Spatial Land Use Planning & Management Bill: Discussion, Draft Geomatics Profession Bill: Preliminary briefing by Office of Surveyor General

Rural Development and Land Reform

29 January 2013
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Members had been provided with the latest proposals for amendment of the Spatial Land Use Planning and Management Bill in November 2012, and had been asked to consider the changes, which in part resulted from opinions expressed by Adv Jamie, who was briefed by the Committee, on the Bill. At that meeting, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) had also indicated that it had sought another opinion from Advs Gauntlett and Keightley, and that had been circulated to Members (although it was not tabled). Some similar drafting concerns had been raised, which seemed in the meantime to have been resolved, but there was still concern expressed by Members and the advocates on clause 22(2), which dealt with site-specific applications to approve deviations from spatial development frameworks. Some Members believed that the clause, as presently drafted, carried the risk of misuse. The DRDLR distinguished the spatial development framework from land use schemes, and Members asked whether it would not make sense to refer to land use schemes in that clause. After further debate in which the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor also pointed out that clause 22(2) could not be read in isolation of other clauses in the Bill, the Committee asked that a specific reference to clause 42 be inserted into clause 22(2) and a similar cross-referencing also be done in clause 42. Other concerns that were raised and answered by the Department related to the references to both "tribunal" and "authority" in the Bill, and where executive authority lay, whether there was a danger that there might be conflicting regional spatial development planning frameworks in one municipality, and how this would be resolved, and how regional frameworks were created. The apparent conflicts between provisions in the Bill and other legislation, in particular the Municipal Systems Act, were explored, and explained. The DRDLR also clarified, on request, that although it would like to see spatial development frameworks reviewed every five years, it was tracking the revision of any inconsistencies between the provinces. Finally, the effect of Schedule 1 was explained, as well as the procedure followed for rezoning applications. The Chairperson asked that a final version of the Bill, incorporating the latest amendments, be provided to Members in advance of the next meeting on 12 February, when it was hoped to finalise the Bill.

The Office of the Surveyor General presented what was described as an "informal briefing" on the Draft Geomatics Profession Bill and it was explained that because the correct processes had not yet been finalised, it was still regarded as a draft. This Bill was intended to replace the outdated Professional and Technical Surveyors Act of 1984, to extend the reservation of work to registered members of the broad geomatic professions, to bring other branches of the sector professionals under the ambit of the Bill, to broaden the composition of and make the appointment of the Board more transparent and change the funding structure. There would, amongst others, be recognition of voluntary associations, who would promote and protect the various categories of the profession in practice, attempts to enhance standards, and the Bill also dealt with professional conduct, and the establishment of an appeals board. In all, the Bill was intended to raise standards and promote transformation and more inclusivity. Members asked that the status of the Bill be clarified. They questioned why this Bill had taken so long to get to Parliament, between the time it was first drafted in 2005, reintroduced in 2011, and brought in 2013. Concerns were also expressed, not entirely relevant to the Bill itself, about the pass rate of candidates studying for the profession, both the bursary students and those self-funded, and the Department was asked to draw a report on its bursary-holders, and to keep a closer watch on their progress. This report would be brought to the Committee by the end of February.

Meeting report

The Committee Secretary noted the apologies of the Minister and Deputy Minister 

Spatial Land Use Planning and Management Bill: Committee deliberations
The Chairperson reminded Members that they had been provided with the revised version of the Bill after the last meeting in 2012. They had been asked to read it carefully and apply their minds to it, and he called for comments on it.

Mr A Trollip (DA) noted that at the last meeting there had been an opinion tabled from Advocate I Jamie. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR or the Department) had then sought another opinion, from Advs Gauntlett and Keightley. They had shared some of Adv Jamie’s concerns about clarity, and suggested some redrafting, and he now wanted to hear the feedback from the Department on this point.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) agreed and also asked whether there was any intention to revisit clause 32.

The Chairperson agreed that he too would like comment on these points. He noted that he had met recently with the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (OCSLA), and had enquired which version of the Bill had been considered by Adv Gauntlett. OCSLA confirmed that it was the original version, not the amended draft, and so some of the comments about the need for redrafting had been addressed in the meantime by that office.

