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South African Presidential Land Advisory Panel Delivers Final Report on Expropriation

The presidential expert advisory panel on land reform and agriculture has detailed the circumstances under which expropriation without compensation could be applicable in its final report which was tabled in cabinet last week.

The report was released at a media briefing on Sunday. Not all panel members agreed with all the recommendations,

The panel was appointed in September 2018 to support the work of the Inter Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and to advise it on a broad range of policy matters associated with land reform, including restitution, redistribution, tenure security and agricultural support. The independent panel’s report is merely advisory and the government can pick and choose which recommendations to implement.

Parliament’s constitutional committee was tasked with amending section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. It was agreed that the constitution would be amended. The policy of expropriation without compensation became the policy position of the governing party after its adoption at the ANC’s 2017 December national conference.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati, chair of the panel, said the panel had offered a proposal for a constitutional amendment, as it may be necessary in limited circumstances.

She said the state was already empowered to expropriate land, but it required just and equitable compensation.

She said there were different views about the necessity of amending the constitution, and that the majority of the panel had advised that compensation may be zero in circumstances that require this.

The panel’s report itself gives details as to the circumstances in which expropriation without compensation could be applied.

The report said that expropriation without compensation was understood to be one of several targeted land acquisition strategies, and that it may commence immediately under specified conditions identified for “nil” compensation, including but not limited to: abandoned land; hopelessly indebted land; land held purely for speculative purposes; land held by state entities and not utilized; land obtained through criminal activity; land already occupied and used by labor tenants and former labor tenants; informal settlement areas; inner city buildings with absentee landlords; land donations (as a form of expropriation without compensation); and farm equity schemes.

The panel’s understanding was that nationalization was not allowed under the constitution.

The full report can be viewed here.

 

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Plans for South Africa’s New e-Visa System

A new digital system for visa applications is on the cards for October.

The e-visa is part of government’s overhaul to make it easier for tourists to travel to South Africa, as well as for companies to acquire employees with scarce skills. President Ramaphosa made the commitment during his State of the Nation Address last Thursday.

“We’ll make good on our ambition to more than double international tourism arrivals to 21 million by 2030,” Ramaphosa said. “This will be achieved through the renewal of the country’s brand introducing a world-class visa regime and a significant focus on key markets.”

Ramaphosa’s commitment has been well received by business, but the industry says more is needed. “We welcome the fact that he said we’ll put in place a world-class visa system,” said Banking Association of SA CEO Cas Coovadia.

“What we would have liked him to say was that current visa system that’s impeding tourism will be suspended immediately.” Tourism accounts for about a tenth of the economy and employs about 1.6-million people.

The latest data shows an increase of more than 4 percent year-on-year in April. Home Affairs says the new visa system will enable investment. The department further stated that the visa system should also make it more efficient to admit people with scarce skills and it won’t compromise the country’s security.

“We’re now at the stage where we’re doing functional testing, once that’s done we’ll do a proper pilot with a few countries,” said Home Affairs Acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso “Once that’s completed we’ll go into production.”

Currently, citizens from 59 countries don’t need to apply for a visa to visit South Africa and this figure is set to increase soon. Tourism is a major impetus for growth and job creation and the e-visa will hopefully make travelling here easier.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SA President Ramaphosa Has Announced The Country’s New Cabinet

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the 28 individuals who have been chosen to form the country’s new cabinet. The President said he had reduced the Cabinet from 36 to 28 as part of his plans to reconfigure the state.

Mergers, Gender, and Age

Some departments have been merged such as Trade and Industry, which was combined with Economic Development; Higher Education and Training combined with Science and Technology; Environmental Affairs combined with Forestry and Fisheries; Agriculture combined with Land Reform and Rural Development, and Mineral Resources combined with Energy. Human Settlements has been combined with Water and Sanitation while Sports and Recreation combined with Arts and Culture.

