Land Claims Petition: Western Cape: Department replies to key committee recommendations
Committee: Rural Development and Land Reform
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
Date of Meeting: 15 Nov 2011
SummaryThe purpose of the meeting was for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to give the Committee its responses to the Committee's recommendations on the Land Claims Petition: Western Cape.
The Western Cape Province Land Restitution Claimants had lodged a Petition with the Speaker of the National Assembly through Ms A Steyn (DA) on the processing of land claims in the Western-Cape. The Petition highlighted three broad areas: limitations of the legislative framework for Restitution; grievances on the processing of claims and conduct of officials; and settlement of specific land claims.
The Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform had considered the Petition and requested the Regional Land Claims Commissioner to respond to the issues. After the Committee had considered the Commission's responses, it had tabled its report and recommendations in the National Assembly.
The Department presented its responses to the Committee's seven key recommendations.
The matters relating to the Congress for the Aboriginal Leaders of South Africa were addressed and no further communication was received. Additionally, there were ongoing engagements with Industrial Relations Association of South Africa and there was agreement to address their needs as they arose.
Based on the outcome of the engagements with Industrial Relations Association of South Africa and similar groups, agreements would be entered into with the Directorate: Land Reform to address the petitioners' needs in line with section (6)(2)(b) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994.
The Commission and the Industrial Relations Association of South Africa had reached an understanding that the Commission would facilitate the process of accessing land through referral to the Directorate. This included: Land Reform, monitoring progress, and reporting to the National Assembly in the reporting mechanism.
The programme for providing progress reports would include: the 326 family claims that were contained in the Petition; an area-specific report and a detailed report on individual claims; and a Claims Progress Report to be submitted to the Committee quarterly. Additionally, the processing of claims was planned to spread over two financial years, i.e. 2011/12 and 2012/13, and was hoped to be finalized by 31 December 2013 and might be extended depending on processes and budget allocations.
A Provincial State Land Disposal Committee was set up to address these matters and reporting on progress would be included in the quarterly progress report.
The data contained in LANDBASE was fixed, based on the legal requirements of the submission of claims, and ‘updating’ included recording milestones in relation to each claim. The LANDBASE system was currently being migrated to UMHLABAWETHU, which contained a Dashboard monitoring system.
Regional meetings with claimant representatives were held at localities convenient to claimants and their representatives, so that they could raise issues of concern on a regular basis, and so the Commission could report on how these issues and concerns were addressed.
Members enquired whether the Department had indeed purchased any land so far, and, if land was purchased, how much, and were land claimants put on those pieces of land? Members asked, if not, why had the Department not purchased any land? It was also asked whether land had been identified so far, and whether any land had been transferred to the claimants. Members asked when the Commission would begin submitting quarterly progress reports to the Committee. Members wanted more information on the efficiency and effectiveness of the LANDBASE system, and also highlighted the problem of having to wait a very long time to receive information from the Department about land claim issues. Members asked whether the Department was indeed meeting with specific groups of petitioners as it had intended to, because they had received reports that was not in fact happening.
The issue around the attitudes of Department officials towards claimants was highlighted and it was asked what the Commission was doing to address this problem. Members asked for clarification around the various processes involved with land disposals. Members also enquired whether, if the Department was given a sufficient budget to deal with the backlogs, whether it would have the capacity to spend the money allocated?
Land Claims Petition: Western Cape Department's replies to key Committee recommendations
Mr Michael Worsnip, Chief Director: Restitution Support, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), presented the Department’s replies to key Committee recommendations on the Land Claims Petition, and focused only on the Western Cape. He was accompanied by a delegation of other DRDLR officials. He gave a brief background to the presentation and explained that the Western Cape Province Land Restitution Claimants had lodged a petition with the Speaker of the National Assembly through Ms A Steyn (DA), regarding the processing of land claims in the Western-Cape.
