The Committee continued to deliberate on the draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform Budget Vote 33: Rural Development and Land Reform, dated 10 July 2014, which had been debated in part on the previous day. Particular focus was placed on the recommendations section of the Report. Some technical errors were highlighted and corrected. Members agreed that references to “policy” and “measurable objectives” be separated out. On several items, Members stressed that timelines were required, both for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), so timelines were inserted in relation to filling of the vacancy rate, thereby also hopefully reducing the need for consultancies, an update on the forensic investigation, the land claims process, and the activities of the ITB. Members stressed that there must be sufficient funding for restitution. Members debated whether the Department should be asked, by way of this Report, to provide updates on the quality of the qualifications being offered under youth training programmes, but decided that more information was needed on the whole programme and other options for training. References were inserted on alignment of Departmental plans with the National Development Plan.
The majority of Members were happy to adopt the draft Report, as amended, but the EFF Member wanted to record his objection, saying that this budget vote and report did not reflect the objectives of the Department, and the Committee was not even near to dealing with the land question. Although the Chairperson and Members explained that the current Report was intended to confirm the content of presentations and deliberations on the budget, and that a separate chance would be given to all parties in the House to approve or reject the budget itself, the Member insisted that his objections to the adoption of the Report still be noted.
Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform on Budget Vote 33: Rural Development and Land Reform, dated 10 July 2014
The Chairperson said that the purpose of the meeting today was to finalise the draft Committee Report (the Report) which Members had partly considered on the previous day. This meeting would be focusing on the recommendations.
The Chairperson said that the spelling of word ‘annual’ had to be corrected on page 14 of the report.
She also noted that Section 3.3 referred to Royalties, but the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (the Department) had indicated on the previous day that Royalties were paid to the National Treasury, so the current references to amounts generate from leases and investments had to be deleted.
She asked that the Committee go through the recommendations carefully to check for errors or inconsistencies, and make amendments if necessary.
The Chairperson said that “policy” and “measurable objectives” should be separated, so that they did not appear in a single paragraph.
Mr T Walters (DA) agreed.
Mr Walters said that the vacancy rate should be reduced, and the Department also needed to ensure that the filling of vacancies would in turn lead to a reduction of consultancy costs.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked if the following qualifying words could be inserted: ‘ …reduction of 922 vacancies prioritising strategic posts’. He asked further if the sentence could include an indication of some preferred timelines.
The Chairperson said that it was wise to include timelines with all the recommendations, and Members agreed with this point.
National Geospatial Management Services Programme:
Mr Walters said that, given that reference was made to an outstanding forensic investigation, the Committee should be given an update on that investigation.
The Chairperson asked for an insertion in the second paragraph, under the heading ‘National Geospatial Services’.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) said that there should be a timeline attached to that task.
The Chairperson said that it would be six months.
Restitution Programme (the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights):
Ms N Magadla (ANC) raised the importance of Memorandums of Understanding and asked if there could be a recommendation on this issue.
The Chairperson said that there should also be a recommendation on compliance, to indicate the necessity of compliance with the PFMA and the National Treasury regulations.
Mr Walters said that there were two issues at play here, the lack of funding for restitution, and lack of compliance. The Committee could insert a short recommendation in that regard.
Mr Nchabeleng said that there should always be funds for restitution.
The Chairperson said that two issues were being dealt with, the reopening of the outstanding claims lodged before 31 December, and the new claims.
Mr Filtane asked what sort of timelines the Minister should be asked to observe.
Mr Nchabeleng said that the Department now had an electronic system, so it should be given three months.
Mr Tshililo Manenzhe, Committee Content Advisor, confirmed that the new claims process would be easier because the Commission for Restitution of Land Rights was now using an electronic system.
The Chairperson said that the Department would be given a timeframe of three months after the adoption of the Report.
Land Reform and Development Support programme:
The Committee agreed with this proposal
The Chairperson said that the Department would have to submit details about its plans.
Mr Manenzhe agreed and added that there was no other way the Committee could track the progress in the plan except by asking the Department for details about their plans.
Rural Development Programme:
Mr Walters said the quality of the training provided by the youth training (NARYSEC) programme was not captured in the recommendation.
The Chairperson agreed and said that the Committee should find ways to ascertain quality.
Mr Walters said he was making a different point and was asking for a separate recommendation that called for a report from the Department, within six months, which outlined the quality of the qualifications.
Mr Madella asked why this request needed to be included in this Report, and wondered if it could not rather be managed separately.
The Chairperson said that the Committee already received quarterly reports. This would be a request for additional information.
Mr Nchabeleng said that more information was needed, to find out more about NARYSEC. He did not know what it was.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should investigate what courses were available on Land Development, so that Members were aware of the areas where training or courses were provided.
Mr Walters said that something missing from this was any reference to alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP).
Mr Madella said that concrete MOUs with other departments should be developed.
Mr Filtane said that his experiences with MOUs were that they were too loose. He asked if the Committee could rather use Memorandums of Agreement.
The Committee supported this.
The Ingonyama Trust Board:
The Chairperson said that there should be two sentences, with the second sentence talking about continuous monitoring of the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) as to the economic use of resources. She also felt that there should be a review and amendment of the ITB Act.
Mr Walters said that again he was concerned about timelines. He suggested that measurements must be developed also for the plans of the ITB. He suggested that the ITB should be given six months to submit realistic plans to assist the Committee with a breakdown of the figures.
Mr Filtane agreed, as he had been concerned about the “liberal” time given, and suggested that timeframes also be attached to the submission of the socio-economic report.
The Chairperson suggested that three months would be appropriate; by the end of the September there should be a report on what the ITB was doing in the financial year.
Mr Nchabeleng felt that further engagements with ITB should be held.
The Chairperson agreed and said that this would be arranged after the budget votes.
Adoption of the Report
Mr Mhlongo moved for adoption of the Report, and Mr Nchabeleng seconded
Mr A Mngxitama (EFF) said that the Chairperson should ask for objections before adopting the Report. He would like it placed on record that the EFF objected to the adoption of this Report. There was no way that this Budget Vote and Report reflected the main objective of this Committee and the Department. This Committee was not even near to dealing with the land question. For these reasons, the EFF could not support the acceptance of the Report.
Mr Walters said that in his understanding it was only the Committee’s Report on the Budget Vote discussions in the Committee that was being adopted here, and that had nothing to do with whether the Committee supported the Budget or not.
The Chairperson agreed, saying that any objections to the Budget itself should be raised in the House. She asked if Mr Mngxitama then wanted to withdraw his objection to the adoption of this Report.
Mr Mngxitama said that he still wanted his objection to the Report to be recorded.
The Chairperson said that it would be recorded in the Committee Minutes, but not in the Report itself.
The meeting was adjourned.
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