Social Cluster Media Briefing
04 Jun 2008
The Director General of the Department of Health, on behalf of the Social Cluster, briefed the media on the developments in the various Departments of Housing, Social Development, Agriculture, Education and Health. He outlined the key mechanisms introduced and intended by the Social Cluster to improve the lives of the poor, destitute and economically marginalised South Africans, against the backdrop of a slowdown in world economy and rising food, fuel and interest rates. Questions to the Department of Health included what action would be taken against specialists exceeding the prescribed consultation fees, whether the National Health Amendment Bill offended against the principles of fair competition, and the testing of HIV and Aids patients. The Department of Agriculture was asked about the money spent on land tenure and land reform, the plans to make moveable assets available to land claimants, the possibility of expropriation against farmers being urged to produce more, what was contained in the starter packs to emerging farmers, whether South Africa was considering production of genetically modified foods, and whether subsistence farmers were being encouraged to produce more. The Department of Education was questioned on the success of the Dinaledi schools, and the Department’s attitude to teenage pregnancies.
The Social Cluster Briefing was delivered by Mr Thami Mseleku, Director- General, Department of Health. His briefing served as a reporting and accounting mechanism of the work that the Social Cluster had undertaken to improve the lives of the economically marginalised and the destitute within South African society.
The briefing was delivered against the backdrop of a slowdown in the world economy, rising interest rates, higher fuel and food prices that all served as ingredients for further challenges in Government’s fight against poverty.
Mr Mseleku stated that the Department of Social Development had decided to accept a sworn affidavit from a Commissioner of Oaths as proof of identification, in the absence of a valid ID. An Appeals Tribunal had been created, and this was mandated to deal with appeals submitted for all applications that had been rejected. The Department had also introduced an integrated strategy to adequately address the vulnerability of children between 14 and 18 years of age, as well as the equalisation of the age of eligibility for males and females in accessing the ”State pension”.
Mr Mseleku said that the Department of Health had adopted “healthy lifestyles” as its key communication message for 2008, and there was implementation of the Tobacco Use programme directed at schools.
He said that Cabinet had approved the National Health Amendment Bill, which introduced the principle of transparency in the determination of cost that provided Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs) as defined in the Medical Schemes Act. The Medical Schemes Act bound medical schemes to cover these conditions in full.
Cabinet had also approved, for tabling to Parliament, the Medicine Control Amendment Bill. This provided for the establishment of the South African Health Regulatory Authority, which would provide the legal framework for the certification and registration of products such as medicines, medical devices and certain cosmetics.
The Department of Housing, in conjunction with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), had made significant progress in dealing with the matter of corruption within the Department related to the delivery of low cost housing. The SIU had identified 31 259 potentially irregular housing subsidy transactions awarded to government employees nationally. A total of 67 cases had been finalised. The Department of Housing was expecting to recover R6, 8 million through this process.
In order to establish who occupied these houses, the Department had embarked on a preliminary study on the full-scale occupancy of these units.
Mr Mseleku described the activities of the Department of Education, noting that the number of Dinaledi schools had been increased to 500 and these had received one extra maths teacher as well as text books for each learner in English. The Department had also approved guidelines on sexual harassment and violence in public schools and would distribute them to schools speedily.
It was also announced that 40% of learners now had the privilege of attending no-fee schools and plans were underway for the declaration of no fee schools for 2009. Affordability in all provinces as well as the impact on individual schools of extension to 60%, had to be determined.
The Department of Land Affairs had developed the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill, which would enable the Minister to acquire not only land, but also moveable assets such as machinery or equipment that were necessary for sustainable land reform. The Department had also liaised with various stakeholders in an effort to address the challenges that emanated from the complexity of the 4891 outstanding land claims that had been referred to the Land Claims Court.
The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the other Social Cluster Departments, had been making recommendations to address the issue of rising food prices with the creation of safety nets for vulnerable groups through the roll-out of various government programmes that aimed to broaden and to strengthen the coverage of social safety net measures, with special emphasis on schools, nursery schools and the provision of standardised comprehensive starter pack distributions to encourage the creation of community and household gardens.
Department of Health
Q: The question was asked what would happen if Specialists charged more than the prescribed consultation fee as determined by the National Health Amendment Bill.
A. Mr Mseleku replied that payment was compulsory to the service provider and that the Department would act against those medical practitioners who inflated their prices.
