The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform presented responses to the follow-up questions on its amended Strategic Plan for 2011-2014 and Annual Performance Plan for 2013-2014, which addressed aspects like the payment of performance bonuses to branches that had not met their targets, and said that those who did not meet their targets were not entitled to performance bonuses, as per the agreements signed. From a human resources capacity point of view, the Department had advertised 1 650 positions between July and April 2013, and these were in the process of being filled. During the current financial year, there would be an improvement in the capacity of the Department to fulfil its mandate across a spectrum of key result areas that had been identified.
The Department had considered the recommendations of the Public Service Commission and the Auditor-General’s report on the improvement of service. The involvement of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency (DPME) and the National Treasury in the development of the Department’s Medium Term Strategic Framework for the next five years was well under way, with meetings having taken place and a few more planned. A meeting was scheduled for 16 May 2013 with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and National Treasury to further help in the process.
The Department through its Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development (REID) branch was using the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) to do household profiling on identified land reform and restitution farms to identify interventions needed and to address these accordingly, through REID and the Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) branch.
Of the 76 980 claims that had been fully settled as per the description and counted up to October 2012, 59 513 had been finalised. The Department was currently processing 7 000 claims that were at different phases, with about 7 800 claims outstanding. The Committee had found out that land claims were being settled in phases, and were advised that 95 per cent of lodged claims referred to had been fully settled (the full extent of the claim had been restored) while the five per cent (2 716 up to the end of October 2012) had not been counted as settled. The five per cent were therefore the claims that were being dealt with as ‘phased claims,’ as well as those claims that were yet to be researched. There were 750 claims that had been referred for research in 2013/14. Due to the physical extent of certain claims (the high number of property parcels under claim), it was often necessary to deal with sections of the property under claim in a phased approach to restore at least a portion of the land under claim faster, and to deal with the more complex matters in future phases. This was necessary, as it was often difficult to negotiate with a great many land owners concurrently -- some needed longer periods to conclude negotiations or demanded further research, investigations or valuations to be done. As a result, a phased claim would not be counted as settled.
The Department said that there had been delays on Project Kgolagano that required further discussion with the National Treasury. The Committee was to be given a report following a meeting between the Director-General and the National Treasury.
There were apologies from the Director-General: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), Mr A Trollip (DA), and Mr B Zulu (ANC).
Further deliberations on the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
Mr Pule Sekawana, Acting Deputy Director-General: DRDLR, said that the purpose of the presentation was to respond to follow-up questions from the Committee on the Amended Strategic Plan 2011-2014; and the Annual Performance Plan 2013-2014.
Programme 1: Administration
The Committee noted that following the presentation of the draft Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy 2013-2016 (version 1/2013) that had been presented to it, there were indications of non-alignment of the HRD Strategy and the organisation structure. For example, the HRD’s strategic goal No. 4 targeted two branches -- Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development (REID) and Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) -- and according to the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan, the Department had no branch known as RID. There was also no indication in the Strategic Plan or in the Annual Performance Plan as to when the HRD Strategy would be finalised and implemented.
The Acting DDG said that the Branch Social Technical Rural Livelihoods and Institutional Facilitation (STRIF) had been replaced by the Branch Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development. Finalisation of the draft HRD Strategy would form part of the Chief Directorate: Human Resource and Directorate’s human resource development operational plan and performance agreement for 2013-2014. He added that STRIF to REID changes were made in the document, glossary and old presentation of 23 April 2013 for easy reference (this was reflected in the corrections which had been raised by the Committee).
The Committee was informed that the attachments to the presentation had not been given to Members because of a network problem at the Department, but that these would be brought to the Committee during the course of the meeting.
The Committee remarked that it had not been briefed about the Organisational Renewal Plan, nor did it have the plan in its possession. For purposes of Parliamentary oversight, the Committee should be provided with the plan in order for it to determine what the 55 per cent or 60 per cent (quarterly targets) of the plan represented. The Acting DDG said that an annexure to the Organisational Renewal Plan had been prepared and was part of the pack of documents the Committee was to receive.