Mr Enver Daniels, Chief State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, confirmed that he had met with the Chairperson on the previous day. OCSLA had also interacted with the DRDLR. OCSLA, as previously indicated, had not agreed with Adv Jamie’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Bill but had conceded that there was merit in redrafting some of the clauses for greater clarity, and to remove possible ambiguities, and this had been done. The revised version had been presented to the Committee in November 2012. OCSLA had now looked at the issues raised by Advs Gauntlett and Keightley. He believed that the drafting concerns had already been addressed, as they were similar to the comments made by Adv Jamie, save in respect of clause 22. Clause 22(2) currently read that a municipal planning tribunal (MPT) or any other authority mandated to make a land development decision may depart from the provisions of the spatial development framework (SDF) only in certain circumstances. OCSLA understood, and had drafted the clause to reflect this, that the departure from a particular land development decision could be done if site-specific circumstances so justified. The drafters were not sure that the clause needed to be clarified any further; they believed that the wording was already clear, but it was possible that the advocates had not made the connection between a particular land development decision, rather than a general matter. He assured the Committee that OCSLA had given careful consideration to the opinions and had amended the Bill where it believed this appropriate.

The Chairperson commented that OCSLA had noted that it was not sure what the concern was, or how it could be rephrased. He noted that the comments of the advocates appeared to be based on the old, not the amended, version of the Bill.

Mr Ntapane said that his main concern was the effect of clause 22(2). He was worried that the provisions might be abused, and said that at the least a special application should have been made to depart from any provisions.

Mr Trollip believed this discussion was adding value to the debates. He wondered why the DRDLR had apparently sought an opinion on a version of a Bill that was not fully up to date.

Mr Sunday Ogunronbi, Chief Director: Spatial Planning, DRDLR, noted that Senior Counsel had considered the Bill that had been revised up to 27 November.

The Chairperson asked why, if Adv Gauntlett had seen the revised version, he still had raised concerns about the clause. Whilst he had commented that this clause was not so vague as to render the Bill unconstitutional, he still felt it needed redrafting.

Mr Ogunronbi said that he could not answer for Adv Gauntlett as this point had not been specifically addressed in the opinion.

Mr Daniels said that OCSLA was in possession of the opinion, but had some difficulty in understanding why there was a suggestion, in paragraph 55.5, to redraft clause 22(2). He did not know exactly what documents had been provided to the advocates when they were briefed. He reiterated that he was not sure how the clause could be further clarified. He suggested that it might be useful for OCSLA and DRDLR to meet again to debate exactly what each thought the clause meant, and how this could be achieved. As indicated earlier, OCSLA had already taken on board suggestions made by Adv Jamie, and he was happy to look at the clause again. He commented that clause 22(2) related to a site-specific application and the site-specific circumstances would determine whether there could be a departure. The OCSLA drafters had debated whether “site-specific circumstances” should be defined, but had concluded that this was likely to cloud the issues further.

The Chairperson referred to the relevant portions of the opinion. Adv Gauntlett had suggested that the clause required "attention for the sake of clarity". He summarized the concerns of Mr Ntapane, and said that commercial developers would generally be more influenced by pursuit of their commercial interests than in complying fully with the strategy of the municipality, so there was a risk of misuse, which was why Mr Ntapane wanted some “safety valve” mechanism in the hands of the municipality.

Mr Ogunronbi stated that the SDF of a municipality was largely a policy document, not a site-specific set of conditions. The Land Use Scheme defined rights pertaining to each land parcel, and departure from that would have more serious effects. He cited an example of land that might be zoned for agriculture. That would not, however, prevent a road being built through the area, and if sufficient traffic justified it, a developer could make application to erect a filling station, provided that it did not destroy the character of the area, and could in fact enhance it. He pointed out that any applications would need to be motivated, and show that the use proposed would not depart from the overall character of the land. Other interested parties would have the opportunity to give their input, including the municipality.

The Chairperson proposed that the Committee should consider whether there was a more specific way of dealing with this. He wondered if it might not make more sense to refer to the Land Use Scheme, as it seemed more specific than the SDF.

Mr Ntapane agreed on that point.

