The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation presented their analysis of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Strategic Plans, 2016/17 Annual Performance Plans and Budgets as tabled on 10 March 2016. The purpose of their analysis was to determine the Department’s alignment with the objectives of the National Development Plan.
Chapter six of the National Development Plan highlights the potential of the agricultural sector to take the country forward and there was great hope for the agricultural sector to contribute to Chapter Six of the National Development Plan. Linking the NDP to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Strategic Planning, DAFF’s strategic planning process was informed by the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019 for Outcomes Four, Seven, Ten and Twelve.
Though the quality of the Annual Performance Plans had improved from previous financial years, there were still areas that required further improvements, and this could be seen in discrepancies that the Department referred to in their presentation. Alignment discrepancies included some actions for which the Department was responsible, as well as some indicators in the Medium Term Strategic Framework, not having been captured in the Annual Performance Plans. An area for improvement concerned ensuring that annual and quarterly targets were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound, and aligned to programme performance indicators.
The presentation that the DPME gave provided a macro view of what was happening at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The Chairperson commented that the targets of government must respond to the Medium Term Strategic Framework, so if the Department’s targets were not responding to the Medium Term Strategic Framework, it meant they were not legitimate targets. If the Department could not even deliver on its core functions, which it seemed not to be able to do, judging by the issues listed in the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation’s document, then there really was not a Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; it might as well not exist. It was difficult for the Committee to hear about these issues of alignment as it was becoming clear that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was not going to deliver the targets that had been set for the Medium Term Strategic Framework by the end of 2019.
An issue raised by the Committee was alignment of the provincial departments of agriculture with the Medium Term Strategic Framework and strategic objectives. Another weakness was that the priorities of the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the provincial departments of agriculture were not aligned.
Mr N Capa (ANC) was welcomed as a new member of the Committee.
The Chairperson welcomed Dr Tsakani Ngomane, Deputy Director General at Presidency, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and Mr N Capa (ANC), who was a new member of the Committee.
Presentation by Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)
Dr Ngomane presented the DPME’s assessment of DAFF’s strategic plan and Annual Performance Plan 2016/17, as tabled on 10 March 2016 and its alignment with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP).
Dr Ngomane gave a brief overview on the strategic plan and the APP; giving just the key areas that affected the sector within the National Development Plan.
The DPME considered DAFF’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), and whether it was aligned to DAFF’s annual performance plan (APP) and the NDP.
The NDP served as the umbrella for the crosscutting strategies that exist in government, i.e., New Growth Path, Industrial Policy Action Plan and other government plans. Having taken into account the objectives of these other plans, the DPME came up with this umbrella; articulated in the NDP. Those in government were quite familiar with the narrative expressed by South Africans that ‘on paper’ government departments were doing very well but were found quite wanting when it came to implementation. The State therefore needed to develop an implementation framework that was action oriented; that was definitely informed by specific targets linked to the NDP and was also do-able. Through the development of the Medium-term Strategic Framework (MTSF), critical actions and key outputs were developed that were aimed at putting the country on a positive trajectory towards achievement of the ND,P and these were identified in consultation with key stakeholders within the agricultural sector and DAFF, for delivery by departments over the period 2014-19. The MTSF was very critical.
Chapter six of the National Development Plan (NDP) highlighted the potential of the agricultural sector to take the country forward. Key to that potential was the expectation that the sector could actually create 1 million new jobs by 2030 through:
- Expanding irrigated agriculture – 1.5 million ha has been expanded by at least another 500 000 ha to 2 million ha.
- Cultivating under-utilised land in communal areas and land reform projects for commercial production. A lot of land was left fallow in communal areas and the land reform projects sought to avoid this by identifying the potential use for that land and initiating projects centred on cultivating under-utilised land in communal areas. Increasing and intensifying efforts within land reform and transformation programmes could actually increase commercial production.
- Supporting agricultural industries and regions with the highest growth and employment potential. There were certain districts or regions that had the highest potential for growth in the agricultural sector, geographically, climate wise and with other factors in mind. Chapter six therefore recognised differences between the regions, for example, the Western Cape in terms of its contribution to the wine industry.
- Supporting upstream and downstream job creation. The potential for the sector to create jobs lay not only in the areas of producing food and working the land, but there were opportunities and potential in the sector, in various other areas, such as engaging in trade with supermarkets. Value adding activities, such as supplying fertilisers and pesticides were a key player in terms of production, and were another area of the value chain that could potentially create jobs within the sector. The sector should therefore be engaging actively throughout the value chain to raise opportunities for job creation.
- Finding creative opportunities for collaboration between commercial and communal farmers and complementary industries, thereby creatively engaging with the value chain throughout the production function. This included research and development and creating partnerships between research centres and commercial farmers, to strengthen both the agricultural and business sectors.
