The Committee considered the draft Budget Review and Recommendations Report.
Members raised a point that for as long as the Department still had fruitless and wasteful expenditure these should be investigated because lack of compliance is not condoned; that there was never any report back from the Department on how the issues of irregular expenditures were handled, whether someone was punished or given a warning, it always seemed to be business as usual.
The report was adopted. The DA reserved its comments on the report and mentioned that they are neither against or pro the report at the moment
The Committee also received feedback from the Committee Content Advisor and Committee Researcher on the proposal for a study tour.
The Committee discussed that it could learn more from the study tour to Canada, as there were more than five areas of interest, while in Kenya the Committee would be able to draw lessons from diverse issues within the continent, which the country was currently grappling with such as allocation of freehold to communal areas, rural enterprises development and a successful skills development initiative for rural youth. The Committee Researcher emphasised that the decision on which country to go to depended on what the Committee saw as critical for its oversight. The Content Advisor mentioned that once the Committee has decided on which country to study, the Committee staff would then do an in-depth research on the areas so as to highlight important factors that the Committee should focus on. Some Members argued that it was important to first agree as a Committee on the identified needs for the country even though political parties had different interests and preferences.
The Committee chose Canada and Kenya.
Committee minutes of the 31 August, 12tOctober, 13 October and 19 October 2016 were adopted.
Rural Development and Land Reform Budget Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson said Members had been given time to go through the Draft Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) and as no submissions were received suggested that the report be adopted.
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) suggested that if Members were comfortable, the BRRR report be adopted as is because the Committee did some work on it in the previous week.
Mr T Walters (DA) said the DA would like to reserve its comment as they would like to discuss it with their broader caucus.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) mentioned that he had once previously participated in the Committee’s BRRR debate and in the last stage the report was rejected. He asked what the implications of rejecting the report would be and how the Members of the ruling party fell about rejecting a report.
The Chairperson clarified that the report was made by the Committee which looked at the recommendations raised by Members of the Committee and not by what the political party said. The purpose of the report debates was so that Committee Members could discuss highlighted issues from the Department and make recommendations for the Minister to make sure that the recommendations were implemented, and so rejecting a report would mean the debates were just a futile exercise by the Committee.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) supported the proposal to adopt the report as is.
Ms Pumla Nyamza, Committee Secretary, explained that the Committee was an extension of the House and Members had an obligation to adopt the report made by the Committee. Members of individual parties had a responsibility to follow the mandate of their parties. The report did not reflect political party issues but the reflections of the Committee as a collective.
The Chairperson added that when the Members adopt the report they adopt it as a Committee and Members had a right to contest and raise political party concerns and issues during the debates around the report.
The Chairperson noted the reservations of comments from the DA.
Mr Walters clarified that at this stage the DA was reserving its comments and that the party neither supported nor rejected the report.
Mr Matiase raised a point that for as long as the Department still had fruitless and wasteful expenditure these should be investigated because lack of compliance is not condoned.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) mentioned that there was never any report back from the Department on how the issues of irregular expenditures were handled, whether someone was punished or given a warning, it always seemed to be business as usual.
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) referred members to a sentence on page 13 the draft report which reads “the Committee expressed a need for the Accounting officer to enhance efforts to take effective steps to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure” accommodated the premise that Mr Matiase was moving to.
The Chairperson mentioned that the reservations regarding the BRRR report had been noted but the report was adopted; some issues would be raised when the report was debated in the House.
Proposed study tour
The Committee had requested the support staff to conduct research on the countries that the Committee could do study tours in. The Committee staff reported on the research findings and the proposed countries.
The Committee Researcher presented a proposal for a study tour for the Committee. In the fifth Parliament, the Committee has not undertaken a study tour and the last study tour was to Malawi in 2010. The tour served as one of the tools that could be used as part of the Oversight and Accountability Model of Parliament. The purpose of the study tour was so that Committee Members could learn from the experiences of other countries that had implemented land reform with special focus on restitution, foreign land ownership restrictions, spatial planning and land-use management systems and other relevant issues. The lessons on restitution would help the Committee to advise the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights as well as to ensure sustainable settlement of claims in the country. Also, due to the Court judgment on Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No 15 of 2014), Parliament had come up with new amendments. Government was processing a policy to accommodate claims by indigenous people whose land was disposed before 1913, which was the exception policy.
During the 2015 State of the Nation Address President Zuma announced Government’s intention to institute a ceiling on land ownership (to be set at maximum of 12 000 hectare) and prohibiting foreign nationals from owning land but could have long term lease agreements. In line with this announcement, Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, 2017 would be tabled in Parliament in June 2017. The Committee could learn from other countries that had restrictions on foreign land ownership and land holding; and draw lessons from countries that implemented spatial planning and land use management strategies in order to advise the Department on how to improve the implementation of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 2013. The Committee would be able to share experiences and review applicable legislative frameworks in facilitating land development and various landholding mechanisms including land use management strategies.
The proposed countries were New Zealand, Canada, Kenya and Ghana, which were all British colonies and shared similar experiences of land dispossession.
In taking the study tour to New Zealand, the Portfolio Committee could draw the following lessons:
- How the government of New Zealand has dealt with restitution of land claims by indigenous people. The Country is recognised as one of the world leaders in implementing restitution programme for its indigenous people.
- The settlement support provided to beneficiaries
- The role of different institutions supporting land restitution process. The Committee could learn from experiences and challenges encountered in those institutions.