Mr Ogunronbi responded that site-specific circumstances were clarified in clause 42 of the Bill. He said that in all cases, consideration had to be given not only to what was covered in a developer's current application, but also to the parameters set out in clause 42, as no decision would be taken that departed from those. The application was therefore already subject to certain restrictions.

The Chairperson interjected to say that clause 42 did not trump clause 22(2). The developer would not be seeking permission to depart from clause 42.

Mr Ogunronbi agreed but reiterated that a site-specific consideration must still comply with clause 42. Quite apart from setting out the site-specific circumstances, matters like public interest, transformation and consistency with norms and standards would have to be met. It was not possible to have a site-specific circumstance that destroyed the essence of the land use scheme. If, however, the land use scheme did not specifically provide for something, it would still be possible to extend the use to other areas. If something was prohibited, the threshold would be much higher. In other words, something might depart from site-specific circumstances, but would still have to fall within the collective requirements. A developer could not depart from a land use scheme altogether, but there were possibilities. For instance, if an area was zoned residential, a site-specific application could still be made to build a guesthouse, as this was not specifically prohibited by the land use scheme, and those services would not be out of tune with the general character of the area.

The Chairperson commented that he and other Members still believed it would be preferable to make reference to the land use scheme, rather than the SDF, as a precondition. For instance, wording such as “provided it conforms with section 42” could be inserted into clause 22.

Mr Ntapane agreed that this would make the clause far more specific, and help prevent abuse.

Mr Daniels commented that, having been through the opinion again, he thought that Advs Gauntlett and Keightley may have misconstrued clauses 22(1) and (2). In order that these clauses could be fully understood, they must be read in the context of the whole Bill. These clauses must be read with clauses 26(4), 42, and with clause 40(7). Certain functions were given to the Municipal Planning Tribunal in clause 22, whilst clause 26(4) noted that the permitted land use could be changed, with conditions that were set out in clause 40(7), and provided that clause 42 was also fully taken into account. It was not clear, from the opinion, that all these clauses had been considered together. The MPT would not automatically and invariably consider a departure from the provisions of the municipal SDF but would do so only if an application was made for permission to depart from it. They had appeared to have concluded that, in that case, the MPT “will” (not “may”) be required to determine whether there should be a departure. In fact, the MPT “may” depart from it; it would always have to consider a departure, even if it did not agree with it. He reiterated that in order to fully appreciate the ambit and import of clause 22(2) it must be considered in the context of the Bill as a whole. He also stated again that he did not agree that the clause was vague as presently worded.

The Chairperson agreed that clause 22(2) could remain, but the Committee would still like to pursue the option of stating that the criteria in clause 42 must be met.

Mr Theo Hercules, Senior State Law Advisor, OCSLA, said that clause 22 dealt with the status of SDFs and the role of the MPT, whereas land use schemes were dealt with under a different section, which made it slightly contradictory to merely cross-reference. This clause was drafted to deal with the status of the SDF when a MPT considered the SDF, saying it had to apply it as a guiding tool to land development. In his view there was sufficient safeguard, by the powers given to a  tribunal when considering applications. There was sufficient scope to prevent any possible abuse on site-specific circumstances. He thought that any cross-referencing would not deal with the status of the SDF.

The Chairperson asked what the impact of this would be done.

Mr Daniels said that OCSLA would looking at this, particularly whether the referencing should come in under clauses 42 or 22. 

Mr Sisa Makabeni, State Law Advisor, OCSLA, pointed out that land use schemes and their legal effect were actually dealt with in clause 26, and he did not think it would be entirely consistent should this be mentioned in clause 22.

The Chairperson quipped that the Committee was not so concerned with the flow as the principle, but asked the OCSLA drafters to look again at this.

Mr Ntapane was still concerned with clause 22, and repeated his opinion that this clause must contain a cross-reference to clause 42, to ensure that anyone reading clause 22 was made aware immediately of the need to comply with other portions of the legislation also.

Mr Daniels then noted that OCSLA now proposed the following formulation: that before (a), in clause 22(2), the following be added, " subject to section 42, a municipal planning tribunal ….” Similarly, although it was not entirely necessary, it was possible also to include a cross-reference to section 22 in section 42.
The Chairperson agreed  with the formulation and asked that both cross-references be done.