- Developing strategies that gave new entrants access to value chains. Markets in the agricultural sector were crowded and closed and it was very difficult for a new entrant farmer to gain access to the sector, especially in areas of the value chain other than production. The sector therefore needs to develop deliberate strategies to help new farmers to participate in the sector.
As could be seen from these tactics, there was great hope for the agricultural sector to contribute to Chapter Six of the NDP.
If one thinks of the DAFF’s MTSF for 2014-2019 as a response to the NDP framework, then it aligned most closely with Outcome Seven of the NDP, i.e., comprehensive rural development and food security.
Outcome Seven sought to implement Chapter Six of the National Development Plan (NDP) which it did through six Sub-outcomes, which were as follows:
1) Improved land administration and spatial planning for integrated development in rural areas, led by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
2) Sustainable land reform contributing to agrarian transformation, so that land reform was done not simply for the sake of it, but that it actually contributes towards agrarian transformation.
3) Improved food security (which was DAFF led).
4) Smallholder producers’ development and support (and that this support was done both in terms of technical and financial support measures like infrastructure) for agrarian transformation.
5) Increased access to quality infrastructure and functional services, especially in education, health care and public transport in rural areas. This would allow more people to engage within the sector, particularly as the value chain approach was advanced. Transport services for agriculture was key, but also for growth of infrastructure. For example, if the road conditions were not good, a product that starts off as a grade one product, might, because of bad roads, end up as a grade three or so product.
6) Growth of sustainable rural enterprises and industries – resulting in rural job creation.
Regarding linking the NDP to the DAFF Strategic Planning, DAFF’s strategic planning process was informed by the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014-2019 for Outcomes Four, Seven, Ten and Twelve. Between 2014 and 2019 the focus was on Outcomes Four, economic development through inclusive economic growth; Seven, comprehensive rural development and food security; Ten, protect and enhance the country’s environmental assets and natural resources; and to some extent Twelve, an efficient, effective and development oriented public service. There was great alignment with Programme Four that looked at trade promotion and market access and Outcome Ten, protecting and enhancing the country’s environmental assets the natural resources, and Outcome Twelve, an efficient, effective and development oriented public service. So the DPME looked at alignment in these four outcomes in its assessment.
The Strategic Plan (SP) for DAFF had four strategic goals and eleven strategic objectives spanning over six programmes as follows:
- Programme One: administration
- Programme Two: agricultural production; and health and food safety
- Programme Three: food security and agrarian reform
- Programme Four: trade promotion and market access
- Programme Five: forestry and natural resource management and
- Programme 6: fisheries.
Programme One: Administration
DAFF’s APP and MTSF, like those of all government departments, need to be linked to Outcome Twelve, Sub-outcomes One to Seven. Currently, this programme was not fully aligned with these Sub-outcomes. Sub-outcomes One to Seven were as follows:
1) A stable and political-administrative interface. What this meant was stability in leadership in DAFF so that DAFF could deal with various issues it experienced, such as issues around vacancies.
2) A public service that was a career of choice. People must want to come and work and serve in the DAFF and see working for DAFF as a viable career. DAFF could do this through supporting career orientation programmes, career awareness initiatives, internships and things of that nature.
3) Efficient and effective management and operations systems.
4) Procurement systems that deliver value for money.
5) Increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens.
6) Improved inter-departmental coordination and institutionalisation of long-term planning.
7) Improved mechanisms to promote ethical behaviour in the public service. This had to do with issues around reducing corruption levels, which also contributes to stability in administration.
The DPME found that the deliberate linkage of Programme One to Outcome Twelve was not that strong. Activities and initiatives for implementation of policies (for Outcome Twelve) should have been included in the Sub-programmes per SO.
Programme Two: agricultural production, health and food safety.
This was linked to Outcome Seven; Sub-outcomes One and Four, which sought to create an enabling environment for increased and sustainable agricultural production; and smallholder producer’s development and support for agrarian transformation. Strategic objective (SO) 2.1 seeks to ensure increased production and productivity in prioritised areas as well as value chains; SO 2.2 seeks to ensure effective management of Biosecurity and related sector risks and SO 4.1 seeks to ensure the conservation, protection, rehabilitation and recovery of depleted and degraded natural resources.
Programme Three: food security and agrarian reform.
Food security was very important as the vulnerable were located in rural areas and in the case of sudden natural disasters like the drought that has been decimating the sector since 2015, the impact was directly transferred onto food prices and the poor felt the impact first and foremost. It was therefore critical for the sector to have a full grasp on Programme Three. A national food security plan was being finalised and would be linked to smallholder producers’ development and support for agrarian transformation. The strategic objectives where the DPME found linkages were 3.1: lead and co-ordinate government food security initiatives; 3.2: enhance capacity for efficient delivery in the sector; and 3.3: strengthen comprehensive support systems and programmes.
