The Committee deliberated on the annual reports of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Ingoyama Trust Board and the Commission on Restitution of land Rights (CRLR).
Members commented that the vision and mission of the Department appeared to be very thin. The problems with rural development and land reform were myriad and the issue of recapitalisation had to be looked at.
Members further commented on the Green Paper on Rural Development and the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, noting that the latter was a complex document that was currently being reviewed by senior counsel. It was noted that the delays in implementing management action plans on internal and external audit reports had been escalated to the accounting officer and executive authority and an acknowledgment had been made to address the shortcomings. Members highlighted that there ought to be measures in place to ensure that the failure in performance and delivery by the Department were accounted for, most especially in relation to circumstances where the budget of the Department had not achieved the desired result.
On the report dealing with the Commission on Restitution of land Rights, it was observed that the Commission did not give any information in respect of the status of its restitution claims. It would be helpful if the Committee could get a list of all outstanding claims so that enquires could be made concerning those people who had outstanding claims.
The Committee mentioned three issues concerning the report on the Ingonyama Trust Board. Firstly, it was highlighted that the ITB only accounted for funds received but failed to account for funds spent nor did the Board account for the amounts that were levied. Secondly, the poor management of the Trust was underlined and finally it was pointed out that the Trust received and disbursed funds- it should not be doing the latter.
Members agreed that a draft report by the Committee which would make recommendations concerning the annual reports would be sent to the House.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR)
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would start with the consideration of whether the annual report in its entirety had fulfilled the vision, mission and values which the DRDLR had determined as its guiding principles. The consideration would also take a look at the laws which had to be complied with in order to see if these laws had been neglected in anyway in terms of day to day operations. The Committee would then proceed to the consideration of the programmes.
The Chairperson asked if anyone had any comments in respect of the vision and mission of the DRDLR in relation to the reports.
Mr A Trollip (DA) commented that the vision and mission of the DRDLR appeared to be very thin. It was his opinion that the vision and opinion were expressed by only a sentence each and a look at the work which the Committee had done in relation to the DRDLR during the year had shown that there were fundamental problems with the DRDLR being able to achieve it mission. The problems with rural development and land reform were myriad and the recapitalisation had become the curse of the Department. It was not that anyone was out to prevent the Department from recapitalising and making land more productive but the fact that recapitalisation had become standard was worrisome.
Mr Trollip wondered why the DRDLR was recapitalising the farms which were the beneficiaries of the recapitalisation. He wondered why the farms were allowed to become unproductive to the extent that they had to be recapitalised. He further wondered why the Department had bought farms which were in such a state of decay.
The Chairperson stated that he would take note of Mr Trollip’s comments.
The Chairperson asked Members to look at the pieces of legislation that had been passed so far in order to see if they enabled the Department to perform its functions. This was because a piece of legislation could be in the books but it would not be used because there was no budget for it.
Mr Trollip noted that there was the Green Paper on Rural Development in respect of which the Department had previously briefed the Committee on but it appeared that there was not much progress on the matter. He wondered if the legislation was getting close to been finalised.
He made further reference to the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill (SPLUMB) and observed that it appeared that work in respect of the Bill had similarly slowed down. He wondered if this was due to the fact that the Bill was being considered by senior counsel. He asked for the projected time frames on when the legislation could be finalised.
The Chairperson observed that only Mr Trollip was making comments and asked other Members to participate by making their comments.
The Chairperson stated that the Green Paper was not regarded as an existing piece of legislation but it was for the purpose of creating policies which would become framework for those pieces of legislation. The Committee had requested the Department to provide progress reports as regards the Green Paper but nothing had been forthcoming. The Committee would have to ensure that the issue was taken up with the Department.
The Chairperson referred to the issue of SPLUMB raised by Mr Trollip and observed that it was a complex Bill. He observed that the Committee had decided that the bill would be given to senior counsel after consultation and deliberations had been had on it. The senior counsel had also agreed that the bill was very complex and had asked for time to conduct the necessary research.
The Chairperson further referred to page 8 of the Department’s annual report which dealt with geospatial and cadastral services and observed that there was an existing Act which was referred to as the Sectional Titles Act 1986 which provided for the subdivision of buildings into sections and common property.
He directed the Committee would proceed to considering the annual report on a programme by programme basis. He referred to page 16 of the annual report which dealt with the predetermined objectives of the Department that were been funded and indicated the objects on which the Department were expending its money. He asked members for comments.
Mr N Mandela (ANC) suggested that there ought to be measures in place to ensure that the failure in performance and delivery by the Department were accounted for, most especially in relation to circumstances where the budget of the Department had not achieved the desired result.
The Chairperson concurred and stated that there was a need for the Department to be able to account for where the money given to it as per its budget was being utilised. He referred to the budget and observed that the Department stated in its report that it had been given R8 billion by appropriation. It was stated in the report that 98.3% of this money had been spent and discharged amongst various entities and a surplus of R139 million had been unspent and returned to treasury.
Ms N November (ANC) wondered why the Department was declaring a surplus when it appeared that the department had not executed a number of its projects. She suggested that a time frame should be designated for a project carried out by the Department so that the amount of money spent during the time frame could be determined.
The Chairperson concurred and noted that it could not be found in the report where any explanation had been given by the accounting officer for the reason of the surplus declared by the Department. Therefore the Chairperson proposed that a recommendation should be made concerning the matter and asked if Members were in support of the proposal.