Q. The question was posed whether the Department of Health had consulted the Competition Board and, if so, if it had raised any concerns about the compliance of this Bill with the competition policy of the Board.
A. Mr Mseleku replied that the National Health Amendment Bill was clear on the competition issue and that government would act swiftly if medical schemes were found to be colluding. The Bill in its current form would it make it impossible for medical schemes to collude. He added that there had been instances of “individual” bargaining where medical schemes had engaged on the “collective” prices that they should charge. This however was not seen as collusion. The fear of government was that smaller medical schemes and practises might lose out, because they did not have the organisational ability of the bigger medical schemes or established practices.
Q. Mr Mseleku was asked whether he could give an indication of the time frame for the testing of the 1 233 878 people whom he indicated had been tested for HIV/AIDS.
A. Mr Mseleku replied the figure indicated that 1 233 878 people had been tested since 1996.
Department of Land Affairs
Q. The question was asked how much money was spent on land tenure and reform since its inception, as the amount was not indicated in the press release.
A. Dr Kgabi Mogajane, Acting Director General, Department of Land Affairs, replied that the Department had spent R6 billion on Land Tenure and Land Reform, and that this had culminated in 4, 8 million hectares of land being made available since Government embarked on land reform in 1996. He said that he could make a detailed analysis available.
Q. The question was asked from where the Minister would acquire the money to buy the movable assets, if the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill would make provision for her to do so.
A. Dr Mogajane replied that the Act that provided the constitutional framework for the Minister to buy land had not previously included any provision for the acquisition of moveable assets such as tractors and other assets. It was very important for government to assist emerging farmers in all aspects, as they might not have access to loans from the Landbank and other financial service providers to buy these moveable assets.
Q .The question was asked whether the new legislation would complement the Land Expropriation Act.
A. Dr Mogajane replied that it was not drafted with the intention of complementing the Land Expropriation Act as it dealt with a different matter, albeit of the same nature. He added that it was an administrative amendment that would give the Minister the power to buy moveable assets.
Q. Dr Mogajane was asked why the Department encouraged white commercial farmers to produce more, given the current food crises, whilst the threat of their land being expropriated was hanging over their heads.
A. Dr Mogajane replied that there had been global consensus that commercial farmers had to have bigger outputs. It was not only the South African government that was calling on its commercial farmers to produce more. He added that the 1975 Land Act was not compliant with the new Constitution and that it had to be amended, as it did not specify land reform as one of its guiding principles, having been drafted under the apartheid regime, which not did see land reform as a public good.
Q. A journalist asked for further clarity on what was meant by moveable assets, and to explain whether the Minister could be empowered also to expropriate moveable assets with the aim of giving it to emerging farmers within the framework of the Land Expropriation Act.
A. Dr Mogajane replied that it referred to the “total package”. Land reform was not only about giving people land, but also about providing them with the basic tools to commence and sustain their agricultural activities.
Mr Mseleku added that not all white farmers felt that land expropriation was necessarily to be applied against their land. Expropriation was not the first step, but the last step. There were several processes that had to be followed before land could be expropriated from any person.
Q. The question was posed as to when the Department started to distribute “Starter Packs” and what these “Starter Packs” comprised of.
A. Dr Mogajane replied that this was started 3 years ago and that the “starter packs” comprised of spades and other utensils. The Department had reviewed the feasibility and impact of the “starter pack” and had decided also to include seeds, insecticides and other necessities to assist farmers even more.
Q: Dr Mogajane was asked whether
A. Dr Mogajane replied that the Department did implement an integrated response plan to increase agricultural production at lower costs. The Strategic Plan, called “Going Back to the Land” had seen the distribution of “starter packs” to emerging farmers in all nine provinces. He said that the only way to beat the current food crisis was for government to form partnerships with the various stakeholders.
In relation to genetically modified foods, he added that
Q. The question was asked why the Government did not call on rural communities to intensify “subsistence” farming and for them to become more agrarian as was the case with the
A. Mr Mseleku replied that Government had seen and drawn from the lessons learned by this campaign, but had noted that this campaign took place during different circumstances, as that crisis was due to war. He stated that Government could not prevent rural people from migrating to urban areas, as there had been the tendency for some years of rural people moving away from subsistence farming. This was a development issue. Government was therefore targeting every school and primary health care facility to emphasise the importance of good nutrition and re-cultivation of land for food.
