Land claims and infrastructure projects: Rural Development & Land Reform review with Deputy Minister

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

12 November 2012
Chairperson: Ms A Qikani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) provided a response to the findings and recommendations in the Committee Reports on its oversight visits to Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West, and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces to check on progress with land claims and infrastructure projects. Interventions  had been made where challenges were indicated. The Ncora and Qamata Irrigation Schemes in the Eastern Cape received allocations worth millions to keep the projects up and running.

The DRDLR commented on the findings on the Macena Agricultural Primary Cooperative Ltd that the DRDLR did not sign an agreement with Macena Project
role players and made no contribution in the form of a grant or cash for its business plan, but would contribute directly where needs were identified.

Members expressed concern about the money given by Old Mutual to Dr Ralph Manhire, of Ralman Management Consultants, for the Macena Project, but wondered why Old Mutual was not going to pursue the recovery of the money; commented that infrastructure development was on the right track but monitoring and coordination by the structures of the  Government was lacking; and remarked that the 11 land claims around Lubisi Dam were not a true reflection of what the Committee encountered during the oversight visit in the area, and it was clear that people were not assisted and given the right information on how to make land claims.

Meeting report

DRDLR Report on Oversight Visits to Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West
KwaZulu-Natal

Ms Leona Archary, DRDLR Deputy Director-General: Infrastructure Development, indicated that the national Department would provide to the Committee with the latest statistics on the outstanding land claims and the reasons for the delays in processing the land claims in the Sisonke District and Umzimkhulu Local Municipality. A detailed spreadsheet would be sent to the Committee.

Eastern Cape
Progress on land claims had been recorded on Caguba, Mkhanzini and Majola districts. As to the Caguba claim, development grants of R17.5 million were in the process of being transferred to an account to be established by the Department. The target period for transferring was the first quarter of the 2012/13 financial-year.

Majola claim: challenges were related to the non-claimant group that did not recognise the registered CPA.  Attorneys were facilitating the appointment of a mediator, and the appointment process was expected to be finalised by end of March 2013. About 1 500 non-claimants claimed that they had user rights on the 698 hectares of the settled claim, and this was complicating the implementation plan of the development.

Mkhanzini claim: the Department convened a meeting with the CPA and the traditional leaders regarding financial compensation and land for restoration. An agreement was reached between parties that the settlement of the claim would be phased. The first phase would be financial compensation and the second one would be land restoration.

Additional interventions in Mnquma Local Municipality
Erf 1 Ngqamakhwe: boundary disputes between Mthwaku and Sokapase, who had conflicting claims, were being attended to. A valuer had been requested to identify the boundary and conduct valuation. R4.4m funding had been given to Silulwazi Broiler Project for recapitalisation and development in the 2012/13 financial-year. Aspire / Amathole District Municipality was assisting with the development of the Local Spatial Development Framework for the urban / rural nodes of Mnquma Local Municipality. An animal and veld management programme was being implemented in Mhlahlane Village at a cost of R5.2 m.

Intsika Yethu Municipality, Chris Hani District
Lubisi Dam claims: 11 claims were lodged individually in respect of land in Lubisi Land. Some of the claims had been resolved by payment of financial compensation. The outstanding claims were for those who have opted for financial compensation.

Irrigation Schemes
The Ncora Irrigation Scheme so far had received an allocation which amounted to R20 100 000. The Department noted that 1021 cows were delivered to the dairy in the period between July and August 2012. Almost 657 cows were being milked currently. Installation of feed-mill had been completed and was sufficient to feed the number of cows in the dairy farm. The installation of 21 000 litre bulk milk tank had been completed. Planting of 200 hectares of maize was completed and harvested.

Qamata Irrigation Scheme: an amount of R13 800 000 had been transferred to the scheme. The Department noted that the Chris Hani Cooperative Centre had completed the situation analysis and skills audit work in the scheme. Fencing of the field was in progress. A flood irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation was started but relying mostly on the completion of the removal of bush and canal clearing. Partnership had been secured where there would be joint funding for the cropping programme. A geotechnical engineer had been appointed to investigate the surrounding borrow pits for suitable road making material in order to upgrade gravel access road from R61 to Section 1A.

It was noted that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and provincial departments of agriculture and rural development would provide the Committee detailed information about funding and support rendered to the irrigation schemes so far and this would include future funding allocations.

North West
Oberon claim
This claim was by the Mekhareng community. The vacant piece of land was owned by the North West Department of Public Works (NDPW). NDPW sold the land to developers, Eagle Waters (Pty) Ltd. The NDPW gave a warranty that there was no claim on the land and this was captured in the agreement between the two parties. The NDPW was now seeking a court order to set aside the sale of the land to Eagle Waters on the basis that the sale was not according to procedure. The claim on the land in question would be processed once the dispute had been resolved by the court.

Interventions in the Moses Kotane Municipality
30 high mast lights were installed and Eskom was being awaited to open power lines. 10 trainers were identified to do further training which would benefit 50 learners. Seven cooperatives were registered. 25 household gardens were established.

Limpopo
It was highlighted that there was an improvement in the intergovernmental relations concerning the status of the projects in the Muyexe area. A meeting was held in October 2012 and all affected departments were present and many new initiatives, including dairy and abattoir cooperatives, were also discussed.

