Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Eastern Cape oversight visit
[Committee Reports available under Tabled Committee Reports once published on the ATC]
The Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency met to discuss a report recording its oversight visit to the Eastern Cape. The Committee had visited the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) in the province, along with a few farms in the area.
A Member was particularly concerned about the fact that the report had not discussed certain details in depth. The land rights of black farmers and women had not been paid attention to during the visit. It was suggested that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform needed to provide more details about land that remained unclaimed. The Committee had been particularly concerned about discrimination experienced by women and girls on account of tradition, cultural and religious issues.
The report was discussed at length and, after minor changes, was adopted by the Committee.
Committee Report on Eastern Cape oversight visit
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, said the purpose of the meeting was to adopt the report on the Eastern Cape oversight visit. The Committee would go through the report page by page and identify if there were any issues. The Department was reporting on its oversight visit to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) in the Eastern Cape. The Committee had been particularly concerned about discrimination experienced by women and girls on account of tradition, cultural and religious issues. The Committee had agreed at a strategic planning session that a key focus area would be land and agrarian reform to determine if women were being economically empowered and benefiting In this regard.
The objective of the Committee’s visit had been to assess the CGE’s management and the infrastructure of the provincial offices. After being closed in 1997, the Ncora Irrigation Scheme had been brought back in October of 2011 with an amount of R20.1 million. In the 2014/15 financial year, a total of R38 million had been allocated for the project and this had been transferred to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) for implementation. Milestones achieved had included three storage sheds, two staff houses and two managers’ houses, and earthworks and steel structure for the 66-point rotary milk parlour. There were also plans for the establishment of an AgriPark.
Some of the challenges being faced had included conflict with claimants, and an alleged lack of transparency by the Commission when it facilitated the resolution of the land claims. The farm had reached its carrying capacity, compelling Zikhali Farming cc to lease private land. This had affected its ability to grow the business. Also, at the time of the Committee visit, some of the cattle had contracted contagious abortion disease and the farm had been quarantined. The farm also did not have electricity or internet connectivity to assist them to link up with StudBoek SA.
During the Committee’s visit to Lynmouth Farm, which was part of the Recapitalization and Development Programme (RADP), the leader of the delegation had outlined the purpose of the visit and requested the Department and beneficiaries to make a presentation to the Committee on the project. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) had approved R1 908 294 for the recapitalization and development of the farm, and R60 000 had been approved for the mentor, Mr Frederick Coetzee. The last tranche of R477 073 had been transferred in September 2013, and had been used for machinery and equipment. The project manager on the farm had indicated that the three family members (beneficiaries) worked on the farm. The fourth beneficiary had died and the intention was to employ another female family member in her place. The Committee had commended the management of the farm, which was led by a woman, that women were employed on the farm.
The Committee had also visited the Lodgemont Office in Queenstown, the CGE Eastern Cape office, the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, and Tyldendale Farm. The issues raised and the resolutions recommended were included in the report of the content advisor.
The Chairperson wanted to know if there were any areas that needed clarifying.
Ms D Robinson (DA) said that it was a good and comprehensive report. There was just a little detail that had struck her, because she knew the area pretty well. She said the name of the farm was not Tylendale, but Tyldendale.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) said that she appreciated the report, but wanted to make some additions. She said that the community was not involved in, or benefiting from, the Ncora irrigation scheme, only from the selling of the milk. The cows that were there belonged to the strategic partners, so the community was not benefiting. She had asked officials there how long it took to teach people to understand how the dairy worked, and had been told that it took ten years. She said this was not true – it did not take that long. She referred to a school that was efficient in that department, and was sure it did not take them ten years to learn. Those were matters about which the government had been misled. It should be clear that the local people were not benefiting from the scheme – only the strategic partners.
The Chairperson interrupted to say that the issue Ms Chueu was addressing had actually been highlighted in the report. A lot of questions had been asked in regard to this issue.
