PC Agriculture: Committee Reports on KZN and Western Cape Oversight Reports

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

17 February 2015
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries adopted three sets of minutes and two oversight reports. The briefing by the Department on its second and third term expenditure and performance for the 2014/15 financial year could not take place because it had indicated to the Committee it was not ready to engage with it, and no presentation documents had been sent to the Committee.

Members asked the Chairperson to write a strongly worded letter to the Department to establish why it had failed to send its representatives, and exactly when it would appear before the Committee. Members also agreed not to deal with the research report analysis which was supposed to be presented by the Committee Researcher, because no documents had been made available to them beforehand.

Meeting report

Postponement of the presentation
The Chairperson informed the Members that the Department was not going to make a presentation on its expenditure and performance for the 2014/15 period. The Department had told the Office of the Chairperson it was not ready for the engagement. The Office of the Auditor-General had also sent an apology.

Ms A Steyn (DA) suggested that the Chairperson write a letter to the Department to find out why it was always avoiding appearing before the Committee, and that it must let Parliament know exactly when it would make an appearance before it.

Mr Z Mandela (ANC) said the Department was not an individual, but a collective. It was not acceptable for the Committee to sit alone without representatives from the Department, so the Chairperson should call upon it to account before the Committee.

Adoption of Minutes
Minutes of 28 October 2014

The Chairperson tabled the minutes and took the Members through the document, page by page.
Mr Mandela moved the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Steyn seconded Mr Mandela
The minutes were adopted without any changes.

Minutes of 4 November 2014
The Chairperson tabled the minutes for consideration. She took the Members through the document, page by page.

Ms T Tongwane (ANC) moved the adoption of the minutes.

Mr S Mncwabe (NFP) seconded the motion.

The minutes were adopted without any changes.

Minutes of 18 November 2014
The Chairperson tabled the minutes for consideration by Members.

Mr Mandela moved the adoption of minutes as a true reflection of the meeting.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) seconded Mr Mandela.

The minutes were adopted without any changes.

Ms Steyn suggested a closer look at the recommendations contained in the minutes. She indicated the recommendations should carry timeframes and that the Department should furnish the Committee with documents. The Chairperson supported Ms Steyn, saying the letter to be sent to the Department would also request the Department to forward the Committee documents.

KwaZulu-Natal Oversight Report
Ms Steyn suggested an amendment to the last bullet on page 13 because there were unresolved issues for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in the area the Committee had visited, as some projects it had started were agricultural in nature.

Mr Mandela suggested a joint portfolio committee meeting between the Committee and the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform so as to thrash out outstanding issues.

The Chairperson took the Members through the report, page by page.

Ms Steyn moved the adoption of the report.

Mr S Mncwabe (NFP) seconded Ms Steyn.

The report was adopted without any changes.

Western Cape Report on the Fisheries Section of DAFF
With regard to the recommendations in the report, Ms Steyn suggested that a few points be added. The recommendations should indicate a programme of action by the Department and should also spell out the research capacity of the Department, because it appeared to her as if the marine life in the areas visited was not protected.

The Chairperson indicated that during the visit, the Department was reported as not having the capacity to monitor the movement of vessels after hours. The Committee had then suggested the Department should collaborate with law enforcement agencies and come up with plans. The Committee still had to hear a presentation from the Fisheries Section of the Department regarding this issue.

Ms Steyn insisted that the Committee recommend that the Department should report to the Committee on its research capacity.

The Chairperson tabled the report and took Members through it page by page.

Ms Steyn proposed acceptance of the report.

Ms Jongbloed seconded the adoption of the report.

The report was adopted without any changes.

Ms Steyn informed the Committee there was a massive drought in South Africa and this factor should be included in the annual programme of the Committee because there was a possibility that the country might be importing grain, whose price had already gone up by 35%.

Mr B Joseph (EFF) suggested an oversight visit to the Witzenberg area regarding the shoddy BEE deals between workers and farmers, because it had come to his attention that farmers were running the farms as if there was no deal between them and workers.

The last issue the Chairperson touched on was that of the Marine entity which had received its own funding, because it looked like it was another department, although it was actually part of the Department. She indicated the Committee needed clarity on this matter, and also on how the Fisheries section was run.

Ms Steyn told the Committee that the entity was a legislative arm and that it should be looked at thoroughly, because it was doing work on behalf of the Department. The Committee should look at its budget so that it could carry out its oversight visits well. It was pointless to diarise all these visits, only to discover there was no budget for them. It appeared to the outside world that money was being spent on catering, and if it was really spent on catering, she suggested the Committee should serve only tea, coffee and water.

Mr Mandela proposed that the Committee should focus on the budget and be informed by it on what needed to be done. It should be remembered the Committee covered two visits per term, and this meant there were areas that would never see the Committee.

Mr M Filtane (UDM) suggested the Committee be split into two teams in order to cover the visits, so that every corner could feel the presence of the Committee.

The Chairperson noted that if the Committee became split into two, other parties -- especially minority ones -- might not be represented on the visits, because some Members alternate between committees. That could be done only when there was a need, but it should not be a policy.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) said the Committee should focus its energies on the budget and look at how it could perform its duties with less budget. The Office of the Chairperson should prioritise what needed to be done.

The meeting was adjourned.

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