SAPOA seeks constructive engagement with Department of Land Affairs on land

SAPOA CEO, Neil Gopal

As land reform becomes an increasingly hot button issue in SA this year, the South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) is moving swiftly to engage in constructive dialogue with the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

The Department looks set to table five key land reform bills in Parliament this year. Of particular concern to the commercial and industrial property sector is the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill which requires that the nationality of land owners be recorded – something seen as a precursor to limiting foreign land ownership in SA.

“No policy should negatively impact investor confidence in our national economy,” says SAPOA CEO, Neil Gopal.

“We believe that an appropriate institutional environment – applicable to South Africans and foreigners alike – is critical to ensure long-term growth and stability of the property sector.”

Gopal points to the OECD’s 2003 checklist for the foreign direct investment policies as an example of global best practice. Indeed, the checklist underscores not only the need for regulatory stability and minimal red tape, but also a non-discriminatory approach to both domestic and foreign investors.

SAPOA acknowledges the need to redress past injustices in the South African property market, says Gopal, and agrees a balance of financial, social and environmental goals is needed.

“However, we are steadfast in our belief that secure land tenure, promotion of both domestic and international investment, and the allocation of land based on highest and best use is the optimal approach,” he emphasizes.

SAPOA intends to start a discussion with the Department on this issue in the immediate future, with the aim of providing assistance and input from the perspective of commercial and industrial property sector, says Gopal.