PC Rural Development: Committee's Legacy Report

Rural Development and Land Reform

05 March 2014
Chairperson: Mr J Thibedi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee, in its last meeting, attended to the adoption of the Legacy Report of the Committee on its work in the Fourth Parliament. Members made input into various sections. They agreed that the section of the Report dealing with briefings and public hearings should include mention of the role played by the ad hoc Committee to consider the 1913 Native Land Act, as it had been an important precursor to the work done on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, particularly its identification of obstacles. They also agreed that mention should be made of the written submissions and comments raised during public hearings on projects. A separate report would be done for the ad hoc Committee, so this legacy report did not need to go into too much detail. It was agreed that the missing dates for some of the legislation needed to be inserted. As issues for follow up by the incoming Committee, this Committee would include a recommendation on the audit findings of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, their expenditure, HR and capacity, particularly since 25% of the top management posts were vacant. Other issues identified during the oversight visits, which required to be followed up, would also be raised. One Members noted concern that the Ingonyama Trust Board was operating in a way that perhaps did not pay sufficient attention to the Committee and the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, but others noted that it had not been resistant to suggestions, but agreed that closer monitoring would be needed. With these amendments, Members unanimously adopted the Legacy Report.

Members also adopted the minutes of 25, 26 and 27 February, subject to two corrections in the minutes of 26 February, in relation to the definition of “land development” and the appointment of the Valuer-General.

Members then expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to work in this Committee, highlighted the sterling leadership and impartial approach of the past and present Chairpersons, the good relationships with Members of other parties, and commented that engagement in robust debate, reaching of compromise and lack of animosity that characterized this Committee was the essence of democracy. They were confident that their work had helped the country in moving forward, although they recognised that there was much, particularly on land reform, still to be done, and hoped that the incoming Committee would carry forward the momentum. The Minister, Deputy Minister, Department and Land Claims Commission and Parliamentary staff also received a vote of thanks.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the last meeting, and noted apologies from the Minister, Deputy Minister and Members from the UDM and IFP.

Committee Minutes of 25 and 27 February 2014

These minutes were unanimously adopted.

Committee Minutes of 26 February 2014
Mr K Mileham (DA) raised an objection to item 3.2.4 which was cited, in the Minute, as being around the “Definition of Land Reform”, but he commented firstly that the concern was actually on the definition of “land development”.

He also believed that item 3.2.3 was wrongly captured, as what was discussed was broader than the content set out in the minutes. The objection was on the appointment of the Valuer-General by a multi-party Committee and not by the Minister.

The Chairperson agreed that the interview must be done by the panel, and a name recommended to the Minister.

The Minutes were adopted, subject to correction of those matters.

Draft Legacy Report of Committee
The Chairperson tabled the draft Legacy Report of the Committee, covering its work in the Fourth Parliament.

Briefings/Public hearings
The Chairman commented that the section dealing with briefings/public hearings with stakeholders should include the role of the ad hoc Committee that was set up to identify the obstacles around the restitution process. He said it was important to include the resolution that was moved, the date on which it was moved, to mention the constitution of and role of the ad hoc Committee. He reminded Members that this ad hoc Committee was a precursor to the process of public hearings on the effect of the 1913 Native Land Act, and the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill (the Bill) and it was important to specify what happened before the process leading to the adoption of the Bill in the legacy report.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) commented that there were some written submissions when the public hearings on the Bill were conducted. She suggested that a paragraph be inserted covering the written submissions on the Bill, as they were part of the public participation.

Mr M Swathe (DA) asked if the report on the ad hoc Committee would be added in detail.

The Chairperson replied that the number of written submissions should be stated, as there were many, and they were important historical evidence that had to be reflected, particularly since the public was promised that the submissions would not be discarded. However, in this legacy report, it was important only to record that the ad hoc Committee was constituted and met, and that this was a vital precursor to speaking of restitution. The structure that identified obstacles before the restitution process began should be included in the legacy report.

Mr Swathe said there was a debate, after the discussion with the ad hoc Committee, on issues raised by the people on the ground, particularly at grassroots levels, during the public hearings in communities, and he suggested that this too should be included in the report as it would reflect some of those projects that had started, and the definition of “projects”, which would cover queries from those people.

The Chairperson noted that there would be a separate report on the ad hoc Committee itself, that covered the full details so for the purposes of this legacy report it was merely necessary to make a reference to that ad hoc Committee.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila commented that some of the legislation was not accompanied by any completion dates and she asked if it was not necessary to add the dates.

Mr T Manenzhe, Content Advisor to the Committee, appreciated Ms Ngwenya-Mabila's point, and said that the references to the Rural Development and Land Reform General Amendment Bill and the Property Valuation Bill dates would be inserted.

Issues for follow-up
Mr Mileham commented that that some of the audit report findings relating to  the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (the Department) had not been adequately dealt with. He said closer attention should be paid to the expenditure, HR and capacity issues of the Department, particularly as the Department had indicated that 25% of the top management positions were vacant.

The Chairperson asked for suggestions on how to draft the issue of audit findings.

