The Committee was briefed by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) on its Annual Performance Plan for 2015/16, with the Minister and Deputy Minister in attendance. Due to the complexity of the agrarian transformation space, the DRDLR had developed a rural economy transformation model which would be implemented through the Agrarian Transformation System. The target for the jobs created in land reform projects, the number of farmers trained through the recapitalisation and development programme, and the number of land claims settled and finalized, were some of the key targets presented. The collaborative efforts between the DRDLR and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries were welcomed by the Committee.
The Democratic Alliance specifically expressed concern about discussing the 50/50 proposal and the land cap issue in a forum such as the Committee meeting, as there were a number of legal inconsistencies in the document related to legal and economic concerns, and the proposed business model. The same held true for the proposed land cap of 12 000 hectares, given the differences of climates, soil content and agricultural diversity. The Minister allayed fears about this, saying farmers had been given the option of coming up with a solution and had opted for a district by district division of the land, with a 12 000 hectare ceiling.
The purchase of land and the Department’s effectiveness in this area was called into question. When the Department was asked about the support for small farmers and small holders, the Committee heard that all the research had been done in terms of the areas required for different types of farming. The Department’s method of using a systems approach and the breaking down of silos was praised. The Committee asked how the Department was going to monitor its programmes and if there was any system that linked departments, provinces and municipalities to avoid duplication.
The Committee asked for clarity about the lodgment of deeds, whether the establishment of land committees would reach the estimated target, if 30 June was a realistic target date for the allocation of food parcels, what criteria were going to be used to make the selection of smallholder farmers for training and capacity building, how foreigners’ access to land was going to be handled, and if the Department had the budget for the 463 claims.
The Committee asked if as a gesture of goodwill, payment could be made to the farm workers responsible for the success of farms. The Committee heard that there was no goodwill for farm workers. With the 50/50 policy, recognition would become more tangible.
The Committee was briefed by the Ingonyama Trust Board on its Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and its Annual Performance Plan for 2015/16.The Board was praised for its presentation, as there had been a marked improvement since its previous interaction with the Committee. Members asked for an explanation as to how the ITB negotiated its way between indigenous law and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), as the two were not always compatible. Here, the difference between substantive law, which was relevant for land applications, and the link of the PFMA to the administration of the ITB, was explained.
Members asked what happened to people after they had been trained by the ITB and what happened after the training of traditional councils. The ITB was asked to explain the strategic advice and oversight it provided for traditional councils. The Committee said that the ITB should be doing more than what was being reported. How did the ITB ensure that land was used productively to advance the economic cause of the people?
Some Committee Members felt that the ITB should be reviewed on its own. They asked when the asset register would be completed, for clarity about the lack of a bursary policy, when a CEO was going to be appointed, if a list could be provided of the projects on which R3 million had been spent, and what instruments were used previously to regulate the relationship with traditional councils. When asked about the projects that duplicated those of the Department, the Committee heard that the projects differed from those of the government. It was explained what self-generated funds were, and how far the ITB had gone in dealing with the issues raised by the Auditor-General.
The DA questioned the term of office of the ITB and its expenditure on flights for members, especially those who came to meetings and were silent. The oversight work of the ITB was also questioned, as there was no evidence in the financial statements. The Minister provided an assurance that the term of the ITB had been extended. Appreciation was expressed for the improvement the ITB had made, but it was encouraged to complete its policies and ensure that the organogram was renewed.
Minister’s opening remarks
Mr Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) referred the Committee to page 10 of the presentation for an illustration of the mandate of the Department. The DRDLR was actually dealing with the same subject as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and had now articulated its relationship with DAFF. He appealed to the Committee to assist in deepening the relationship on the ground, and to help with oversight in implementing the Agri Park Master Plan, for which R2 billion had been set aside. There would be a focus on 27 districts to create markets in those areas. Local municipalities would also be key to the success of the Agri Park Master Plan. Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) would play a major role and all three spheres of government would be supposed to work together to strengthen implementation and monitoring. This was going to be an important programme for all, as it would create links between the urban and rural sectors.
DRDLR on its Annual Performance Plan 2015/16
Mr Eugene Southgate, Deputy Director-General, Corporate Support Services: DRDLR said that the rural development and agrarian transformation space was complex and characterised multiple causation and feedback loops. Therefore, the DRDLR had developed a rural economy Transformation model which would be implemented through the Agrarian Transformation System. The Department had five programmes: Administration, Geospatial and Cadastral Services, Rural Development, Restitution and Land Reform.
