The South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) is taking a proactive and long-term view on tackling key property-related challenges in the City of Polokwane.
Municipal relations is a key plank in SAPOA’s mandate from the commercial and industrial property industry, and SAPOA is keenly aware that the effectiveness of municipalities across South Africa requires commitment from both the public and private sectors.
“Although we’re engaged with illegal land uses, illegal trading and economic development initiatives, the legality of the development of the City’s 2014/2015 general valuations roll is arguably our most pressing concern,” says SAPOA Regional Council chairperson Sumari Ridder.
Legally, municipal rates policies must comply with the Municipal Rates Act 2004. Furthermore, municipal rates policies take effect when the valuation roll is prepared. The valuation roll must accompany the annual budget for the financial year under review.
In Polokwane, according to allegations made by SAPOA members, there is no approved rates policy for the municipality and submissions made by SAPOA requesting the double-rating of illegal property uses was disregarded entirely by the City.
“And with the appointment of a valuer in September 2013 to update the roll by the end of January 2014, there is no rates policy in place to support it,” says Ridder.
After being alerted to these concerns by the Limpopo Regional Council, SAPOA CEO Neil Gopal immediately contacted the City’s Municipal Manager and Chief Financial Officer.
“We appreciate the willingness and the commitment of both offices to understand our concerns and find effective solutions,” he says.
“The office of the CFO has been especially helpful in finding a resolution to the concerns we raised – including clarifying whether or not the valuations roll was subject to public participation and inspection.”
SAPOA has requested, among other things, a copy of the Government Gazette Notice showing that the valuation roll was published as required by law.
But SAPOA’s involvement goes far beyond immediate valuations issues, and extends to tackling illegal land uses, illegal trading and local economic development planning.
SAPOA is likewise closely involved with the City’s Illegal Trading Task Team, which monitors the sale of illegal products on the street and advises on bylaw enforcement.
But perhaps the most long-term and foundational role SAPOA plays in Polokwane is being part of the Local Economic Development Forum (LEDF), a collaborative body that provides a platform for discussing economic initiatives between private, public and non-governmental organisations.
“We see our involvement in these initiatives, either on a regional or national basis, as paving the way for a healthy and successful property market in Polokwane going forward,” says Gopal.