Mr Trollip then moved to other concerns that he had on the Bill. He reiterated that the opinion of Adv Jamie had raised concerns around constitutionality. He had noted the apparent conflict with the existence of a tribunal as opposed to a recognised authority .

Mr Ogunronbi explained that the Council itself was an authority. The appeals from a Municipal Planning Tribunal were referred to an authority, such as the Minister. A province, when defining matters of provincial interest, would be regarded as an “authority”.

The Chairperson said that politicians were not sufficiently professionally capable of departing from a decision of the Tribunal on their own, and in fact, in practice, it would be the DRDLR who advised the Minister. The legal advisors of the Council might overrule something on the basis that the authority should be given to a Council. He thought the executive authority lay with the Tribunal.

Mr Trollip suggested that it would be preferable to have a definition on site-specific departures.

Mr Trollip said that he also had concerns around the regional spatial planning development framework, as he felt that the definition of a region needed to be clarified. There could be confusion if there were two regions - and therefore two SDFs - in one municipality. He sought clarity whether this was possible, and, if so, which of the SDFs would apply.

Mr Ogunronbi felt, with respect, that there was no problem with the definition of "region" in the Bill.

Mr Trollip agreed that there was a definition, but was not sure whether it was possible to have multiple regions within a municipality, or whether a region cross-bordered various municipalities. If the former, then the question was whether the municipal SDF would apply.

The Chairperson pointed out that some regions crossed municipality boundaries, or even provinces. A region was generally understood to refer to areas with similar economic activities. Perhaps Mr Trollip's problem was more a political than an economic one. For instance, some national parks stretched over various municipalities, and Western and Eastern Cape, yet the two provinces could collaborate with national departments to ensure that it was maintained and sustained.

Mr Trollip said that this was not relevant to his question. This Bill spoke to national SDFs, provincial and municipal SDFs, as well as regional SDFs. A “region” catered for none of the national, provincial or municipal concerns. He still wanted to know if it was possible to have multiple regions within a municipality and whether the regional or municipal SDF would apply in that case.

Mr Ogunronbi responded that the nature of SDFs allowed for overlapping. On the same piece of land, there could be several activities. It was unlikely that two regional SDFs would overlap, because generally, a regional SDF might be intended to address specific concerns. In general, both in terms of how  SDFs were developed, and in terms of this Bill, it would be necessary to look at existing development frameworks as well as other policies and instruments. One framework must be informed by others, and SDFs always inter-related. This was similar to complying with various policies – for instance on transport and rural development – in one area.

The Chairperson noted the reason why there might be an overlap, but he commented that Mr Trollip's concern related more to which would prevail and under whose authority they would be. Whilst the principles of cooperative governance were clear and authorities should talk to each other, in this context there was nothing specific mentioned.

Mr Ogunronbi said that this Bill was not seeking to create hierarchies; SDFs informed each other, but would not contradict or be ranked.

The Chairperson noted this and said that clearly one province was not obliged to cooperate with the next province.

Mr Ogunronbi pointed out that in drawing an SDF it was appropriate to look at the adjoining municipalities; for instance, a road in one are should not end up leading only to a river in the next area.

The Chairperson asked who took responsibility for the SDF

Mr Ogunronbi responded that this was stated as the Minister, in consultation with the Premier and municipality. The applications could be initiated from any source, but only after consultation would a Minister declare a region.

The Chairperson said that clearly this indicated that the Minister would work with municipalities and provinces to ensure that the regional SDF was not destroyed by lack of cooperation.

Mr Ogunronbi confirmed that it was unlikely - although possible - to have more than one region within a municipality. The geographic features would tie a region together. For instance, eThekwini was both rural and urban in nature. The Minister might decide to deal with the rural part separately because it could attract investment based on economic factors.

The Chairperson liked the reference, in the opinion from Adv Gauntlett, to the call by the courts to favour alignment with the development needs of the present and future.

Mr Trollip noted that both Advs Gauntlett and Jamie referred to the need to redraft clause 32.

