Progress made by AGRIBEE Charter Council: briefing by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

19 April 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Livelihood of Development Suppliers explained the establishment of Agricultural Sector Black Economic Empowerment (AGIBEE) which was gazetted on the 20 March 2008 and the Council was inaugurated on the 5 December 2008. The Mandate of the Charter Council was to align the AGRIBEE transformation Charter with the Codes of Good Practise in terms of a Section 9 of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act no 53 of 2003 (BBBEE Act).

Three working Groups were established and had their own mandates. The AGRIBEE Charter Council outstanding issues were the review of the thresholds for Exempted Micro Enterprises and qualified Small Enterprises where the threshold had to be divided into primary agriculture and Agribusiness.

The AGRIBEE future plan of action was the process that was required to move from section12 to 9. Members of the Committee were mostly concerned about the amount that was spent by the Department on AGRIBEE which the delegates could not answer but promised the Committee that they would sent a detailed report with the amount that was used on AGRIBEE.

Members wanted clarity on the procedures and process that was used on selection and nomination of the members of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Some of the members were not happy with the way the Committee had handled the nomination process and they strongly emphasised their objection on the processed used. There was also confusion as to whether the Committee had a role in nominating the Board as the Minister; Ms T Joemat Peterson said it was their job while the legislation concerning this limited the Committee only to recommending names of the candidates that could be nominated.

Meeting report

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Presentation
Mr Sam Malatji, Chief Director of Livelihood Development Suppliers explained the AGRIBEE sector Transformation Charter was gazetted on the 20 March 2008 and the Council was inaugurated on the 5 December 2008. It had 14 Board Members from different Agricultural entities. The scope of the AGRIBEE Charter included any enterprises which derived the majority of its turnover form the primary production of agricultural products and the beneficiation of agricultural products whether of primary or semi-beneficiated form.

The Mandate of the Charter Council was to align the AGRIBEE transformation Charter with the Codes of Good Practise in terms of a Section 9 of the BBBEE Act no 53 of 2003. It was also to provide guidance with respect to the implementation of the AGRIBEE Charter and was to share information with the Sector Stakeholders and approve accredited verification agencies. It also had to facilitate communication and population of the AGRIBEE and was to advice the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with regards to the matters of the AGRIBEE.

The AGRIBEE had met to facilitate the move from Section12 to Section 9. It had achieved members of the Council to agree on a clear roadmap to migrate from Section 12 of the Charter Section 9 Sector Code. The Council also agreed on establishing 3 working Groups with different mandates. The mandate of the first Working Group would be responsible for the alignment of the Section 12 Charter with the final Department of Trade and Industry. Work Group 2 agreed that all the funding requirements of the Council would be covered by the DAFF up to the publication of the AGRIBEE Sector Code in terms of Section 9 of the BBBEE Codes. The last Working Group on its the investigation with expected to develop the AGRIBEE measurements and monitoring system, made consultations with the framework of the DTI’s BEE Information Technology.

Their way forward and outstanding issues were the review of the thresholds for Exempted Micro Enterprises and qualified Small Enterprises where the threshold had to be divided into primary agriculture and Agribusiness. An economic study had to be funded by DAFF on behalf of the AGRIBEE Charter Council.  The expected time frame for the completion of the study was end of September 2010. On Land Ownership members had to consult with their Constituency on the contribution of private enterprises. A further option was tabled to make the ownership element mandatory for qualifying Small Enterprises. There would be a report back from members after their consultation with their Constituencies on the issues of land ownership.

The AGRIBEE future plan of action was the process that was required to move from section12 to 9 where they had to send a draft code to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for consultation, Council and DTI had to work through comments and that the DTI published the final AGRIBEE Sector Code Section 9(5).

Discussion
Mr S Abram (ANC) wanted clarity as to how much was spent on the (Black Economic Empowerment in Agricultural Sector) AGRIBEE Charter Council and its establishment.

Mr Malatji also explained that according to the Charter legislation the council was still managed by the Department and was not an independent board but they were in a process of moving Section 12 to 9 of the Code.

The Chairperson wanted to know the total number of farmers in the country

Mr Malatji informed the Committee that there were 240 Subsidiary farmers, 200 000 Small Farmers and about 40 000 Commercial farmers. He also stated that it was hard to give the exact figure on Small famers as they had a problem of defining the meaning of Small farmers especially in the rural areas

Mr J Purchse, Chief Executive Officer of Agricultural Business Chambers explained that AGRIBEE Charter was supposed to be an implementation body moving forward but they had to go back to the beginning because of restructuring which was going to cost them money. The delays caused by the DAFF after its implementation also contributed to the problem of not having profit. He also explained that it was hard to create jobs or empower the sector because the GDP growth had decrease by 1%. On the question of skills development he explained that it was one of their big challenges.  As a result most of the projects failed because people put on the ground of those projects did not have skills.

 The Chairperson wanted clarity as to whether the Charter had any hold so that it could be implemented effectively.

Mr F Pienaar, Deputy Executive Director of Agricultural South Africa explained that Section 9 of the Sector Code would more controlling and effective and would only have hold once they had moved from Section12 to 9.

Ms C Molo, President of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD) stated that black women farmers who are uneducated had difficulties going to the Banks for loans because they did not have any form of documentation that showed that they are the rightful owners of their farms. She urged that skill are desperately needed by the Small Black Farmers.

Mr Abram wanted to know the life spent of the Members of AGRIBEE Charter Council.

Mr Malatji promised the Committee that they would sent a detailed report with the amount that was used on AGRIBEE but could not estimate how much was spent.


