Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries: Postponed discussions on Ncera Farms & Phezukomkhono Cooperative Report

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

23 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development together with its Provincial Portfolio Committee on Agriculture appeared before the Committee about progress made so far on Phezukomkhono Cooperative Report. The meeting could not proceed because there was no representation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) as it was expected to brief the Committee about both the Phezukomkhono and Ncera projects. Representatives for Phezukomkhono and Ncera also failed to attend the meeting. What worsened the situation was that the Committee did not get the documents on Phezukomkhono in time so that it could prepare for the meeting, but only received them on the morning of the briefing. No documents were received from DAFF and Eastern Cape.

It had transpired that DAFF had failed to interact with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture on the Phezukomkhono Report and other project failures.

 

The Chairperson asked the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development to advise the Committee in writing on who would lead the forensic investigation on Phezukomkhono and how it would be carried out. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development was asked to submit a report in two weeks time on work in progress about Phezukomkhono so that the Committee could study it and act on the terms of reference of the forensic investigation that would be conducted, and that the forensic investigation should be allowed to happen.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted that the meeting could not proceed because there was no representation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) as it was expected to brief the Committee about both the Phezukomkhono and Ncera projects. Representatives for Phezukomkhono and Ncera also failed to attend the meeting. Only the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development together with its Provincial Portfolio Committee on Agriculture were in attendance.

 

Committee Members felt undermined and were in agreement that the meeting could not continue.

 

The Committee asked the Chairperson to raise the conduct of DAFF with the Minister concerned or the Speaker because it was not the first time it was absconding from meetings, and resolved to send the KwaZulu-Natal delegation back. From the cursory glance of the Phezukomkhono Report, it became apparent to the Committee that no work was carried out regarding resolutions taken by the Provincial and National Portfolio Committees on Agriculture on Phezukomkhono.

Mr Jerry Mfusi, General Manager: KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development, confessed to the Committee that no progress had taken place on Phezukomkhono. Information on what made CASP Projects fail was hard to get from DAFF. Reports on Phezukomkhono were conducted but the provincial Department of Agriculture was not getting the information it wanted. There were missing pages in the submitted documents.

Mr Themba Mthembu, Chairperson: KwaZulu-Natal Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, stated that his Committee was not surprised by these developments. As a Committee, they were surprised to learn that the reports they were getting about Phezukomkhono were not from DAFF, but from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. He suggested the report about Phezukomkhono should start from 2005 to 2010 so that both Committees could have a historical background on the matter. It was also noted that the Senior Manager of Phezukomkhono was never involved in the running of the project; hence he did not want to compile the report on it and could not get cooperation from the provincial Department of Agriculture. That was why even the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Agriculture could not get information on Phezukomkhono. On who would lead the investigation on the matter, he emphasised the Provincial Department of Agriculture would run in circles if it was tasked with the job until the term of Members of Parliament reached expiration. He concurred with Mr Mfusi that certain pages were removed on reports about Phezukomkhono.

The Chairperson told Mr Mfusi to advise the Committee in writing on who would lead the forensic investigation on Phezukomkhono and how it would be carried out. The report should be submitted to the Committee on Friday, 27 August 2010 before noon. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development should submit a report in two weeks time on work in progress about Phezukomkhono so that the Committee could study it and act on the terms of reference of the forensic investigation that would be conducted, and that the forensic investigation should be allowed to happen.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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