Dr Mogajane replied that 64% of the South African population lived in rural areas, and that in these areas could be found 45% of cattle, 20% of pigs and 12 % of sheep that were in
Department of Education
Q. The Dinaledi Schools Programme had been expanded to 500 schools. In light of this, were there any figures or evidence to show that these schools had been excelling.
A. Mr Duncan Hindle, Director General, Department of Education, replied that if all resources had to be utilised, the Dinaledi schools would certainly reach above average expectations. However there had been challenges as the Department had decided that of the 50 000 matriculants, at least 50% had to pass, of which 20% had to come from Dinaledi schools. He acknowledged that some Dinaledi schools had not been delivering desired results, hence they had been removed from the programme and others taken aboard. It was stressed that Dinaledi schools had not necessarily performed better then other schools.
He added some Dinaledi schools might have been chosen for the wrong reasons and that Dinaledi schools had not received the Department’s full attention when the programme was implemented, as provinces did not seem that committed. That had changed after the Department had a meeting with provinces to be more pro-active.
Q. The question was asked whether the Department approved of teenage pregnancies.
A. Mr Hindle replied that the Department had implemented a Strategy called the Prevention and Management of Teenage Pregnancies. Although it was not the norm for teenagers to engage in sexual activities, some did, and fell pregnant, and this was a reality that had to be managed.
The briefing was adjourned.
SOCIAL CLUSTER DIRECTORS-GENERAL BRIEFING DOCUMENT
4 JUNE 2008
Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on the work of the Social Cluster. This briefing serves as a reporting and accounting mechanism of the work that we as Government are undertaking to improve the lives of the poor, the destitute and the helpless within our society.
A slowdown in the international economy, a world food shortage, rising food and fuel prices, heightening interest rates are the ingredients that have created further challenges in our fight to eradicate poverty.
The work of the Social Cluster goes to the heart of these issues affecting the poorest of the poor. As a caring state we aim to address these issues.
The Social Cluster has continued to make significant progress in the implementation of various programmes within its priority areas. This report focuses on the implementation of cluster work from November to recent date.
3 COMPREHENSIVE SOCIAL SECURITY
3.1 Grants applications
The acceptance of social grant applications from eligible applicants who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining official identity documents
(ID) and birth certificates has taken effect from Monday. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will accept sworn affidavits deposed to before a commissioner of oaths testifying to, amongst other details, the names, age, parentage of the child and any other applicant.
This will cast the social security safety net even wider and assist in the alleviation of poverty.
The work of the Appeals Tribunal will go a long way towards dealing with appeals submitted for all grants, but especially for disability benefits; it will also reduce the unnecessarily high number of litigation cases against the department. We are also examining how to remove the means test to ensure that the eligible poor are not kept out of the social security system.
3.2 Measures to reach vulnerable kids
A strategy to address the vulnerability among children between 14 - 18 years has been developed. The strategy will deal with the following:
* Definition of Child vulnerability;
* Challenges and gaps in the existing programmes;
* Current interventions;
* Recommended interventions.
A National Integrated 3 year Plan to address gaps in programmes and legislation has been developed. The Strategy will be presented to the Cluster, then to Cabinet and will be submitted to the 2008 July Cabinet Lekgotla for final approval.
3.3 Age Equalisation
The Social Assistance Amendment Bill has been introduced into Parliament and is expected to be adopted by no later than July 2008. The President will assent to the Act by August/September 2008. This will ensure that men from 64 and 63 years old should be able to access the grant in September 2008; 62 and 61 years from April 2009 and 60 years from April 2010. We urge those who are going to be eligible to be patient while the legislative process is completed. Where people are able to prove destitution, the Department of Social Development provides the Social Relief of Distress grant.
3.4 Retirement Reform
We have completed research and modeling for the provision of survivors and disability benefits as part of retirement reform.
Consultation will be initiated in July 2008.
3.5 Bursaries for social workers
The implementation of the Recruitment and Retention Strategy for Social Workers remains vital to the realisation of the goals of the Department of Social Development. To this end we are currently negotiating the Occupation Specific Dispensation for various categories of social workers in the public service. We have already trained over 1 126 social auxiliary workers and eleven service providers had been accredited to fulfill this task. Through our bursary scheme we have also supported 983 student social workers in the last academic year and an additional 1 917 this academic year.