Members supported the proposal for a recommendation.
The Chairperson referred to page 20 of the report wherein it was stated that the Department did not have any capital investment during the period while it was stated under asset management that the Department had 74 properties. He wondered if the Department understood what capital investment referred to. He cited recapitalisation as an example of capital investment because it was an investment of money especially because the Department was holding the lands and not handing them over to the communities. Therefore the Department was investing money when it created infrastructure in those properties.
The Chairperson further observed that it was stated in the report that 74 properties had been leased out during the financial year. It was further stated that maintenance work had been carried out on the properties in the various places where they were located.
Mr Trollip supported the observation made by the Chairperson and highlighted that the statement by the Department that there was no capital investment showed that the report lacked quality. He was aware that the Department was constructing dairies and other projects in a number of locations and these ordinarily should be classified as capital investments.
The Chairperson stated that the Department would be questioned on the issue concerning capital investment.
The Chairperson proceeded to programme 1 of the report.
Ms November observed that the targets of most of the activities in programme 1 were not reached and it appeared that this was due to the fact that there was vacancy in some of the administrative positions.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would make recommendations as regards the vacancies existing in the Department.
The Chairperson proceeded to programme 2.
The Chairperson observed that the Department had also set unrealistic targets in respect of its audit. It was observed that various dates had been set for the completion of the audits and yet these dates were not realised.
The Chairperson proceeded to programme 3 which dealt with asset management.
The Chairperson observed that the Director General of the DRDLR had earlier informed the Committee at a meeting that elements of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) projects were being rolled out in 180 rural wards in the country however the report showed that these elements had been established in only 57 wards. He wondered where the DG had gotten his information from.
Mr Trollip observed that it was claimed by the Minister in the report on page 10 that 9889 employment opportunities had been created through the CRDP initiatives; however it was stated on page 30 that the actual jobs created was 4589 and that the reason for this underachievement was that some of the CRDP projects were still at planning phase so fewer jobs had been created. This showed a disparity and there was a need to clarify the issue.
The Chairperson proceeded to programme 4.
The Chairperson observed on page 33 that the Department had budgeted for 360 claims to be implemented and only 209 had been achieved.
Mr Trollip observed that the Department had targeted the establishment of 180 council of stakeholders for each ward and it was claimed that 464 had been established and no reason for the variance had been given. He wondered why the Department would establish 464 council of stakeholders in 180 wards.
The Chairperson directed that recommendations would be made concerning these issues.
The Chairperson proceeded to programme 5.
The Chairperson observed that the Department had targeted to distribute land and recapitalise farms and yet it did not meet its targets because it could not recruit strategic partners there were experienced. There would be a need to visit the recapitalised farms to see have a firsthand look on what was going on.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) observed that experience had shown that some of the strategic partners were not committed to empowering the beneficiaries. He further observed that some of the strategic partners had ended up in creating divisions amongst the beneficiaries which had led to some people abandoning the projects.
The Chairperson confirmed that a visit to some of the projects had revealed that some of the strategic farmers were working alone. It was therefore important for the Committee to make unannounced visits to the farms in order to ascertain the true state of affairs.
The Chairperson referred to the issue of internal control in the audit and asked Members what would be ideal to recommend in respect of the issue. He observed that the Auditor had previously commented in its report that the matters reported previously concerning the department had not been fully and satisfactorily addressed. The delays in implementing management action plans on internal and external audit reports had been escalated to the accounting officer and executive authority and an acknowledgment had been made to address the shortcomings.
The Chairperson stated that there was a need to address these shortcomings of the Department and to make recommendations.
Members agreed that a recommendation would be in order.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee could separate the recommendations which it would make concerning the reports to Parliament from those which the Committee would like the Department to respond to in the quarterly reports.
The Chairperson referred to page 139, item 24 which concerned the commitments of the Department such as works in progress; guarantees on land acquisition; project management; contracted recapitalisation projects etc. He wondered what these commitments referred to and stood for.
He observed that the sum of R16.5 million had been paid to strategic partners and wondered why they were being paid. He commented that he was of the opinion that the strategic partners ought to be the party bringing money into the partnership.
Mr Trollip referred to the excessive use of consultancy in the report. There were so many issues that fell under the competence of the department which did not warrant consultancy.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would produce a draft report and submit it to the House.
Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR)
The Chairperson proceeded to the report of the CRLR.
The Chairperson asked members if there were any comments.
Mr Trollip observed that the CRLR did not give any information in respect of the status of its restitution claims. It would be helpful if the Committee could get a list of all outstanding claims so that enquires could be made concerning those people who had outstanding claims.
The Chairperson asked Members if they had any more comments concerning the report of the CRLR.
Members did not have any more comments and the meeting proceeded to consider the report of the Ingonyama Trust Board. (ITB)
Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB)
Mr Mandela observed that the ITB only accounted for funds received but failed to account for funds spent nor did the Board account for the amounts that were levied.
Mr Trollip urged the Committee to consider making a report on the poor management of the Trust.
The Chairperson noted that the ITB was the one receiving money and was also the one disbursing the money. He commented that this ought not to be the case but there should rather be another agency which would disburse the funds.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would draft a report which would make recommendations in respect of the annual reports of the DRDLR, ITB and the CRLR.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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