THE long-awaited Property Charter Bill, which was finally gazetted last week, has failed to generate a "successful" formula for transformation and was likely to give the sector "more of the same", according to the Black Association of Commercial Property Owners (BACPO).

Black property players are hoping the government - the single biggest property owner, with about R400bn worth of property assets and also the largest tenant - could become a major agent for change in property ownership. The Property Charter, in the making for almost nine years, has been modelled on other industry charters meant to facilitate black participation in the property sector which is seen a wealth creator for any society.

To date the commercial activities surrounding property continue to reflect inequalities in ownership, with little transformation having taken place in the past 18 years of democracy.

In terms of the charter, each property sector enterprise commits to achieving at least 25% ownership and economic interest held by black people and 25% plus one vote exercisable by black people in such enterprises within five years. The industry will also have to commit at least 10% ownership and economic interest held by black women and 10% votes exercisable by black women in such enterprises. At least 2,5% participation must be held by broad-based ownership schemes and/or designated groups.

BAPCO's secretary-general, Bruce Zungu, said while the association supported the objectives of the charter, it did not believe that economic transformation in the property sector could be achieved "meaningfully" by downplaying the core issue of ownership. In its present form, the property charter will act as a "brake" on black ownership because it defined transformation in such a broad manner as not to focus on ownership.

Mr Zungu said ownership counted for about 15% of the transformation matrix, which was just way "too low" considering that ownership was the crux of the property sector. The commercial property industry is estimated to be worth about R1,9-trillion and black people's direct ownership is estimated to be less than R10bn or 0,005%.

mokopanelet@bdfm.co.za