Programme Four: trade promotion and market access
This Programme was linked to Outcomes Seven, Sub-outcome four; and Outcome Four, Sub-outcome Two. These relate to smallholder producer’s development and support for agrarian transformation and that the productive sectors account for a growing share of production and employment through:
- Ensuring that the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) was developed, implemented and reviewed regularly to impact on growth, employment, rural incomes, investment, output, exports and African regional development.
- The implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme agriculture (CAADP)
- The through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Market and Trade Development Strategy.
The strategic objective 2.3 was to ensure support for market access and processing of DAFF products.
Programme Five: forestry and natural resource management
This programme was linked to Outcome ten, Sub-outcomes One and Two and Outcome Seven, Sub-outcome Four. Sub-outcome One of Outcome Ten seeks to ensure that ecosystems were sustained and natural resources were used efficiently. The focus here was on combating land degradation. Sub-outcome Two ensured an effective climate change mitigation and adaptation response by DAFF and focused on the development and implementation of sector adaptation strategies or plans. Sub-outcome Four of Outcome Seven ensured smallholder producers’ development and support for agrarian transformation. Areas that were highlighted under this Sub-outcome revolve around issues related to expanding land under irrigation and revitalisation of irrigation schemes.
Programme Five: forestry and natural resource management
This programme was aligned with strategic objectives (SO) 4.1: which sought to ensure the conservation, protection, rehabilitation and recovery of depleted and degraded natural resources; and SO 4.2: which sought to ensure adaptation to climate change through implementation of effective prescribed networks.
Programme Six: fisheries
Programme Six was linked to Outcome 10, Sub-outcomes One and Outcome Seven, Sub-outcomes Three and Four. Sub-outcome One ensures that ecosystems were sustained and natural resources were used efficiently. Under this Sub-outcome, DAFF would ensure that there was a scientific update of the resource status and recommendations for the season’s sustainable catch for abalone, the West Coast Rock Lobster and deep-water hake. Sub-outcome Three ensures improved food security. Sub-outcome Four ensures smallholder producers’ development and support for agrarian transformation.
The presentation would then moved on to highlight discrepancies in alignment. While DAFF had improved significantly, there were areas of discrepancy on Sub-outcome One, Outcome Seven and Sub-outcome Three, Outcome Seven. Sub-outcome One deals with the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Act (PDAL Act) which protects high value agricultural land from alternative uses, like golf estates, mining, burial sites etc, and was therefore a very important Act. The DPME found that the PDAL Act was not mentioned in the APP, and the protection of high value agricultural land was therefore not enabled by the APP. Sub-outcome Three of Outcome Seven had two indicators: number of households benefiting from food and nutrition initiatives and number of households supported with food production initiatives implemented under the comprehensive food security and nutrition strategy.
On Sub-outcome three of Outcome seven, there were two indicators in the MTSF that were not in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). These were: the number of new hectares used by smallholder producers; and the number of projects to support the revitalisation of irrigation schemes implemented. These were crucial and not to be excluded for the following reasons:
- The NDP identified irrigation as having great potential for growth, stating an additional 500 000 hectares under irrigation was achievable by 2030.
- The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, which was a research centre of excellence based at the University of Pretoria, in consultation with the National Agricultural Marketing Council had revised in 2015 the figure downwards to 154 184 hectares from 500 000 hectares for 2030.
- The Department of Water and Sanitation reported in the National Water Resources Strategy (2013) that water was available for expansion of irrigation by 80 000 hectares.
- The Water Research Commission (2013) established that the country could expand its irrigated land by 280 000 hectares by improving water loss controls and irrigation efficiencies. So while it may not be possible to reach the target of 500 000 hectares under irrigation by 2030 target, there was support from the Water Research Commission that it was do-able to expand irrigation by particularly improving water loss controls in irrigation.
A further alignment discrepancy had to do with Outcome Two, Sub-outcome Two, which states that the productive sectors account for a growing share of production and employment and have two actions for which DAFF was responsible but were not captured in the APP. These were: the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); and the implementation of DAFF’s Market and Trade Development Strategy. This Sub-outcome was all about implementation.
For Outcome Twelve there were several outcomes under this outcome that DAFF need to implement in line with policy prescripts, and these were not in the APP. Important issues that did not appear in the APP include, but were not limited to:
- 30-day payment to suppliers with legitimate invoices reported monthly. This had to be reported as the issue of government departments not paying suppliers within 30 days had currently been elevated to the Minister in the Presidency.
- Issues of dealing with staff turnover and filling vacant funded posts, this needs to be addressed in the APP.
- Dealing with assessments of HODs and retention of HODs. This issue needs similar attention and to be included in the APP as DPME finds that this contributes to the political and administrative interface.
- Adherence to Human Resources (HR) standards of the management planning and assessment tool (MPAT).