Ms Chueu responded that though she agreed with the Chairperson, this issue was not in the report. When one did oversight, it was clear what happened and what issues had been observed. This was not so in the report. She referred to the objective of the trip, which the advisor had said was the Committee’s concern about discrimination experienced by women and girls on account of tradition, cultural and religious issues. How many women had benefited in this project? Had these issues been addressed? None of this had been highlighted in the report. In all the oversight visits, the Committee needed to make sure that they were keeping these three issues, and how they affected women, in mind.
She also said that the Committee had forgotten to look at the condition of black farmers. This was a huge oversight. The Committee had never questioned the black farmers about their conditions. In terms of electricity, she said that despite instructions, the Eastern Cape breeders’ association had not cared if the farmers had electricity. These were things that officers were not questioning. She said that the Department needed to insist that the farm install solar panels so that they did not have to worry about electricity.
Finally, she addressed the issue of loans.The government needed to work with the Land Bank to ensure that farmers who took out loans had at least a year to pay them off. Also, the restitution loan did not cover the issue of black widows who got kicked out their farms by male family members, and she thought that it should. The 1913 Act did not talk about 87% of the land, only 13%. People who knew about land ownership had long since died, and that land should now move to become government property. This land had not been claimed, and the Department needed to start talking about it.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said that the report was a good one, and had been based on the intentions of the Committee when they had gone on the oversight visit. She did think, however, that in future the Committee needed to sit down and talk about what they intended to achieve when they went on oversight visits. She lamented that it had been hard for her to contribute in Limpopo because she had not known exactly what she was looking for. It would help to know where they were going and what industry they were going to be visiting. That way, they would know how to empower women and girls. They also needed to go back and make sure that recommendations were implemented, but knowing the agenda would be helpful. The Department of Social Development had said that the level of child marriages had gone down in the Eastern Cape. They had looked at how Kenya dealt with this problem to improve the situation. This needed to be included in the report.
Ms Robinson wanted to endorse what Ms Tarabella-Marchesi had said, because the lack of knowledge was overwhelming. She described how the Committee had gone to Eastern Cape with the Rural Development Committee, and the Committee did not know if the issues they wanted to go back and look at later were already being addressed by Rural Development. She advocated for a better system of coordination between the Parliamentary committees so that the money spent for these oversight visits would be well spent.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) agreed with Ms Robinson. She was of the opinion that the Committee needed to invite the Department of Rural Development to let them know what issues had been raised there during the oversight visit. The Committee could give them time to review what had been reported and then ask them to go out, visit the farms themselves and then report back. Also, the Committee needed to check whether the CGE had been able to look at some of the matters raised during the oversight visit. The issue of access roads had been taken up with the Deputy Minister of Transport and the CGE, and a report would be given to the Minister of Transport. She expressed concern about the presence and punctuality of Members when they conducted oversight visits. It was embarrassing and unprofessional to have only a few Members present during visits.
The Content Advisor corrected MsTarabella-Marchesi about the country referred to on child marriages. It had actually been Ethiopia, not Kenya. Ms Tarabella-Marchesi agreed.
She reviewed the changes that had been suggested by the Members and incorporated them into the report. Members agreed on the inclusions and the way they had been done.
The Chairperson wanted to add that the man who was in charge had not had answers to anything they had been asking. She wanted to propose that they be invited back to the Committee and explain their procedure because some of them were not clear as to how they were dealing with land distribution. She also referred to the 1913 Act that Ms Chueu had referred to earlier.
Ms Chueu added that the 1913 Act had said that 87% of the land was arable. That arable land had been given to white people. 13% had been given to African people – which were the reserves, or homelands. So the homelands which had been given to Africans was what was being claimed. However, there was 87% of the land that was not being claimed. Did the Department have information on this unclaimed land? Some Africans had had land that they had been kicked out of, but had no documents to show that the land belonged to their family. So the land remained unclaimed. However, would the Department not have some records reflecting ownership of such land? She felt like they would have to.
Ms Robinson agreed, but said that there was a lot of land belonging to traditional chiefs and not ordinary people. She felt that land rights should be given to the ordinary people as well.
The Chairperson then proposed adoption of the report.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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