Mr Trollip still had some unease as to whether the Bill and the existing legislation were properly aligned – particularly the Municipal Systems Act (MSA) and provincial land use planning acts. There were requirements in those pieces of legislation, for instance, for publication in the Government Gazette, whereas the Bill did not specify this.

Mr Ogunronbi responded that the MSA dealt with broad governance, but it did not cater for sector-specific issues. For instance, it included princesses for appeal against valuations in terms of the Property Rates Act, as well as appeals for matters under National Environmental Management Act. This Bill, however, was limited in scope and should not be read as “a set of regulations for the MSA”. He did not believe that there were any conflicts, and those administering the MSA had been adequately consulted in the process of drafting the Bill.

The Chairperson asked for clarity from Mr Trollip where he saw the conflicts.

Mr Trollip pointed out that clause 22(3) of SPLUMB did not tally with sections 22 and 23 of the MSA. He wondered which requirement would prevail.

Mr Ogunronbi said that there was no conflict, so that one Act would not prevail over the other. There was no conflict if one piece of legislation set a higher threshold than another; publication could take more than one form. For instance, in some matters it might be sufficient for consultations to happen, although others might require that the public be informed in different ways.

Mr Makabeni pointed out that in relation to regional SDFs there was a provision for publication in the Government Gazette.

The Chairperson clarified that the query related to disputes in relation to municipal planning.

Mr Trollip added that municipalities were obliged, by clause 21 of the Bill, to publish by notice in the Government Gazette, but Integrated Development Plans did not, in terms of the MSA, have to be published in provincial gazettes.

Mr Ogunronbi agreed, but said that he still did not think there was a problem. “Publish” meant whatever the individual piece of legislation required; notification to the public by way of a public meeting, or notice being displayed prominently, might be acceptable if there was no specific requirement for formal publication in the Gazette.

Mr Trollip mentioned that one of the concerns raised at the public hearings was the time within which inconsistencies should be cleared. Some provincial authorities had to bring their legislation in line, but there could be different provisions around review timetables.

Mr Ogunronbi said that the inconsistencies had been highlighted by the DRDLR, in a table. There were a table had been drawn to highlight inconsistencies. There were seven provincial bills in existence. Only one province referred to a time frame , of five years for a review. It was possible that this was linked to cost, as politicians were elected for five years. The SDFs must be seen as long-term, over 20 years. In the view of the DRDL, reviews should take place every five years. The Department was not necessarily suggesting that the SDF should be replaced automatically, but rather checked for consistency and applicability.

The Chairperson said that if the DRDLR was as flexible as this suggested, then he wondered why the Bill should not, perhaps, refer to " five years or any other period deemed acceptable by the municipality"

Mr Ogunronbi thought ten years was too long, but the DRDLR did not want to suggest that it was necessary to replace the SDF altogether, although it did want it at least to be checked for relevance.

Mr Trollip was happy with that aspect, but was not happy with the suggestion that the five-year term was linked with that of politicians. Nothing suggested that the SDF must be drawn up within a certain time of new elections, and he did not believe they should be linked to terms of office of elected representatives, merely that a five-year term should run, irrespective of when it started.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ogunronbi to check the issue around regional SDFs. There was a fear that municipalities, instead of promoting them, were trying to control and exercise their own influence. He did not want the point to be addressed now; but did want a report back later on whether the role of district municipalities may not be a problem, in the definition of region.

Mr Trollip thought there was disjuncture between definition of a land use scheme and permitted use. It was difficult to determine rates between a property within a scheme, and one that was not.

Mr Ogunronbi said that he had looked at the Property Rates Act. The valuations were not constrained, and were defined, for a land use scheme. Whilst he did not see any immediate challenge, he would be happy to look again at it, if there was a suggestion that there was a specific problem.

Mr Trollip said that he was happy with that explanation.

Mr Trollip thought that rezoning applications were also problematic, as it was not clear if they were to be done by the MPT and official, or through a bylaw re-zoning.

