News: SA: Foreigners to face buying ban?

Tue, 06 Nov 07

SA’s new Coastal Management Bill contains some concerning clauses for potential investors, reports MyProperty South Africa (http://www.myproperty.co.za)...


The proposed Integrated Coastal Management Bill provides a far more sensible solution to the question of foreign investment in SA property than the report recently presented to Cabinet on the development of policy on foreign land ownership.

So says Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group, who notes that the Bill is soundly based on legal grounds as opposed to the emotionalism involved in the report.

"And it's surprising that there appears to have been no cross-referencing between the two initiatives, a situation which leaves developers and investors in coastal property in limbo," he says.

Enhance the coast


The Integrated Coastal Management Bill aims to provide a legal and administrative framework that will promote co-operative, co-ordinated and integrated coastal development.

"It would also preserve, protect and enhance the status of the coastal environment as the heritage of all, ensure coastal resources are managed in the interests of the whole community, ensure there is equitable access to the opportunities and benefits derived from the coast and give effect to certain of South Africa's international law obligations," says Kotzé. "Existing access points to the coast would also be reinstated and properly maintained and access land demarcated."

"It also gives government the power to prevent development too close to the sea by establishing 'set-back' lines. Existing property rights would not be affected but clearly the idea is to preserve the coastline from irresponsible development and to provide all South Africans with access to the coast. Nobody could possibly quarrel with this."

International ‘best practice’


On the other hand, he says, the report presented to Cabinet on the development of policy on foreign land ownership contains a recommendation regarding a total moratorium on the sale of all land to foreigners as well as the suggestion that special ministerial approval be sought in cases where certain categories of land are considered for disposal.

"And when it goes public for debate, this report is due to include examples of 'international best practice'. However, as property economist Erwin Rode says, the fact that some countries have foreigner-hostile policies in place, does not necessarily mean that SA should follow suit."

Rode has pointed out that such a policy would imply that SA did not need the skills, capital and new ideas of foreigners. "And that is obviously not the case," says Kotzé. "We do need all these things and I would urge the various policymakers and legislators to co-ordinate their efforts on this issue."


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