The Petition had highlighted three broad areas: limitations of the legislative framework for Restitution; grievances on the processing of claims and conduct of officials; and settlement of specific land claims.
The Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform had considered the Petition and requested the Regional Land Claims Commissioner to respond to the issues that were raised. After the Committee had considered the Commission's responses, it had tabled its report and recommendations in the National Assembly.
Mr Worsnip presented the responses the Commission issued in response to the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee had advised the Commission to engage in the process of consultations with the Industrial Relations Association of South Africa (IRASA) and the Congress for the Aboriginal Leaders of South Africa (CONFALSA) on particular land needs to ascertain whether the constituency represented by these groups had particular land needs.
The Commission responded that the matters relating to CONFALSA were addressed and no further communication was received. Additionally, there were ongoing engagements with IRASA since the date of the Petition and there was agreement to address their needs as they arose.
Where there were land needs, DRDLR should consider purchasing land for interested individuals and groups through its land redistribution programmes.
The Commission replied that based on the outcome of the engagements with IRASA and similar groups, agreements would be entered into with the Directorate: Land Reform to address their needs in line with Section (6)(2)(b) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994.
Reporting to the National Assembly about the process of facilitation and drafting a programme of action to resolve the complaints within the stipulated time frames had been recommended.
The Commission stated that it and IRASA had reached an understanding that the Commission would facilitate the process of accessing land through referral to the Directorate. This included: Land Reform, monitoring progress, and reporting to the National Assembly (NA) in the reporting mechanism.
The Committee had requested submitting to the National Assembly a programme for providing a progress report on all land claims in the Petition by 31 July 2011, and that a report on implementation of the programme should be submitted within three months after the adoption of this report.
The Commission answered that the Programme for providing progress reports would include: the 326 family claims that were contained in the Petition; an area-specific report and a detailed report on individual claims; and a Claims Progress Report to be submitted to the Committee quarterly. Additionally, the processing of claims was planned to spread over two financial years, i.e. 2011/12 and 2012/13, and was hoped to be finalized by 31 December 2013 and might be extended depending on processes and budget allocations.
A collective meeting of the DRDLR and all land holding departments in the Western Cape should be convened to develop a strategy for the speedy release of state land for land reform, and the Commission was to report to the NA about commitments and a programme of action within three months of adoption of report.
The Commission responded that a Provincial State Land Disposal Committee was set up to address these matters, and reporting on progress would be included in the quarterly progress report.
The Commission was to constantly update ‘LANDBASE’ to ensure that when claimants lost information, the database would serve as a back-up for this and land restored to communities.
The Commission replied that the data contained in LANDBASE was fixed, based on the legal requirements of the submission of claims, and that ‘updating’ included recording milestones in relation to each claim. The LANDBASE system was currently being migrated to UMHLABAWETHU, which contained a Dashboard monitoring system.
Recommendation 6. 3
The Committee had encouraged petitioners to submit further details about allegations raised in the Petition to, the DRDLR, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Anti-Corruption toll-free number, or any other relevant avenue to allow alleged abuse of administrative responsibility and corruption to be identified and addressed.
The Commission answered that regional meetings with claimant representatives were held at localities convenient to claimants and their representatives, so that they could raise issues of concern on a regular basis, and so the Commission could report on how these issues and concerns were addressed.
Ms A Steyn (DA) expressed displeasure because she had spoken to some of the Western Cape petitioners that morning, and what they were telling her was different from what she saw in the report.
Ms Steyn referred to the response given to Recommendation 6.1.2, and asked if any land was purchased so far, and if land was purchased, how much, and whether land claimants were put on those pieces of land. If not, why had the Department not purchased any land?
Mr Tele Maphoto, the Acting Regional Land Claims Commissioner, DRDLR addressed the issue of whether the Department had bought land so far, and said the Western Cape Department office had not bought land, but the process was in place to buy the land for some of the claimants.
