After discussions with the parties concerned, Ward 2 Forum considers that it is essential that TWKM is persuaded not to alienate part of Erf 595. Objection is based on legal, financial and social grounds. The proposed fruit farming project should be broadened to include additional features that should substantially increase the benefits for the Consortium, TWKM and the Ward 2 community.
As part of overall Social & Economic growth planned for the region, more emphasis needs to be placed on the longer term planning prior to any development taking place. We are of the view that sustainable economic and rural development cannot be left to the agricultural sector alone, as the participation of the private sector, business sectors and the community as a whole need to be part of the process going forward.
Whilst Agriculture is currently the biggest contributor to the regions GDP, other sectors such as Tourism need to step up to the plate as well. Agricultural growth will require infrastructural growth; currently the only viable route to “market” for the farms with their produce is through Greyton. With the huge expansion in fruit farming in our valley by existing fruit farms already in production and soon additional farms down the R406, will be come into production as well which will necessitate alternative transport routes to cater for the expected growth in traffic a by-pass may become vital for Greyton
It is with these critical issues that the Ward 2 Forum has engaged with all interested and affected parties to find workable solutions that would not hamper growth but rather sustain planned growth that would benefit all equally.
SUMMARY OF OBJECTION TO ALIENATION OF PART OF ERF 595, GREYTON
With reference to the Notice in the Theewaterskloof Gazette on 19 January 2016 for the proposed alienation of about 235 ha of Erf 595 in Greyton at R 4,329,850 an objection to the proposed alienation can be made on the following grounds:
- The price of the property:
It is considered that the price for this property has been hugely undervalued at R4.3 m, without any reasonable justification, and therefore does not comply with the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003).
The proposed price of R 0.02 m per ha is much lower than the rateable values (July 2014) of other vacant land in the Greyton Commonage (R 0.05 m – 0.08 m per ha). The rateable value of a further area (8,7 ha) of Greyton, although zoned for residential use, but also vacant and without any services, is R 0.33 per ha.
There is no evidence that the longer term future value of this land has even been considered.
- Public Participation Process:
We have been denied relevant information on Title deed restrictions, servitudes, Minutes of relevant Council meetings, which should have been supplied timeously for us to be able to scrutinise them properly.
This is contrary to Government legislation and the Constitution of South Africa, and has prevented the community from having access to information which may be relevant to the legality of the alienation.
- Compliance with Municipal Commonage policy and procedure (PC.Doc.12/1997):
- There is no evidence that TWKM have consulted with the Dept of Land Affairs (DLA), to satisfy themselves that the proposed development will not result in the dispossession of people’s rights (formal or informal) granted on or over the Greyton Commonage.
- Local people who have rights to graze cattle on the property have not been approached on the matter, and their situation has not been considered. No arrangements have been made for alternative land or financial compensation.
- Where town development and urbanisation require Commonage to be sold, wide support from local residents must be obtained. There is not, and never has been, any municipal policy that proposes that this or any other portion of the Commonage is required for the development of Greyton.
- The municipality may not alienate, dispose of or sell the Remainder of a Municipal Commonage property but must retain and utilise the said Remainder for public use, which is to ensure that such land is released to the needy local residents for agricultural purposes on a leasehold basis.
It is clear that the proposed alienation fails to comply with any of these policy statements.
- Compliance with TWKM By-law:
According to the TWKM By-law, gazetted on 21 June 2015, municipal commonage means land owned by, or under control of, the municipality which has a zoning of ‘undetermined’ and which may be set aside for grazing or for such other purposes or use as may be deemed necessary by the municipality. There is no reference whatsoever to the possible sale or alienation of commonage land.
Clearly, the proposed alienation does not comply with the TWKM By-law.
- The Will of Herbert Vigne
It is absolutely clear that Herbert Vigne bequeathed the Commonage to the people of Greyton. Neither the Will, nor the intent, has ever been in dispute. It is considered that if there had been any intent to permit alienation of all or part of the Commonage, contrary to Herbert Vigne’s Will, then some evidence would have been found. No such evidence has been found.
There is no known record of the removal of restrictions presumed to have been in the original Title Deeds when the 2 farms Kanon Berg and Boschmanskloof were separated out of Erf 595 to create the Greyton Nature Reserve on 13 May 1977.
Therefore, we submit that the onus must be on TWKM to prove beyond all doubt, that they can legally alienate any part of the Greyton commonage.
- Conditions of Tender
The following Conditions of tender imposed by TWKM cannot be enforced in law. If they are not fully complied with then the benefits from the project cannot be achieved, and as there are no penalties or other forms of compensation attached, they are therefore meaningless. The pertinent Conditions are that:
- development of the land starts within 2 years of registration of the property;
- a minimum of 95 ha of land be developed with deciduous fruit trees;
- a minimum of 150 work opportunities to be employed;
- 80% of the workers must be from the Greyton/Genadendal/Riviersonderend area.
Failure to comply with the Conditions would lead to an unnecessary waste of municipal funds and a reduction of economic and community value from the project, which would be contrary to the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003).
- Municipal Policy
The proposal to alienate a portion of Erf 595 is contrary to all the spatial planning framework documents since 1999. Specific policies and guidelines that are relevant include:
- Conserve the natural resource base and its bio-diversity;
- Promote sustainable economic development;
- Ensure that the community have continued access for recreation purposes;
- No subdivision or alienation of land;
- The desirability of combining small scale farming activities in Greyton and Genadendal;
- The introduction of farming activities in the Commonage.
The absence of any policy that supports alienation of any portion of Erf 595 must be taken into account.
- Property Prices
Should our objections fail and the Commonage land is alienated, the attraction of Greyton as a tourist destination and a desirable place to live, will be diminished. The Heritage value may also be reduced. The result will be an inevitable lowering of property values.
TWKM will also undoubtedly conclude that they can freely alienate additional portions of the Commonage, further contributing to the decline of Greyton, which would be contrary to the municipal policies for sustainable growth in Tourism.
- Municipal Support for Alienation
The TWKM prospectus focuses on the ‘sale of a portion of Erf 595 for BEE commercial farming’, but fails to contemplate the separation of the project into ‘alienation of the land’ and formation of a BEE venture ‘to promote investor friendly practices …… leading to increased employment and growth in rates base …’ It is argued that the BEE venture itself is not dependent on alienation of the land, and could indeed have more associated benefits through a leasehold agreement instead.
The municipality fails to consider this argument in the prospectus. A special Ward 2 Committee meeting on 5 October 2015 records that ‘the committee noted and awaits the outcome of the project plan as presented’.
Clearly, neither document constitutes a vote of agreement for the alienation of a portion of the Greyton Commonage.
We will keep you informed.
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Ward 2 Forum Team