The Committee asked for information about the branches which managed to receive bonuses, as it needed to assess performance plans for those branches.
The Acting DDG said that annexture 5 to updated Performance Agreements 2011/2012, annexure 6 of performance bonuses, annexture 7 of circular 31 of 2013 and annexure 8 of SMS status report, contained the relevant information as had been requested by the Committee.
Annexure 5 would give details of the number of employees in each branch, the number of employees assessed, number of employees not assessed, special cases where the assessment could not be done and possible remarks by a particular branch. In some of the outstanding cases where assessment had not been done, the Director-General had already issued letters of discipline to the relevant DDGs and Chief Directors. The majority of cases for last year had been completed.
Annexure 6 on performance bonuses gave a status report on the payment of performance bonuses for the past financial year in terms of salary levels 1 to 12 (non-senior managers’ category). The annexure would give a breakdown demonstrating the salary level category for each branch and how many employees had been paid such performance bonuses in each branch. The total amount paid out to non-senior managers last year was R18.7 million. No senior manager had received a performance bonus during the financial year besides the paid progression, and the usual government 13th cheque, which formed part of the conditions of employment.
The Chairperson said that the response given by the Acting DDG on performance bonuses did not make a link with the specific branches that the Committee had asked for. The question on performance bonuses was linked to the meeting of targets – the Committee wanted to know which branches had received performance bonuses despite the indication in the Department’s Annual Report that these branches had not met their targets.
Mr Sekawana said that the Department had spent considerable time on the ratio between budget spent, performance bonus and pay progression paid, compared to the targets not met. Not every cent of the budget was meant to be a direct cost to the target – for instance, costs associated with attending Committee meetings could not be considered as targets, although money was being spent. Therefore a request had been made to financial services to do a direct link to costs that were attached to the targets
The Chairperson said that the expenditure of the budget was not a relevant matter. What was relevant was the relationship between the performance bonus and the meeting of targets. The Committee wanted to be able to determine the rationale for the payment of performance bonuses to branches that had not met their targets.
Mr Sekawana said that those who did not meet their targets were not entitled to performance bonuses, as per the agreements signed. The Department employed about 4 700 employees and out of this, only a few got performance bonuses.
The Chairperson commented that the Acting DDG’s response suggested that all the branches in the Department did not meet the targets, including the office of the Minister.
The Committee noted that the reports by the Public Service Commission, the Auditor-General and the DPME raised the same concerns about the Department’s inability to meet some of its targets as the Committee had also done in its budget review recommendations report. For example, the state land audits, redistributing 30 per cent of white-owned agricultural land, finalisation of Project Kgolagano, and the settlement of all land claims by 2013. The Committee concluded that there were a range of reasons for this failure to meet the set targets; one of which was the capacity of the Department to implement the programmes. A report had been included showing that all assessments had been done in the Ministry, showing the status of all the branches.
Mr Sekawana said that from a human resources capacity point of view, the Department had advertised 1 650 positions between July and April 2013, and these were in the process of being filled. Over time in the current financial year, there would be an improvement in the capacity of the Department to fulfil its mandate across a spectrum of key result areas that had been identified.
Mr Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform said that in his previous Budget policy speech he had indicated that the Department was not going to meet 30 per cent of the targets, and provided reasons why. The President had also made a statement of the Department’s inability to meet its targets. The target was that all land reform farms would be 100 per cent productive. The Department was not pursuing the achievement of 30 per cent by 2014 because this was impossible. When would the Committee accept that the Government had expressed this and therefore would not pursue this as a target?
The Chairperson said that the Committee in its follow-up question, had acknowledged that there were a range of reasons, most of which were linked directly to capacity of the Department to meet the targets. The Acting DDG had given an indication that the Department was following a process of recruitment to boost the capacity of the Department. Most of what was being discussed emanated from the Annual Performance Plan and it was meant to give the Committee confidence in backing the budget, its targets and the operational plan in the House for adoption with the assurance that the Department had the capacity to meet the targets that it had set itself.
