The Portfolio Committee had concluded its deliberations on the Property Valuation Bill (the Bill) at a meeting on 27 February, when the Bill was adopted, with revisions. The Committee Report on the Bill, drawn on the same day, was also adopted and was presented to the National Assembly. However, when objections were raised by the DA to it, the National Assembly directed this Committee to draft and adopt a new report that adequately reflected all the objections raised by the DA during the process of deliberations on the Bill. The Committee, in line with this directive, had therefore drafted another report, which was tabled and discussed at this meeting.
The new Committee Report now stated that the Committee had received seven submissions from civil society organisations and three individuals and had held public hearings. The DA raised an objection that although a notice calling for public comment was published in the press on 31 of January 2014, the Bill was only published on the website of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) on 4 February. The Committee Secretary and Chairperson pointed out, however, that reference was not made in that advertisement to the DRDLR, but to the Parliamentary website, and it was also said that anyone needing a copy of the Bill could contact the Committee Secretary. It was suggested that the report now record that this objection had been dealt with.
On the first day of the clause-by-clause readings, the DA had raised an objection because the list of amendments proposed by the DRDLR in response to public submissions was not presented. However, it was recorded that the majority of Members were satisfied that the proposed amendments had been documented in a report presented by the DRDLR, which were subsequently incorporated into an A-list after the clause-by-clause deliberations, and that they had thus been before the Committee.
The second objection from the DA related to the definitions; it had wanted ‘land development’ to be separately defined. The report contained a summary of the deliberations on that point, which Members confirmed was a correct reflection of what had happened at the meeting. The third objection raised by the DA related to clause 8(i), which provided that the Minister responsible for Rural Development and Land Reform must, subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act, appoint the Valuer-General, although the DA had believed that the Valuer-General should be appointed through a parliamentary process and should report to the Minister of Public Works, in order to ensure his/her independence. Members agreed that this point was now adequately covered in the report. The fourth objection was that the DA wanted guarantees to financial institutions, because a ‘just and equitable compensation’ agreed upon in land-reform transactions might lie below market value, so it was proposed that government should guarantee the difference to credit providers where property was used as security and where the final purchase price was below the market value. The majority of the Committee had, after considering these proposals from the DA, rejected them. It was agreed that this was correctly captured in the report
The fifth objection expressed by the DA was linked to the finalisation of the Bill. On 27 February 2014, having completed the clause-by-clause considerations, the majority of the Committee members had voted in favour of the Bill. On that day the DA requested the Committee to record that it reserved its right to vote. However, the DA asserted that although amendments were adopted on that day, the ‘cleaned up’ version of the Bill, reflecting the final version with amendments, was not adopted. The Committee discussed this point further, reminded the Member that he had left the meeting early and was not privy to what had transpired later, and it was clarified that the information he had received was incorrect and that Members had reached a consensus that the final version, already agreed upon, would be circulated for final confirmation and that the DA member had also agreed to that version. The sequence of events was summarised and Members agreed that this was correct.
The DA Member indicated that the report should include a complaint made about the tagging of the report, but was reminded that although the issue was raised earlier, it was not repeated at the meeting that this report related to. He also asked – which was confirmed – that the A-list would be submitted with this report. The DA was prepared to accept this report as a true reflection of the DA objections, and all Members agreed that the report of 27 February would be withdrawn and substituted with this new one, dated 11 March.
Property Valuation Bill: Drafting of revised Committee Report
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson stated that the meeting had a single agenda item and had been convened as a result of the decision taken by the National Assembly (NA) that an earlier report of the Committee, on the Property Valuation Bill, was inadequate. The Property Valuation Bill (the Bill) had been tabled and debated upon at the Assembly, but it could not be adopted because the previous report of the Committee did not include those objections which had been raised during the process of deliberations on the Bill. The National Assembly had therefore given a directive that the Committee should incorporate those objections, and the considerations of the Committee in respect of them, in another report.
The Chairperson stated that the urgency of this meeting under-scored the importance of the Bill and the need to bring the matter to a final conclusion. He hoped that the Bill would subsequently be tabled before the National Assembly as soon as possible for finalisation.
Ms Pumla Nyamza, Committee Secretary noted apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister.
Consideration of revised report dated 11 March
Having confirmed that all Members had copies of the fresh draft Committee Report (the report) dated 11 March 2014 before them, the Chairperson drew the attention of members to the list of six objections raised by Mr K Mileham (DA) in respect of the Bill. He asked members to examine the objections to ascertain if these had been reflected in the report, and suggested that Members should go through these in sequence.
The first paragraph of the report was an explanation of the discussions by the Committee in respect of the Bill, which had been tagged as a section 75 Bill.