Mr M Mokoena, Director of Business and Enterprises in DAFF explained that according to Section 12 the was no time frame and they also did not have a chairperson.  This was the other reason they were moving to Section 9 because once they started operating according to Section 9 the Council would have a time frame of the members, how they were to be appointed, its employees and its budget.

Ms R Nyalunga (ANC) wanted to know the role played by the Charter between the farmers and workers as they said they were monitoring them?

Mr E Mhlahlo, Chairperson of Landless Peoples Movement explained that as the Council they had different opinions and this led to delays in the Councils delivery.


Rev O Mbangula, National African Farmers Union South Africa raised his concerns that AGRIBEE was not designed to empower black farmers who had no employees and secondly some of the members of the council (farmers from the apartheid government) had deliberately resisted transformation.

Mr Abram told the delegates that they had to answer his question about the money spent by the Department on AGRIBEE and that they had to take parliament seriously because they need to know whether it was worth it to give the department the budget that they had allocated to them and that Food Security was one of the important concerns of Government.

The Chairperson encouraged the delegates to elaborate more on what had been transformed and to guide the Committee by giving the interesting presentation with flowing progress and not long theoretical speeches. Chairperson also mentioned that Food Security was very important to parliament as it was also one of the mandates of the African National Congress.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee had to have a comprehensive meeting with the DTI and DAFF to discuss two issues that were raised in the meeting i.e food Security and the transformation of the sector, as they could not be separated.

Other Matters
Mr L Bosman (DA) wanted clarity about the meeting concerning the nomination of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) board members, that was scheduled for Thursday 15 April 2010 but never materialised and there was not even a note about its cancellation.

The Committee Secretary, Bulelwa Madikane explained that all Members were supposed to submit names of the Candidates they had recommended to be on the ARC board. She had received 10 Curriculum Vitae’s (CV’s) from parliament. All the selected CV’s were sent to the Selection Committee that had been appointed by the Minister.

The Chairperson added that they had recommended 21 Candidates to the Minister of which four were still members of the ARC Board and the rest were new and some used to be in the ARC board in the previous years. He informed the Committee that they would receive the feedback of the nomination by Wednesday 21 April 2010 from the Minister who would also be debating the process of nominating the Winery Trust Board and PECB as the Portfolio Committee had no role in the mentioned process.

Mr Bosman was surprised by the information given by Chairperson on the nomination of the ARC Board as they (DA) were never consulted about it and they never received the list of the nominated candidates. He mentioned that this also happened when they had to recommend candidates for the Land Bank Board. Secondly, he disagreed with the fact that the committee had no role in appointing the Board Members of the entities they had responsibilities over and were to the Committee. He suggested that they should formulate a process of nomination of all the relevant entity Boards which would show involvement of the Committee and amend laws that stipulated that they had no role in the nomination process. He emphasised the DAs objection on the process followed by the Committee.

Ms D Carter (COPE) informed the Committee that on Tuesday 13 April 2010 she asked the Minister about the appointment of the ARC Board and the Minister sent her response stating that the Committee was supposed to do the selection and they were delaying the process. She wanted clarity on when the list was done. She strongly objected the decision of the Committee and pointed out that as COPE they did not support the decision.

Mr Abram informed the Committee that in the Oder Paper there was an advert of a meeting of the Committee that was schedule for Thursday 15 April 2010, its agenda was the nomination of ARC Board Members, the venue was v227 and to his surprise no one pitched up except Mr Bosman. He agreed with Mr Bosman that they were supposed to be involved in the nomination of the Board members as they are accountable to them even with the budget allocation. He suggested that they had to have a meeting the Minister and the Department had to present how they had spent the budget of the previous yeas so they could know if it was spent judicially.

The Chairperson explained to the Members that democratically when a decision had been taken by the Committee on behalf of the Committee, that decision was binding; changing it would be violating the democratic principle even if that decision was not welcomed by other Members and they wanted it to be changed. He also reminded that the Committee agreed not to take the process of bringing all the CVs together before the recommended some to the Minister. He also reminded the Committee that they had asked the Committee Secretary and the Committee Researcher, Nokuzola Mgxashe to bring in consultation all legislation was directly and indirectly related to the Committee so they had to scrutinised and find loopholes that had to be amended.

Mr Bosman proposed that the Committee had to come up with a strategy that showed that they want to be part of the nomination process so they would not be eliminated again.

Mr M Du Toit (DA) encouraged the members to do their outmost best when doing their jobs as the parliament had already failed the country on service delivery because of the Portfolio Committees who failed to do their jobs properly.

Ms Carter asked the Chairperson to stop pointing fingers to certain Political Parties while the problem faced by the Committee was not a party problem but a country problem i.e food security problem. She also wanted clarity as there was confusion as to whether they were the post office as said by the Minister or not (if they were the ones who had to select the Board Members of ARC).

The Chairperson explained to the Members that the legislation guiding the ARC had limited the committee to only recommend a list of Candidates that could be appointed to be Members of the board but to nominate or select them. The Chairperson read only the 10 names that were proposed by Parliament.

Mr Abram proposed that if the Committee agreed to be part of the selection of the members of the board or Council of the entities that report to them, they had to amend legislation and consult with State Law Advisors to rectify those legislations so it would reflect the Committee involvement in the selection.  He informed the Committee that he would be absent in the following meeting as he was one of the Parliamentary delegates that had to go overseas.

The Committee Secretary reminded the Committee that the week of the 26 April was the constituency week so the Portfolio Committees were not going meet.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that they had a new Committee Secretary so it was the last day for Bulelwa to be part of their meetings.

The meeting was adjourned.

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