“It is important that the bill must specify much more clearly the meaning of instances that would amount to ‘nil’ compensation, e.g. land held for ‘speculative reasons,’ and the meaning and import of ‘abandoned land.’ Alternatively, this could be a matter for clarity by the courts,” the panel said.
The panel also recommends an in-depth assessment into the conditions for application of land ceilings.
This would be to limit the total area of land that any one individual or company may own, "so as to limit and reverse the trend towards concentration of land ownership, which is antithetical to land reform."
"The state must be empowered in law to compulsorily acquire surplus land and to determine which land is required for redistribution.
"Because land ceilings are generally difficult to enforce, we propose that the land ceiling issue be addressed alongside the land tax inquiry, so that large landholdings beyond a prescribed threshold may either be directly acquired by the state or be punitively taxed."
On land donations, the panel recommended that a donation policy be developed.
This "voluntary release" of underutilised land "for the settlement of vulnerable groups" is aimed at mines, churches, municipalities, SOEs, government departments, absentee landlords and general landowners.
The state, the report recommends, could then facilitate the planning, subdivision and infrastructure development on this land, as well as the systematic and orderly transfer of those properties to the deserving beneficiaries.
In this way, donors such as churches, "will have played the vital role of good corporate citizens by contributing meaningfully to land reform; one of the most patriotic and nation-building imperatives of the new democratic dispensation".
There would be an "exemption from donations tax of any land donated to land reform" in terms of this proposal, and, once appropriate beneficiaries are identified, "the state should carry the conveyancing costs of land transfer".
The panel proposed the establishment of a land reform fund to financially kick-start the envisaged programmes.
"These financial arrangements should happen on preferential terms (such as deferred interest payments and subsidised interest). In addition, a state guarantee for these on-lended funds could act as collateral to ease the access to finance for new entrants in the land reform space," the report states.