Department of Land Affairs Annual Report

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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 October 2002
ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Mr Masithela

Relevant Documents
Department of Land Affairs Annual Report (2001/2002)

SUMMARY
The Department of Land Affairs presented its annual report to the Committee. The Department noted their objectives with respect to land distribution and their progress in this respect was outlined. Members were concerned with the actual progress in terms of numbers or statistics. The Department was convinced that they had done well so far in trying to provide equitable access to land.

MINUTES
Ms Choane: Chief Financial Officer, Department of Land Affairs, conducted the presentation. She listed the six strategic objectives of the Department. The objectives broadly aimed at enhancing an equitable and well administered and coordinated access to land. These objectives coincided with the Department's six programmes, namely: Administration; Survey and Mapping; Cadastral Surveys; Restitution; Land Reform and Special Planning and Information. She then described progress that the Department had made on these programmes.

Discussion
A Member asked about the progress of the LRAD programme, the land redistribution programme.

Mr Thomas: Deputy Director General, said that there were no statistics yet on its progress but that they could be made available on request. He also explained that the programme was fairly new as it was only implemented last August. Since the programme was implemented until June 2002, there were 175000 hectors of land distributed. He considered it good progress.

Another Member asked if the statistics on land claims were categorized into rural and urban areas. Why was the processing of claims so slow?

Ms Choane referred the Member to the progress report to see the rural and urban categories. Mr Thomas said that he had no idea of slow processing of claims applications because it was only now that the programme was unfolding. He acknowledged that there was a problem with the shortage of human resource capacity and that the Department had asked Treasury for more funds to employ more staff. However, he asked the Member to give him details on the geographical area of the problem.

One Member wanted to know the outcome of the land use audit.

Mr Thomas said that the statistics could be availed upon request.

The same Member asked for the website on land registration and wanted to know if the draft policy on land was available.

Ms Choane said that the registration details were on the Department's website and that the policy was available on request.

Mr McIntosh (DP) wanted to know if the Certificates for State Title issued and the land survey for the 263 972 hectors of state land included the Qwaqwa and Qashasnek farms.

Mr Thomas said that these were included.

A Member asked whether the Department had made any significant progress in land distribution for settlement and commercial use.

In reply, Mr Thomas explained that they have achieved a 365 000 hectares against a 518 000 target but that they have not yet categorized the distribution between settlement uses and commercial ones.

The same Member observed that there was no mention of the gender equity programme in the presentation and yet it was reflected in the Annual Report.

Ms Choane explained that the programme was in existence and in progress. Mr Thomas added that, in the issuing of land title certificates, gender balance was considered. He also added whilst the gender programme was in place the challenge was to encapsulate it in the implementation of equitable land distribution.

Another Member asked if the LRAD programme would be reviewed. He also asked whether there was a report on the Land Tenure Conference.

Mr Thomas explained that the LRAD review had already started in September 2002 and the Minister will receive the report in November 2002. On the conference question, he said that the report was available and that some of the resolutions had been already implemented.

Chief Holomisa (ANC) asked if there was inter-departmental cooperation on equity in access to land.

Mr Thomas explained that inter-departmental cooperation was a challenge for every government Department. However, he mentioned that they cooperated with the Department of Housing on settlement land issues. He noted that there were communication problems between the National Department of Land Affairs and the provincial Departments.

Dr Schoeman (ANC) wanted to know what caused slow progress in the land restitution programme.

Mr Thomas attributed the problem to the exodus of staff in 2000 and the lack of human resources. He also added that during 1998-2000 the Department was reviewing the programme and hence halted some progress.

Mr Radebe (ANC) asked for a breakdown of the ratio of projects to staff.

Mr Thomas said it was about an average of ten to one. He added that it was too much work for the staff and caused staff to hop from one project to the other thereby stretching themselves too thin to substantially dwell on one project.

One Member wanted to know if there were any statistics on land expropriation. Mr Thomas explained that such land was expropriated by the apartheid government but never registered. He added that the statistics could be available on request.

The same Member asked if the Land Bank involvement was a financial transfer to the Department.

Ms Choane explained that the Bank gave advances not transfers. It was helping to disperse funds and the Department played an oversight role.

Another Member wanted to know the criteria for LRAD grants. Mr Thomas emphasized that LRAD was fairly new and that the process was not easy to explain because they are trying to move away from just increasing numbers of beneficiaries to questions of viability, sustainability and economic rationality.

The Chairperson wanted to know if the Department could not use its investments to fund its projects.

Ms Choane explained that the Department's investment were not similar to the stock exchange one but for land reform programmes.

The Chairperson asked if there was anyway in which the Department could fund its project. Mr Thomas said that the question was as old as the Land Restitution Commission and that the answer was elusive.

The Chairperson asked why it was difficult for the Department to follow up its debtors. He was concerned about the R1.2 m outstanding by debtors.

Ms Choane said that the problem was in the lack of monitoring debtors but that the issue was in progress now.

The Chairperson asked what the housing loans guarantees were for. The reply was that it was for the Department's employees who bought housing property.

The Chairperson wanted to know who provided the professional and special services as reflected in the financial statement. The Department representatives said that they did not know.

The meeting was adjourned.

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