The strategic objectives, performance indicators and targets for each programme were presented. The number of farmers trained through the recapitalisation and development programme had an annual target of 994, and the number of jobs created in land reform projects through this programme also had an annual target of 994 for 2015/16. The number of land claims settled had an annual target of 463 for 2015/16. The number of land claims finalised had an annual target of 373. The Department had an annual target of 30 for the number of projects implemented in rural communities to improve production, in support of improved food security.
Mr Southgate said that the DRDLR, together with the DAFF, had identified several areas of collaboration to successfully implement the Agrarian Transformation System and the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP). They had finalised the commodity value-chain mapping exercise, which would enable the rural sector to specify where and how each commodity value-chain would manifest. Maps were provided that illustrated the 27 priority dstricts, the projects of the DRDLR and specific DRDLR projects in North West Province.
Mr T Walters (DA) expressed concern about discussing the land cap and the 50/50 proposal in a discussion such as this. He felt that a separate debate was required in this Committee for those two issues. The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) position on it was that there were a number of inconsistencies in the document about legal concerns, economic concerns and the business model that was proposed. Debate was required on what the research on land caps was based on, what specific problems were addressed by the land cap issue, and what the particular intent of it was. Also one had to look at what sense it made to use a land cap of specifically 12 000 hectares, given the diversity of climates, soil content and agricultural diversity in South Africa. He proposed that the Committee have a specific discussion on the land cap issue and the 50/50 proposal.
The Minister replied that there was not much of a problem out there, because farmers were optimistic. They had been given the option to come up with a solution, so they could provide the economic variables. This was a moral issue that the country had to address with the people who produced wealth. R1 billion had been allocated every year, so the farmers had to provide the economic variables as to how to share the land. The farmers were saying that it had to be dealt with district by district, with a ceiling of 12 000 hectares.
Mr Walters said that there should be a specific conversation on the Agri-parks system. He had heard two versions, one of which was that there was a strange collectivisation of labour and resources taking place. The other was that it was linked to district land committees as part of a co-operative or integrated approach that helped people to get into the value chain. He supported one version, but had a problem with the other. This was what he wanted the Committee to go into in more depth.
With regard to the purchase of land, Mr Walters expressed concern about whether the Department was dealing effectively with the purchasing of land. He felt that the problem was that the Department was unable to administer basic transactions.
Mr Southgate replied that the Department had realised that there was a gap in the processes with regard to the purchase of land, but it had put the necessary interventions in place to make sure that there was an improvement in how the purchase of land was dealt with.
Mr Walters referred to the approach around the Property Associations Amendment Bill. He asked why the land in communal areas was not treated in the same manner as land claims. Layers of infrastructure, bureaucracy and decision-making, which were actually fairly simple issues, were being inserted. It should be approached from the rights of the individual concerned, and their right to pursue an economic livelihood. There was a constitutional basis - Section 25(6) - which made the space for that type of thing. This needed to be explored further.
Mr Walters referred to the issue of support for small farmers and small holders, and said that this also sounded as if a blanket approach had been adopted. He asked how this had been determined.
Mr Southgate replied that all the research has been done in terms of the areas required for the different types of farming. The source document was the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) document. The APAP document and how it was used for planning would be circulated.
Mr Walters said that what was positive about the Department’s approach was its use of a systems approach, and the breaking down of silos.
Mr Walters expressed concern about linkages to land district committees. He asked if the land district committees were going to pull all the silos together. He suggested that the Committee should host a special session to discuss land district committees, how they should work and how they were working.
Mr Southgate said that the links with district committees were very important, so it was critical how this issue was unpacked.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) asked how the Department was going to monitor these programmes and if there was any system that linked departments, provinces and municipalities to avoid duplication.
Mr Southgate said that the DRDLR and the Department of Water & Agriculture in the provinces worked with district municipalities to make sure that work was not duplicated. The allocation of financial resources was therefore streamlined so that the departments could determine what was good for the province, and what was good for the district. With district municipalities, there was also an integrated operation plan linked to the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) and Strategic Plan.
Ms Magadla asked how the youth were enrolled, and if was done through the provinces.