The Committee said that the recommendations of the Public Service Commission and the Auditor-General to address issues of financial management and governance, as well as the failures of land reform, were vitally important. It was unclear from the analysis of the strategic plan, especially the annual performance plan, whether the Department had considered their recommendations. The Committee wished to further engage in discussion with the Department about its responses to the presentations made to the Committee, as well as identifying how the planning processes of the Department could improve on these matters.
The Acting DDG said that the Department had considered the recommendations of the Public Service Commission and the Auditor-General’s report on the improvement of service. The involvement of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency (DPME) and the National Treasury in the development of the Department’s Medium Term Strategic Framework for the next five years was well under way, with meetings having taken place and a few more planned. A meeting was scheduled for 16 May 2013 with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and National Treasury to further help in the process. The Department was in the process of integrating within its APP and Strategic Plan (MTSF in particular) the new job drivers identified in the National Development Plan.
The Minister clarified that land reform meant redistribution, restitution, tenure reform and development. From a qualitative point of view, the land reform programme, as well as tenure reform, had been a failure for a long time. However; there had been a recovery with regard to recapitalisation of the development programme – more than 1 269 farms had been recapitalised since 2010.
The Chairperson said that the work that the Minister was doing had never been done in the history of South Africa. The Minister was ‘breaking new ground’ in the sense that he had defined, programmed and implemented. No land audit had ever been done in South Africa before the Minister’s coming into office. It was not a matter of pointing at failures, alone but also noting the success stories.
Programme 3: Rural development
The Committee asked what plans for rural development in the 23 districts had been identified for intervention in terms of the rural development programme. It requested the Department to present particular projects (including sites) that would be implemented in the financial year (2013/14). It was known that there were 65 Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) sites across the country. The APP lacked clarity in relation to the particular location of projects in the 23 district sites.
Mr Lulama Zantsi, Chief Directorate: Rural Industries, Branch REID: DRDLR, referred to annexure 9 that had a list of projects concerning the plans for the 23 districts. He said that the Department, while implementing the Rural Development Programme in the 23 districts, wanted to ensure sustainability of land reform and restitution. Five branches had come together to ensure integrated planning. The project list in the annexure was a result of output from the five branches to ensure that when the Department bought farms, interventions were lined up from the other branches. The branches included restitution, land reform, REID and RID. The list had been compiled in accordance with the MTSF, and the five codes that were guiding the intervention were: agricultural projects; those addressing basic needs and quality of life; those addressing industries for agro-processing, tourism and fisheries; projects addressing the green economy; and non-agricultural activities for food security and income generation. On top of the 23 districts, the Department had added the most deprived districts in Gauteng and Western Cape, bringing the total to 30 districts. The list was detailed in that it gave the province, the district, the local municipality, the ward in the local municipality; and the village in the ward.
The Department had also identified common projects done by the different branches, and what the input of each branch was going to be – the River Valley Catalytic Project was an example of various branches making a contribution. The Department was also driving the Public-Private Partnership programme aimed at producing on one million hectares countrywide. The collaboration was also taking care of the Integrated Food and Nutrition Security Programme that comprised the Government, the private sector and the public.
The Committee asked the Department to provide further details about recapitalisation of land reform projects, as implemented within the project of rural development, as it would help the Committee to specify how many land reform projects were to be supported under the programme of rural development.
Mr Sekawana responded by saying that Branch REID was using the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) to do household profiling on identified land reform and restitution farms to identify interventions that were needed, and to address these accordingly through REID and RID. Branch REID, with the assistance of NARYSEC, would also ensure social facilitation through the establishment of functional Councils of Stakeholders in rural development programmes and together with land reform and restitution, address social facilitation issues where required on the farms.
Mr Zantsi added that the Department was using NARYSEC as the implementing agent under the leadership of the Minister.
Dr Daphney Mayindi, Chief Directorate: Technology Research and Development: DRDLR, spoke about some of the projects that were supported under the branch RID. As had been indicated in the APP under strategic objective 5.3 on recapitalisation, there was a performance indicator which spoke to the number of projects implemented and the targets. The Department had set a target of 182 projects, with a breakdown per province. Under the River Valley Catalytic Project, the Department was looking at the irrigation of 5 000 hectares (a breakdown per province was included in the annexure). This would be achieved in March 2014.