- Resolving queries at the Presidential hotline. This should be a deliberate performance indicator that was highlighted.
The second part of the presentation concerned technical compliance with National Treasury (NT) regulations and guidelines in the compilation of the Strategic Plan (SP) and the APP.
The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Treasury Regulations and the Framework for Strategic Plans (SPs) and APPs provided the minimum planning requirements which departments must adhere to when producing SPs and APPs. DAFF submitted the first and second draft APPs in August and December respectively, and tabled the SP in March 2016. DPME provided feedback to DAFF in October 2015 (based on the first draft) and January 2016 (based on the second draft).
Feedback included assessments conducted by DPME in collaboration with National Treasury (NT) and the Department of Women (DoW). Assessment overview entailed the level of alignment with the MTSF (assessed by the DPME); alignment to the Budget (assessed by NT); technical compliance to planning principles (assessed by the DPME); and gender analysis (assessed by the DoW). The DPME further engaged with DAFF in February 2016 on the feedback on the second draft before the final draft was produced.
DAFF adhered to the APP submission dates as stipulated in the framework for SPs and APPs and must be commended for that as not all government departments adhered to these submission dates. Though the quality of the APP had improved from previous financial years, there were still areas that required further improvements, and this could be seen in discrepancies that Dr Ngomane referred to in her presentation.
Regarding the areas for further improvement, the DPME ensured that there was no duplication between measuring the strategic objectives and measuring the programme performance indicators, which contribute towards the strategic objectives. One must be very clear about how one measured a programme that contributed to outcomes of the Naphtha. DPME included some examples from DAFF’s APP to show where areas of duplication might occur. For example, in Programme One, the strategic objective indicator “Strengthen institutional mechanisms for integrated policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation in the sector by 2019/20” with targets of “Project verification report submitted to EXCO for approval”, while the programme performance indicator “Project management methodology for the department institutionalised”, has the same target of “Project verification report submitted to EXCO for approval”. One could therefore see an overlap, as this uses the same performance indicator at strategic objective and programme level.
A further area for improvement involved ensuring that the strategic objective five year targets were specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) and had related annual targets for each of the financial years over the MTEF period. For example, in Programme Two there were no strategic objective five year targets, or related annual targets for the strategic objective indicator “Number of improvement schemes for prioritised value chain commodities monitored to increase production and productivity”. In Programme Four, the strategic objective five-year target “Participation to influence trade negotiations” provided an example of the five year target which was not SMART, and was therefore not very wise either.
Another area for improvement concerned ensuring that annual and quarterly targets were specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART), and were aligned to programme performance indicators. For example, Programme Two for the programme performance indicator “Number of primary animal health care clinics delivered to the provinces” the annual target was “32 primary animal health care clinics (light delivery vehicles) delivered to provinces”; however, the quarterly targets do not provide the breakdown of related numbers planned, but refer to procurement processes and reports. There was consequently no way to measure whether DAFF was on its way towards achieving these 32 primary animal health care clinics. In Programme Three, the annual target “Implement national plans to preserve diversity of animal and plant genetic resources” was not aligned to the programme performance indicator “National Policy on Extension and Advisory Services approved and implemented”.
Another area for improvement regarded ensuring that all strategic objectives and performance indicators were clearly explained in the Technical Indicator Descriptions Table. For example: the strategic objective in Programme One, “Strengthen good governance and control systems by 2019/20”, DAFF should provide an explanation of what good governance and control systems (including the strengthening of these systems) entails. If there was a high level of clarity on the Technical Indicators Descriptions Table descriptors, it became easier to formulate performance measures and indicators.
Dr Ngomane reiterated that there had been significant improvement by DAFF, but for the sake of achieving excellence, it should strive to do better, and it could do more.
The Chairperson thanked Dr Ngomane for her presentation and said she could clearly notice Dr Ngomane’s absence in the first day of the meeting that was recently held. She asked members if they wanted to ask questions first or first get DAFF to explain why their MTSF was not aligned before they asked clarity seeking questions. This would allow Members to ask questions with greater understanding, as the assessment that was provided by the DPME already raises a lot of questions for DAFF and the Committees researchers had probably raised similar questions to the ones that members would ask.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) suggested that Members ask Dr Ngomane questions first, and then the Department could respond.
Mr N Capa (ANC) agree with the Chairperson that DAFF should explain why their APP and MTSF were not aligned before members ask questions.
The Chairperson noted that there were issues with alignment of DAFF’s APP and MTSF, as had already been discussed in the meeting. It was difficult for the Committee to hear about these issues of alignment as it was becoming clear that DAFF was not going to deliver the targets that had been set for the MTSF by the end of 2019. So DAFF should not be surprised when they get to the end of 2019 and realise that they have not achieved these targets. The Committee needed to start holding DAFF accountable right now and start to say, “where was the problem, why were things not done in the correct manner?” so that some progress could be made this year at least.