Mr Southgate said the youth were enrolled through a selection process, with nominations and particular criteria.
Ms Magadla asked what the names were of the farms acquired to support Agri-parks.
Mr Southgate said that this information was available.
Mr A Madella (ANC) said that the legislative programme on slide 23 showed that the Bill would certainly provide statistics about “who was who in the zoo.” There would be statistics about who owned land, their gender and nationality. He asked if disability could somehow be included in the statistics.
Mr Southgate replied that this request was noted and would be referred to the committee which was working on this issue.
Mr Madella said that the target of one million jobs in the agricultural sector needed to be more realistic.
Mr Southgate replied that this was one aspect of job creation, and that there were other aspects in the DRDLR’s APP which did not include what the Department of Agriculture was working on.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked if the 30 June target date set for the allocation of farm land parcels was realistic.
Mr Southgate replied that all the data was available on the database, so the Department would be able to access the required information about land ownership easily.
Mr Filtane asked which foreign persons would have access to land. He was unsure what was meant by ‘access’. He asked if it meant lease agreements -- what was the purpose of this proposed clause in the Bill?
The Minister replied that South Africa had to take into account that it needed foreign investment and the country had to be secure in terms of the development of its resources. As government, the Department had taken a decision to control the ownership of land. Foreign nations should not own land, but would be eligible. Legislation that affected South Africans would also affect foreign nationals. They would be affected by the ceiling, and therefore also by the 50/50 policy. The only outstanding question was that of restrospectivity -- what would be done with those who already owned land when the law was passed. One had to work within the framework of the constitution.
Mr Filtane asked how Communal Land Administration Committees differed from Communal Property Associations (CPAs), and who the proposed members would be.
Mr Southgate replied that criteria were available for the selection of members.
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) asked how many district municipalities there were in South Africa.
Mr Southgate said that to his knowledge there were 53 district municipalities.
The Chairperson asked how many new people the Department planned to appoint in this financial year.
Mr Southgate replied that the Department planned to appoint 382 people.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister, DRDLR, said that it was not known how many people would be resigning in the period.
Mr Walters said that he was interested in the research that showed that there was a problem with foreign land ownership. He asked what determined the hectarage of 12 000 and on what research it had been based. He asked further what the extent of foreign land ownership in South Africa was, and if foreign land ownership impacted negatively on land reform. There was an argument that foreign land ownership could be good for land reform. This was not a political question. He said that the Department could forward their research on this matter to the Committee.
Mr Filtane said that his question on restitution would probably be addressed through the presentation on the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights.
The Minister said that two farms of 53 hectares had been acquired. Things were happening, but this was part of a formal land acquisition programme.
With regard to the payments made to farmers from whom the Department had bought land, Mr Filtane asked if the Department, as a gesture of goodwill, thought about paying those who had made the farm a successful venture. He felt they were entitled to that as a goodwill gesture.
The Minister replied that there was no goodwill for farm workers. The 50/50 policy would force farm workers to be recognised. There was no provision in the law to enforce a goodwill approach towards farm workers. The Department was hoping that with the 50/50 policy, recognition would become tangible in its form of expression.
The Chairperson asked for more information about disciplinary cases.
Mr Southgate replied that people were being held accountable and attempts were being made to resolve disputes within 90 days. There were a number of cases that had gone beyond that period. Officials were being challenged to ensure that they did not go beyond that period.
Ms Rendani Sadiki, Chief Financial Officer (CFO):Department of Rural Development and Land Reform said that the Budget for the next APP period had not been allocated as yet but the Department had allocations per programme for all five programmes. These allocations were as follows:
Programme 1: Administration, R1.2 billion.
Programme 2: Geospatial and Cadastral Service, R799 million.
Programme 3: Rural Development, R1.9 billion.
Programme 4: Restitution, R2.6 billion.
Programme 5: Land Reform, R2.7 billion.
Mr Madella asked for clarity about the lodgment of deeds, and whether the establishment of land committees would reach the targeted estimate of land committees everywhere.
Mr Filtane asked what criteria were going to be used to make the selection of smallhold farmers for training and capacity building. With the facilitation of infrastructure and targeted development to support rural economists, how would the sites be selected? He asked if the Department had the budget to settle the 463 claims. Which provinces were in mind with regard to the number of hectares allocated to farm dwellers and labour tenants?
