FMF Ngwathe Land Reform Project releases first fully tradable title deeds to black home owners

Today, 100 years since the 1913 Native Land Act was passed, the Honourable Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, released the first fully tradable title deeds to black home owners in the Ngwathe municipality in the Free State.

Launched in 2010, the Ngwathe Land Reform Project serves to convert land currently held under a complex variety of restrictive tenures and titles to unambiguous, freely tradable ownership. Full title will ensure economic emancipation and empowerment for black home owners.

These homes are the first of over 30,000 households identified in the municipality that require tradable title deeds. The Project will release what has previously been “dead capital” into the hands of land holders and into the economy.

The significance and impact of Ngwathe’s vision goes beyond land allocation, to the empowerment of owners with tenure converted full freehold.

The Ngwathe Land Reform Project is different to others in that the municipality will not impose restrictive or pre-emptive conditions on what home owners may do with their land and will not require payment of unpaid rates, rent or municipal charges. All home owners will receive a rates clearance certificate.

Furthermore conversion to freehold will be free of charge. Owners will not have to pay a purchase price or for any formalities such as deeds registration, taxes or any other associated fees. 

FMF executive director Leon Louw said, “In this the centenary of the 1913 Land Act, its devastating impact on black South Africans has not yet been eradicated. Land dispossession and discrimination are justifiably regarded as being the single most racially divisive and economically devastating aspect of the apartheid crime again humanity. The Ngwathe Land Reform project leads the way in its abolition.”

He continued, “The idea that blacks may not be trusted with full unambiguous ownership empowering them to buy, sell, let, hire, mortgage and develop their land, has become so deeply ingrained that it has until today been taken for granted. It is so deeply entrenched that our law does not allow for speedy and affordable conversion of black-occupied land to full freehold ownership. All of the legal, administrative, attitudinal and historical challenges have been confronted in this historic Ngwathe initiative.”

The Ngwathe Land Reform Project partners include Ernst & Young (E&Y), First National Bank (FNB), Free Market Foundation (FMF), Law Review Project (LRP), Ngwathe Council and Routledge Modise (RM).

Marius Marais, CEO FNB Housing Finance, said “FNB is proud to be associated with the Ngwathe Land Reform Project in partnership with the Ngwathe Municipality and the Free Market Foundation. This is a true example of a Public-Private Partnership that is working together for a common goal, and has succeeded. At FNB we truly believe that home ownership is key to wealth creation and economic empowerment; it is only through tradable title deeds that these home owners can reap the benefits of legally owning and occupying their homes.”

The Ngwathe Land Reform Project will serve as a case study to be replicated throughout South Africa. Ngwathe is working with private sector partners to document all aspects, challenges and solutions and will make policy recommendations to make title conversion fast and affordable.

This is the start of a process that will over the next few years unleash the economic potential of over 30,000 households. This is genuine economic empowerment for the occupiers and is a significant move to eradicate apartheid’s legacy.


Note to the editor

The Free Market Foundation (FMF) is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, created in 1975 by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies to work for a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa. As a policy organisation it promotes sound economic policies and the principles of good law. As a think tank it seeks and puts forward solutions to some of the country’s most pressing problems: unemployment, poverty, growth, education, health care, electricity supply, and more. The FMF was instrumental in the post apartheid negotiations and directly influenced the Constitutional Commission to include the property rights clause: a critical cornerstone of economic freedom.

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