Deeds Registries Amendment Bill :adoption;Onderstepoort Biological Products, Agricultural Research Council.

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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS

12 NOVEMBER 2002
DEEDS REGISTRIES AMENDMENT BILL ADOPTION BY NATIONAL PUBLIC ENTITIES ANNUAL REPORTS 2001-02: ONDERSTEPOORT BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS LIMITED, AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH COUNCIL.

CHAIR:
Mr N.H. Masithela

SUMMARY:

The Committee looked at the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill, which they could not pass because some sections still require clarification. The chairperson ruled that the State Law Advisors must to reexamine the Bill and report back their opinion to the Committee. The Committee was satisfied with the Onderstepoort report, which they regarded as a true reflection of the hard work and commitment by the leadership of OBP. The Committee identified the area of research and development as the one that needed improvement. In the ARC report, the issue of great concern to the Committee was the exodus of senior board members; the Committee wanted to know the causes of these resignations and the response was that research on the resignations was underway. The CEO and President of ARC, Dr Tau-Mzamane, noted that much could be achieved if ARC could interact more with other countries on the continent and beyond though structures like Nepad

Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [B65-2002]

The following amendments to the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill were proposed:

Title

Changes were made in the long title "and to provide for the registration of immovable property in the name of a trust."

Clause 1

"Forms an asset in a joint estate and was registered prior to 1 November 1984 in the name of the husband only". To be changed to: "Forms an asset in a joint estate and was registered in the name of one of the spouses only."

Clause 2

On page 3, in line 10, to omit the definition of "person" and to substitute: "'person', for the purpose of the registration of immovable trust property only, includes a trust,''

Questions and discussion


Mr R. Schoeman (ANC) asked why people who entered into customary marriage before 1998 have to go to court, why was it not taken as if they married in community of property.

The Department replied that they were not part of the formulation of the Act. It was the Department of Justce that dealt with the Bill; otherwise, they felt something needed to be done about the issue.

Mr P. Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) said that the Committee should not amend an Act for the sake of amending it or because of time constraints, whilst on the other hand they disadvantage the people whom the Act is intended to help.

Mr Schoeman said that if the Department was serious about ameliorating the position of women, something needed to be done about customary marriages.

The Chairperson proposed that the State Law Advisors should be given time to look at the Bill so that they could come back to the Committee and give their legal opinion.

Mr B. Radebe (ANC) asked whether there was any urgency in passing the Bill; if there was any, the Department should advise the Committee accordingly.

Mr L. Modisenyane (ANC) said that the Bill was not urgent.

Mr A. Van Niekerk (FA) asked which Act was to be changed, this one or the old one.

The Department said that the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act was a responsibility of the Department of Justice. The Deeds Registries Amendment Bill did deal with changes in community of property. The Deeds Registry would endorse any changes to customary marriages if there was a need to do so. This was to make sure that women's rights were recognized under customary marriages.

The Chairperson said the issue was about people applying to the Registrar of Deeds, and he asked why did they have to apply. The Chairperson said a motion of desirability could not be passed on the Bill because the Committee must wait for the State Law Advisors to reexamine the Bill

Presentation by Ondesterpoort Biological Products (OBP)

Dr Linda Makuleni, the Chief Executive
Officer of the OBP, said the company was a biotechnology firm that manufactures vaccines and related products for the animal healthcare industry, serving South Africa, Africa, and the international market. She reported that there was improvement in the financial results of the company, adding that the number of doses sold increased from 89 million last year to 96 million this year. This, together with the price increase, resulted in revenue increasing from R38 810 156 to R48 866 632. Profits before interest increased to R7 478 001 and profits after tax increased to R8 038 889, giving an after tax return on shareholders funds of 14%.

Net cash inflow from operating activities increased to R30 199 413, including the Government Grant of R9 851 000. The company was in a strong cash position and, as reflected in note 12.2 of the report, the company will be able to fund the upgrade of the facilities from existing resources

Questions and discussion

Mr B. Radebe (ANC) said the OBP was one of the institutions that the Committee should be proud of because of its performance, but commented that their research component was very conservative, and that their research budget was not enough.