Mr Bonga Msomi, Acting Deputy Director General of food security and agrarian reform for DAFF, said regarding the issue of how the measurement of the number of people that receive aid was done, whether individual people were counted or households were counted, depended on the kind of programme. A school feeding programme, for example, might only count individuals whereas there were other instances in which DAFF interacted with households rather than individuals. For example, grants went to households, rather than individuals. So these were two different elements of the aid programme but both kinds were being carried out by DAFF.
As Dr Ngomane expressed, DAFF was responsible for coordinating food security.
Regarding the lack of quarterly targets to provide a breakdown of the number of vehicles that would be bought to achieve the target of 32 vehicles, as a manager, he knew that when a department needed to procure 32 vehicles, it could not be done in increments. When a department issued a specific order to a supplier, the department needed to stipulate what these vehicles needed to include, as these vehicles were essentially mini-clinics on wheels. The same applied when ordering the caravans that inspectors travelled and stay in during inspections and monitoring visits.
Mr Mokutule Kgobokwe, DDG of Planning, Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation at DAFF, said that DAFF had made tremendous progress compared to previous years but that there was still room for improvement. DAFF contributed to ? three Outcomes that were linked to the NDP, Outcome Four, Outcome Seven and Outcome Ten. DAFF contributed indirectly to Outcomes Four and Ten and therefore could be found wanting on these Outcomes, but it could not be found wanting on Outcome Seven, as it was directly responsible for this Outcome. More often than not DAFF’s MTSF does align to these outcomes however there was still room for improvement. He agreed with Dr Ngomane that the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Act should have been part of the APP.
Regarding the issue of how many people were benefiting from DAFF’s aid, even when households were counted rather than individuals, DAFF had for its own purposes ways of calculating how many individuals would constitute one household. However, he acknowledged that DAFF probably should have stuck to measuring individuals rather than households.
Regarding irrigation, DAFF had been having a bit of difficulty because what it realised was the fact that the line function that was responsible for irrigation had not actually gone to interact with the Department of Water and Sanitation. The feedback that DAFF’s management were always getting from the line function was that there was not enough water to be able to attain irrigation targets of those numbers of hectares. But he thought was something that DAFF’s management would sort out within the Department and would deal with that line function. DAFF did think that something could be done in terms of irrigation, despite what this line function said about problems with water licenses, lack of sufficient water and so forth.
On international relations matters, when DAFF discussed this indicator amongst itself there was a lot of argument from the line function branch because they said they could not give any definite targets in terms of trade and negotiations as it was a very volatile environment and they therefore could not give definite names of countries, or dates for which trade negotiations would be concluded, these targets were usually left ‘open’. DAFF’s management tried to press the line function branch for specifics on international trade and negotiations, even going to the extent of saying to them that indicators that were not measurable could not be included in a strategic plan. Not everything that DAFF did was included in the APPs, as DAFF had operational plans over and above what was listed in the APP and SP that it really had to deal with.
The Chairperson asked the Deputy Director General (DDG) if DAFF had received and read the analysis document from the Presidency that she had with her.
Mr Kgobokwe replied that this was the first time that DAFF was reading this document.
The Chairperson replied that if this was the first time that they were reading the document, how were they supposed to monitor the performance of DAFF and understand where their Department has come from; where it was now and where it was going? Some of the issues raised in the bullet points on page one of Annexure A of the DPME’s document relate to core functions of DAFF, and if they were not fulfilling these core functions then she did not know why they even existed. This was why she wanted DAFF to explain why its MTSF was not aligned, before Members asked questions for clarity. She asked Mr Kgobokwe if he agreed that if DAFF had not included these core functions in its APP, that there was not really any DAFF, as it was not fulfilling its mandate.
She then allowed Members to ask questions on Dr Ngomane’s presentation.
Mr Paulsen commented that some lofty targets had been set by DAFF and that the DPME had confirmed the reservations that the Committee had always had regarding DAFF’s ability to reach those targets. The A in the mnemonic SMART reminds one that a target has to be achievable. In line with this idea, targets were not just going to ‘fall out of the sky’, there has to be incremental targets set and monitored.
He asked the DPME how the Committee could assist DAFF, now that it knew what aspects of DAFF’s APP were misaligned and which targets were not SMART. The Committee needed to know how these could be fixed because these aspects were critical in terms of the nine-point plan. He wanted to know how the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation would work with DAFF so that the Committee could start measuring DAFF’s performance.
Mr Paulsen was also concerned by Mr Kgobokwe’s comment that not everything that DAFF did was included in their APP. If DAFF was engaging in programmes that were not in their APP then they might very well be misdirecting their energy and achieving those objectives that were not in the APP but failing on the objectives that were in the APP. The Committee would also not be able to measure those activities not in the APP, because unless these programmes were in the APP, the Committee would not know what DAFF was focusing its energy on.
