The Committee met to discuss its oversight visit to the Northern Cape, its study tour to India and to adopt its strategic plan and fourth term programme.
It was awaiting approval from the House Chairperson for its Northern Cape trip but provisional planning was underway. Meetings with role players from the Department of Agriculture, the Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation, Agribusinesses, emerging farmers and organised labour had been scheduled. The Committee’s primary role would be to facilitate the fast tracking of the release of government funds made available to assist farmers in the flood disaster areas. It was estimated that R4.4 billion was needed for infrastructural repairs which would take years to complete.
The study tour to India had been rescheduled to the period 26 November–3 December. The strategic plan and the 4th term programme were adopted.
Members wanted to know who would be responsible for tracking of items in the strategic plan. Was there a slot in the oversight visit programme where the Committee would be meeting with community members? Why were public hearings on the shale gas issue not on the fourth term program? Was the Committee formally invited to COP 17? Could the Committee researcher provide reports from other countries which had done fracking
Report on Committee Strategic Plan for 2011/12
The Committee discussed its strategic plan for the 2011/12 financial year.
Mr K Sinclair (COPE; Northern Cape) wanted the preamble to be amended to show that the National Council of Provinces represented provincial and local interests.
Ms B Abrahams (DA; Gauteng) wanted to know who would be responsible for tracking.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee was responsible. The report was adopted.
Discussion on Oversight Visit to the Northern Cape
The Committee then moved to discuss its oversight visit to the Northern Cape scheduled for the 29–31 August 2011. The Secretary said she was awaiting a response from the House Chairperson on the Committee’s request for approval of the trip on those dates. The House Chairperson had been unavailable and a response was anticipated by the end of that day.
The Chairperson said he would follow it up and requested Mr Sinclair to give a briefing of provisional plans for the trip.
Mr Sinclair said two meetings would be built into the trip. There would be a meeting in the morning of the first day and in the afternoon a briefing and a site visit. On the next day the Committee would meet with role players from agriculture, the Land Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The challenge was that although money had been given to the Land Bank and the IDC to assist victims of the floods, that money was not being released. Senior officials of the Department of Agriculture would meet with agribusinesses like co –operatives, organised labour and subsistence and emerging farmers. The latter being the most affected by the floods.
Ms E Van Lingen (DA; Eastern Cape) said that the big problem was that emerging farmers could not service their loans because of the floods and asked which institutions could assist them. The problem was that the insurance did not cover things like top soil insurance.
Ms M Dikgale (ANC; Limpopo) wanted to know whether the Committee would be meeting the community.
The Chairperson said that the Committee’s role was to assist in fast tracking the release of the funds made available by government to the Land Bank and the IDC.
Mr Sinclair said that damage for the period between December and March was estimated to be R4.8 billion in the Northern Cape. Of that R4.4 billion would be required to rebuild infrastructure which would take years to complete. Government needed to be motivated and must rebuild this infrastructure. Because floods occurred once every 14 years, the insurance industry did not insure in that area and the Minister of Agriculture was wrong to think that there would be an insurance payout. R750 million had been made available for the re-establishment of crops and the regional representative of the IDC had been very supportive but there were procedures and the funds were loans, not grants, which had to be paid back and because of this some farmers did not qualify for assistance.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC; Mpumalanga) said that invitations should be extended to the IDC and to the Department of Agriculture to be present on the trip so that solutions could be presented instead of the trip being just one of hearings.
The Chairperson said that the IDC, the Land Bank and the Department of Agriculture had been invited. The Department of Mineral Resources had said that it might not be ready to give a briefing on mining beneficiation.
Study Tour to India
The Chairperson said that the Department of International relations had informed that the study tour to India would not be possible on the proposed dates but that alternative periods had been given. The visit was now rescheduled from 3-11 September to 26 November-3 December.
Draft Programme for the Fourth Term
Mr Sinclair said that he had requested that public hearings on the shale gas issue be part of the programme and noted its absence. He wanted to know if the Committee had been formally invited to Cop 17.
The Chairperson said that the report by the task team on shale gas had not been up to standard and the team had been given a six month extension to complete the task and brief Parliament. He added that he would check about the invitation.
Mr Mnguni asked if the researcher could check on reports on countries which had done fracking, for example, the USA.
The draft programme was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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