Mr Makama from OBP said there were areas in research and development that needed to be improved. He agreed that more money needed to be invested into research.

Adv. P. Holomisa (ANC) asked when were new board members going to be appointed and who would be responsible for their appointment.

Mr Makama replied that board members would be appointed soon by the Minister.

Mr A. Botha (DP) asked how many researchers were on the payroll of OBP.

Mr Makama said they did not have a lot of researchers, they have less than five researchers. They relied on other institutions for basic research because they wanted to utilize all the resources of the country. He added that they also collaborated with the Agricultural Research Council for research and development.

Adv. Holomisa asked how was OBP going to acquire land.

OBP replied that the acquisition of land was also not part of their competency; that was the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.

Mr Schoeman asked how, during the year under review, did contamination affect OBP.

Mr Makama said they did not own land, that is why they experienced contamination. He added that contamination was an area that needed to be addressed. He said contamination did not only affect profit, but also product availability and time lost as well.

Adv. Holomisa asked what programmes did OBP have to attract local markets, because Dr Makuleni indicated that they attracted more business from the foreign market.

Mr Makama agreed that they missed the issue of focusing on local emerging farmers. They needed to come up with major plans on emerging markets

Presentation by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC)

Dr N. Tau-Mzamane, the President and Chief Executive Officer of ARC, told the Committee that the organization was formed in 1992 and until this day they were working on changing it from a government institution to a parastatal. Since 1992, the ARC has accumulated vast knowledge and a considerable number of biotechnologies that have provided key support to the production of food and other agricultural products for consumption at home and for export. Dr Mzamane said they were looking at efforts to improve heir way of looking at the public finance management and how they would handle state assets.

Mr Trevor Channing from the Human Resources Department of ARC reported that the Council has tried to distribute money that would work at addressing discriminatory practices in the company. For instance, the issue of benefits between white and black, between female and male employees. The issue that a female employee did not qualify to have medical benefits because she has registered on her husband's medical aid needed to be dealt with. He said they were losing so many scientists because they could not compete with other salary offers that these scientists receive from other institutions

Questions and discussion

Mr S. Farrow said it was indicated in the report that there was growth in ARC's annual income, with salary costs having gone up, and asked what were their projections for the future.

Dr Mzamane said that ARC was taking resources from external income and the situation of this challenge was not new. In the past few years, ARC could not afford salary increases and there was no mandate to issue salary increases because of the financial situation.

Mr Farrow asked how close ARC was with other academic research institutions and research stations.

Dr Mzamane replied that they were working closely with other academic and research institutions and were putting a lot of effort into improving research.

Mr A. Van Niekerk asked what position ARC has taken on salary increases to their employees. He wanted to know whether the resignation of Directors was not caused by salary increases.

Dr Mzamane said they did not have all the answers for the resignations and some social scientists have conducted research on the issue. She added that for each board member who resigned, they compiled exit questionnaires to assess what was the reason for resignation.

Mr Van Niekerk asked whether the ARC found any negative effects from the Genetically Modified products that have been produced in the country.

An ARC official replied that they have not concluded any research that suggested negative impacts of GMOs. The Land Bank has also assisted them in information sharing in this regard.

Mr Dlali asked whether there were targets set with regard to human resource issues, and if there were, what were those targets.

Dr Mzamane said in the ARC they were also not happy with progress on employment equity. Financial capabilities were a problem. For instance, in 2000/2001 they had 285 resignations and 58% of those were from administrative support. The staffing levels were going down. She emphasised that employment equity was a business imperative.

Another ANC member asked how could ARC participate in Nepad activities whilst they had problems here at home

Dr Mzamane replied that they saw Nepad as an opportunity to interact and share experiences with other people in Africa. A lot could be achieved by interacting with other countries on the continent and beyond

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