Much of what was raised and critiqued by the DPME had to do with aspects in the APP that were in fact not relevant to DAFF and reminded DAFF that the R in SMART stood for relevant. DAFF needed to consider whether an aspect was relevant to what it wanted to accomplish, before it focused its energies on this aspect. If there were specific aspects or policies that DAFF wanted to do or achieve then it should include these in its APP so that the Committee were aware of it and can also defend as to how it helps achieve what DAFF needed to be doing. The DPME was doing a good job of highlighting the challenges that DAFF has, and hopefully there was a plan to actually assist DAFF going forward.
Mr Capa noted his appreciation of the report from DPME; he sincerely believed that such reports made Committee members wiser. He wanted to know whether the DPME decided which areas had high potential or whether DAFF decided what areas these were, as land reform should happen across the country but only seemed to be happening in certain parts of the country.
His next question to the DPME was, after interacting with DAFF, what did the DPME think could be done to correct the problematic situations? He related an experience that he had had with staff of the Office of the Auditor General (AG), who were usually accountants, when they complained that animals in a specific programme were not tagged. The staff were told that the animals could not be tagged as they were very wild, but the staff would not accept this explanation until they were taken to the animals to see for themselves that the animals were very wild. These animals were so wild that one accountant from the AG got injured when going to look at these animals, however, even after this, the AG still complained that the animals were not tagged. He related this story to point to the fact that while the AG did assist departments when it raised issues, it did not always understand the implications of some of its suggestions. The AG also expected departments to rush to fix any “problems” that it reported on, unless the departments could prove that these were not problems or could give an explanation on why the AG misunderstood, or there was a mistake, and that what the AG had reported as a problem was not in fact a problem, or could not be remedied for a legitimate reason. However, having said that, he noted that remarks from the AG would assist the Committee in assessing DAFF’s APP.
Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) said that the first question that he wanted to ask concerned the 30-day period in which government departments were supposed to pay suppliers that had legitimate invoices. Government departments did generally not do this and there had been many complaints from suppliers saying that they had not been paid within 30 days. Surely this was an issue that should be dealt with by the DPME. He wanted to know what the consequences were for departments who do not adhere to the 30-day payment period. It was important for government departments to adhere to the 30-day payment policy if the government does not want to be viewed as an entity that lays down the law for everyone else but that these rules do not apply to it.
The MTSF was critical as it included actions for putting the country on a positive trajectory and acted as a guide for such actions to be implemented by departments. The MTSF would guide DAFF in ensuring that all the things that were included in the bullet points in page one of the DPME’s analysis document were dealt with. Achievements by government departments over the period 2014-2019 were key. DAFF was critical and key for development, growth and the economy in the country and it was both DAFF’s and the Committee’s combined responsibility to check that DAFF were on track in terms of sticking to their MTSF.
Many of the issues raised in this meeting had been raised in meetings during the week and it seemed clear what needed to be done in terms of many of these issues.
Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked at what stage did DAFF have to rectify all the things that had been pointed out by the DPME in Annexure A of their document, if at all. Did they have to now attend to these issues or did another document have to be drawn up first? What were the consequences were if these issues were not rectified?
The Chairperson said that DAFF needed to develop a baseline and database of smallholder farmers in order to provide them with comprehensive support. The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) said that the kind of individual grants currently being given did not actually assist farmers. The FFC therefore recommended combining grants and developing a comprehensive system of smallholder farmers and the Committee agreed with this recommendation.
Another issue that had been previously raised by the Committee was alignment of the provincial departments of agriculture with the MTSF and strategic objectives. The Committee could see that there had been a change in this regard this year. However, the difficulty was that there was no consensus on agricultural plans and policies between DAFF and provincial departments of agriculture.
DAFF had indicated that they had tried to start a process to support smallholder farmers but this process had to be stopped because of the drought, a lack of consensus on how this should be done and a lack of funds. Outcome Seven had two important Sub-outcomes, one of which was to develop and support smallholder producers. Programmes were therefore supposed to be implemented to help smallholder farmers but it seemed that they only gave support to commercial farmers. DAFF’s daily work should be about assisting smallholder farmers.
There were two important Sub-outcomes of Outcome Seven which DAFF was supposed to implement, improved food security and smallholder producers’ support and development, however there was no funding around those areas. The way that funding happened did not allow the sector to perform these Sub-outcomes holistically and they have to be achieved in a piecemeal fashion, even if it was a core function.
