Draft land tenure amendment bill seen as step in right direction

Parliament has heard submissions from academics, people living on farms as well as organisations representing landless communities on the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill.

Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Civil society organisations have told Parliament the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill, known as the Ultra Bill, is a step in the right direction in land reform.

Organisations on Friday made submissions during public hearings on the bill, which also seeks to transfer land to women who have been excluded for decades.

Parliament has heard submissions from academics, people living on farms as well as organisations representing landless communities.

They commented on the amendments that would ensure persons, who had been discriminated against in the past, could also become holders of land rights.

Dr Fani Ncapayi, from the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town, said the overriding intention of the bill, which was ensuring that landowners got ownership of the land they occupied, was commendable.

“However, the bill is still a half measure that does not address the various tenure challenges.”

Harry May of the Surplus People’s Project said there were similarities and differences in past tenure legislation.

“There are a number of similarities, but there are also lots of differences. So hopefully we can bring the lessons that we have learned through these years,” said May.

The draft legislation also provides an opportunity for persons aggrieved by conversions that took place from 27 April 1994 to approach the courts for appropriate relief.