- The way it had implemented and monitored restrictions on foreign land ownership as well as the effects of these restrictions on land ownership patterns and investment.
The lessons expected in taking a study tour to Canada were as follows:
- The Canadian process of restitution especially the claim settlements process-six step process;
- How structures and policies created for restitution worked and impacted on the lives of Aboriginals in Canada.
- Settlement support provided to Aboriginals for land claims.
- Application of restrictions on foreign land ownership in different provinces and the effectives of these restrictions.
- How spatial planning at provincial level is applied and how it is linked to national priorities
- Cooperative Development initiative to support cooperatives - these lessons can be applied in the Agri-Parks initiative.
- Young Farmers Forum which is a government initiative to support rural youth in agriculture.
Lessons expected from a study tour to Kenya:
- How government implemented Settlement Schemes, especially the well-known One Million Acre Settlement Scheme, which was a considerable achievement for accommodating masses of landless families.
- Land Registration Initiative undertaken in Kenya, especially its impact on agricultural productivity, investment and access to credit.
- Successful cooperative development initiative-enabling environment - Ministry of Cooperatives and Marketing.
- More the than 50-year experience of Rural Youth Service in order to advise the Department on how to improve its National Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) programme.
The lessons that are expected from, a study tour to Ghana include:
- The Land Administration Project (LAP), which had made considerable achievements in the transformation of the land administration system in the country.
- How the National Land Commission and ten regional commissions administered state land.
- The benefits and challenges of regulated restrictions on land acquisition by citizens and non-citizens.
- Share experiences on developing legislative framework on spatial planning and land use management.
The Committee could learn more from the study tour to Canada, as there are more than five areas, while in Kenya it will be able to draw lessons from diverse issues within the continent, which the country was currently grappling with such as allocation of freehold to communal areas, rural enterprises development and a successful skills development initiative for rural youth.
She emphasised that the decision on which country to go to depended on what the Committee saw as critical for its oversight.
Mr Tshililo Manenzhe, Committee Content Advisor, mentioned that once the Committee decided on which country to study, the Committee staff would do in-depth research on the areas so as to highlight important factors that the Committee should focus on.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee staff for presenting the proposal and then asked for Members to make a decision on which countries the Committee will go to.
Mr Walters commended the staff on their research; the options were well argued. The case for Canada would depend on how urgent the legal obligation on Parliament to act on the Restitution Act would be and although there was that specific urgency there was also a very urgent need to make land reform work and make it work for the poor in relation to private property. The preference for the DA would be going to Kenya.
Mr Filtane argued that in order for the Committee to decide on the best option the Committee needed to agree on the identified needs for the country even though political parties had different interests and preferences. Up to 2009 Canada had a 5% population of its indigenous people and that had not changed much. Canada was also a federal state which was different from South Africa’s unitary state and that needs to be factored into the decision.
Mr Matiase said there needed to be clarity on what the national pressing imperatives were when conducting such research otherwise it became a nice trip to the countries suggested. The Committee needed to agree on the National imperatives and that would guide the Committee in choosing which country to study. The common defining features of the countries presented were that all countries were once British Colonies but what were the outstanding land reform plans that the Committee could take lessons from of the four counties besides the fact that they were also former colonies. How historical land disposition which created a situation of accumulated white privilege to land ownership could be reversed should be the main question in defining the national imperatives in order to undertake the research study. He asked why the Committee was not thinking of countries like Zimbabwe and countries in Latin America and obtain lessons from there because the countries identified in the proposal were defined in the same image as the colonisers just like South Africa and that was a reality that was not easily escaped.
Mr Walters agrees with Mr Matiase with regard to the Committee establishing a priority before deciding on a country. Canada was a big country with a lot of land making it a country with a different spatial reality from South Africa and had a different legal and institutional reality. He proposed Kenya, which had a recent history of land dispossession that was dealt with in a particular way after independence, and also had very similar issues to South Africa in a more recognisable and similar way. He disagreed with some of Mr Matiase’s proposals and solutions.
Mr A Madella (ANC) commended the staff on the research done as it highlighted some shared historical roots of colonisation by the same British country. South Africa was a unique country and no other country in the world had the same characteristics as South Africa and it could not be compared to other countries. The expected lessons to be learnt from Canada met what the Committee needs at the moment and even though he was not a fan of the cold weather there, the Committee could learn a lot from that country. He proposed Kenya and Canada.
Ms Z Rantho (ANC) who is an alternate member yet to be formally introduced to the committee as an official member, who is standing in for Ms A Qikani (ANC)started to raise her point but was interrupted by Mr Matiase when he raised a point of order asking her to formally introduce herself.
Mr Walters raised a point of order and asked for members to allow Ms Rantho a chance to finish the point she was raising.
The Chairperson said Ms Rantho did introduce herself.
Ms Rantho continued that. South Arica had different cultures and adopted a different Constitution as compared to other countries and pieces of land in the country were owned by chiefs, so the Committee should try and look for a country with similar characteristics.
Mr Mnguni commended the Committee staff on the research as well as the proposal brought forward. Land reform, foreign land ownership and spatial planning were areas that the Committee should focus on. He proposed that the Committee visit two countries, Kenya and Canada. South Arica was a colonialised country of a special time and it was unlikely that the Committee will find a country with the same historical characteristics.
The Committee agreed to visit Kenya and Canada for its study tour.
Adoption of minutes
Committee minutes of the 31 August, 12tOctober, 13 October and 19 October 2016 were adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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