It was stated in the report that the Committee had published a notice in the press inviting the public to make submissions on the Bill, on 31 January 2014. The Committee had received seven submissions from the civil society organisations and three individuals. It had held public hearings on 19 February 2014.
The Chairperson asked members if the statement was a matter that had been raised in the meeting.
Mr K Mileham (DA) responded that he did not dispute the fact that a notice had been published in the press on 31 of January 2014. However, the draft of the Bill that had been discussed in the Committee was only available on the website on 4 February 2014. This meant that people could not actually comment until after 4 February 2014. As a result, only eight working days were available for the public to comment. He wanted it recorded that the Bill had been published on the website of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) only on 4 February.
Ms Nyamza responded to the Mr Mileham’s statement. She stated that as soon as the Bill was referred to Parliament, there would no longer be a reference to any information from the DRDLR website, but rather a reference to the Parliamentary website. The advertisement on the Bill had expressly stated that anyone seeking a copy of the Bill was to contact her or visit to the Parliamentary website, not to the DRDLR website.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Bill became the responsibility of Parliament once the Bill had been referred to it. Consequently, any contact or enquiries in respect of the Bill were to be directed to Parliament. He stated that the Committee believed that the process of publicising the Bill had been in order. In view of that, he stated that the Committee should record, in the report, that the objection had been dealt with.
Members agreed on that point.
The Chairperson asked for, and received confirmation from Members, that the Committee had received responses to the submissions from the DRDLR on 25 February 2014, and deliberated upon them on 26 February 2014.
The Chairperson proceeded to the objections raised by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in respect of the process adopted in the deliberations on the Bill and a number of provisions in the Bill.
The DA’s first objection was that on the first day of the clause by clause reading of the Bill, the DA had objected to the process, because it wanted a list of amendments proposed by the DRDLR in response to the public submissions received. However, the view of the majority of members was that the proposed amendments had been documented in the report circulated and presented by the DRDLR. They were then integrated into an A-list after the Committee had deliberated and agreed on them.
The Chairperson explained further that the process was that the Committee had deliberated upon the Bill. Thereafter, the Committee had considered the Bill, on a clause-by-clause basis. It was at this stage that the A list was drawn up. He believed that due process had been followed by the Committee in respect of the PVB.
Other Members voiced their agreement on this point.
The Chairperson proceeded to the second objection expressed by the DA. Clause 1 of the Bill had defined land reform to mean ‘land redistribution, and restitution, land development, and tenure reform’. The DA had proposed that the Bill should also define ‘land development’ separately, in order to provide clarity.
However, the majority of members had accepted that land development, in terms of the International Association of Surveyors meaning, was defined as the building of new infrastructure, the implementation of construction planning and the change of land use through the planning permission and granting of permits. In addition, inclusion of the land development in the definition of ‘land reform’ fitted perfectly with the programmes like the Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) and the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management, which were fundamental to post-settlement support, to ensure productive use of farms transferred to claimants and beneficiaries.
Members agreed that this was a true reflection of what transpired at the meeting.
The Chairperson proceeded to the third objection expressed by the DA, which related to clause 8. Clause 8 (i) provided that the Minister (responsible for Rural Development and Land Reform) must, subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act, appoint a Valuer-General. The DA had objected to this proposal. It had proposed that the Valuer-General should be appointed through a parliamentary process and should report to the Minister of Public Works in order to ensure his/her independence. The view expressed by the DA was that if the Valuer-General was appointed by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, there could be conflict of interest when he/she would be reporting to the same Minister.
The majority of the Committee members had not supported the DA’s proposal. The primary role of the Valuer-General would be to value land reform-related transactions and possibilities of voluntary valuations to other government departments. The majority had argued that the Bill was aimed at assisting the acceleration of the pace of land reform, and should avoid adding more tedious processes that would delay redistribution.
Members agreed that this was a true reflection of what transpired at the meeting.
The Chairperson outlined the fourth objection expressed by the DA. The DA had further wanted guarantees to financial institutions, because a’ just and equitable compensation’ might lie below market value. They argued that the failure of the Bill to cater for the cost on credit would have negative implications for food security and agricultural development. Therefore the DA had proposed that government should guarantee the difference to credit providers where property was used as security, and where purchase price was below the market value.
This view had been rejected by the majority because the proposal seemed to seek to bring back the pure market-based price concept for land reform, without consideration of section 25(3) of the Constitution.
Members believed that this adequately set out what had transpired at the meeting.
