (Cape Town)

28 February 2013

South Africa: Land Use Management Bill to Achieve Equity

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill seeks to transform land administration, with clear proposals to achieve equity, integration and sustainability in spatial planning.

Debating the bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Nkwinti said the pivotal principle underlying the bill was "spatial justice". The concept was hinged on several elements, including:

• Past spatial and other development imbalances need to be redressed through improved access to, and use of, land;

• Spatial development frameworks and policies in all spheres of government must address the inclusion of persons and areas that were previously excluded, with emphasis on informal settlements, former homeland areas and areas characterised by widespread poverty and deprivation;

• Spatial planning mechanisms, including land use schemes, must incorporate provisions that enable redress in access to land by previously disadvantaged communities and persons;

• Land use management systems must include all areas of a municipality and specifically include provisions that are flexible and appropriate for the management of disadvantaged areas, informal settlements and former homeland areas and,

• A land use regulator considering an application before it, may not be impeded or restricted in the exercise of its discretion because the value of land or property could be affected by the outcome of the application.

"We are stating in the bill that the objectives of this act [would be] to provide for a uniform, effective and comprehensive system of spatial planning and land use management for the Republic; and, to ensure that the system of spatial planning and land use management promotes social and economic integration and inclusion," said Nkwinti.

"We cannot say we have achieved social inclusion while the rich and the poor... continue to live apart. Redressing the imbalances of the past and ensuring that there is equity in the application of spatial development planning and land use management systems is a worthy cause, which we humbly urge this Parliament to support by passing this Bill."

He said the important role of municipalities in land use management could not be over-emphasised.

"In this bill, we have confirmed our understanding of municipalities as the primary land use regulators, so all land use applications will go to a municipality in whose area the land is located," he said.

Provincial and national government would perform key support and monitoring functions to ensure that municipalities discharge their mandate as spelt out in the bill.

Efforts to develop the bill commenced about 12 years ago and considerable time has been spent on engagements and consultations.

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