The other big challenge was that the programmes of provincial departments of agriculture did not run concurrently with national programmes and in most instances provincial departments of agriculture did as they wished, rather than follow programmes set at a national level. She was not sure if there were still any monitoring mechanisms or tools to enforce provinces to align with national plans as they made their plans. And then when things were not achieved the Committee would blame the wrong people, it would blame DAFF rather than the provinces, even though most of the budget for agriculture went to the provinces.
One of the things that the Committee tried to engage Treasury about last year was the fact that DAFF was not spending its budget. The government was committed to zero budgeting, but there was consistently use of incremental budgeting, which disadvantaged DAFF, as there was no funding for those departments that were not performing previously, and this impacts on DAFF’s capacity. So if the ‘slice’ of a department’s budget was cut as far back as 2004, unless there was someone to say that that department was performing now and their ‘slice’ should be given back now, the department would continue to not have any money.
The overlaps that Dr Ngomane mentioned in the presentation needed to be resolved by somebody, but DAFF was supposed to focus on distribution of land, and administering land and building infrastructure in rural areas; not doing agriculture on the ground itself.
If the sector wanted a database of smallholder farmers, it had to approach the Department of Rural Development (DRD). What one saw in the APP of DAFF, one was also going to see in the APP of DRD because they were not accounting for the money that they were contributing, they were just dishing it out. DAFF actually raised a lot of regulatory frameworks. Regarding the issue of norms and standards for smallholder farmers, she wanted to know how long DAFF supported a smallholder farmer for. Were they given R500 000 and then told to ‘fend for themselves’ or did DAFF develop a system to assist them after the initial financial support was given?
As the leader in terms of food security DAFF’s performance should be very good on this outcome, but its performance had been very poor in terms of production. When one assessed DAFF’s programme to deal with production one found it wanting and DAFF’s budget would be attached to this performance. Food security and aid programmes were also not being implemented throughout the country but rather only in certain parts of the country.
The Chairperson continued that another weakness was that the priorities of the national DAFF and the provincial departments of agriculture were not aligned. The departments of agriculture in the provinces needed to get their targets and strategic plans from national targets and strategic plans.
Agriculture was key for government to revolutionise the economy and get the economy to grow.
The sector should not wait to make an assessment after 2019 and then say that this was what we were supposed to have done and how then do we deal with the situation as it was now and what we were supposed to have done. She gave an example of a policy that looked good on paper but did not work very well in implementation. When the Minister of DAFF wanted to implement small-scale fisheries he gave small fishery groups permits, but they sold them to big fishing companies. So large fishing companies that had vessels but no permits were able to get permits within this policy because they had money. When the provincial departments of agriculture were doing monitoring, they arrested the small fishing vessels because they did not have permits, and those that had permits did not have vessels because they could not afford them. This was an example of a difficulty that one might find in the system from the perspective of the Presidency as one dealt with planning and implementation.
The Committee and DAFF had been ‘singing a song’ of rural development and agriculture and development in their policies but the Minister would say that the implementation of these policies could not be seen. And the importance of these policies needed to be considered in terms of their implementation.
The important question was, in areas where there were overlaps, who must make sure that things happened? The Committee applauded the Food Security Initiative, which would encourage co-ordination amongst entities, and everybody of course would be able to contribute.
The Chairperson did not know if money was taken from DAFF’s budget because it had no capacity to implement the programmes that it was supposed to be implementing, or whether there was no capacity even today to implement these programmes because in the last financial year the Committee did not know whether to adopt DAFF’s proposed budget, because it did not respond to the MTFS. She was of the opinion that developing infrastructure in an area did not simply amount to giving people tractors as those tractors must go with human capital, otherwise who would maintain them and who would even know how to use them.
There were a lot of land reform and recapitalisation programmes that were not functional. If DAFF really wanted to put its energy into rural development then it needed to focus on recapitalisation programmes and make sure that it assisted rural communities to be productive. The most critical element was the concurrent functioning of provincial departments with the plans and policies of DAFF and she asked how the sector could deal with this element, and if there was any monitoring of provinces’ planning to ensure that they were synchronised with national planning.
The Chairperson asked Mr Kgobokwe if he agreed that, if DAFF could not even deliver on its core functions, which it seemed not to be able to do, judging by the issues listed in the DPME’s document, then there was not really a DAFF, and it might as well not exist.
Mr Kgobokwe responded that irrigation was actually an NDP priority and DAFF were doing something as far as irrigation was concerned, as was alluded to by Dr Ngomane. For example, on page 64 of the APP document, DAFF did have a target in terms of irrigation. However, in terms of the targets that have been pronounced in the NDP, the targets set by DAFF may not be sufficient.
The Chairperson said the targets of government must respond to the MTSF, so if DAFF’s targets were not responding to MTSF, it means that they were not legitimate targets. For example, it was not legitimate for DAFF to say that 100 000 hectares of land was lying fallow when it seemed that just yesterday there was only 50 000 hectares lying fallow and DAFF’s excuse for this was drought. The drought that the country was experiencing had become the generic excuse that DAFF gave the Committee for everything that went wrong. If 100 000 hectares of land was lying fallow, this meant that DAFF had already in one year lost 100 000 hectares worth of crops and she asked how it was going to catch up on that 100 000 hectares worth of crop production.
