'Land debate paints bad picture of SA'

The SAIRR says the decision to ban foreign nationals from owning land before an audit is complete show it was an ideological decision. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Government's decision to ban foreign nationals from owning land before completing a full land audit shows it was an ideological decision, the South African Institute of Race Relations said on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Deputy Land Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenodi said non-South Africans would be barred from owning land, but the full details of the measure were still being worked out.

This comes after Minister Gugile Nkwinti last week said foreigners would only be allowed to hold land under a long-lease system once Parliament’s new legislation is passed.

The institute's deputy chief executive Frans Cronje said the ban would not help the country's image.

“It builds the argument that the South African government is at times, in principle, hostile to several classes of investment and I think that does us no favours.”

But Tsenodi said they were still working out who actually owns the country.

“State land is far less than what is owned privately, so we want to be able to see in racial terms what this represents.”

Cronje said it was important for the audit to take into account both the surface area and the value of the land being surveyed.

“A thousand hectares in the middle of the Great Karoo and a hectare in the Cape Winelands could easily be valued at the same amount.”

It is still unclear whether foreign nationals will be allowed to buy homes to live in under this ban.