The Committee met to discuss its forthcoming oversight visits to the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. Issues that needed to be addressed in the respective areas were outlined. In Msinga (KZN), it was identified that there was a need for water, sanitation and sustainable energy. In Mhlontlo (Eastern Cape), the high unemployment levels as well as the lack of electricity and hospitals were highlighted.
Members sought clarity about who would be accompanying the Committee during the visits and when the Department would brief the Committee.
The Committee also briefly discussed its draft programme. It was noted that the Committee would miss meetings due to the 2010 World Cup. Members debated whether an alternate member was allowed to attend oversight visits. The programme was viewed as a tentative document and was not discussed in great detail. A final copy of the programme would be made available to Members before the Committee embarked on its oversight visits.
Preparations for Oversight visits to Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal
At the outset, the Chairperson mentioned that the original brief of the Committee was to monitor the implementation programme of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform based on its strategic plan. The Committee was further tasked with checking on the capacity of the Department to implement its pilot projects.
The rural development plan encompassed two pilot projects; one was at Msinga in KZN and the other at Mhlontlo in the Eastern Cape.
In respect of Msinga, the following problems were identified:
•There was a huge need for water, sanitation and sustainable energy
•The youth in the area needed to be encouraged to study further
•Support for small scale agricultural initiatives needed to be provided
•Pensions and grants should be extended to those persons in the area who qualified
•The fight against HIV and TB need to be intensified.
•The area had to attract non land based industries which would create employment.
Mhlontlo had its own set of problems. These included:
•There were high unemployment levels and only 6% of the population in the area had reached matric level
•Roads were in disrepair and needed maintenance
•There was no electricity supply to the village
•No permanent health facilities were available
•There was a need for crèches, sportsfields and playing areas
The Department had indicated that it would do a recapitalisation of land that had been restored. Co-operation with Nkosis was an issue that would be looked into and of great importance was the issue of food security especially as it related to communal land.
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked whether the Department would be providing the Committee with information beforehand or would the Committee only be briefed at the briefing session. In addition, she asked what the Department had done in those areas so far.
Mr M Dandala (DA) sought conformation as to whether the Committee would be visiting the Mhlontlo Municipality in the Eastern Cape. Also, he recalled a project had been undertaken at Mpashe and had since been completed. He therefore asked whether the Committee could obtain the results of the Mpashe project and consider a briefing on it.
The Chairperson did not recall the Mpashe pilot project but conceded that it might have been a pilot project of the previous Department. This should not be a concern because the Minister had previously explained that the work of the previous department had been incorporated into the current Department. The Committee could unfortunately not undertake a visit to Mpashe for now. He pointed out that East London was seen as a rural metro. The rural component was the Committee’s baby. It was an issue that the Committee would address. Farm evictions and property rates issues were some of the issues that had arisen in the area.
Mr Dandala appreciated the input by the Chairperson. Learning from past experiences was useful in order to ensure that they were not repeated. As a result, he felt that it would be useful to visit projects that had been undertaken in the past.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked whether officials from the provinces and municipalities (to be visited) would be accompanying the Committee on the visits.
The Chairperson replied that it was his understanding that the Department, provincial officials and municipal officials would be briefing Members. The provincial department in the Eastern Cape was finalising the details of the Mhlontlo area. The latest community profile report would be provided to the Committee.There were many issues to consider. Food security was considered an important issue.
Perhaps the Committee could request the Department to connect with its provincial chapter and municipalities to compile a report on past pilot projects. The Department could ask the district municipality for input on lessons learnt. Projects in the past were hampered by the scarcity of water. Was this issue resolved? Another stumbling block was that previously, thinking was constrained to a silo mentality. The Department could further be requested to collect the required resources. Projects could not go ahead without resources. The question was also how many departments and parastatals would be contributing resources to the projects. The Department should also shed light on the staff to be deployed in the provinces. The pilot projects were those of the National Department. What was the capacity of the Department to lead the projects? The Chairperson did not foresee any problems as londif the Department's plans were operational on the ground.
Mr B Zulu (ANC) commented that further issues would arise during the oversight visits and highlighted that Premiers were the champions for the provinces.
Ms Steyn asked whether the Committee would be prioritising what items to include the programme in terms of the way forward. In addition, she pointed out that the Committee had already missed a few meetings.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee had in fact missed two meetings with the Department. It would missed further meetings due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A way forward could be that the Department and the Committee could engage over whether things that had been requested of the Department were ready for the Committee.
He mentioned the fact that the Auditor-General was busy with an audit query concerning the land that the state owned. The Committee had been under the impression that 75% of the audit was complete. It however came to light that an audit of the Department’s land was 75% complete and not an audit of state land. The Committee also needed to interact with a surveyor general over the issue of cadastral surveys. Outstanding land claims was an issue that was also on the agenda of the Committee. The Committee had a list of outstanding land claims and had engaged on the issue already. It was felt that the outstanding land claim lists for Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal and Free State were loaded. The Department apparently had a new approach to the issue.
The Committee was aware that the recapitalisation of the Department currently formed the mainstay of its work. He was glad to inform Members that the Committee would be visiting the Limpopo after the current oversight visits but well before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ms Steyn referred to the list of outstanding land claims that had been forwarded to the Committee and noted that claims for the Eastern Cape were not on it. She felt it was especially relevant given that the Committee was visiting the Eastern Cape.
Ms Melissa Chetty, Deputy Director Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, replied that the list should have covered all the provinces. She agreed to check on why this was not the case and get back to the Committee. She added that there were no land claims for the Gauteng Province.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked what would happen in the instance where a permanent member of the Committee was unable to go on an oversight visit. Could an alternate Member be sent in their place?
The Chairperson replied that the particular alternate member should discuss the matter with their respective party whip.
Ms Phumla Nyamza, Committee Secretary, clarified that an alternate member would not go on oversight visits unless a permanent member was unable to make it. In such instances, an alternate member who normally attended meetings could go in place of the permanent member.
The Chairperson noted that the draft programme was a tentative document. It could change and hence the Committee would not discuss it any more detail. A final copy of the programme would be made available to Members before the Committee embarked on its oversight visits.
The meeting was adjourned.
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