Mr Kgobokwe said that the target set for the number of hectares to be irrigated was a very difficult target to try and achieve because there was not sufficient funds to be able to achieve that number of hectares. The target that was set in the NDP was too high for DAFF in terms of the budget that it had, but it had always been part of DAFF’s annual targets to put a certain amount of hectares under production.
He agreed with what the Chairperson had said about irrigation and that DAFF needed to comply with the target set in the MTSF. This has been a difficult area to deal with as a different department handled irrigation and there had never been an agreement between DAFF and that department regarding irrigation. Irrigation programmes were also influenced by the available budget. So even when a target had been approved by Parliament, if sufficient resources were not put aside, then these targets would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Most of the targets in the APP were influenced by the available budget.
Dr Ngomane said the Committee had a bird’s eye view and insight into the issues across entities. The NDP was a signed and approved plan of government and the whole country and all government departments were obliged to respond to it and to deliver it. The NDP therefore must be reflected and prioritised in the APP and strategic objectives of all government departments. The MTSF represented implementation of the NDP and in the case of DAFF it was specifically Chapter Six of the NDP and was achieved through Outcome Seven. She understood that there were other activities that DAFF was responding to, but first and foremost, when one looked at DAFF’s APP, one must see the MTSF. The DPME were engaging on an APP refinement, particularly in areas where there were gaps in baselines, to work towards DAFF’s achievement of the NDP.
There was huge potential for agriculture in terms of growing the economy and in terms of having an impact on marginalised rural communities. With that understanding there had been an approval for an agricultural Phakisa. An ocean’s Phakisa and a mining Phakisa had already happened to unlock the potential of the country’s ocean’s and its mining sector, and an agricultural Phakisa had now finally been signed and approved last month. The agricultural Phakisa would help to get stakeholders to agree explicitly on a programme that could ensure growth. This would get stakeholders to operate at a higher level and could include increasing access to financing and so on. It would also allow for a very comprehensive response to climate change as there would be three work streams that would anchor the operation: grains; wine; and fruit and vegetables.
The response that the DPME gave provided a macro view of what was happening at DAFF. DAFF needed to have an integrated response to issues to do with value for money and impact of programmes on beneficiaries. Programmes should also be designed to inform smallholder policy. A comprehensive review was being carried out, based on the weaknesses identified and this review was almost complete and the DPME hoped to be able to present it to the Committee soon. It was a very progressive piece of work.
Regarding the issue of funding of surveys, it was raised previously with the Committee that the lack of baseline survey data was a concern. The DPME had worked with the office of the Statistician General and with DAFF, to support surveys on smallholder producers. However DAFF delayed taking a decision on even developing a proposal for funding.
Dr Ngomane took the opportunity to welcome the new member to the Committee, Mr Capa, and said that the DPME acknowledged his voice in the discussion.
Regarding the role of departments of agriculture at provincial level, they should co-ordinate their annual plans with DAFF’s annual plans and should align their plans with the national mandate and make sure that there was communication between provincial departments. Better clarity was also needed on the provincial departments’ targets and concurrency on the targets of the provincial departments with national level DAFF.
The Chairperson thanked Dr Ngomane, saying the Committee appreciated her report and formally acknowledged the work that the DPME had done in relation to DAFF and for the presentation to the Committee. Time was not on DAFF’s and the Committee’s side as Phakisa was happening towards the end of this term and was going to be impacted by the elections and other factors. As politicians, Members of the Committee wanted to be able to state to the public what it had been doing for the past five years and this was a problem when there were not tangible things ‘on the ground’ that had been implemented and it was a problem that the agricultural Phakisa had not yet happened, and the Committee would appreciate it if the agricultural Phakisa could have been implemented before the elections took place. The public understood that Phakisa was underway but asked where it can actually be found in the country, because they did not see it happening where they lived and felt they needed to go looking for it.
She hoped that the promulgation of the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Act would happen soon as it was not yet being implemented. This was a problem because it seems that by the time it was implemented there would not be any land left anywhere.
Dr Ngomane said that there should be a way for DAFF and provincial departments of agriculture to align and ‘mix’ their targets, and that interaction between entities within the sector should happen, even before the agricultural Phakisa.
Dr Ngomane thanked the Chairperson for her guidance and for bringing attention to those areas that required intervention. Phakisa was scheduled to hit the ground in about May or June this year. The DPME would motivate for the Committee to be a participant as it would be good for DAFF to be represented in that process. The DPME was simply waiting for the directive.
The meeting was adjourned