The Minister added that the Department had the capacity to achieve this target.
Mr Vusi Mahlangu, Deputy Director-General: Land Reform added that recapitalisation and development was meant for land reform but it had been “tweaked” so that it could be extended to rural communities even though in the rural communities there were no typical farms but rather rural space. REID and RID gave an indication of what recapitalisation and development was achieving in the communities.
The Committee asked for an in-depth qualitative research project on the impact of Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) interventions on beneficiary households.
The Acting DDG said that the Department, in conjunction with DPME, was currently undertaking an evaluation of the CRDP as to whether it was achieving its goals and how the programme could be strengthened and up-scaled through learning from what had been done. In this process, the impact of the programme on the beneficiary households would necessarily be considered – both REID and RID branches were participating in the evaluation process.
Programme 4: Restitution
The Committee asked the Department to provide it with information on how many of the settled land claims had been finalised following the announcement by the President of the re-opening of the lodgement of land claims during 2013, which marked the centenary of the Native Land Act 1913.
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner: DRDLR said that of the 76 980 claims that had been fully settled as per the description and counted up to October 2012, 59 513 had been finalised. The Department was currently processing 7 000 claims that were at different phases, with about 7 800 claims outstanding.
The Chairperson said that the Committee wanted to be able to inform the House about what was actually happening about the claims, and leave no room for doubt. The figures being presented by the Department were a moving target.
The Committee had also found out that land claims were being settled in phases. The Commission for Land Claims had stated that over 95 per cent of lodged land claims had been settled. Of the 95 per cent settled, how many were 100 per cent settled and how many was settled in phases? The Committee also noted that the Annual Performance Plan showed that the Department would only complete a research report during the last quarter of the 2013/14 financial year. There was no indication of progress toward the re-opening of land claims in this financial year.
In response, Ms Gobodo said 95 per cent of lodged claims referred to had been fully settled (the full extent of the claim had been restored) while the five per cent (2 716 up to the end of October 2012) had not been counted as settled. The five per cent were therefore the claims that were being dealt with as ‘phased claims,’ as well as those claims that were yet to be researched. There were 750 claims that had been referred for research in 2013/14.
Due to the physical extent of certain claims (the high number of property parcels under claim), it was often necessary to deal with sections of the property under claim in a phased approach (to restore at least a portion of the land under claim faster, and to deal with the more complex matters in future phases. This was necessary, as it was often difficult to negotiate with a great many land owners concurrently -- some needed longer periods to conclude negotiations or demanded further research, investigations or valuations to be done. As a result, a phased claim would not be counted as settled.
The Minister said that the figures being presented by the Commissioner for Land Claims were not tallying. The figure of 2 716 claims could not be correct. He asked for the Committee’s permission to allow the Department to be given some time to cross-check the figures and present the corrected version to the Committee at some other time.
The Chairperson said that the Committee did not want to present a report before the House with lingering doubts. There was a need for confidence that the information to be presented was going to stand the test of scrutiny. As a result, the Department had to correct the figures on the claims and report back to the Committee.
Mr J van der Linde (DA) said that this was important, because the President would be announcing the re-opening of the claims and that the announcement could not come unless there was 100 per cent certainty on what was going on with the claims that had been submitted. He had asked if the outstanding claims could be given per province, so that it could be determined if the Department had the capability/manpower to handle more claims.
The Committee said that the Department had been working on Project Kgolagano, to relocate all of its Tswane-based staff and operations to a single office campus with anticipation of taking occupation in April 2013. The Annual Performance Plan indicated that R96 million had been allocated for this project, but the same APP had failed to state when the project was likely to be concluded. The Department was required to provide an update on this project, costs incurred so far and future plans, when the project would be finalised and the occupation of the new offices/campus.