4. INTEGRATED FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITITION PROGRAMME
A number of initiatives have been implemented to ensure that the poor do not go hungry. To date 15 765 production packages have been distributed.
Further to this - the first three Telefood projects (FAO) funding have been implemented in
There are 6 390 vegetable gardens that have been established to date. An inter-provincial meeting was held on Sustainable Food Production on
25-26 February 2008. The meeting discussed draft guidelines on sustainable food production as well as a review of 2007/08 indicators.
This programme will be implemented in partnership with Department of Education and Provincial Departments of Agriculture including FAO (Telefood funding).
About 6 million learners in approximately 18 000 schools have received meals. Draft national guidelines on the implementation of the programme have been developed. Minimum norms of feeding learners in schools in quintile 1, 2 and 3 in all school days at an average cost of R1.50 has been communicated to provinces. A draft proposal for the National School Nutrition Programme Awards has been developed.
There are 4 891 outstanding rural land claims of which 2 585 have been prioritised for settlement in current financial year 2008/09. About 283 rural land claims have been settled over the past four months. About 144 of the rural claims are facing community disputes, 254 are contested by the current land owners on the grounds of validity. About 40 land claims are in the Land Claims Court. About 683 are under investigation. The rest are in the research stage. The Cluster is working hard on the strategy to shorten the cycle for the finalization of the outstanding land claims.
5. COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE
The Department of Health has adopted 'healthy lifestyles' as its key communication message for the year. This has seen the implementation of prevention of tobacco use programmes consideration schools for the 'Health Promoting Schools' Programme.
The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS
(UNGASS) report for 2008 was compiled and submitted to the UN. The 2006 Annual National HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey report was released in 2007 and the 2007 report is currently being prepared. The report on
2007 NSP core indicators will be prepared once the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework has been finalised.
At the end of December 2007, 93% of primary health care facilities currently provide counselling and testing services and the number of clients tested for HIV (excluding antenatal) stands at 1 233 878. The number of lay counsellors on stipend currently stands at 8 328.
Last week Cabinet approved the National Health Amendment Bill which introduces the principle of transparency in the determination of cost of providing Prescribed Minimum Benefits. The PMBs are defined in the Medical Schemes Act and every medical scheme is required under this Act to cover these conditions in full.
However, the challenge has been that the tariffs with regard to provision of these services have not been regulated in anyway, leading sometimes to unjustifiable increases largely determined by service providers such as hospital groups.
The bill provides for collective negotiations and individual bargaining on prices of these services, appointment of a facilitator and suggests mechanism for resolution of disputes where these arise.
The objectives of this bill are to create a framework that enables health care providers, health establishments and medical schemes to negotiate collectively and bargain individually on prices and ensures transparency and fairness in the determination of prices.
Cabinet also approved for tabling to Parliament the Medicine Control Amendments bill which provides for the establishment of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. The bill provides a legal framework for the certification and registration of products such as medicines, medical devices and certain cosmetics.
The aim of this amendment is to ensure that these functions, which are currently performed by the Medicine Control Council (MCC) are conducted effectively and efficiently.
The Bill proposes that the new Authority will function as an agency with a chief executive that is accountable to the Minister. The agency will retain it revenue and recruit and retain the critical human resource capacity needed for it to fulfill its functions. A panel of external experts will only be called upon where there is a need for such opinion or advice.
The bill broadens the mandate of the new authority cover approval of complementary and African traditional medicines, medical devices and cosmetics or food products with medical claims.
This piece of legislation will be supported by regulations specifying timescales within which health products should be certified and registered and application for clinical trials approved.
The Department of Health would like to encourage in particular the consumers and consumer/patient groups to participate actively in this consultation process to ensure that their voices are also heard. We cannot limit this debate should not be limited only to those with economic interest in it, we have to ensure that the interest of patients and the public in general is represented too.
6. HOUSING AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS
We have made significant progress in dealing with the matter of corruption, especially as it relates to government employees. The Department, together with the Special Investigating Unit (the SIU), investigated allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration in relation to the development and delivery of low cost housing in South
The SIU has identified 31 259 potentially irregular housing subsidy transactions awarded to government employees nationally. The SIU has begun the process of prosecuting and finalising criminal cases against the corrupt officials in different Provinces around the country. A total of 67 cases have already been finalised with sentences including the payment of the value of the houses. The total amount of debt we expect to recover is R6,8 million. A cash amount of R1,1 million has been paid back. The SIU will make recommendations to the Department in order to curb future systematic or opportunistic abuse of the Housing Subsidy System.