The building of a clinic in Muyexe was abandoned because of differences between the contractor and sub-contractor. The shortage of medicines was caused by the fact that the storage facility was initially not capable of storing large quantities. This situation had been dealt with accordingly because one room had been allocated for this purpose. It was further indicated the clinic would start dispensing antiretroviral medication once it was completed.

Additional interventions in Giyani
A contractor had been appointed to construct cattle drinking troughs and reservoir with pipe works to support farmers in Muyexe. There was a borehole project in three villages, and the scope of work consisted of drilling of boreholes, pump houses and reservoirs.

DRDLR Findings of the Review of the Macena Agricultural Primary Cooperative Ltd presentation
Mr Rikus van Rensburg, DRDLR Director: Internal Audit, informed the Committee that the DRDLR Forensic Audit was requested to perform a review into the Macena Project in order to determine the involvement of the Department in the Masisizane loan awarded to Macena, and the contribution or commitment of the Department to contribute in terms of the business plan. The Macena Project comprised 36 women tomato farmers and was based in the Muyexe area.

Findings indicated there were two separate proposals proposals that were submitted to the DRDLR from Ralman Management Consultants (Pty) Ltd, a firm involved in the project: a memorandum of agreement (MoA) where the DRDLR would contribute R32 million towards a revolving finance scheme for agricultural projects in Limpopo; and a business plan where the DRDLR would contribute R2 454 356 and Masisizane would contribute R1 390 000 towards the Macena Project.

The then Director-General did not approve the memorandum of agreement after feedback indicated that some role players in the project, including Ralman, were not able to sustain such a project. The then Director-General requested a proper procurement process be followed to appoint such service providers. The affected role players were informed of such a decision by the DRDLR.

The DRDLR advised Ralman, regarding the business plan, that it would not be able to contribute funding in the form of a grant or cash, but would contribute directly to the project where needs were identified. The DRDLR made the following contributions to Macena Project and other interested parties: fencing, borehole, protected clothing, a pack house, seedlings, and a replacement borehole pump.

The business plan was separately submitted to the DRDLR and Masisizane, and Ralman did not update the decision from the DRDLR that there would be no cash or grant contribution payment in terms of the business plan when Dr Ralph Manhire (owner of Ralman) presented the business plan to Masisizane.

Findings revealed that Dr Manhire misinformed Macena that the DRDLR would contribute in terms of the business plan and that the contribution of the DRDLR would be used to pay the Masisizane loan. No agreement was found to have been signed by role players regarding the Macena project. The Board of Masisizane informed the DRDLR that the loan to Macena would be written off and Masisizane would not pursue the recovery of the debt against the members or the business.

Conclusions of the findings pointed out that the DRDLR did not sign any agreement with other role players.  Ralman misrepresented to Macena and Masisizane that the DRDLR was going to contribute an amount to Macena according to the business plan. The Masisizane loan to Macena would be written off, and Old Mutual would not pursue the recovery of the debt against the members or the business. (See presentation document.)

Discussion
Ms B Mabe (Gauteng, ANC) remarked that what the Department had presented was the same as that which was rejected long time ago by the Committee. She further said she was concerned about the money given to Dr Manhire by Old Mutual for the Macena Project, and that further engagements were needed though the project was dysfunctional.

Mr G Mokgoro (Northern Cape, ANC) stated that the Department should tell the Committee more or reveal more details about Dr Manhire because there was a lot of money involved in the Macena Project, and that the differences between the submitted memoranda of agreements should be spelt out. He said it was a concern that Old Mutual would write off the loan without checking first where the money went.

Ms Mabe acknowledged that infrastructure development was on the right track, but maintenance, monitoring and coordinated structure within the three spheres of Government were lacking. Other community structures were feeling left out because they were not involved in the project.

Mr Mokgoro, commenting on the Muyexe Project, indicated that its launch was very powerful when it happened. Affected departments were told it was going to be an integrated and interdepartmental plan and it was another Presidential Project; therefore, it remained a policy.

The Chairperson mentioned that there must be solutions to the Muyexe project as it had been discussed three times already. Concerns have been raised many times. She further said that the 11 land claims around Lubisi Dam were not a true reflection of the community because many people in the community had questions and concerns on land claims. It appeared that, she remarked, that people were not given enough information and assistance on how to make land claims. Lastly, she pointed out that, during the visit of the Committee to the Eastern Cape, concerns were raised about soil erosion in the area but that issue was not addressed in the report.

The Hon. Lechesa Tsenoli, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, informed the Committee that the Minister had gone to Muyexe and interacted with stakeholders. A report had been compiled and would be sent to the Committee. He agreed with Mr Mogkoro that the Muyexe Project was interdepartmental and the fact that the President had talked about it meant that action must happen. Furthermore, he acknowledged that maintenance and on-going monitoring in the projects were the responsibilities of the communities and municipalities. Concerning the Macena Project, Old Mutual could be invited to present its case to the Committee. It was good that the state and women did not lose money in the Macena Project. The 11 land claims around Lubisi Dam were a reflection of claims received and dealt with. That showed many people had not submitted claims. He emphasised that these projects should be done in partnership with provinces, municipalities and communities. The national Department would play only a catalytic role.

The meeting was adjourned.

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