The Chairperson set the tone for the Committee’s year ahead by stating that members needed to be ready to work in 2010. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform had in 2009 been a given grace period as the Department was still being formed. It was however a new year which now meant that the Department had to work. The Committee considered he draft programme No substantive changes were made before it was accepted by the Committee.
Mr Sizani said that the Committee would “have its work cut out for it” for 2010. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was in 2009 still being formed but in 2010 it was expected to work. The Chairperson noted the apologies forwarded to the Committee by the Minister and Deputy Minister for not being able to attend the present meeting.
Draft Committee Program 2010
The Chairperson placed the Draft Program before the Committee for consideration.
Ms A Steyn (DA) stated that the program looked quite comprehensive. She referred to the possible oversight visits to provinces planned for the Committee for the period 22-26 March 2010. She considered the oversight visits imperative and asked what plans were in place to ensure that they actually happened.
The Chairperson responded that there was a serious debate between the House Chairperson and the Chief Whip over the issue. He had tabled a comprehensive complaint on the matter. The Committee had not undertaken any oversight visits during 2009. The matter was being dealt with. The budget to go on oversight visits had been provided for. Obtaining permission was the only obstacle.
The Chairperson proceeded to present the Committee Program per quarter. The 1st quarter dealt with capacitating members by attending workshops on budgets and legislation. For example National Treasury required budgets to comply within a certain framework. If members were unhappy about the Department’s budget not adhering to the framework the Committee could reject the budget. Many workshops were planned for the Committee for the upcoming year.
In the 2nd quarter, the program dealt with the Department’s strategy and budget. In a nutshell it was about what the Department planned to do. The Chairperson said that sometimes your heart says one thing but unfortunately the law says another. Members of Parliament were law makers and if laws needed to be corrected then so be it.
The 3rd quarter, amongst other things, dealt with Section 32 of the Division of Revenue Act where the Department made financial report to the Committee. The Committee would receive management accounts from the Department on its spending for the earlier parts of the year. The Committee had to ensure that things were done correctly. Hence the Committee had to be capacitated in order to utilise this power. It was important for the Committee to be vigilant about fiscal dumping. Departments had in the past been tempted to spend the remainder of their budgets, which in many cases were huge amounts all within the last quarter of the financial year.
Ms Steyn referred to a briefing in the 2nd quarter of the program on the implementation challenges of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme and lessons learnt. Specific reference was made to the areas Muyexe, Riemvasmaak and Mhlonhlo. She felt it best not to limit the Committee to those areas alone. Thus no names should be mentioned.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee should not be limited to only those three areas. He said that the Committee had a comprehensive list of programmes from the Department.
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) commented that in Mhlonhlo, the communities were only aware that the Department had chosen them for a pilot project but they were unaware of what the Department’s plans were. The intentions of the Department should be communicated to the communities. People had to be kept up to date and informed.
The Chairperson said that the best thing was for the Committee to see for themselves what was happening.
Mr Sizani said that looking at the Committee Program it was evident that there was quite a bit of legislation that the Committee had to deal with. He mentioned the Land Use and Management Bill and said that the Bill had run aground. Work on the Bill had to be started afresh. The Bill would have to be reintroduced into the House.
A Ministry of Rural and Development and Land Reform presentation document dealing with a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme was handed out to the Committee for perusal. The presentation had originally been made to the Ad Hoc Committee on Co-ordinated Oversight on Service Delivery.
The Committee approved the Draft Committee Program for 2010.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee Annual Report for 2009 had to be considered by the Committee. The Report would be made available to members and would be amended if need be. The Committee’s next meeting was scheduled for 17 February 2010. He asked members to please prioritise the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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