Ms Magadla asked the Minister for clarity about what happened to those who had already reached the land ceiling.
These questions were not answered at the meeting.
Ingonyama Trust Board on its Strategic and Annual Performance Plans
Judge Jerome Ngwenya, Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), provided the background and constitutional mandate of the Board. He explained how the strategic planning process of the Board had evolved, with the final stage of the process being a two-day session between the Board and senior staff to finalise the strategic plan.
Mr Amin Mia, Acting Chief Executive Officer: ITB, outlined the strategic objectives and the quarterly targets for 2015/16 as per these objectives. The income statement was presented and the budget for 2015/16, amounting to R87.6 million. The Board obtained its funding from transfer payments received from the DRDLR, and the ITB’s self-generated funds. The ITB had implemented and updated its risk management strategy/profile. It had developed mechanisms to mitigate risks to operate in a safer and secure environment by introducing financial and non-financial policies and compliance procedures.
Mr Duncan Pakkies, Acting Real Estate Manager: ITB, explained the programmes of the Board and the strategic objectives for each programme. The quarterly targets for each strategic objective were also presented. (See document).
The Acting Chairperson, Mr P Mnguni (ANC), commented on the format of the presentation and said that it would be helpful if the ITB had a column showing the budget for the previous financial year.
Mr Filtane asked for clarity about the second bullet point on page five of the presentation, which stated: ‘It is the responsibility of Traditional Councils to administer land on a day to day basis for the benefit of its members’. He asked if it was for the benefit of the members of the Traditional Council, or communities.
Judge Ngwenya said that what was meant was for the ‘communities over which there were traditional councils’.
Mr Filtane said that the third bullet point on page seven spoke of ‘indigenous law’ and ‘any law’. He asked how the ITB negotiated its way through indigenous law and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), as the two may not be compatible in all instances.
Judge Ngwenya replied that it was found that the PFMA impacted on the administration of Board itself, as opposed to substantive law, which was relevant for applications of land to the people. Therefore there was no conflict. If conflicts arose, they would be tested according to constitutional values.
Mr Filtane asked if there was any hope that the target would be reached with regard to human resource policies being revised in this year.
Judge Ngwenya said that the process was already in place to design the specifications of what the Board wanted, in particular with regard to a service provider policy. The ITB had made a file available to the Committee, where copies of the ITB Act and regulations had been attached.
Mr Filtane asked what people were being trained to do, and what was done with them after training.
Mr Mia said that at the moment, one person had done the training programme. The ITB wanted to identify individuals in traditional councils to do more intense training programmes .
Ms Qikani asked what happened after the training of traditional councils.
Mr Mhlongo asked the ITB to unpack the strategic advice and oversight it provided to traditional councils.
Judge Ngwenya replied that to date, traditional councils had not been exposed to any changes in the law that helped them to govern or exposed them to deal with the law. They had not been told that there was a Municipal Property Rates Act board and constitution. They allocated land daily and had to process the applications. Training helped the traditional councils to manage land.
Mr Filtane asked what instrument the ITB had used previously to regulate their relationship with traditional councils. He said that the ITB should be doing more than what had been reported in the presentation. He asked how the ITB, where located land had to be identified and utilised for agricultural purposes, ensured that it was used productively to advance the economic cause of the people. The Committee had asked about this previously in terms of tangible production of land and had not received a response.
Judge Ngwenya replied that the Board had invited the Committee to come and see how it worked. Everything could not be reported on, as it was impossible in terms of the range of issues it had to report on.
Mr Mhlongo asked the ITB to explain what it meant by ‘support for traditional leaders’.
Judge Ngwenya replied that the ITB assisted in empowering traditional leaders to understand and exercise their rights. The ITB provided assistance in many respects. Assistance was more technical than about giving money, because their economic activity related to that money. The Board had to take 10%, and 90% was available for the community. This also answered the question from Ms Nchabeleng about where self- generated income came from.
Mr Mhlongo asked when the asset register would be completed.
Mr Mia said that as he had mentioned earlier, the Administration programme had not included various issues like information technology previously. The asset register was up to date. One could see, if one looked at the previous audit report, that there were no issues around the asset register. It it had been included in the programme this time to ensure that it was noted.
Mr Mhlongo felt the ITB should be reviewed on its own, and that the human resources programme had no time frames.