On Recommendation 6.1.3, Ms Steyn said the report maintained the Commission had drafted a programme of action, and asked why the Committee had not received such a draft with the report? She stressed that the Committee did not want the Department to have such a programme for its own internal good, but that the Committee wanted to see the programme so it could understand the plan, and to allow for communication between the Committee and the Department; the Committee should have received a report on the action that needed to be taken.
Mr Worsnip replied that he was surprised that Ms Steyn had not received the report she was enquiring about, as it should have been part of the pack that she received during this meeting.
Ms Steyn discussed the response to Recommendation 6.2.1, regarding the provision of both an area–specific report and a detailed report on the individual claim, and a Claims Progress Report to be submitted to the Committee quarterly, and asked when this submission process would start? She questioned whether it will begin in the next year only, or if the Department had already completed a report, why had the Committee not received it as a first report?
Ms Ntsiki Mashiya, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Rural Infrastructure Development, DRDLR, responded that the Department would submit this report by 24 November 2011, and from there it would submit quarterly because the report was regarding work that was already happening.
Ms Steyn enquired (Recommendation 6.2.2) whether any land had been identified so far, and whether any land had been transferred. She explained that this query encompassed the issue of why the Petition came to Parliament, and said that the Committee wanted to see if any action had happened on this, specifically regarding some of these land claimants that were part of the Petition.
Ms Steyn mentioned the response to Recommendation 6.2.3 on the LANDBASE system, and was concerned because she had been in contact with the Department asking for information on behalf of certain beneficiaries, and stressed that it could take three, four, five, or six months to receive an answer from the Department. She wondered then whether the Database was so up-to-date and so easy to get information from. She explained that she had visited Mr Worsnip at his office and discussed the problem of petitioners having trouble accessing information from the Department. She asked if action should be taken so the query process could be sped up for people who wanted to enquire after their claim.
Ms Mashiya acknowledged the inefficiencies in the office with regard to Ms Steyn’s question, and explained there were issues in all Regional Claims Commission offices, and to address this the Department had decided to appoint Chief Directors. There was also the Public Service Act, and there was a board of the Department so that issues of poor performance were dealt with.
Mr Worsnip addressed the length of time it took to get responses from the Department and said it was a failing of the Commission that needed to be changed. The Department was engaged in processes within the Commission to ensure that there were responses to all of the various types of enquires: Presidential, Ministerial, Director-General (DG), and enquiries from members of the public.
Mr Worsnip explained that he received a range of enquiries from the public and he tried to respond within 24 hours, and was trying to get the other officials to do the same, as he believed this was the kind of response one should expect from a Government Department, and so the Department was trying to achieve that. If the information was difficult to produce so quickly, the initial response should explain that the enquiry was being attended to and the Department would respond within three weeks time, and he explained that this represented the type of culture that the Department was trying to instill within the Commission.
Ms Mashiya addressed the question around the Database and explained that the aspect of manual information was addressed by the migration of the information to the new software, the land database. This was to ensure that this information was accessible and available to the public within a reasonable time.
Mr Maphoto discussed the issue of the LANDBASE system, and said that the system was fixed so that one could not tamper with the information. For those people who had lodged claims, but whose names could not be found in the system, common sense dictated that they had not lodged a claim. The Commission was aware that there had been some discrepancies in the past, and so normally one would say that the individual must show certain information that would have been given when the claim was lodged. The process of navigating the system, to check the files individually and physically, and updating who had lost claims when ― that was the process that the Department had tried to finalize in March 2010, to update the LANDBASE, to make sure that it spoke to what was in the physical files.
Ms Steyn referred to the response to Recommendation 6.3 regarding regional meetings held with claimants, and said she was told there was only one meeting where all land claimants were together, and so the meeting was not held with just the specific groups who were involved with the Petition. This was an issue because the response given by the Department indicated that the meetings were for specific people involved with the Petition. She asked whether the specific group of petitioners had a meeting with the Department, because that was the issue the petitioners were challenging her most about, who said they had not had such a meeting, but rather sent her records of two meetings that had been postponed.