The Chairman proceeded to the fifth objection expressed by the DA, which was linked to the finalisation of the Bill. On 27 February 2014, the Committee concluded its process by considering the amendments as now reflected in the B-version of the Bill, verifying them against the A-list. Having completed the clause-by-clause considerations, the majority of the Committee members had voted in favour of the Bill. On that day the DA requested the Committee to record that it reserved its right to vote.
Mr Mileham stated that the report on what happened on 27 February 2014 had not accurately captured what had transpired on that date. He asserted that whilst further amendments to the Bill were adopted on that day, and a cleaned up version was sent to members five days after the amendments had been concluded, the Committee had not in fact adopted the cleaned up version of the Bill.
The Chairperson had reminded Mr Mileham that he had left the meeting very early on 27 February 2014 in order to see the Minister. In view of that, he stated that Mr Mileham was not in a position to speak with authority and certainty on events that took place after he had left the meeting. There was no way in which he could be aware of the conclusions reached in his absence.
Mr Mileham had replied that he did not dispute the fact that he had left the meeting quite early. However, he had consulted with other members afterwards, in order to be kept abreast of what had transpired, and he had been informed that a cleaned up version of the Bill had not been presented for adoption.
Ms Nyamza reminded the Committee that members had reached an agreement in respect of the amendments on the Bill. A consensus had been reached that the amended version of the Bill would be circulated to members, so that everyone could express their agreement in respect of those amendments. She reminded Mr Mileham that he had expressed his agreement to the amendments.
The Chairperson asked Members for their comments upon these points.
Mr Z Mandela (ANC) corroborated the statement made by Ms Nyamza. He stated that his recollection of the meeting was that the amendments had been adopted by all the Members.
The Chairperson stated that it was important to note that the agreement reached at the meeting was that the Bill would be circulated to all the Members, before it was finalised, so that Members could come to a conclusion. He also noted that the DA had participated in this process of the amendments and no objections had been raised at that stage.
Mr K Mileham (DA) stated that he had actually sent an objection to Ms Nyamza, through a number of e-mails. He had asked her repeatedly when the members would get a cleaned up version of the Bill.
The Chairperson reminded Mr Mileham that he had not raised any objections at the time when Members had been asked to make comments in respect of the amendments made to the PVB.
Mr Mileham confirmed that he had not objected to the amendments made to the Bill. He stated that his objection was that a cleaned up version of the Bill, containing all the amendments, had not been circulated to Members and then adopted by the Committee.
Ms Nyamza stated that she would not have circulated the final version of the Bill to Members if they had not agreed to it.
The Chairperson sought to clarify the situation by refreshing the memory of Members. He believed that the sequence of events was as follows:
- the Committee had held a meeting on 27 February 2014 to consider the amendments to the Bill
- the Committee had been satisfied with the amendments and had ‘cleaned up’ the Bill.
- Members agreed that a copy of the Bill, in its final form, would be circulated to everyone before it was finalised, in order to ensure that all amendments had been captured in the report
- All members had participated in the process
- This meant that due process had been complied with by the Committee.
Members concurred with this sequence of events.
The Chairperson announced that the revised Report as he had read it out would be sent to the National Assembly.
Mr Mileham interjected. He said that the report did not include a complaint that had been made in respect of the tagging of the Bill. He reminded everyone that the DA had questioned the tagging of the Bill as a section 75 Bill.
Ms N November (ANC) expressed her annoyance at Mr Mileham’s interjection. She stated that it appeared that he was against the Committee reaching a final conclusion in respect of the Bill. The Committee had already deliberated on the new issue that was now raised by Mr Mileham. She wondered why the DA always appeared suspicious of everything done in the Committee.
The Chairperson asked Members if the concerns about the tagging of the Bill had been discussed.
Ms Nyamza stated that she only recorded what had been discussed in the meeting in which the Bill was adopted, and that no tagging issues had been discussed at that meeting.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had complied with what the directive given by Parliament, and that the concluded report would be submitted to it.
Ms Nyamza stated that she would now send through this report for publication, while the previous report, dated 27 February 2014, would be withdrawn.
The Chairperson asked the State Law Advisers if they had any comments, and they confirmed that they did not.
Mr Mileham drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that one of the reasons which had caused the National Assembly to declare that the report of the Committee was inadequate was that it had not contained the amendments to the Bills which had been accepted by the Committee. He stated that it was his belief that the report had to be more detailed.
Ms Nyamza stated that the Committee could include the amendments. This could be done by copying the A-list and including it in the report.
The Chairperson was grateful to Mr Mileham for this reminder. He confirmed that the Committee would include the A list in the report.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mileham if he would support the revised Committee Report at the National Assembly as a true reflection of the proceedings.
Mr Mileham responded that he would give his support.
The meeting was adjourned.
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