Letter to Mr S Mufamadi (Minister of Provincial and Local Government) RE: PROPERTY RATES AND OTHER TAXES BEING LEVIED IN RURAL AREAS by Bantu Holomisa, MP - UDM President (18 June 2007)

Dear Sir

The abovementioned matter refers.

I have been informed of communities in Limpopo as well as Port St. Johns and Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape who are under pressure from Local Governments to pay property rates and other taxes. I am of the view that this is an unjust bureaucratic action that will place only greater pressure on the tenuous household incomes of very poor people.

The application of property rate taxation in the rural areas should be put on hold until such a time as the issues of title deeds and land tenure in the rural areas are resolved.

The bitter irony for these communities is that they are expected to pay rates to Local Governments that provide them with little or no services or infrastructure. Yet in the towns and cities Government has subsidised housing and is constantly developing and upgrading infrastructure. Or is the implication that the rural people must pay first before they get services and infrastructure, even though they have built their homes from their own pockets?

To add insult to injury, rates are being levied based on the "value" of the property but the current land tenure system means that these properties have zero value in the eyes of financial institutions and cannot therefore be used to leverage collateral. On the one hand the system says to these poor communities "pay irrespective of your poverty, or the complete lack of services, because you own property", and on the other hand it says "your property is worthless and you cannot use it as collateral to raise financing for a small business or a child's tuition fees".

I strongly believe that people should not be made to pay for a service they don't receive on property that is not even properly recognised as being in their ownership and having any real value.

Your attention to this matter will be highly appreciated.

Kind regards
Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

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