Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill [B9-2010]: adoption; Minister on Revised Committee Programme & Staff resignations at Department

Rural Development and Land Reform

24 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee adopted the Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill unamended. It also adopted the Committee Report on the Bill as amended. Minor grammatical and spelling changes were made to the Committee Report. A DA member raised the issue of the Traditional Leadership Framework Act and how the Act which the Bill repealed impacted upon it. The Chairperson said that the issue would be discussed at a later time once the relevant committee in whose domain the Traditional Leadership Framework Act fell was consulted.

The Draft Revised Committee Programme August/September 2010 was also adopted. Members discussed a study tour possibly to a destination within Africa. The possible destinations mentioned were Kenya, Botswana and Malawi.

The Rural Development and Land Reform Minister proceeded to shed light on the resignations of Director General and of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner. The resignations had been announced publicly and both individuals had decided to pursue alternative career paths. The input was in response to letters that had been written by the same DA member to the Chairperson and the Minister stating that she had been unaware of the resignations.

Meeting report

Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill
The Chairperson said that the Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill and the Committee Report on the Bill was now before the Committee for adoption.

Ms A Steyn (DA) asked whether the Committee would discuss the implications of other acts as they related to the Bill. Most of the submissions received on the Bill wished the Committee to consider the Traditional Leadership Framework Act even though the Act was not part of the Committee’s portfolio.

The Chairperson said the Act being referred to was an extraneous issue even though it affected the management of land. He wished to place the Bill and the Committee Report before the Committee for adoption.

Ms Steyn asked what the Committee rules were. She felt that the two Acts were the same and that they both had the same implications on communities.

The Chairperson said that the two Acts were related but not directly. Everyone had supported the repealing of the Black Authorities Act. He noted that inputs had been received that the practices of the Act was also to be found in the Traditional Leadership Framework Act which was in the domain of another Committee. Engagement was necessary in terms of what process should be followed. The Committee had to first deal with the Bill itself.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee lacked a quorum. The adoption of the Bill and the Committee Report was adopted when the quorum of members was reached later on in the meeting.

Draft revised Committee Programme for August / September 2010
The Chairperson placed the Committee Programme before members for consideration. The Committee Programme had been affected by the FIFA 2010 World Cup Tournament.

Ms Steyn asked when the Department intended furnishing the Committee with its annual report.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) said the stipulated month for annual reports was September. The Committee could expect the annual report either in October or November 2010.

The Chairperson asked the Minister Gugile Nkwinti¸ Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, if he wished to comment.

Minister Gugile Nkwinti stated that the General Amendment Bill should be placed on the Committee’s Programme.

The Chairperson said the Committee would place the General Amendment Bill on its Programme once it had been forwarded to the Committee. It had not yet been forwarded to the Committee.
The Programme before the Committee was only for one month. The Committee in scheduling its Programme tried to be as realistic as possible. Additional items would be added to the Programme if the need arose.

Ms Steyn suggested that if the Department was to appear before the Committee on the 8 September 2010 as set out in the Programme the Committee might as well be briefed on the Traditional Leadership Framework Act.

The Chairperson stated that the suggestion made was possible. The Committee would however first engage with the Committee in whose domain the Traditional Leadership Framework Act fell. He reverted back to the Committee Programme and placed it before the Committee for adoption.

A quorum of members had in the meantime been achieved.

The Committee adopted the Programme.

Committee Report on the Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill (dated 18 August 2010)
The Chairperson stated that the Committee Report did reflect the deliberations of the Committee and the inputs that had been made via submissions.

Members perused the Committee Report and made grammatical and spelling changes.

The Committee adopted the Bill unamended and adopted the Committee Report as amended.

Committee Study Tour
The Chairperson felt that perhaps the Committee should consider undertaking a study tour within Africa. He had initially considered Kenya a good prospect but was not at the moment sure whether it was.

Ms Steyn agreed that a study tour within Africa was a good idea even though there were not too many good examples of success stories. The Committee could, however, learn from mistakes that had been made in Africa but could also learn from the success stories that there were.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should not delay in concluding the matter. He felt that Botswana was perhaps a good prospect. Botswana and Kenya could be considered.

Minister Nkwinti suggested Malawi as an option. Malawi had made huge inroads on land reform and a visit to the country could be useful.

The Chairperson agreed that Malawi was indeed a good suggestion. Three issues needed to be taken into consideration. The first was food security, the second was land reform and the third was security of tenure.

Staff Resignations
The Chairperson brought it to the Committee’s attention that Ms Steyn had written letters to both himself and the Minister regarding the Director General’s and the Chief Land Claims Commissioner’s resignations.

Minister Nkwinti said that on the 22 July 2010 a media release had been issued regarding the departure of Director General Mr Thozi Gwanya. Mr Gwanya had decided to pursue other career opportunities. He wished to work with young people and intended to become involved in training and development. Minister Nkwinti had asked Mr Gwanya to stay on but to no avail. Minister Nkwinti stated that Mr Gwanya had good skills on land reform and had served the Department for 11 years.
The Chief Land Claims Commissioner Andre Mphela had requested to end his tenure by the 31 July 2010. Minister Nkwinti said that the resignation had been made public as well.
Both individuals wished to pursue other career paths and there was no changing of their minds.

Ms Steyn said that she had felt uncomfortable about not knowing about the resignations when it had come to her attention during a meeting. She was not even aware in the very same meeting that the individual before the Committee was the Acting Chief Land Claims Commissioner. The Committee needed to be informed about such matters.

The Chairperson responded that public announcements were as a norm not discussed.

Minister Nkwinti said that he was accountable to Parliament. The principle of separation of powers had to be adhered to. It was perhaps inappropriate constitutionally for the Department to report to Parliament on staff issues.

The Chairperson agreed. It was courtesy on the part of the Department to inform Parliament about staff changes. It was, however, embarrassing when members were unaware of certain issues. He considered the matter closed.

The meeting was adjourned.


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