Mr Worsnip replied that two meetings were held, one on 15 September and the other on 04 October. The meetings were about certain claims, which were found to be outside of the Restitution framework. A meeting on CONFALSA issues was addressed by the initial response to the Petition during November 2010, and there had been no further communication.
Mr Worsnip explained that those meetings he referred to as specifics were in addition to the ones that were held in general, that were arranged as regional meetings.
Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) addressed the response to Recommendation 6.3 of steps to encourage claimants to open cases of alleged corruption, and raised the problem of the attitude of the Department officials towards the claimants. She said the officials should be cautioned about the code of conduct so they would be able to deal with beneficiaries in an effective way. She asked if there was anything in place to address the attitude of officials towards the beneficiaries.
Ms Mashiya replied that the Department addressed the issue of attitude by appointing Mr Worsnip who, with the other Restitution Support Chief Directors in the other provinces, ran a programme for improving the attitudes of Commission officers in these provinces. The Department was handling this internally, and if there were still further complaints about the Commission, the Department would put in place measures to deal with this. Additionally, the Department had a turnaround plan to personally address the question of discipline and conduct in the provincial Commission offices.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila enquired whether there were any representatives from the Department or Commission who were sitting in the particular committee so that the Portfolio Committee would be able to get progress reports on time.
Mr Maphoto responded that the Commission was not part of the State Claims Disposal Committee, which was a Committee constituted by various Departments in all the provinces in South Africa, and it made decisions on the disposal of state lands. Various Departments had ownership of many land parcels in the country, such as Water Affairs, Public Works and so on. When there was a claim on state land, the Commission processed the research and verification etc., but before the transfer could take place, the Disposal Committees of the various provinces became involved, making it beyond the reach of the Commission. So the State Claims Disposal Committee met, and, for example, if claimants lodged a complaint on a conservation area or a game park, then the Department of Environmental Affairs of that province, or Public Works, conferred. The property was vested into the name of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. He maintained that this process was a bit outside of the Commission, but that the Commission did work with the various State Land Disposal Committees in all the provinces, to transfer state land that was claimed but was not owned by the Department, but owned by other Departments. He concluded that this was the process of how the Department processed land claims. Sometimes it was time-consuming so state land normally took more time to process than private land. When there was a claim on private land it was much quicker to process, because the deal was with a private owner.
The Chairperson replied that he wanted the presenters to further explain who sat on the State Land Disposal Committee, and when last did the Department make a submission to it.
Mr Maphoto responded that this committee was represented by the Regional Public Works office, which would be the local Public Works Department of the Western Cape, in the specific case of the Western Cape. It would comprise Environmental Affairs, some members in the Premiers Office, even some members of the Department of Rural Development, but not those who were in the Commission but those in the Department that dealt with state land disposal.
Mr Maphoto explained the Department had a unit to deal with this, where the municipality officials would also sit, and there they would learn what the land was used for. A request would be lodged in writing that the property be vested in name of the DRDLR, because it was found that, in most of the national game parks, the land either belonged to the municipality or to the Department of Public Works in the region, or Water Affairs, so it was a vesting process. The Commission officials did not sit on those Committees. With regard to the question on submissions to the State Land Disposal Committee, the other DRDLR colleagues would discuss the specific letter that was now on the agenda of the Western Cape Land Disposal Committee for the actual vesting of the property into the name of the Department.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila raised the point presented in the response to Recommendation 6.2.1 that progress reports would be submitted quarterly, and asked in which quarter these reports would be submitted. According to her calculations, the Department was supposed to give the first progress report by the end of September. She enquired about the response that indicated the processing of claims was meant to spread over two financial years, depending on processes and budget allocations, and asked the Department to unpack the issues of the processes. She also asked the Commission to confirm whether, if given a sufficient budget to deal with the backlogs, it would have the capacity to spend the money allocated.
