Earlier this week, Dirk Meissner was invited to give a presentation during a non-resident seminar hosted by the reputable law firm Jooste Heswick Inc. at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. Thanks to the recent comments by President Zuma, foreigners took a strong interest in this long planned event.

The original purpose of the seminar was to focus on legal, tax and financial aspects relevant to foreigners. Other speakers were from Investec Private Bank as well as SASFIN, which focussed on forex exchange options and regulations.

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It was quickly established that the definitions of a resident vs a non-resident differ completely from Home Affairs to the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and Revenue Services (SARS).

As many different nationalities were present, if is always recommended to consult with the respective experts in their fields and to clarify the individual situation

Michelle Heswick, representing her firm had on very short notice managed to attract a Senior Director from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to the seminar who could give the audience some background on the intention of the government. The challenges are complex.

And there is certainly no intention to take any property away from any foreigners. This new bill, which is still far away from becoming law, in fact so far not even a draft bill has been tabled in Parliament for a first discussion, will not act retrospectively.

However, if a property will be sold in future, it may very well not be allowed to be sold to a foreigner.

Now first and foremost, this is not focussed on residential properties but on farms. Residential properties might even be excluded from the bill. One must simply understand the pressure that the ANC is under.

There are large portions of the country in private IMG_5024hands, often only used for game farming or as a private residence, at times exceeding 12.000 hectares.

And outside the farms one finds townships where people cant even do substances farming. The Director listened with interest to the concerns of Somerset West, which has a large proportion of foreigners owning houses.

He fully understood the economic power of those foreigners and thus their value in society and offered to continue engaging with us and seeking our input. One photo shows the complexity of the challenge.

We will have to follow the debate in the weeks and month coming with great interest.

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by Dirk Meissner

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