Valuers to close restitution loophole — Didiza

Posted On Thursday, 02 June 2005 02:00 Published by
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Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza has moved to close the loophole that allowed collusion and inflating the price of land earmarked for restitution.

 
Wyndham Hartley

Parliamentary Editor

CAPE TOWN — Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza has moved to close the loophole that last year allowed farmers, valuers and corrupt officials to collude and inflate the price of land earmarked for restitution.

This follows the report in March this year showing that millions more than the market value was paid for farms in Mpumalanga. Didiza at the time said collusion between farmers, valuators and land affairs officials had resulted in government paying inflated prices for farms.

Under the scam, farmers inflated the value of their farms and valuators confirmed these valuations, which were then presented to corrupt government officials who then issued payment. The farmers then gave kickbacks to the official and valuator.

Replying to questions in Parliament yesterday, Didiza said that it had been decided to appoint a resident valuator and to appoint panels of valuators at a provincial level.

“It will also become mandatory to conduct a deeds search for every property that is to be purchased as part of restitution processes.”


She said that if a deeds search had been done in the Mpumalanga cases, it would have shown the acquisition history of the property and demonstrated that the asking price had been inflated.

She said the problem had enabled the department to improve its systems and avoid similar problems in the future.

Didiza agreed with Democratic Alliance MP Maans Nel that not all farmers were demanding inflated prices for their land when selling to the state for restitution.

It was a reality was that in restitution purchases the state was a captive buyer, she said.

The entire issue of land reform would be debated at a summit in July and part of the debate would be centred on how SA should deal with land reform before it “exploded”. In SA “we are still lucky that we have the space to debate the matter”, Didiza said.

The minister said that to reach the redistribution target of 30% by 2014, the process would require more resources. She suggested that multi-property owners could make some land available for below market value in the interests of national stability.


Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day

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