Mr Maphoto addressed the question by Ms Ngwenya-Mabila regarding the budget and processes. He explained that it was possible that, within the two financial years that the Department estimated it would finalize those particular claims, not all of the claims but those particular petition claims, due to other processes, like those the Chairperson alluded to, where there are two families within a large claim on which they di not agree among themselves, there could be delays.
Mr Maphoto explained there were so many cases in the Western Cape, such as the case mentioned above, which hampered the finalization of the cases. It was not always a budgetary constraint therefore, but rather there were social dynamics especially in the Western Cape, which could delay the process. He mentioned that he had personal experiences involving claimants who did not agree on the evaluation that the Commission offered them, so they got a separate evaluation, or two families got separate evaluations for the same land, which differed from the evaluation report of the Commission. He concluded that the Commission was trying to strike a balance, which was why the Commission said the processing of claims could spill over to the outer year, because of those issues, and not necessarily the money issues.
Mr David Smith, Director: Operational Management, DRDLR, addressed the concern around the issues of the processes. He explained that if the Department identified land, it would apply to the land-holding Department and then would submit the application, according to whether it was provincial or national, and after it had consulted all the other Departments who might have had a need for that land, only then the land-holding Department would submit the application to the Disposal Committee, because it was the one holding the land.
The Chairperson intervened to reiterate that the question was 'When last have you submitted any application to that Disposal Committee?'.
Mr Smith replied that the Department did not submit applications.
The Chairperson then asked who did submit applications.
Mr Smith explained that one would submit an application to the specific Department which owned the land, and after that Department had gone through its own process, and if it agreed to dispose of the land because it did not have any need for the land, then the application would go to the State Land Disposal Committee.
The Chairperson reiterated that the question was 'When last did you submit such an application, to any relevant department, for the land as part of the process of land disposal that was being discussed?'
Mr Smith replied that the last application he was aware of was in June 2011, to the Provincial Department of Public Works. He continued that in September, the City of Cape Town agreed to sell land for restitution for R27 million, after negotiations had been completed, which had started in 2008. This included land in Claremont and the Newlands area, where about 60 people could be accommodated on the land. There were also agreements with the City of Cape Town to buy land in Welkom Estate for R 2.4 million, where 20 people could be accommodated.
Mr Smith explained that in terms of state land, there was an agreement with the Provincial Department of Public Works, regarding a certain portion of land in Paarl, which was a hockey field at the LaRochelle School. There was also land in Milnerton and in Constantia because the agreement with the Department was that the [other] Department would release the land in pockets.
Mr Smith continued that in terms of the hockey field, there was a prior agreement that, because the school was still using the land, the Department would first get alternative land for the school to use as a sports field, and only then would the land be released. In Milnerton, there were 2.4 hectares and they were in the process of subdividing the land, and once this was completed, the land would be released. Those were a summary of the agreements the Department had with the Provincial Department of Public Works.
Mr Smith explained an agreement the DRDLR had with the Department of Human Settlements, for land in Paternoster and also part of Claver. In terms of the National Department of Public Works, there were 30 hectares in Goodwood that it was willing to release, and the DRDLR was in the process of getting a submission for approval, and that land could accommodate between 100-120 families.
The Chairperson addressed Mr Smith, and said that he had not said anything about the June agreement, but rather spent more time on the September agreement, and asked him to delineate that which had already facilitated the contact between the Departments concerned and the DRDLR, and that which was still in the by-plan.
The Chairperson said Mr Smith was talking about land that had been identified, but there had not been any actual submissions of applications for that land. He maintained Mr Smith must differentiate between a plan, and action that had already been taken. He said he wanted Mr Smith to clearly state whether, with regard to the land he had been talking about, if the Department had already approached the other relevant Departments or if there were only plans to do so.
Mr Smith replied that the idea was to deal only with the land that was available, because some of the land would be land in excess, and the Department could not ask for additional land if it did not use all the land; that was one of the problems that were identified ― where the Commission was referred land, but did not use all the land that was actually available. Therefore the idea was to start determining which land had been fully used, and which claimants were dealt with and which were not.
The Chairperson explained that Mr Smith did not understand the question, and said the Portfolio Committee did not want him to explain the rationale, but instead wanted him to explain what had happened actually, in terms of action taken.
Mr Smith apologized and said he now understood and said the land that he was talking about previously was already in agreement or in the process of agreement for disposal.
The Chairperson then called attention to the issue of the ‘LANDBASE’ database raised by Ms Steyn, regarding how people could access information about their claims and asked the presenters to expand on this.
Mr Smith responded that he first wanted to reflect on the processes, the issue raised by Ms Ngwenya-Mabila. He explained that if land had been identified, that would include most of the time, a big piece of state land, which must actually accommodate 50 or 60 people, and so there would be a zoning process, like EIA, and also subdivision processes.
The Chairperson asked whose processes these were.
Mr Smith replied that the Department appointed service providers to do the subdivision and environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and also business plans. For the land of Constantia, there was a principal agreement to release the land, but before the release, Mr Smith and his colleagues had to create a land use plan and submit it to the Department to determine what would be the optimal use of the land, before they could take the matter to the Provincial Cabinet to release the land.
Mr Smith explained that some of the processes would include agreements with claimants, so even if land was available, the claimants could say they were not satisfied with the extent or state of the land, which was an instance of things that would cause delays. Additionally, families could disagree regarding even financial compensation. Mr Smith concluded that these were some of the factors that could impact on the settlement of a claim.
The Chairperson was curious about a situation when the willing buyer did not get the necessary agreement from the willing seller, and asked whether this matter is settled in court, whether a judge would determine who was reasonable and unreasonable in the process. He asked then if there was an option available to the Department when the beneficiary was unreasonable ― for a situation where the Department had gone overboard to try to satisfy the beneficiary, and asked where there was any process allowed in the law to settle the matter. He said he was thinking about the image of the Department and the Commission, when they had settled all the legal requirements to compensate, and yet the beneficiaries still refused, saying that the estimation was unreasonable.
Mr Maphoto replied that the nature of their work was to be on the side of the claimant, and so they had not implemented any legal mechanism to address that question, because it would be against the people that they intended to help. If the claimant was unable to agree with the Commission, either a mediator was appointed in terms of law, or the claimant may seek recourse in the courts against the Commission. There had not been a case where the Commission was involved in a case against specific beneficiaries because they had not accepted the settlement option.
The Chairperson asked for confirmation that then the court’s decision would become final, and explained that that was the part he was interested in, as he was not asking him to actually be against the beneficiaries but rather wanted clarification about how the matter was settled.
The Chairperson explained the Department was not serving individuals, but rather serving the whole nation, so if it’s work was held up by one or two individuals, when the rest of the community was willing to take the agreement, he thought that recourse would be suitable.
The Chairperson asked Ms Mashiya to confirm whether the quarterly report which was due, was the same one she was promising to submit on 24 November 2011.
Ms Mashiya replied that indeed it was.
Ms Steyn addressed the statement made by the Department that state land took longer to process, and asked what was the reason for this, specifically when there were no extenuating circumstances like having to wait for a school to be moved. She explained this was one of the challenges that had been holding back the whole Restitution process, not only in the Western Cape but all over.
Ms Steyn also enquired what the Department was doing to solve that.
Ms Steyn then addressed Mr Smith’s comment that in September in Cape Town land was sold, as well as in June, but said she was unsure if the June sale was state land, and wanted to confirm in general whether land was sold or not.
The Chairperson asked Ms Steyn to clarify whether she meant, sold, or purchased, by the Department.
Ms Steyn confirmed she meant purchased by the Department.
The Chairperson asked her to hold off on her next comment until the Department answered these questions.
Mr Maphoto replied that there was no land sold in the Western Cape.
Ms Mashiya apologized that Ms Steyn did not have a copy of the report brought for the Members earlier in the meeting. It was a long process of vesting and transferring to the asset register, which was a process that alone was actually taking the Department a very long time. If the Members looked at the audit reports of all the Departments, this was a sore point for the Government.
The Chairperson intervened and said this was where the problem lay. He explained it could help if the Department’s reputation was dealt with in a way that made the Department more responsive.
The Chairperson asked why the disposal of public land could not be subject to a more efficient process.
The Chairperson explained the DRDLR Minister was in charge of land anyway, and even if the land was in the hands of other Departments, the Commission was the one which wanted to give the land to the people, therefore the Department should make a law so that those processes Mr Smith was talking about could happen after the transfer. He maintained the people were hungry for the land - could something not be done about it?
Ms Mashiya responded and said that this should be noted and brought back to the Department, as an input for consideration, given that state land was in the Department’s area of jurisdiction, and suggested that when the Department came back to the Committee, it could report on what had been done with the input.
The Chairperson had been advised that there was a reason behind the processes system, but recalled the point made earlier by Mr Maphoto, that when a particular community which had benefited from the land reform process, sold the land against the agreement made between itself and the Department, and if the title deed was endorsed and all the deed registry offices had that code which said one could not transfer this land to the new buyer, unless a certain process was done, then one could overcome all those restrictions, because then it would hasten the pace of transfer from the Department to the group of people.
The Chairperson also maintained that if there was fraudulent activity involved, and this was carried out under the guise of hastening the pace for the beneficiaries to benefit, if the code was there for state land as well, then it would make it easy to detect fraudulent activities, and to avoid the corrupt individuals, because there was always one chance taker every time someone tried to do good.
The Chairperson said the Committee would await the response of the Department around this issue but said that it did not mean that the Committee could not go back to the House and ask for something to be done in consultation with Public Works.
The Chairperson clarified to Ms Mashiya that Ms Steyn wanted to know whether there was a conflict or distinction between the land that Mr Smith was talking about and the land that Mr Maphoto was talking about.
Ms Mashiya replied there was no conflict because Mr Smith was talking about a process that had already been initiated. She explained that when Mr Maphoto said that there had been no purchase yet, he perhaps could have stressed the 'yet'. He was not saying that there were no purchases, but rather there were processes that had been started but had not been finalized.
Ms Steyn commented that it seemed like something had been happening, some sort of progress, and said she would read through this report that the Committee had received, unfortunately only that day. She said she would discuss the report with the communities because they were the reason why the Committee was pushing for this thing, but maintained that she did not want another piece of paper, but rather wanted people out there to benefit from the process. She said 'thank you', hopefully not in vain, that something had been happening and hoped that they could move forward from there.
The Chairperson addressed Mr Smith regarding his comments on the land in Claremont, Newlands, Strand, Constantia, Milnerton, Paternoster, Claver, and Goodwood, and recalled that he specifically indicated there was R27 million set aside to buy a piece of land that might be private. The Chairperson also mentioned Mr Smith had also mentioned the 2.4 hectares of land in Welkom Estate for R2.4 million Rand.
The Chairperson suggested that given the progress that Ms Steyn had recognized, it would be better not to keep the information in the office, but to do what Mr Worsnip was saying and talk to the communities that stood to benefit, so they could understand delays. He explained that if the Department said to the communities in Claver that it had approached the particular land-holding Department, and so much land had been set aside, and explained the processes that would be followed, and gave an estimate of how long those processes would take, the claimants would then chase that Department, rather than DRDLR, and it would help the Commission a great deal.
The Chairperson asked to return to the question raised by Ms Steyn and Ms Ngwenya-Mabila, which the Department had avoided tenaciously. He asked whether the Department had the capacity to drive this process so it could meet its deadline, so that the [Petition] community should not come back to the Committee and complain. The Chairperson stated that he knew that some of them had already gone to the Human Rights Commission, and, so asked if the Commission had the capacity to handle the Departments, the internal processes, the communities etc.
Mr Worsnip replied that they had the capacity and that some of the issues that had been raised were not so much about capacity but about approach. For example, the issue about a coherent communications strategy, and a coherent stakeholder engagement plan, were absolutely critical, and highlighted the need to provide claimants with information about the progress of their claims. He explained that both himself and the Members faced the same situation of dealing with people who had waited for 17 years and who wanted information about their claim. He explained that if the Department could deal with the question of communication and the question of stakeholder engagement, within the Commission, and organized the Commission to deal with these issues, it would be solving 90% of its current problems. It was not a question of capacity but rather a question of approach.
The Chairperson mentioned the advert issued by the Department which indicated that people who wanted to engage with the Department on the Green Paper, must go to that venue on that particular date, etc. He said this type of advert would be suitable for addressing this issue as well. He discussed that with the issue of attitudes, came the issue of trust. The Chairperson explained that if the Department said they were going to be at such a venue, at such a time, but then did not show up, regardless of what was explained thereafter, the people would hold it against the Department.
Ms Mashiya thanked the Committee on behalf of the Department for continued support, and explained that the oversight and the asking of the relevant questions made the Department intensify its work and efforts, so that it delivered on its objectives. The report should be submitted on 24 November.
The Chairperson said there had been a recognition of the effectiveness of the Committee and its work. He asked Prince B Zulu (ANC) for his last words.
Prince Zulu responded that he thought about what had happened with District Six - within the city and no more land. But if the Department would get state land, for example, in Bellville, outside of town, what would happen if those people did not want to go and resettle on that land?
The Chairperson reiterated that District Six was still there, and, whatever part had been developed or redeveloped, it still belonged to those people. If a claimant could not get the land where s/he wanted it, s/he could choose financial compensation or alternative land. He concluded with remarks in isiXhosa.
Prince Zulu said he hoped that a time limit was placed on the submission of the programme of action that was discussed, because these things had been lying there, and people wanted to finalize it, but it had been going on for a long time, and if the Department could get the Committee a time limit for the programme of action, it would be appreciated.
The Chairperson concluded that he was happy that the Department had done this, and it should not wait until other provinces did exactly as the Western Cape, but it should enact a proactive process to deal with all of the issues that were outstanding. He suggested that the Department should engage with the Land Disposal Committees everywhere in the country, so that while attention was still fixated on the Western Cape, the whole country was busy at work, so that the Department and Committee would not be faltered when they said they were a nation at work for a better life for everybody.
The Chairperson explained that change was difficult and that chief directors were used to being the bosses of the people, and to change them into servants of the people was a very difficult shift. The Department should make sure that those who did not change must leave, and those who were willing to work must do the work and serve the people - that was Ms Mashiya’s responsibility.
The Chairperson addressed Mr Smith and said the specifics he presented were good, as this was what the Committee was looking for because it did not want generalities. The Committee wanted specific information so it could communicate to the constituencies information on real progress. The Chairperson asked that the Department include such information in the report to be submitted on 24 November. He concluded and sought to adjourn the meeting.
Ms Steyn objected that there were two remaining items on the agenda: the minutes, and the discussion with the Department on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Eastern Cape Outreach.
The Chairperson explained that the Department was not happy with its draft report and would give it to the Committee on 24 November.
The Chairperson maintained that the misunderstanding was his fault. The Department had requested an extension and he was sorry he had not communicated that information. He put on record his profuse apology and that it would not happen again. The Department had done the honourable thing to say that its report was not worthy of tabling in its present form and had asked his consent to table it to the Committee on 24 November 2011.
The Chairperson then adjourned the meeting.