It is envisaged that two hundred (200) cases will be placed on the court roll in the new financial year. The prosecution of fraudulent beneficiaries will have a significant impact in terms of deterrence and promoting a culture of legal obedience.
The second phase of the SIU's intervention will be in relation to an investigation into the Developer's failure to meet their contractual obligations. Preliminary analysis of all contracts submitted by the various Provincial Housing Departments has commenced. The list of prioritised housing contracts consists of 65 housing projects, which will require a forensic audit, and, depending on the outcome, a full-scale forensic investigation and legal action.
Influenced by a need to know who exactly is occupying the houses that the Government has built over the years, the Department is busy with preliminary work into conducting a full scale occupancy audits to establish if the original beneficiaries of the houses still live in them. We have been very concerned about the incidence of the sale of our houses. Our laws prohibit this, but the practice goes on.
7 SECOND ECONOMY INTERVENTIONS EPWP AND ISRDP/URP
In order to address structural poverty and ensure sustainable livelihoods as well as simultaneous address pressing social problems numerous projects were carried out. 30 056 Community caregivers received stipends up to December 2007. 14 964 community caregivers received basic Home Community Based Care and Ancillary Health Care NQF level 1 and level 2 training. 1 145 270 beneficiaries received care and support services from April 2007 to December 2007.
The accredited training of caregivers has been progressing slowly due to lack of relevant accredited training materials and a limited number of accredited training providers. DSD, DOH, HWSETA and DFID, embarked on a two-phased process that entails the fast tracking of the accreditation of training providers, and the development of learning materials in line with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
A service provider was appointed in May 2007 to assist in fast tracking the accreditation of 100 NPOs as training service providers. The service provider developed a toolkit that was approved by the HWSETA, and was used during the provincial capacity building workshops. The toolkit has been developed to simplify and demystify the accreditation process. The training of facilitators, assessors and moderators from the selected NPOs was conducted in all the provinces. 26 organizations that were accredited on NQF Level 1 were upgraded to NQF Level 3. 10 000 sets of learning materials for caregivers on NQF level 3 have been printed and distributed to provinces.
The Department of Social Development, in collaboration with the Department of Health, formed a partnership with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to provide technical assistance for the establishment of M&E system for HCBC at all levels of governance. The M&E system will be implemented in two phases, the first phase being the manual module, to be followed by an IT system in the second phase. The first phase will be implemented in two provinces, namely
The HCBC capacity building programme is implemented in four provinces, namely
For the period January-February 2008, the Department of Social Development (DSD) registered 389 ECD sites. The annual target was set on registering 1 774 for 2007/8. The total number of ECD registered for
2007/8 is 1 981. The total number of children benefitting from the subsidies is 355 762, which means an increase of 24 000 children. The subsidy remains at a minimum of R9 per child per day across all provinces.
R595 million was allocated to FET Colleges. By March 2008 100% of this allocation had been spent to support the offering of the 12 NC(V) priority skills programmes and learnerships. R67 million worth of bursaries were awarded to 12 378 students to provide financial assistance to the financially needy and academically deserving students.
The numbers of Dinaledi schools has been increased to 500. Each of the Dinaledi schools has been provided with textbooks for every learner in English (FAL), Maths, Mathematical Literacy and Physical Sciences for
R12 Million. An additional 100 000 copies of these books have been distributed to other schools in the 9 provinces. In addition each Dinaledi school has been provided with exemplar question papers in Maths and Maths Literacy to support Grade 10 - 12 learners.
The Kha Ri Gude Campaign was officially launched by the Minister of Education on 28 February 2008. From 29 February 2008 to 03 March 2008, 100 Master Trainers were trained in the requirements of the campaign as well as the use of the materials developed for the campaign. Between 04 and 31 March 2008, mobilisation and training of 2 000 supervisors as well 20 000 volunteer facilitators took place. Learner and Volunteer Support Materials are being printed and distributed to targeted sites of delivery around the country.
In August 2007 Cabinet approved the funding to reach a target of 300 000 adult learners for 2008/09, who, at the norm of 15 learners per volunteer educator, required 20 000 volunteer educators to be appointed.
Presently the campaign has in excess of 22000 educators and with more than 328 000 learners enrolled.
