Karasburg East Constituency Councillor Dennis Coetzee says settlements in the //Kharas Region are missing out on developments as potential private investors cannot buy land there.
Coetzee indicated in a telephonic interview with New Era that the Regional Council Act of 1992 does not allow for the sale of land at settlements, which he says is a deal breaker for many investors, who might be interested to invest in settlements.
He said the current situation is driving away investors, who have the potential to develop the settlements and provide much-needed job opportunities to many poor and unemployed people and thereby reduce poverty.
He said the current set-up where settlements depend on the little funds provided by regional councils is not efficient to develop many of the settlements, adding that for these areas to be developed there is an argument for allowing people to buy land, especially business people with the potential to boost the economy of these settlements.
“Investors are willing to come to these places, but the moment you tell them that land is for lease and not for sale, they tell you they will come back and they never return. I mean, who wants to set up a permanent structure on land that is not theirs?” he asked.
He maintained that the current scenario deprived many settlements and their inhabitants of opportunities, saying investors are willing to set up businesses, but are discouraged by the fact that land in these areas can only be leased.
He singled out Ariamsvlei as an example and the case of Desert Fruit, a date-producing company operating within that area that at some point wanted to build their multi-million storage and cooling facility at the settlement, but this never materialised due to the land ownership issue.
He further argued that settlements – such as Noordoewer and Ariamsvlei – that border South Africa have the potential to develop at a faster pace, but certain laws are limiting that growth.
“You are not only chasing investors away, but ordinary people cannot get financed if they need to build a house because the land is not theirs,” he said, adding: “We understand the laws but where there is potential we must make provisions. Let us amend this Act and let investors buy land and help us develop.”