OPINION

OVG is delaying land reform - Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader says Office of Land Valuer-General a bottleneck in process

Office of the Land Valuer General (OVG) is delaying land reform

The ANC government is trying to create the impression that unwilling sellers are the main reason for why the land reform process failed and that expropriation without compensation is, therefore, inevitable.

The reality, however, is that officials’ incompetence, among other things, is delaying the process.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe also states in his report on land reform that inadequate policies, poor implementation of existing legislation and corruption among officials are the main reasons for why land reform is not progressing as it should.

The entire process has been delayed even further with the establishment of the Office of the Land Valuer-General (OVG), who has since 2016 had the final say regarding the value of land in a land claim.

From the answers provided by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane) to written questions posed by the FF Plus about the functionality of the OVG, it is evident that the OVG is nothing but a bottleneck that creates even greater delays in the process. (Please see questions and answers below).

From the 827 valuation applications that the OVG received in the first year after it became operational in 2016 (2016/17), less than half (only 409) have been finalised.

During the 2017/18 financial year, the number of valuations increased sharply to 1 363, of which only 749 have been finalised. That means that only 1 158 of the 2 190 valuations that the OVG received since its establishment in 2016 have been finalised.

This has far-reaching implications for farmers whose hands are tied by a land claim as they cannot really keep farming nor plan for their future.

According to the government, the purpose of the OVG was to determine “reasonable and fair” compensation for land by means of its own valuations. In practice, however, there is great dissatisfaction with the OVG’s valuations as in some cases, the valuation is as low as 45% of the department’s valuation.

The reason for this is that the OVG has a set of subjective criteria that greatly influences its valuations. According to the written reply by the Minister, these criteria are as follows:

- Current use of the property;

- History of the acquisition and the use of the property;

- Market value of the property;

- Extent of direct state investment and subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital

improvement of the property; and

- Purpose of the acquisition.

The OVG’s decisions and determinations in this regard are one-sided and final and cause great confusion and dissatisfaction among landowners, because in many cases it is unclear why the OVG’s valuations are so much lower than the market value of the land.

Furthermore, in her written reply the Minister states that the average turn-around time for processing and finalising a valuation by the OVG is 50 working days, which is just over two months.

From correspondence that the FF Plus has in its possession, it is evident that even the staff at the Land Claims Commissioner’s Office is frustrated with the delays caused by the OVG – in some cases, eight months have gone by without an outcome and it is clearly a struggle just to establish communication with the staff at the OVG.

The government must stop casting suspicion on farmers in an attempt to hide its share in the failure of the land reform programme. The OVG in particular needs urgent attention and its capacity and efficiency will have to be addressed and improved if the land reform process is to be executed speedily and successfully.

Text of the reply:

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

WITTEN REPLY

QUESTION 1407

INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER [No 15-2018 FIFTH PARLIAMENT]

DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11 MAY 2018

1407. Dr P J Groenewald (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform:

(1) How many valuation reports has the Office of the Land Valuer-General (i) received and (ii) successfully finalised since his appointment in the (a) 2014-15, (b) 2015-16, (c) 2016-17 and (d) 2017-18 financial years;

(2) what is the average period of time for processing and finalising a valuation by the office;

(3) (a) what factors are taken into account at the determination of a valuation in the office and (b) how are the factors reflected in the valuation formula as applied by the Office of the Land Valuer-General;

(4) whether he will make a statement about the matter? NW1509E

THE MINISTER OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND LAND REFORM:

 (i) (a) 2014-2015: the OVG was not yet operational

(b) 2015-2016: initial OVG set-up phase

(c) 2016-2017: 827

(d) 2017-2018: 1363

(ii) (a) 2014-2015: none because the OVG was not operational

(b) 2015-2016: initial OVG set-up phase

(c) 2016-2017: 409

(d) 2017-2018: 749

(2) The set standard turn-around time for processing and finalising a valuation by the OVG is 50 working days.

(3) (a) Where property is being valued in terms of S12 (1) of the Property Valuation Act No 17 of 2014, (i.e where a property has been identified for purpose of land reform), the following factors are taken into account:

- Current use of the property;

- History of the acquisition and the use of the property;

- Market value of the property;

- Extent of direct state investment and subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the property; and

- Purpose of the acquisition.

(3) (b) The value of each of the five factors listed in 3(a) is reflected in the final value determined by the Office of the Valuer-General.

(4) No

Statement issued by Dr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, 1 June 2018