On the 17 March 2017 the Regulation of Agricultural Holdings Bill (the “Bill” or “Act”) was published in the Government Gazette. Although this Bill may be subject to substantial amendment, a number of approvals and final proclamation before it becomes effective, we have sought to outline some of the key provisions of this Bill in its current form. Please note that reference to the Act, shall for the purposes of this article be reference to the Bill once enacted and proclaimed.
The Bill seeks to address amongst other objectives to obtain agricultural land for redistribution in order to support and promote productive employment and income to poor and efficient small scale farmers, to ensure redress for past imbalances in access to agricultural land and to provide certainty regarding the ownership of public and private agricultural land.
In terms of section 3(1) of the Bill, the Bill applies in respect of all agricultural land, and to all transactions whereby agricultural land is acquired or disposed of. Section 3(2) provides that any provision in any agreement to acquire or dispose of agricultural land is void in so far as it purports to exclude, or to limit, any provision of the Bill. As such the application of the Bill bears wide application as it will not only apply to the acquisition of agricultural land after the Bill becomes effective but it will also impact on the disposal of agricultural land owned by foreigners. The Bill contains a number of key definitions as set out below, the concept of foreign person is broadly defined and includes foreign juristic persons and foreign trusts:
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