Ramaphosa said that half of the ministers are women (making good on his promise of a balance of men and women in the new cabinet), and that there are now a number of young people in cabinet positions. Ramaphosa said his appointment of young people was part of his fulfilment of his commitment to give young people roles of responsibility. “This is part of a generational transition in which we are creating a pipeline of leaders to take our country further into the future,” he said.

The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) is pleased that half of the president’s new Cabinet are women. ANCWL’s general secretary Meokgo Matuba said: “As disciplined as we’re, we still have further consultation and engage with those who are deployed various spheres of government to get to align our role in dealing with socio-economic challenges that we’re faced with as a country.”

Ramaphosa’s announcement follows weeks of speculation about who would be included and who will be left out from the previous cabinet. He has also faced tough pressure to appoint a scandal-free cabinet which does not include individuals who have been tainted by allegations of corruption.

Notably, Deputy President David Mabuza has retained his position, after initially delaying his being sworn in as an MP so as to report to the ANC’s Integrity Commission on matters concerning his conduct. Mabuza supported Ramaphosa in his initial bid for the Presidency in 2017.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was appointed to the portfolio of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. She competed with Ramaphosa for ANC leadership in 2017.

Pravin Gordhan has been retained as Minister of Public Enterprises. The move came despite the fact that Gordhan has still not been legally “cleared” by the court after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s adverse finding against him last week. Gordhan has lodged an application for a court review of the protector’s report, but there has been no decision yet. Ramaphosa’s move may indicate confidence in Gordhan, and a rejection of Mkhwebane’s assessments.

Office Holders

The office holders can be seen in the table below.

Surprise Appointment

Interestingly, GOOD party leader Patricia de Lille has been appointed a Minister in the ANC’s new cabinet. After a protracted debate with the DA in the Western Cape, former Cape Town Mayor de Lille formed the GOOD party not long before the 2019 general election, and won seats in both the National Assembly and the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

de Lille has pledged to “continue the struggle for dignity and fairness for all South Africans”. In a short statement after her appointment on Wednesday night, the GOOD party leader said she was humbled to have received the call from president Cyril Ramaphosa to serve in his Cabinet.

She said her new post would enable her to continue fighting for an accountable and compassionate government. “On President Ramaphosa’s election to the Presidency last week I pledged GOOD’s constructive support for turning South Africa around.

“This support we will wholeheartedly give, but I will be joining President Ramaphosa’s executive with open eyes and ears as a representative of good South Africans of integrity who love their country and demand better of their leaders,” said de Lille.

Responses

The reappointment of finance minister Tito Mboweni and minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan has been positively received by the market, with Ramaphosa also ditching controversial figures such as Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader Mmusi Maimane said that there was very little to inspire in the line-up. “This is a Cabinet that looks the same actors playing to the same script, they’ve just been reshuffled along the deck and our focus now is to refine our plan, a plan that will bring us jobs”.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is not impressed with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet for a number of reasons, including stating that it is still too large. Malema said, “There was no way [The President] was going to reduce cabinet because he wants to balance factions. He must appease everyone so that there is no war declared against him”. Malema was referring to the notion that factions within the ANC aligned with former President Jacob Zuma, including those in Parliament and those at Luthuli House, as well as organizations that the ANC consults on such decisions (which include the South African Communist Party and trade union COSATU) all have their own agendas and attempt to influence the President.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)’s response was lukewarm. Member of Parliament and spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that the only real surprise inclusion in the new Cabinet was the inclusion of De Lille. “It’s safe to say the only surprise is Patricia de Lille, for the president to get an opposition member into the Cabinet,” Hlengwa said.

Promises from the President

At his inauguration on Saturday, Ramaphosa admitted that the journey ahead was not easy. He faces expectations for a clean-up of corruption which has engulfed a number of government departments and crucially state-owned enterprises.

“In recent times, our people have watched as some of those in whom they had invested their trust have surrendered to the temptation of power and riches. They have seen some of the very institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered. The challenges that we face are real. But they are not insurmountable,” Ramaphosa said.

The President also faces the tough battle of dealing with social economic issues that have plagued the country including rising unemployment and an under-performing economy. There is also the issue of a lack or poor service delivery in many parts of the country.

