Repealing the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act : a constitutional analysis

Frantz, Gino (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: All agricultural subdivisions in the Republic of South Africa are regulated by the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act 70 of 1970. The declared purpose of the Act is to prevent the creation of uneconomic farming units and this purpose is achieved through the requirement that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (“Minister of Agriculture”) must consent to the proposed subdivision. The Act was promulgated in the 1970s when the South African landscape was racially divided. The government of the time used law to provide benefits for the white minority. At this time the rights of non-whites were restricted. This is the social and political background of the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act. The Act formed part of a legislative scheme that provided benefits for white farmers. More than a decade after democratisation and the end of apartheid the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act is still in operation. The post-apartheid legislature drafted and enacted the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act Repeal Act 64 of 1998, but it has not yet been brought into operation. During 2003 the legislature tabled the Draft Sustainable Utilisation of Agricultural Resources Bill which contains subdivision provisions that are identical to the provisions contained in the Subdivision Act. These legislative actions have created some uncertainty about the state of agricultural subdivisions. In 2008 the Constitutional Court decided that the Act continues to apply to all agricultural subdivisions and that this would be the position until the legislature chooses a definitive course of action. This constitutional analysis of the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act examines the effect of the Act beyond the pre-constitutional legislative intention and framework under which it was enacted. If the Act cannot be saved from its apartheid context, the Repeal Act should become operational. This thesis concludes that the necessary and legitimate purpose of the Act, namely the regulation of subdivision of agricultural land, can be removed from its pre-constitutional setting in the apartheid era and may continue to justify the legitimate regulation of subdivision of land. Comparative sources, namely the United States of America, specifically the states of Oregon and Hawaii, Western Australia and the province of British Columbia, Canada indicate that the regulation of agricultural subdivisions is a valid means of protecting agricultural land. If the Act can continue to exist without its legacy of apartheid and still serves a legitimate and necessary purpose it will have to be constitutionally compliant. The purpose of the Act and the means used to realise it were tested against the Bill of Rights. The effect that the regulation has particularly on ownership entitlements was examined against section 25(1) of the 1996 Constitution. Similarly, the consequences of the regulation with regard to other rights in the Bill of Rights were investigated. The conclusion was that where the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act is used for its purpose of preventing the uneconomic subdivision of agricultural land, in the national interest, it is a legitimate land-use regulation that can continue to justifiably operate in a constitutional dispensation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Alle onderverdelings van landbougrond in die Republiek van Suid-Afrika word gereguleer deur die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond 70 van 1970. Die verklaarde doel van die Wet is om die totstandkoming van onekonomiese landboueenhede te voorkom, en hierdie doel word bereik deurdat die Minister van Landbou, Bosbou en Visserye (“Minister van Landbou”) toestemming moet verleen vir die voorgestelde onderverdeling van landbougrond. Die Wet is in die 1970s gepromulgeer toe grond in Suid-Afrika in terme van ras verdeel was. Die destydse apartheidsregering het die regstelsel gebruik om voordele vir die blanke minderheidsgroep te bewerkstellig, terwyl die regte van nie-blankes ingeperk was. Dit is die sosiale en politieke agtergrond waarteen die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond tot stand gekom het. Die Wet was deel van ‘n wetgewende raamwerk waarbinne voordele vir blanke boere geskep is. Meer as ‘n dekade na apartheid en die totstandkoming van ‘n demokratiese Suid-Afrika is die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond steeds in werking. Die post-apartheid wetgewer het die Wet op die Herroepping van die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond 64 van 1998 gepromulgeer, maar nog nie in werking gestel nie. Gedurende 2003 het die wetgewer die “Draft Sustainable Utilisation of Agricultural Resources Bill”, wat onderafdelings soortgelyk aan die bepalings in die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond bevat, gepromulgeer. Bogenoemde stappe het onsekerheid geskep ten opsigte van die stand van onderverdeling van landbougrond. In 2008 het die Konstitusionele Hof beslis dat die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond sal voortgaan om die onderverdeling van landbougrond te reguleer totdat die wetgewer uitsluitsel oor die aangeleentheid verskaf. Die doel van die tesis is om die uitwerking van die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond te analiseer as deel van die huidige grondwetlike bedeling, aangesien dit geskep is tydens die apartheidsera. Indien die Wet nie van sy apartheidskonteks geskei of gered kan word nie sal die Herroepping Wet in werking gestel moet word. Die tesis kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat die doel van die Wet, naamlik die regulering van die onderverdeling van landbougrond, van die voor-konstitusionele agtergrond in die apartheidsera geskei kan word en dat dit kan voortgaan om die wettige regulering van onderverdeling van landbougrond te regverdig. Regsvergelykende bronne, naamlik die Verenigde State van Amerika, veral die state van Oregon en Hawaii, Wes Australië en Brits-Columbië, ‘n provinsie van Kanada, dui aan dat die regulasie van die onderverdeling van landbougrond ‘n regsgeldige metode is om landbougrond te beskerm. Die doel van die Wet en die metodes wat gebruik word om hierdie doel te laat realiseer is getoets teen die Handves van Menseregte. Die uitwerking van die regulasie op die inhoudsbevoegdhede van die eienaar is spesifiek geëvalueer teen artikel 25(1) van die 1996 Grondwet, maar die gevolge van die regulasie is ook getoets teen ander regte in die Handves van Menseregte. Die gevolgtrekking was dat waar die Wet op die Onderverdeling van Landbougrond gebruik word met die doel om onekonomiese onderverdeling van landbougrond te verhoed in die nasionale belang, dit ‘n legitieme regulasie van grondgebruik is waarvan die gebruik steeds regverdigbaar is in ‘n grondwetlike bedeling.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5444
This item appears in the following collections: