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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
10 May 2002
DEPARTMENT BUDGET & STRATEGIC PLAN
Chairperson: Rev. Moatshe
Document handed out
Getting people back to the land
Medium Term Strategic and Operational Plan
Chief Financial Officer of the Department highlighted the progress on land reform and the problems experienced. The Department handed over farms in various provinces for poverty relief projects. Members laid more emphasis on the Land Restitution process where beneficiaries acquired land. In some cases land was not serviced and the Department was urged to monitor the situation closely to develop workable solutions.
Presentation by the Director General Ms Sarah Choane
Ms Choane informed the committee that the policy framework of the department was drawn from the policy directives from the Minister, the State of the Nation address by the president and the department's policy frame work. Access to land is being extended and priority has been given to previously disadvantaged communities. The director told members that they had already delivered 164 farms constituting 80 007 hectares of land but said the department did not have a proactive strategy to acquire land. R8 million has also been allocated for last year's Cape Flats flood disaster. Previously disadvantaged students have been sponsored with bursaries. One of their achievements was that they have spent almost 94% of their budget as compared to the previous year.
The present planned output is the maintenance of the same strategic objectives. The department is planning to hand over 308 farms of which 177 have been handed over to labour tenants and farm workers. By June 2002 the process of validating outstanding claims on the Restitution Programme is to be completed.
Spatial Planning Programmes have already been piloted in KZN and Mpumalanga. Some legal assistance for farm workers and tenants has been instituted and interdepartmental forums have been established.
On the staff composition of the department, she said that there had been a decline in the number of both male and female whites. At the same time black male employees have been steadily on the increase while there is a sharp decline in the number of female black employees.
Please refer to attached document.
Mr M L Mokoena (ANC) said the restitution process had been successful. He mentioned that Advocate Wallace Mgoqi the Chief Commissioner of Land Restitution would be awarded an honorary degree for the work he is doing. He commended the granting of legal assistance to farm workers.
In Namibia there an interdepartmental involvement in land distribution for services is to be made available like in the Eastern Cape. He needed information on what is happening in the Land Surveyors office as five years ago it was an all male dominated office.
Ms B Thompson asked what programmes did the department have in place for poverty.
Ms Vilakazi from the department said they had drafted legislation that was court driven if there were issues of dispute in terms of the land. They have trained approximately 600 lawyers, magistrates and the police on the land issues. The trainees were not be paid to represent people because of delays in payment by the department of Justice. Subsequently the minister of Justice announced the demise of the legal aid system being replaced by Justice Centres. As a result there has been a noticeable increase in the number of illegal evictions.
In the meantime the Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of the farm workers for the department of Justice to pay their legal costs. She said they are still engaging with Justice, presently they are using their own resources to pay for this type of assistance. In the meantime they will use whatever funds are available in order to help. They have also participated in the formation of Rural Legal Assistance Programme which disbursed funds for legal assistance for rural people and could run into millions of rands.
Mr Mgoqi said in the past they have been under pressure to deliver and they are aware that sustainability depends on sustainable land development. He said people should not just be dumped on land and land distribution has always been an issue when they started with the process. As a result of that when they deliver land , beneficiaries must come with business plans and must work closely with the department of Agriculture's sub-programme for land development in the various provinces. He added that the provincial offices are the implementers who engage with the department of housing provincially for the provision of services for people that have been resettled.
Dr N Makgalemele said they have actually transformed the Land Surveyor's office. They have now two Chief Directors who are not males. She cited the problem being that the qualifications for the office have been offered at the historically white Universities and now the department of land surveying has closed down at Wits and they are left with only Natal and UCT. They will also offer 38 previously disadvantage students with bursaries. However, the problem runs deeper, surveying requires that students must qualify on the higher grade Maths and Science and they will sponsor students to improve in these areas, one has already qualified in this programme.
Mr Mgoqi said in the past they have made transfer payments to these institutions in the hope that that they will make use of the money. They have agency agreements with the local authorities to implement some of their programmes but problems arise on the side of the municipalities because of incapacity to manage projects. More staff are required.
Mr Roberts from the department said, they do not have specifically poverty alleviation projects because land reform on its own cannot alleviate poverty. The land reforms are targeting the poor.
Rev M Chabaku (ANC) said they do not underrate the massive work the department has done They passed excellent legislation but they find some people ignoring these laws. For instance where people are refused burial places where they have been born. She said she commends the work that the department has done in the Orange Free State.
Ms Thompson said last time she was not satisfied with the department as it was trying to divorce food security as part of its responsibility and there are lot of opportunities in the department but the people are not aware of them.
Mr Mokoena said the department must try to expedite the redistribution of state land. He further asked if the department uses consultants in its projects because people from District Six are complaining that they are being sidelined. He commended the department for the good work it was doing in Natal. The Chief Commissioner will be reporting to the committee in the course of the year.
Mr Mgoqi said they have a monitoring agreement with the provinces and the local authorities on compiling statistics on all claims settled, land development and post settlement support.
In District Six there has been a Land Tenure uproar - the community has bought land estimated at R9 million.
Mr Roberts said the District Six issue goes beyond District Six it happened in all provinces. People had a lack of faith that Restitution could deliver and this was identified with certain political parties. For these reasons they did not lodge claims but after seeing the process gaining momentum, they started to come in and laid claims.
On the use of consultants Mr Roberts stated that they only use them for Information Technology.
The meeting was adjourned.
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