In his announcement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said revitalising the economy is key while also ensuring that the public purse is kept in check. He said a reconfigured State is a process and journey and that combining the various departments was part of the process.

Ministerial Benefits

Ministers are slated to earn R2,401,633, while Deputy Ministers are expected to cost taxpayers R1,977,795 each in the 2018/19 financial year. Deputy President David Mabuza is set to earn R2,825,470. For comparison, a normal member of the National Assembly (MP) will earn R1,106,940, while the leader of a minority party will earn R1,309,563.

Had the cabinet been kept the same (at 72 members, with 36 ministers and 34 deputies) the total cost – excluding the President – would have come to R156.5 million. The reduced cabinet will save the country R19.2 million during the financial year.

AfricaCheck reports that some of the major perks include private cars, official vehicles, accommodation, travel expenses, and other expenses.

 

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Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South African Visa Issues to Be Resolved

In the days to Africa’s Travel Indaba fete in South Africa, a number of tour operators were denied visas, sparking an uproar on social media platforms.

However, in his remarks at Africa’s Travel Indaba at the ICC Durban on Saturday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his government was working towards reducing the enormous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists, who want to visit his country, face.

“If a tourist is held back by a lot of red tape, they immediately give up and go to another destination. This clearly requires that we should streamline our tourist visa regimes and as South Africa we are committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of a visa free travel dispensation and a single African air transport market,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

He added that his country was in the process of overhauling the visa dispensation and introducing world class e-visa system.

In his Facebook post, Uganda’s tour operator Amos Wekesa, the executive director of Great Lakes Safaris, condemned the continued denial of visas to Ugandans to travel to South Africa, irrespective of travel frequency.

South Africa’s tourism minister Derek Hanekom said:

“I met with a number of hosted buyers, sellers and media from more than 80 countries and asked them what would be a befitting welcome to our president and their message is recognition of tourism industry but from Nigeria to Ghana, from Kenya to Uganda to India and China, the sector has massive potential and to realise it, the visa dispensation must be overhauled.”

Indaba is the continent’s top annual travel and trade fair that attracts thousands of people and media from some 80 countries.

Uganda, represented by Uganda Tourism Board, won the gold certificate for an outstanding stand characterised with structural traits of eco-friendliness thanks to use of grass thatch, natural sticks and showcase of attractions such as gorillas, birds, wildlife and culture among others.

It was Uganda’s third gold win under the category of Southern African Development Community and Africa, having bagged the same award and recognition in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

 

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Nissan South Africa to Invest R3 Billion to Build New Model Locally

The South African arm of Nissan will spend R3 billion equipping its local plant to build the Japanese carmaker’s new Navara model, the unit’s boss said on Wednesday.

Capacity at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn, near Pretoria, will increase by 30,000 units in the first phase, Mike Whitfield, managing director at Nissan South Africa said, while the plant’s permanent headcount will increase by 400.

“Today, we’re able to announce that the Nissan South Africa Rosslyn facility will build the entire model range Nissan Navara for both local and export (markets),” Whitfield said at an event to announce the investment.

While production operations elsewhere will also build the new Navara, a pick-up, Nissan South Africa will supply the local and continental market.

Whitfield said his unit had to beat other global Nissan production operations to win the right to produce the Navara – a victory for his unit and also South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of elections in May.

Nissan South Africa’s Rosslyn Plant.

Ramaphosa, who was at the event on Wednesday, is trying to secure $100 billion in investment into South Africa within five years.

While he has had some success, he is contending with a sluggish economy and a legacy of corruption and mismanagement, knocking confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Ramaphosa said Nissan’s investment marked a “milestone” in his drive and was a vote of confidence in South Africa.

In common with many global carmakers, Nissan doesn’t currently have any significant production operations in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa, which it entered in 1963 and is the only substantial market for new cars in the region.

However, Nissan and many rivals are hoping that will change. A number have recently opened or committed to open plants elsewhere, including in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].