Braille materials in 3 languages (isiXhosa, isiZulu and Sepedi) have been adapted and are in the process of being printed. The adaptations of the other official languages are in process to ensure that these languages are embossed and ready for 2009.
The adaptations to the standard materials have entailed converting all illustrations into "word stories" so that the teacher can read these to blind learners, and/or by eliminating the reliance of text on artwork.
The first three Braille languages will be ready for implementation in the next few weeks and the Kha Ri Gude unit is about to begin the process of equipping blind master trainers who will be accompanied by special needs assistants, to train 200 blind volunteer educators over the next two months. The plan is that each blind trainer will be accompanied by a sighted volunteer who will ensure that the class is ready, and that there are no physical obstacles in the way of blind learners. In addition, the sighted assistant will deal with the administration and records and registers. Many of the coordinators have begun to request training to enable them to train blind learners who have already been recruited.
All things going well, the Kha Ri Gude Campaign will teach up to 2 000 blind people this year.
Guidelines on Sexual Harassment and violence in Public Schools have been approved and will be distributed to schools. An Implementation programme for delivery and support to schools has been developed and is being rolled out focusing on support to Districts and school managers in particular, and incorporation of the Guidelines into school Codes of Conduct.
Forty percent of learners (or approximately 5,020,554 learners in 14,264
schools) are now in no fee schools in terms of the SA Schools Act.
Individual provinces given `the availability of provincial funding, have extended beyond the 40% determined by the Minister of Education.
Planning has proceeded for the declaration of no fee schools for 2009, in the first place assessing the affordability in all provinces and also the impact on individual schools of extending to 60%.
A collective agreement on an OSD for educators was signed on 3rd April
2008 by the Department of Education and trade unions in the ELRC. The salary translation to the OSD notches will be backdated to 1 January 2008. Subject to readiness of PERSAL this will occur before the end of May 2008. No educator will receive less than 4%, adjustment or a translation to OSD scales.
9 PROMOTION OF NATIONAL IDENTITY AND SOCIAL COHESION
Various measures have been undertaken to promote a sense of South Africanness and to instill social cohesion within the nation. Depending upon reports from the Inter-ministerial Task Team investigating the attacks on foreign nationals, the Department of Arts and Culture will undertake measures to educate South Africans, with a view to eliminating xenophobia within our country.
The closing date for submissions on the National Schools Pledge was 15 May 2008. The Minister of Education received hundreds of formal submissions on the Pledge. In addition, a vibrant debate, involving thousands of South Africans, has also taken place in the media. The challenge is to ensure that most South Africans identify and support the Pledge as a means to build a unified South African nation.
The South African Geographical Names Council has commenced public hearings on geographical names changes as part of the roll out of the geographical names programme. District municipalities & metros have been informed regarding the rolling out of public hearings in their respective district and metropolitan areas. The public hearing programme was launched in May in districts & municipalities and it is scheduled for completion in November 2008.
In order to combat the scourge of substance abuse assailing our nation, the Department of Social Development has intensified the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan. The Ke Moja Hip Hop project was rolled out in
10 LAND AFFAIRS
10.1 LAND TENURE AND REFORM:
The impact the Pro-Active Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), now being implemented by all our Provincial Offices on our land delivery performance is quite evident; of the 340 880 ha acquired under the land and tenure reform branch, 169 818 ha were through PLAS. To unlock the full potential of PLAS, the Department developed the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill; which is very important in creating an enabling environment for PLAS. It seeks to enable the Minister to acquire not only land but also movable assets such as machinery/equipment necessary for sustainable land reform. The Bill is now going through the parliamentary process before it is enacted.
The high cost of land in
R672,54 million spent in the 2006/07 financial year.
Against this backdrop of exorbitant land prices, the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) grant, which was introduced in 2001, needed to be reviewed as it was no longer sufficient for an individual to access land. We are delighted therefore, to inform you that the Minister approved the increase in minimum LRAD grant for qualifying
applicants from R 20 000 per individual to R 111 125 and the increase
of the maximum LRAD grant from R 100 000 to R 430 085 per qualifying individuals.
The Settlement and Land Acquisition Grant (SLAG) has been increased from about R40 000 to R111 125 per individual. The review of these grants will enable farm dwellers and farm workers to mobilise their resources to acquire land for sustainable land reform.