Judge Ngwenya replied that the ITB would ensure that there was a programme with time frames.
Mr Mhlongo asked when the ITB was going to appoint a CEO, and if the position had been advertised.
Judge Ngwenya said the preparations for the advertisement had been finalised, but the ITB needed to do it in consultation with the Director-General. The reason for the consultation was that the level at which the Board needed to place someone was lower than the level for the CEO required for the ITB. Hence assistance was needed, otherwise a person inappropriate for the position might be attracted.
Ms Qikani asked for a list indicating where the ITB had spent R3 million on community projects.
Judge Ngwenya said this would be provided in writing.
The Deputy Minister said that the ITB had new objectives now and was going to work together with 16 other departments. Meetings had been held with the other departments.
Judge Ngwenya said that the Ingonyama Trust was part of a land reform project of the Minister, and there was no way the DRDLR could not do something because the land was owned by the ITB. For example, the Minister had referred to a project that was on a piece of ITB land. The Minister and the Department had gone ahead. The ITB did not see an artificial distinction, but there were legal ramifications which had raised an issue for ITB. Some of its projects differed from those of the government. The budget that the ITB derived from the Department did not provide for projects -- it was for administration, for which payment had to be made. The ITB had to have projects that were sustainable. It believed that providing land and full security was enough for its mandate, but it was not spending money to do all the projects coming from government. The ITB was helping communities to be self-sustaining.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) asked where self-generated funds came from.
Judge Ngwenya said they came from the resources exploited on Ingonyama land. In the past there had been royalties, but now there were a number of leases, such as telecommunication or commercial leases.
Mr Nchabeleng asked how far the ITB had gone with regard to issues raised by the Auditor General (AG).
Judge Ngwenya replied that the ITB was attending to most of the issues raised by the AG. The one perennial issue was that political leadership was needed, and that was in the areas of land valuation and rates. Land valuation and rates were totally beyond the control of the Board.
Mr Mhlongo addressed his input to the Minister. The law said that there were a number of years that the ITB had to serve, and it had served more than that. Worst of all, it was not even clear from this presentation how often they had met. Was it once a month or every day? How much were their allowances? One of the things he was checking – and the Judge had not received this very well when it was mentioned at a previous meeting – was flight expenses. He was not saying that Board members were wasting money, but he was saying that the flights for one quarter cost close to R1 million. This was just for meetings for one quarter, for eight people. It was a matter of concern when one checked value for money on what the ITB were doing, because the last time they came to the Committee they had brought all their members, and only four people had spoken at the meetings. He asked if the Act and the entire system could be reviewed. One of the reasons he was raising this was that the Board had not exercised its oversight work, especially on finances as there had been no reporting on it – either quarterly or monthly reports.
Mr Madella added a cautionary note about outputs for educational awards. Bursaries were normally awarded at the beginning of the year. There had been 100 at the beginning of year, and nothing for the rest of the year. This has to be reviewed, because the question was why there had been nothing in the third quarter.
The Minister said that the term of the ITB had been renewed. The ITB was reviewing and developing policy, so he suggested that this process be allowed to proceed, and that the discussion be postponed until after the Bill was released.
The Acting Chairperson said that it was absolutely necessary for issues regarding travel expenditure to be raised and monitored. It had been acknowledged that not all board members had to attend meetings -- it was only initially that it had been felt that all should attend, to get a sense of the process and content of parliamentary meetings. He urged that the interaction should continue and further discussion held on how many board members should attend meetings. The Chairperson resumed her position.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister, the Deputy Minister, the Department and the ITB for being part of this important meeting. Some of issues like the 50/50 proposal and District Land Committees would be discussed at the right time. The issue of compliance with National Treasury regulations was emphasized, so that resources could be used effectively, efficiently and in a cost effective manner.
The Chairperson expressed appreciation for the improvement the ITB had made. Policies had to be completed and the organogram had to be renewed, so that there was surety about the number of the workforce required. Internal capacity had to be built.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Ingonyama Trust Board Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and Annual Performance Plan 2015-2016 presentation
- DRDLR Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and Annual Performance Plan 2015-2016 presentation
- Commission on Restitution of Land Rights Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 and APP 2015-2016 presentation
- Department of Rural Development and Land Reform Strategic Plan 2015 - 2020
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