Mr Ogunronbi said that what was contained in a land use scheme would include the rezoning map and regulations, depending on what the application sought to amend. The amendments were further clarified. If the application affected the regulations part of the land use scheme, that would go to the Council, as it was a legislative activity of the municipality. If something was permitted by the regulations, but affected the map, the application would go to the Tribunal. Clause 41 of the Bill referred to applications before the MPT as this did not refer to the regulations part of the scheme.

Mr Trollip raised concerns around Schedule 1, where there was a definition of "provincial responsibilities" That schedule, however, actually set out a list of municipal, not provincial, responsibilities. Even though the legislation had gone through various drafts, the concerns at the public hearings, as well as concerns in this Committee, seemed to indicate that better alignment and streamlining was needed, as a framework to finalise the IDPs.

Mr Ogunronbi responded that Schedule 1 mentioned only matters that provincial legislation "may" address. The DRDLR could not instruct a province to make law, but the Schedule was intended to give advice to the relevant authorities. Clause 10 of the Bill was relevant as it said that provinces may make legislation on matters set out in Schedule 1.

The Chairperson thanked all the legal and departmental officials for their comments and asked that a final version of the Bill, for consideration by the Committee on 12 February, should now be drawn and circulated to Members in advance of that meeting. If there were any other concerns arising from this meeting, he asked Members to notify him of them before the next meeting.

Draft Geomatics Profession Bill: Informal briefing by Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
The Chairperson noted that Parliament had not published the Geomatics Profession Bill in the manner required, so the Bill was still considered as a draft, and this briefing must be regarded as informal.

Mr Siyabonga Mdubeki, Acting Chief Surveyor-General, DRDLR, explained that the Geomatics Profession Bill (the GPB)) was needed, as the old legislation, the Professional and Technical Surveyors Act of 1984, had to be modernised and aligned with the Constitution. That current legislation excluded other categories of geomatics professionals, such as geospatial information sciences. It also had not catered for work reservation. The Bill had originally been titled as the "Surveying Professions Bill", but, after consultation with other stakeholders, the title and content were changed to the current GPB.

The Planning Profession Act of 2003 was used as a model for the GPB, but other legislation for professions such as architects, engineers, valuers, and quantity surveyors was considered also. The initial draft was approved by the Deputy Minister in 2005, and there were public comments and public workshops in 2005/06.

As already set out, the intention was to include related fields within the geomatics fraternity, including mine and land and engineering surveying and geo-spatial information sciences. The Council was being expanded in scope, and the current position, where only the institutes could nominate members to the Council, was now being changed, so that the appointments would be made by the Minister after a more transparent process of calling for nominations. Four members would represent the State, of whom three should be from DRDLR and one from Department of Mineral Resources. Five members of the Council would be non-state representatives, and there would be one member of the public and one from the Council of Higher Education.

There were four registration categories set out in the Bill, namely candidate geomatics practitioners, encompassing all those in training, including those training for technicians, technologists or geomatics professionals. Each category had different branches. The State would fund the Council, as distinct from the current position where the Council was funded solely by membership fees.

Mr Mdubeki briefly outlined the contents of the Bill. Chapter 1 addressed the definitions, principles applicable to the Council and registered people, highlighted the interests of the public and called on the Council to achieve transformation. Chapter 2 dealt with the establishment of the Council and its composition, committees, powers and duties, as well as detailing the decision process and funding.

Chapter 3 set out the various categories and reserved geomatics work to registered professionals. The reason for this was that those eligible to register would be encouraged to do so, thus allowing for more effective regulation of the profession. Chapter 4 provided for recognition of voluntary associations, who would promote and protect the various categories of the profession in practice. They would be issued with a certificate of recognition, subject to compliance with rules, as distinct from the current Act, in which this was not included.

Chapter 5 dealt with professional conduct, outlined a code of conduct and specified the process of dealing with improper conduct, rights, regulations of proceedings and sanctions. The current Act did not facilitate proper legal recourse and was not aligned properly with the Constitution. Chapter 6 provided for establishment and functioning of an appeals board, specified the composition of the board and qualifications of members. The considerations to be taken into account by the Minister when appointing board members were listed.  Chapter 7 dealt with general issues, including regulation, rules and professional, and transitional provisions.

Mr Mdubeki concluded that the Bill would facilitate transformation, guarantee alignment with the Constitution, and ensure inclusion of all sectors of the geomatics profession.