On the implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLaRA) we have drafted the CLARA Regulations and are now circulating for public comment before approval by Cabinet. The Department has furthermore completed the CLARA baseline study which will form an indispensable tool for the department to undertake a comparative analysis of the impact of the implementation of ClARA.
The complexity of the 4891 outstanding rural claims include referral to the Land Claims Court; disputes around validity of claims and the land prices; disputes about traditional leadership; boundary disputes; family disputes etc.
The Land Commission is consulting with various stakeholders in an effort to address these challenges and thereby fast track the finalisation of these complex claims. The economic models for settling forestry claims and claims with mineral rights (e.g. Anglo-American, SAPPI, MONDI) are in the final stages and should also assist in addressing some of the more challenging claims. The department is working closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, SANPARKS and other agencies towards the finalisation of Co-Management Agreements for the claims on protected areas.
10.3 POST SETTLEMENT SUPPORT:
In partnership with the Belgian Government, the Department developed the Settlement and Implementation Strategy (SIS), in response to the growing challenge of unsustainable land reform projects. This Strategy, which now forms part of the Land and Agrarian Reform Project (LARP), which was also finalised during the 2007/8 financial year; aims to provide comprehensive support to ensure project sustainability. At the centre of SIS strategy lies the cooperation and alignment between the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs within the broader context of the Land and Agrarian Reform Programme, looking at hands-on support to all new land owners.
11. CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF HIGH FOOD PRICES ON THE POOR, ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGY, YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL CRIME PREVENTION
Higher food prices impact negatively on the purchasing power of poor households, thus it is important that our budget should also speak to providing cushion to the poor. Our short term intervention measures should ensure that they provide safety nets for the poor.
Given the risks currently facing the vulnerable groups due to high food prices, cabinet has instructed the Social and Economic Cluster departments to expand on programmes that support the vulnerable groups in our country.
Led by the Department of Agriculture, Social Cluster is making recommendations to address the issue of high food prices.
The key focus in the short term is the creation of safety nets for the vulnerable groups through the roll-out of various government programmes seeking to broaden and strengthen the coverage of social safety net measures especially looking at school feeding programmes to include nursery schools, strengthen and continue with a well coordinated, standardized comprehensive starter pack distribution to encouraging the establishment of community and household gardens.
In the long-term focus will be on strengthening the agro-processing sector with emphasis on investment in agro-processing infrastructure in rural areas, broadening incentives for farmers by introducing rebates on certain agricultural inputs and also looking into reducing cost of agricultural commodities such as grain, strengthen the promotion of small holders looking into commodities that need urgent attention such as diary farming.
In addition focus on improved productivity therefore addressing the dualistic nature of the local sector. In the first instance, look into production potential of
Lastly, motivate the commercial sector to optimally respond to the favourable economic conditions by increasing agriculture activities and producing more.
In addition to the above it is vitally important that the potential provided through Public-Private Partnerships is utilized to address the current food price increases. In this way responsibility is shared and the competencies and areas of influence are leveraged optimally
The construction of a poverty matrix for the country has been partly accomplished through the identification of key projects in the social and economic clusters and programmes reaching different identified social groups in poverty. The completion of the poverty matrix will be accomplished once the development of the national database of households
living in poverty has been accomplished.
Municipalities are currently providing free basic water to 79.2% of households (of which 74.2% are categorised as poor households).
Intensive support will be provided to the 6 municipalities who still have to implement Free Basic Water. Free Basic Electricity is currently accessed by 3.8 million households, provided by municipalities and Eskom. In addition, in areas where infrastructure does not exist municipalities are providing alternative sources of energy - 70 000 households benefit from this.
The process to finalise the anti-poverty strategy is underway, and this will form part of integrated initiatives to be implemented in the medium-term. The immediate campaign, the War on Poverty will be a short-term campaign that utilises the menu of interventions already in place. The central element of the campaign will be visits to households through which conditions will be assessed; specific interventions identified and communicated to relevant implementing agents, and follow up monitored and evaluated. The process of setting up the structure of the War Room on Poverty is underway. The coordinator has been appointed in the presidency to run the War Room.
A National Youth Policy was refined and edited. Additional consultations were held with other departments. and civil society organisations with proposals for an additional chapter on Youth Work. The chapter was added into the policy document. The Minister in The Presidency is currently refining the draft policy in consultation with the Youth Desk in the Presidency.
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