Ms Irene Singo, Acting Chief Financial Officer: DRDLR, said the Strategic Plan for the period 2009 had indicated that the Department was planning to take occupation in April. This was a project that started in 2004 as an attempt to move all the departmental units into one building. In terms of the Strategic Plan the Department had planned to move in by 1 April 2013 and the APP still showed it as a registered project. There were however challenges with the project moving to the final stage which required engagement with the National Treasury to ensure finalisation, as there had been disputes on the preferred bidder. The R96 million represented the unitary payments that were to be made on a yearly basis, based on the assumption that Department would have moved in during the current financial year.
The Chairperson said that spending R96 million on a yearly basis (it had not been indicated how many years it would take) was something that would destroy confidence – what was going on with the project?
The Acting Chief Financial Officer responded that when working on a PPP project, work started from scratch. This project had started with the former Department of Land Affairs and with this kind of project under a PPP arrangement; a monthly lease payment would be made over a lease period of 20 years. What had been reflected was not the total cost, as it was not going to be incurred as a one-off payment by the Department – the Department was going to incur a monthly lease rental in repayment for the construction cost. It was still an estimated cost, as the project had still not been finalised, especially as the third phase required sanction by the National Treasury for the Department to proceed. The APP requirement was that projects to be undertaken in a particular year had to be indicated, with the estimated cost. Given the delays, the amount would be spent in the current financial year.
The Minister said that the Acting Chief Financial Officer should have informed the Committee that there were a couple of bidders for the project and that one of them had been successful. However, the second best bidder had challenged, which meant that the project could not go on with threats of legal action. The Minister had discussed this matter with the Director-General and the conclusion was to re-discuss the matter with the National Treasury, because the PPP model was Treasury-driven. The Department was also considering a hybrid where the two bidders would enter into a partnership to resolve the ‘catch-22’ situation, where nothing might be built at all. Given the current situation, the project was not going to take off this year.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would await a report from the Department, after a discussion between the Director-General and the National Treasury, on the resolution of the challenge on the project.
The Committee said that against the backdrop of the Constitutional Court decision on the Communal Land Rights Act (CLRA), it wished to further discuss with the Department the draft policy framework on Communal Land Tenure that was to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2013/14, and the lack of clear indicators showing proactive ways in which the Department would ensure tenure security on communal areas. The Committee further asked what the link was between recapitalisation work done under this programme and the work done under rural development.
The Minister said that the communal tenure model was being institutionalised to offer protection measures for household units which were basic units of production. There was a need for minimum hectares per household and the communal tenure model would speak to this. Traditional Councils would be responsible institutions working within the confines of the Constitution. In terms of economic development, the Department was of the view that no exploitation of resources would happen in such communal areas without the consent of the people, who would have to determine what benefit they had to get from such exploitation, should it be permitted.
Mr Mahlangu, in linking tenure to recapitalisation, said that the Department was reviewing the policy (Land Tenure Security Policy) in regard to commercial farms so as to protect the rights of the farm dwellers, and also to ensure that there were Land Management Boards that would deal with disputes in such commercial areas. The Department was providing support in the form legal support in instances of illegal eviction. The new policy was moving beyond this, and introducing grants that would allow for the establishment of agro-villages to enable those fired from commercial farms to be able to be get support to utilise the farming space.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would be happy to get a response in writing on the follow up questions raised.
Consideration and adoption of outstanding Committee minutes
The Committee considered the outstanding minutes for the meetings held on 9 April 2013, 16 April 2013 and 23 April 2013. They were adopted with no amendments. The minutes for the meeting held on 30 April 2013 were considered and adopted with minor amendments to paragraphs 4.3.2 and 4.3.5.
The meeting was adjourned.
- 23 District Projects
- RADP Splum Information Session
- Peacan Nut Production
- Period 2011 - 2012
- Programme of Action: Employee Performance Management System
- Status Report on Payment of Performance Bonuses for 2011/12 Financial Year
- Updated Report on 2011/12 Performance Assessments as on 13 May 2013
- Execution of Renewal Strategy Programme
- Human Resource Development Strategy presentation 23 April 2013
- Human Resource Development Strategy:Draft Strategy
- Human Resource Development Strategy presentation 15 May 2013
- PowerPoint presentation on further deliberations on Strategic Plan & Annual Performance Plan of Department of Rural Development
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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