The Chairperson noted that the Bill provided to the Members was named as "B.../2011", and he reiterated that this was an indicator that the Bill still had to go through certain processes in the House before being officially sent to this Committee.

Mr Theo Hercules said that he was standing in for one of his colleagues, and, although he had not worked on this Bill, he was given to understand that OCSLA had not yet certified the Bill, and it would be in touch with the Department to effect this.

Mr Ragendh Salig, Chief Director: Office of Chief Surveyor General, said that he understood the certification had been done. The DRDLR had gazetted the Minster's intention to introduce the Bill and was informed that due processes were in place to attend to the certification.

The Chairperson said that this was not sufficient; the certified copy should be in their possession.

Mr Ogunronbi said that a precondition of the Bill going to Cabinet was to have it certified; he would provide the written document from his office if he had it available.

Mr Trollip said that it was interesting to note that the Bill was published for public comment in 2005, but the Bill was only brought to Parliament in 2013. The public participation processes were concluded long ago, and he would have thought this was reasonably urgent, particularly because it was seeking to ensure improved standards and transformation, and wanted to know why, in that case, the DRDLR took so long to bring the bills forward.

His second point was that although he knew that the DRDLR was trying to promote more candidates to enter the profession, and was giving bursaries and support, the pass rate was regrettably not good.

Mr Mdubeki agreed that the process had started long ago. More representations and consultation took place in 2010.

The Chairperson still questioned why the Bill was not brought to Parliament earlier. He understood that more consultations may have been required, but he wanted to know why it was not hastened after 2010.

Mr Mdubeki explained that when certain issues were raised in the consultation process, the Bill was redrafted and therefore had to be published again for comment, which had happened in May 2011, and the new version contained not only a name change, but quite different content.

 The Chairperson noted Mr Trollip's comment on the candidates' failure rate and said that, although it was not strictly relevant to the Bill, it was important to have a report and analysis from the DRDLR.

Mr Mdubeki said that this could be done.

He offered to give some comment immediately, but the Chairperson asked him not to do so, but to furnish a written report that could be discussed.

Mr Mdubeki said that this could take some time; the institutions of higher learning would have to furnish some information and they were currently busy with registrations. He suggested that a period of three weeks be allowed for the compilation of this report.

Ms N November (ANC) commented that this was an urgent matter. She also suggested that workshops should be taken to other areas, particularly the rural areas.

The Chairperson asked whether DRDLR would not get annual reports about the students that it was promoting. From his own experience in similar situations, he cautioned that DRDLR should not simply sit back and attempt to rely on institutions, such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to send through the reports, and recommended that the DRDLR should perhaps set up a dedicated unit that could, for instance, get reports, ideally every six months, that would track the students, with whom it in any event should have a relationship.

Mr Mdubeki confirmed that there was a unit in Corporate Services that dealt with this.

The Chairperson asked if it was then really necessary for DRDLR to have three weeks to compile the report.

Mr Trollip commented that he had heard that although departmental officials attempted to interact with bursary recipients, only a handful would bother to attend meetings, and it was discovered that some were not even attending their lectures. He cautioned that the DRDLR should not throw good money after bad, should track the students much more closely, and the Committee needed to know how many were funded, how many scraped through their exams (as they clearly would not be meeting the high standards that the DRDLR was seeking). MPs, as public representatives, did keep their eyes open and ears to the ground and were aware of the problems.

Mr Salig pointed out that it was difficult to make a judgment on students who were financed by bursaries - as they were only one category of the geomatics students. The assertion that there was a high failure rate, based on his own experiences as a lecturer, was incorrect.

The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee had asked for a written report, and he could not understand why the departmental representatives were so keen to respond now. He asked that the report be prepared by 28 February.

Adoption of Minutes 28 November 2012
Mr Trollip proposed that the names of the State Law Advisors should be added to the minutes.

Ms H F Matlanyane asked that her name be correctly reflected.

The minutes were adopted, subject to amendment.

Other business
Ms P Xaba (ANC) expressed congratulations to the Chairperson on his election to the National Executive of the ANC.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: