Geomatics Profession Bill [B4-2013]: Chief Surveyor-General input; North West consultative public hearings invitation: discussion; Committee's concern at Department's performance

Rural Development and Land Reform

30 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Office of the Chief Surveyor-General gave input to the Committee on the broadening of the Geomatics profession to include other related professions and the representation of the voluntary organisations in the South African Geomatics Council. Members were surprised that there was no definition of 'transformation' and felt that voluntary organisations should have equal representation in the council.

The Committee briefly discussed the importance of attending the Consultative Public Hearings and Panel Discussion around the legacy of the Land Act (No. 27 of 1913) in the North West. Members' concerns were centred about the short notice of the invitation and the implication that it would have on the parliamentary programme and travel logistics. They nevertheless agreed to send a delegation to the event.

Members also expressed concern at the bonuses that were awarded to officials who were not delivering against their performance agreements. Members' concerns included the slow pace of the land redistribution process.

Meeting report

Geomatics Profession Bill [B4-2013]: Chief Surveyor-General input
Mr Mmuso Riba, Chief Surveyor-General, Department of Rural Development and Reform, said that there were three issues that were raised in the last meeting. These were issues around the presentations by the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa (IMSSA), the Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA), and the South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI). These organisations had been advised to give more details.

He said that he would let the State Law Adviser deal with the definition of transformation. 
Mr Gideon Hoon, Principal State Law Adviser, said that the definition of transformation was unavailable because the word only appeared once in Clause 2(c)(i).

Ms Sueanne Isaac, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, was not aware of the meeting of 30 April 2013, so she could not attend that meeting and subsequently had not prepared for that definition.

The Chairperson said that he was surprised that the Parliamentary Legal Adviser was not part of the meeting because the decision to hold the meeting on 30 April was taken in the previous meeting in her presence.  He said that Ms Isaac should have been part of the meeting because she was informed beforehand. It was a surprise that there was no definition of transformation.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) suggested that the Committee should rather leave the matter to the legal experts to sort it out for another meeting.

Mr Hoon said that the advisers had also dealt with the broadening of the profession of geomatics to include other related professions.

Mr Rajenda Salig, Chief Director: Cadastral Advisory and Research Services, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) said that the primary concern had been the exclusion of hydrographic and photographic surveyors. The definition of the Geomatics Practitioner now accommodated all disciplines of geomatics and therefore would avoid constant amendments to the Act in future to accommodate new disciplines.

The third issue was the representation of all disciplines in the council. Under 'Geomatics Profession' voluntary associations were comprised of branches for Mine Surveying, Geospatial Information Science, Mine Surveying, and Land Surveying. The branches at some point belonged to particular voluntary organisations. The South African Geosciences Institute (SAGI) was a voluntary organization for registered persons working in land surveying, engineering surveying, town planning, photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS) and land management. The Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) promoted the study of the earth sciences, facilitated the professional development of its members, and advanced the use of geosciences in the academic, professional, and public sectors. The Bill provided that nominations to serve in the Council would be sent from those voluntary organisations. All people who were nominated to serve on the South African Geomatics Council would represent all professions from these voluntary organisations. 

Mr A Trollip (DA) said that there was a lot of professional rivalry amongst the geomatics voluntary organisations, but it was not necessarily a bad thing because it was mainly about 'turf'. He suggested that representation in the South African Geomatics Council should be equitable.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee would confer with the Parliamentary Law Adviser on the matter of equitable representation of voluntary organisations in the Council and the definition of transformation.

Mr Salig said that the registration of voluntary organisations was not catered for in the Bill. He then proposed an amendment to Clause 36(7) to cater for surveyors.

Land Act (No. 27 of 1913) legacy North West consultative public hearings invitation: discussion
Ms Phumla Nyamza Committee Secretary, informed the Committee that the Committee had been invited to attend the Consultative Public Hearings and Panel Discussion around the legacy of the Land Act (No. 27 of 1913) to be held in North West.

Mr Ntapane mentioned that he saw nothing wrong with the invitation but he was supposed in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and another group of Members were supposed to be in Johannesburg on 03 and 04 May 2013.

Mr Trollip would be in North West but said that the notice for the invitation was very short because the date was after 01 May, a public holiday.

The Chairperson explained that the Committee had applied, through the Office of the Speaker, for permission to visit provinces with three other committees. The Office of the Speaker refused the permission for four committees that comprised altogether 33 Members to work outside Parliament at the same time. After the Speaker had carefully considered the overall parliamentary programme the Committee was finally given the go ahead to visit the North West province alone. On 30 April the Committee was informed that other Committees would not get permission, only the Portfolio Committee on Rural development and Land Reform.

Mr Trollip said that the Committee was put in a difficult position because of the short notice and Members had already made plans for the week of 03 May 2013.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) said that she was confused because the other three committees were also central to the work that would be done on the North West trip.

The Chairperson was concerned that the people of North West had already prepared for the arrival of the Committee Members; he then suggested that at least three Members should avail themselves for the North West trip.

Mr J van Der Linde (DA) mentioned that he would not be available for the trip due to other commitments.
Mr Trollip said that the programme for 03 and 04 May 2013 made no mention of the participation of the Committee in the proceedings.
The Chairperson urged the Committee to consider the trip because he sympathised with people of the North West.
Mr Ntapane reminded the Members that 02 and 03 May 3013 were normal working days for Members of Parliament, and the North West trip was part of their parliamentary work.
Mr Trollip mentioned that he would not be available for the trip because of his commitment to do electoral colleges. The Chairperson suggested that Mr Trollip should rather send someone else from his party to do the electoral colleges work so that Mr Trollip could avail himself for the trip.
The Chairperson said that if the Committee agreed not to send a delegation then a letter should be sent to the North West to inform them of this decision.

He then asked for the permission to appoint people to attend the Consultative Public Hearings and Panel Discussion around the legacy of the Land Act 1913.

Mr Trollip said that he would ask his caucus to send someone because he would not be available.

Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) said he could attend on 02 May 2013 only and leave in the evening to attend a meeting about the opening of a bridge in Mvezo, Idutywa Eastern Cape.

Mr Ntapane and Ms Ngwenya-Mabila also agreed to attend with the Chairperson. The Committee Secretary was instructed to inform the North West Department of Agriculture and Rural development (DARD) that the Committee would be sending its delegation.

Committee's concern at Department's performance      
The Chairperson mentioned that it would be impossible to pass the Department’s budget without proper participation from the departmental Officials. He felt very strongly about the bonuses of officials that were not delivering against their performance agreements. He said that the Department should report to the Committee regarding meeting their deadline. Some people got bonuses even though they had not met the targets set for them. He then asked how the Committee could have confidence on the Annual Performance Plan when the Department had no capacity. Since 1994 the Land Commission had only reported once to Parliament regarding land restitution. The Committee was concerned with shifting of funds from one programme to another. The Department would promise to redistribute a number of farms per year but it would not specify where the farms were situated. The Chairperson was concerned that the Budget Debate would be on 31 May 2012 and hoped that would give the Department ample time to prepare.

Mr Trollip said that it did not make sense that the Department could not even send one official to listen to the concerns of the Committee. He was concerned that officials did not give value for money. The Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) was the flagship of the Department; many of the programmes initiated by the Department were not working. He was also concerned with the fact that almost 20 years after liberation only 8 % of the land had been redistributed, not because of problems with willing buyer willing seller but because officials were sitting in offices not doing work.

The meeting was adjourned.


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