Mr Manenzhe said there should be a section of the legacy report that dealt with matters outstanding, which would include matters raised during the oversight activities of the Committee, the consideration of the Annual Report and issues that came up during the year. Some would be around governance. The Committee could then briefly describe the issues and craft a resolution.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) suggested that the challenges and issues to be followed up from the Annual Report should be highlighted. The Auditor-General (AG) had made some specific recommendations on the findings, and the incoming Committee must look at the implementation of the recommendations by the Department.

The Chairperson agreed that a recommendation should be included that the incoming Committee pay attention to the findings from the Auditor General.

Mr Mileham commented that Ingonyama Trust Board was too autonomous in its decision making, and did not appear to pay enough attention either to this Committee or compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and he believed that closer oversight over the Board was warranted.

The Chairperson said he did not know how the relationship between Ingonyama Trust Board and the Committee had been in the past. He made an observation that although Ingonyama Trust Board did things in a particular way, he had not found them to be resistant when interventions were made. He said their actions may be were guided by some level of ignorance. However, he agreed that there should be a closer monitoring of the Ingonyama Trust Board.

The Chairperson summarised that amendments suggested would be incorporated into the Legacy Report.

Members unanimously adopted the Legacy Report, as amended.

Closing remarks
Ms N November (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and every member, noting that the Committee had engaged in debate to reach agreement, which was what democracy was about. She appreciated working with everyone.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) thanked the Chairperson for his guidance and thanked the members for their good relationship, and said he would miss working with them.

Mr B Zulu (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and commented that he had “reached the end of the tunnel” after 15 years of service. He said he appreciated the excellent opportunity to work in Parliament with different people from different political parties. He asked to take a photograph of all members and staff for a keepsake.

Mr Mileham thanked the Chairperson for his leadership and for his firmness and fairness in handling the processes. He also thanked all members of the Committee for a wonderful relationship. He said that the Committee staff for been phenomenal in their support, and he appreciated also the relationship with the Parliamentary staff for their relationship. It had been a good term of office.

Mr Swathe appreciated the Chairperson’s leadership style and patience, and advised that he had shown outstanding impartiality when dealing with issues. He had learned a lot from his leadership and thanked members of the Committee for opening up to him and creating a platform for friendship. There had been robust debates on issues, but no animosity .He wished everyone all the best. He thanked the staff for their support and advice and the legal department for their assistance. He wished those who were leaving Parliament a good rest and asked them to take care of themselves. He urged that all Members must love our country and put it first.

Ms S Berend (ANC) commented that although her time with the Committee had been short, it had been an exciting learning experience for her. She thanked the staff for their support and other members of the Committee, and said that everyone had contributed to the well-being of South Africans.

Mr Z Mandela (ANC) thanked the researchers and staff for being a strong pillar, and ensuring that the Committee was well informed and that Members were able to interpret the work before them efficiently and effectively. He thanked the Department’s officials for making themselves available itself to ensure that the Committee was held accountable as public servants. He appreciated the efforts of the Minister and the leadership of the Department in ensuring that we did proper oversight and interacted with the beneficiary of the programmes initiated. He expressed a vote of thanks to all the staff, including the legal team. He recognised the public who participated in public hearings. He appreciate the relationship of five years built up with the members of the Portfolio Committee, and said that all parties had assisted in moving South Africa forward. He pointed that Hon Zulu, throughout his 15 years of service, was a “hero of our country” and appreciated his input and guidance. Members of this Committee were still left with a huge responsibility, as they were ending their terms on this Committee at a time when the land was not yet in the hands of its rightful owners, yet the challenge of our people and injustice inflicted upon them could be corrected. He urged Members to continue being united, and in this task should not allow themselves to relent. He thanked the Chairperson for his leadership, and the former Chairperson (who was now the Chief Whip for the ANC) for their in-depth insight and leadership in ensuring that the Committee was able to realise its task and mandate. He wished everyone a great journey ahead.

The Committee Secretary thanked the Members and the Chairperson for their support during the course of this Parliament. She noted that this had been offered in good and bad times, and this working experience had helped her to recognise her weaknesses, and grow as a person, with the assistance of all Members. She particularly thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to work with him and learn from his wealth of experience and intellectual capacity. She wished everyone all the best in their future endeavours and promised to pass on their fine legacy to the next Committee.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their remarks. He said that the Committee had climbed one hill, but there were many more hills to climb. He thanked all Members for their support and said it had been a wonderful experience. He thanked the organisation whose platform allowed him the opportunity to play this role in nation building and reconciliation, and in showing our people that reconciliation was successful. He was grateful to the Department, and said that the role the Ministry had played was very useful and constructive, and particularly the passion they had showed to growing the Committee. He also wanted to thank the former Chairperson of the Committee for steering the ship.

He thanked the Land Claims Commission on the matter of restitution and wanted in particular to commend the role of the Deputy Commissioner during the public hearings. By and large his input and resources provided solace to the people.  He thanked the Commissioner for allowing the Deputy to be part of the process.

He also thanked the media, saying that it was an important tool to all communication, as they ensured that people were kept informed on land reform issues.

He finally commented that, despite differences, this Committee had emerged as a united body, and said that the essence of democracy lay in all organisations and different viewpoints coming together and reaching compromise. There had been movement to building a proud South Africa. He hoped the incoming Committee would drive the matters to a logical conclusion. He urged that poverty had to be resolved in this country, as it remained the epicenter of issues in this Committee. He wished everyone all the best.

The meeting was adjourned.


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