Report on Oversight visit to the North West: adoption; Outstanding Matters

Ad Hoc Committee on the 1913 Native Land Act

22 October 2013
Chairperson: Mr J Thibedi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee dealt with outstanding issues before its lifespan came to an end. This included adopting two sets of minutes and the oversight report undertaken by the Committee. It was pointed out that the Committee had excluded the issue of women and ownership of the land in its report that must be submitted to the House. Members concurred with the view and suggested the Committee write the recommendation in such a way that would be inclusive to all of the vulnerable groups. Members also voiced dissatisfaction with the size of the support staff that accompanied Members on oversight. Roles were not clarified, and that resulted in chaos. The matter needed to be raised with senior managers responsible for overseeing support staff who accompanied Committees. Members recommended that logistics and programmes for future oversight visits be approved by the Committees. Respect was emphasised, and the fact that staff needed not to exploit friendships with Members to an extent of disrespecting other Members. The Chairperson was delegated to write to the managers at the Committee Section and to the Speaker and detail the nature of the complaints. He said the complaints would be processed through the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development, and then forwarded to a forum of all Committee Chairpersons who were part of the Ad Hoc Committee and finally to the senior management.

The Committee adopted the oversight report and minutes.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson indicated the Committee needed to deal with outstanding issues before its lifespan came to an end. The outstanding issues included adopting two sets of minutes and the report on the oversight visit undertaken by the Committee. While going through the report and the minutes, it became apparent that an omission existed on the part of the Committee and that had to be rectified before a final report [of the Workshop held on 7 and 8 June 2013- hereafter referred to as Workshop Report] was submitted.

women and ownership of the land

The Chairperson said that the Workshop report excluded the issue of women and ownership of the land. The Committee had not looked at this item and no resolution was made around that. For that reason a single page was circulated to Members so that the issue could be considered and incorporated. At the meeting of 06 August, item 5.3.3, mooted for women’s land rights issues and that this needed to be taken into consideration. This validated a point about women’s ownership of land that was first mooted in the initial meeting of the Committee. He opened this matter up for further discussion.

Mr M Swathe (DA) agreed with the sentiment and recalled that women had made a submission at a meeting in Stellenbosch about ownership of land.

Nkosi M Mandela (ANC) said the Committee needed to be careful with singling out only women when it came to issues of land ownership. The report was also silent on ownership by young people and those persons living with disabilities. Should this also be considered?

Mr K Mileham (DA) commented that the point was good but the Member ought to remember this was a women’s issue as they were prevented from owning land. He had no recollection of youth and persons living with disabilities being restricted from owning land. But women were forbidden by law, added to that was the repressive traditional authorities in rural areas.

Ms A Steyn (DA) suggested that the contemplated recommendation be done in such a way that it covered all the vulnerable groups. It would not be problematic if the Committee just included all the categories within the vulnerable groups.

Mr Swathe thought that the report would be based on the Committee’s observations on the ground.

The Chairperson agreed and said that it was not wrong to include people with disabilities and youth in the recommendation. Another way of accommodating other groups would be to include at the end of the recommendation that “and all the vulnerable groups.” That would cover all groups.

Nkosi Mandela reminded Members that youths were engaged with during the visit in the North West and they were quite emotional about the land issue. Young people raised had unhappiness with the traditional leaders in those regions. The Committee needed to be alert to what the youth had raised during the oversight visits.

The Chairperson said the recommendation would be captured in such a way that addressed and accommodated all the vulnerable groups.

Staff conduct on oversight

The Chairperson reminded Members that it was agreed that once the work of the Committee had concluded the matter pertaining to the conduct of staff members who accompanied the Committee would be dealt with. He asked if Members had any suggestions of how to proceed with the matter.

Mr Swathe concurred and requested that the matter be dealt with and finalised right at the meeting.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) reminded Members that the House was sitting at 14h00, and suggested that the matter be laid to rest. When there was another Committee as this one then the matter could be taken up with the managers in the Committee Section.

Ms B Sunduza (ANC) said that misbehaviour by staff had been a trend in Parliament. It was a pity Members could not deal with the staff. Although she was not part to the touring entourage the matter needed to be raised with senior managers responsible for overseeing support staff who accompanied Committees.

Mr Mileham suggested that the Committee delegate the Chairperson to write to the managers at the Committee Section and to the Speaker and detail the complaints Members had about the staff. That should be done in the next couple of days.

Mr N Van den Berg (DA) said the issue concerned administrative staff and needed to be left to the hands of administrative managers. They were the right people who knew what the appropriate sanction would be.

Nkosi Mandela wanted to know what the Committee wanted to achieve by pursuing the matter despite the fact that its lifespan was coming to an end. An extension was being mooted, what would be the intention to do that? Would there be any consequences? He requested Members to be clear on whether there was a probable cause for disciplinary action against the staff. What went wrong on the visit that necessitated that action be taken on the staff?

Ms Steyn said that there was no need for a long debate on the matter. The Committee should simply recommend that in future the Committee Section should look at the composition of the staff that went on oversight visits with Members. The roles on the visits were not clarified and there too many support staff, many of whom were doing nothing. The cost of so many staff members was way too excessive and in future that ought to be looked at.

Ms C Mabuza (ANC) said Members needed to deal with the staff transparently and let them know what the problem was. On the first day of the oversight Members did not have water for the whole day. On the second day Members did not have supper and that resulted in a crisis situation with those Members who were on medication. The staff could have been transparent with Members and explain or at least inform Members on time that water and food would not be provided. Cosiness with support staff also should not translate into disrespect. Support staff took advantage of friendships with some Members and disregarded other Members. The Committee did not even have a programme on the oversight visits. Lastly, she stated that chauffers should be treated with respect and dignity; they could not be addressed anyhow.

Ms P Ngwenya-mabila (ANC) said the staff should correct their behaviour. In future, the programme and logistics should be presented to the Committee for approval before such visits were undertaken. She failed to understand why there was a limit to the number of Members who could go on visits, while there was none for the support staff. This impacted badly on the budget. Flight arrangements for Members were haphazardly done and took a while to process. The travelling agent whose services were used operated in an amateurish manner. There had to be respect from both the support staff to Members and vice versa. Issues raised by Members should be taken seriously.

Mr Swathe pointed out that there also was a challenge with travelling arrangement from Polokwane to Venda. There was chaos in terms of the shuttle services with the agent not knowing that Members had to be driven up to Venda. Value for money was crucial in these visits. There were too many support staff, most of whom looked as though were on holiday and not adding value to the work of the Committee. The Committee should recommend, through the Chairperson, that the dissatisfaction of Members be noted for future purposes. Management should look into the matter so that it could be corrected.

The Chairperson said the complaints would be processed through the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, and then through the Chairpersons of all the Committees that travelled with the Ad Hoc Committee and finally to senior management.

The Committee adopted the report with amendments.

Adoption of minutes

The Committee adopted the minutes of 19 August and 15 October with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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