Inequalities in property ownership under the spotlight

KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements and Public Works MEC, Jomo Sibiya, says despite legislative and policy interventions to eradicate inequalities in ownership of property, in practice, skewed patterns of ownership, participation and benefit remain.

“Black people continue to be significantly under-represented in ownership of property, whilst administrative, legal and financial constraints restrict the ability of black people to participate in the property market,” Sibiya said.

The MEC was presenting a progress report on the department’s Programme of Action focusing on transformation of the property sector on Thursday.

Sibiya noted that commercially, direct property ownership is dominated by institutional investors; large private owners; collective investment schemes; property loan stocks; and listed property entities, with government being the largest commercial player.

“The commercially driven activities surrounding property, including development, management and sales, rests largely in white-owned hand….we are here today to proclaim our determination to change the status quo,” Sibiya said.

Sibiya said for the next 365 days, transformation of the property sector will be on top of activities and focus for him and the provincial department.

“In discharging our responsibilities regarding the management of immovable assets, we will use our procurement spend/budget to fast-track the entry of those who have been previously marginalised into this sector.”

According to the figures of the landlord out of 178 leases, there are 79 Indian leases; 37 Whites; 15 Black Africans; 08 Whites/Blacks (partnership); 08 Whites/Blacks/Asians (partnership); 01 other organs of states; 05 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs); 01 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college; and 24 municipalities.

“The 15 Black Africans who have leases with government – 14 are males and only one female. We are saying as South Africans and the people of KwaZulu-Natal, this is not what we see continuing. If we fail to work collectively to change these figures, we will be accused of prolonging the suffering of the people of this province, especially those who have endured the impact of the apartheid policies,” he said.

Property Transformation Task Team

As part of changing these figures, the department has established a dedicated Property Transformation Task Team, including members drawn from government departments such as the Office of the Premier, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, as well as the Provincial Treasury.

The MEC said the Head of Department has been mandated to ensure representation of stakeholders, including NGOs; civil society; youth formations; people with disabilities; Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs); co-operatives; community property associations; industry bodies; and the private sector at large.

“We are planning ongoing consultations with all spheres of government [including] national and municipalities because we want a clear development trajectory for taking our province to a better future. My message to the task team is based on the principle of ‘One Strategy and Plan for All.’

“We are aiming at ensuring an agreed set of objectives and targets, [and] want to ensure that there is a common platform for all. We want to see the resource commitments of departments, municipalities and public entities in order to achieve true transformation of the property sector,” he said.

The department wants to reach agreements on a monitoring, evaluation, reporting and review framework which will track its performance, and be hold accountable to deliver on the commitment.

Enterprise development

Sibiya said the department is also determined to increase the number of SMMEs and co-operatives in the property sector, and undertakes to ensure sustained support for entrepreneurial development in the sector.

“We will work with the private sector in this regard and other industry bodies. We are already exploring ways and means of working with companies in the private sector to ensure that a certain percentage of their net profit before taxation is used for [the] development of small players.”

The development of small players may include any or all of the following:

• Management, business development and technical skills transfer;

• Technology transfer, establishment of administrative systems,

• Cost control systems and infrastructure support;

• Development of entity credit resources with suppliers; and

• Development of entity financial capacity and/or financial assistance.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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