The National Assembly (NA) held a media briefing during 2018 in regard to the submission to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee. This committee was established to review section 25 of the Constitution that deals with property rights.
Having been granted permission to build a Cathedral, Bishop Griffith purchased a piece of land, in 1839, from Baron van Ludwig. The foundation stone was laid on 6 October 1841, and consecration took place on 28 April 1851.
St Mary’s Cathedral
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The Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said the committee had received more than 700,000 electronic and hard copy submission forms from the public. Due to the volume of submissions, the NA was compelled to procure the services of a private service provider to help parliamentary processes to efficiently and speedily go through the submissions, Mr Mothapo revealed.
There are conflicting views about whether the Constitution allows for the state to expropriate land, for public interest, without compensation. If so, under what conditions may this be done without infringing the constitutional property rights? And what must be done to ensure constitutional clarity on state power to expropriate, not just land, but all private property where the public good demands, without infringing on constitutional individual property rights. This is the nature of questions the committee needs to resolve into sound land policy constitutional law.
Roman Catholic Church Land Policy
In 1999 the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) mandated its Justice and Peace Department (J&P) to take forward an initiative which aimed at developing constructive plans and policy around the just and sustainable use of land owned by the Catholic Church in Southern Africa. Subsequently a draft land reform policy paper was drawn-up for the conference.
Recommendations were made by representatives of all dioceses engaged in the land audit process, and by the participants in the national SACBC land consultations that were held in Durban and Johannesburg in 2004. The Land Desk of J&P has since developed a land policy framework that was adopted by the SACBC at the January plenary session of 2005.
Through the SACBC, the Church in South Africa holds it as true that, historically, land acquisition in Southern Africa begins, and coincides, with the advent of colonial domination that was characterised by the violent dispossession of land belonging to the black indigenous population. Whilst the Church did not participate in the violent acts of dispossession, she understands that she somehow benefited from this process in acquiring land.
It was stated that the Church believes that the restoration of land to the black poor majority is the first imperative step towards poverty eradication and is a basic corrective against the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. She pledges to support all legal and sustainable initiatives for land reform that seek to restore the rights and dignity of all people, black and poor in particular, who were previously denied land ownership rights and to ensure that the skewed land ownership profile of South Africa is rectified.
The SACBC envisages that each land-owning structure of the Church will make land available to communities that need such land for subsistence and/or business development. They implore Catholic Church land owners to donate such land to these communities and facilitate the link between these communities and government departments and local municipalities for service delivery and development support.
The Church’s land policy implores that vacant land owned and unused by the Church be sold below market value to historically disadvantaged communities through the government’s land redistribution for agricultural development programme, which assists historically disadvantaged people in setting up business entities and sustaining them.
Where no community is associated with such land, it should be sold in an open market at going rates, and a significant percentage of proceeds thereof should be made available to development projects within a diocese. It also says, in the interest of transformation, that the Church must undertake preferential leasing to historically disadvantaged persons and entities of the land she owns and wishes to keep. It notes that leased land is sometimes bound by medium-to-long term contracts. However, when such contracts expire, opportunities should be given to the historically disadvantaged to own or meaningfully participate in economic development of that land.
History – 200 years
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