The meeting started with a minute’s silence in honour of struggle icon, the late Mr Ahmed Kathrada.
The Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) presentation highlighted the progress made in administration, land management, the training of Traditional Councils and finance. Overall, there had been under-expenditure of its budgets, based on the set targets. Although the ITB had achieved many of its strategic objectives in both the second and third quarters, the Committee expressed concern at the amounts spend on administration and not on land management, which was a crucial part of its work. Members expressed the view that the ITB had not been established to procure goods and services, and therefore it was of importance for the expenditure to be directed towards development projects. It was unacceptable for a public entity not to spend funds which should be used for the benefit of communities.
The Committee instructed the ITB to submit its Customer Charter once it had been approved by the Board, and insisted the vacant post of Deputy Manager must be filled. It was asked to submit a turnaround plan, which should align service delivery with expenditure, within seven days. The revenue generated by the ITB should be invested in the communities.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) was not replacing employees who had left the Department. This emerged during the discussion when the DRDLR briefed the Portfolio Committee on its second and third quarter performance.
The Committee heard that even if the Department were given money, the money would not go towards funding personnel, but to the normal functions of the Department. The money that came from National Treasury was not equal to the number of staff the Department employed. As a result, it had had to reprioritise, because this came from the desire to make the public service mean and lean. Unfortunately, this had unintended consequences.
The Minister told Members that the National Treasury had been taking money from the Department under the perception that a department receiving money was performing better than one losing money. There was no consultation. The Minister and the Department only received a report.
The Department reported that compared to the past two financial years, it had the highest second and third quarter achievements, of 70% and 62% respectively. The Department had reached 81% towards its annual targets, resulting from the recovery and improvement plans put in place by all the programmes during the second and third quarters, and this had put it on track towards achieving its annual targets. The Committee was given a detailed breakdown of
the DRDLR’s performance against budget.
Members wanted to know if the Department was going to maintain its 56% cumulative performance on Rural Development, and 62% performance in Quarter 3, at the end of the year; asked how it would improve its performance on the procurement programme; sought clarity on the poor performance regarding the recapitalisation programme; and enquired if it was not going to experience over-expenditure in the long run because of its over-spending on compensation of employees (COE). They asked why people were leaving the Department, and whether counter-offers were made, as the Department could end up being a training ground for other departments, or the private sector.
The Chairperson welcomed the Members, the Minister and Deputy Minister, and asked the meeting to observe a minute of silence for Mr Ahmed Kathrada, who had passed away on the morning of 28 March.
She asked the Committee to adopt the minutes of its meeting of 15 March 2017. This was proposed by Mr A Madella (ANC) and seconded by Mr M Filtane (UDM). The minutes were adopted.
Ingonyama Trust Board: Second Quarter Report
Mr Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, introduced the presentation by advising that the reports that the Trust would present would be the first since the Committee recommended that it should provide separate reports for each quarter. The presentation would therefore be a learning process for the Ministry, as well as for the Trust.
Judge Jerome Ngwenya, Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), said the presentation would cover the financial reports for the second and third quarters of the 2016-2017 financial year. The Chief Executive Officer would present the operational report and the Chief Finance Officer would present on the finances.
Dr Fikisiwe Madlopha, Chief Executive Officer, Ingonyama Trust, informed the Committee on the progress made in administration. The secretariat had submitted a draft service charter to the Board for comments, so the target had not been fully met. The charter would be finalised in the third quarter. The Trust had targeted to send communication reports to the Board every month and had met the target in the second quarter. Further, on the target to obtain information technology (IT) support to improve the efficiency of the ITB, the process of appointing the service provider had been commenced in Q2 with a tender process.
The Board had approved all three policies for efficient internal resource management aligned to legislative requirements, and had recorded all movable assets into its asset register. There was no variance therefore on these targets. However, it had failed to meet the target to ensure all vacant positions were filled, as the position of Deputy Manager had fallen vacant during the period of review. All employees had signed performance agreements, and there had been a variance on the scheduled training programmes for the quarter. The ITB had successfully paid invoices on time and obtained Board approval for two Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with Traditional Councils.
On rural development, the ITB blamed poor management of failing to meet the strategic objective of providing secure tenure rights to facilitate development on Ingonyama Trust land. A legal officer had been allocated to manage Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with municipalities aimed at making ITB land available for municipalities and had conducted one programme in Q2 to prevent illegal occupation of Trust land. The Board had approved a plan on agricultural production, and a land audit had been done to identify prime land in line with the provincial spatial development framework for potential investment.
For Traditional Council support, the objective to provide training to Traditional Councils was achieved in Q2 and a training plan was approved by the Board. Two Traditional Councils were trained in the quarter. The ITB also issued over 100 educational awards to young people living on communal lands.
Mr Amin Mia, Chief Finance Officer, ITB, presented the financial report and explained the expenditure. In Q2 , the ITB had under-spent on its budget by 58.26%. Administration represented 73.78% of the total expenditure, while Traditional Council support was 12.77%, rural development 11.07% and land management was 2.38%. A total amount of R12.6 million was spent in the quarter. Per economic classification, goods and services were 58.77% of the expenditure, while capital expenditure was 0.38%. Compensation of employees was 40.64%.
The ITB had generated R7.1 million in revenue and received R8.2million from a transfer payment. The total income therefore amounted to R15.4million.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to make comments on the Q2 report.
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) proposed that the ITB should present the Q3 report as well before the Committee engaged on the contents, so that all the matters arising were dealt with at the same time.
Mr Filtane agreed with this proposal and the ITB was asked to proceed with the Quarter 3 Report.
Ingonyama Trust Board: Third Quarter Report
Dr Madlopha said that in Q3, the ITB had held mid-term reviews and submitted reports for monitoring and evaluation systems. The Customer Service Charter had been set to be approved on 15 March 2017, although at the time of the report the approval had yet to be done by the Board. Four policies were approved in the quarter, all of which were aimed to ensure efficient internal resource management which was aligned to legislative requirements. The post of Deputy Manager, Administration, had remained vacant in Q3 and the ITB was considering a review of its salary and benefit package for the position, to attract better talent. It had signed an MOA with the Izibonda Traditional Council, although there was one more MOA which had to be signed but had not been completed.
The Board had approved 253 land tenure rights and efforts were being made to resolve the land invasion issue in Newcastle. Due to capacity constraints, it had failed to conduct an audit to identify prime land for provincial development. The audit would be done in the fourth quarter of the financial year. No education awards had been targeted for Q3, and none was issued. However, five Traditional Councils were trained in this quarter.
Mr Mia said that in Q3, the ITB had spent 66.12% of its total budget, Administration had taken up 71.59% of that expenditure. The total amount spent was R14.29 million, against a total income of R9.7 million.
Mr Filtane said it was good to see the progress of the ITB compared to where the organisation had been in 2014. It showed that the Board’s efforts and executive resilience was paying off. He asked why there had been a delay in procuring the services of the IT service provider as reported in Q2, and asked the ITB to elaborate on what it meant when it said MOAs had been concluded with Traditional Councils. He asked if any of the ITB programmes had been affected by the drought, as there was no indication in the report of any effects the drought may have had. He asked why over 70% of ITB expenditure was on administration and less money was spent on operations, as the ITB had not been established to spend money on good and services. He asked if it had any idea of the underlying reasons for illegal land occupations so that the Department and the Committee could look at possible solutions. He also asked how relevant the education awards were for the work done by the ITB, and whether any of the bursaries were relevant to ITB’s strategy.
Mr Madella echoed the congratulations by Mr Filtane, and remarked on the improvements shown in the presentation. He asked why there was consistent under-spending on the budget for land management and also what measures were in place to increase the ITB’s capacity to carry out its mandate. He also asked what it was doing to stop illegal land invasions and whether it was working with any law enforcement organisation to stop these illegal practices.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) said he found the reduction in spending for land management from 51.54% in quarter 2, to 1.44% in the third quarter, disturbing. He asked if there were any benefits for communities from MOUs signed with private companies.
Mr Mnguni said it was important for the ITB’s work to be based on the structures that it had established to accomplish its mandate. He asked why there was no report on the 12 communication reports that were reported as its annual target, and why some performance indicators did not have targets set to assess the progress. He asked if the ITB had a plan to stop the under-expenditure, as the under-spending was a concern in a public body, unlike a private company, which could celebrate under-spending and report it as a profit. The expenditure on Traditional Council support had suffered from a lot of the under-expenditure, and that was at odds with the need for financial support that still existed in provinces where Chiefs were looking for funding options.
The Chairperson asked how the land audit by the ITB fitted with the land audit by the Department. How often were external audits done on ITB operations? She asked about the high amounts spent on travel, which seemed to have increased from Q2 to Q3, and also asked what criteria were followed in disbursing support to community beneficiaries, and how many people benefited from such support. She asked why there was an increase in the Board remuneration reported in the two reports and why there was more expenditure on cleaning services than there was on important operational issues.
Judge Ngwenya answered that the Trust’s structure was provide by law, and the government gave support for administration and not projects. Money for projects was generated by the Board, and even when this money was not exhausted in a financial year, it was not sent back to the government but was still used to help people in the various ITB programmes. The structure was therefore quasi-government and quasi-private. Land was a national asset but at the traditional level, the government could not take away land management from Chiefs, as that would create conflict. Therefore the management of land issues was sensitive.
Six staff members had been put on suspension last year and that was why the ITB had faced capacity problems. Land invasion issues were complicated and the use of law enforcement was minimal. To resolve the conflicts, the ITB used legal and traditional approaches -- for example, to stop the land invaders in Newcastle, it had obtained an Interdict but had decided not to serve it on the occupants, and had instead preferred to engage them. As a result, the parties had decided on a draft settlement agreement. The ITB had said that the people who invaded land were not destitute, but were comprised of working people such as nurses and policemen who had the capacity to buy land, but faced overcrowding in their homes and there was simply no land available in the municipalities for them to buy. The ITB had proposed signing MOUs with municipalities to resolve this problem.
On the question of bursaries, when land issues were being transitioned to the ITB, the tribal authorities said they had been issuing bursaries to young people who would work at the Traditional Councils when they finished school, so the ITB had taken over this programme. The Board allocated the scholarships based on the revenue collected in that community, and the allocation was done jointly with the Traditional Council.
The land audits were done complementary to each other. The ITB audited details of transactions and how many people had received land and where it was, and the ITB audit was continuous. The MOAs were also signed with private companies -- for instance, where ESKOM was asking for people to move from a piece of land away from ESKOM infrastructure, or where a mining licence was granted and people were affected by the mining activities, the people took the complaints to the ITB.
The money spent on workshops appeared to have increased in the quarters because the workshops were done in rural areas, where people were still uninformed about the Constitution and the rights of people. For example, in some areas they still denied single women the right to own land. Therefore the Trust had decided to invest in schooling communities, rather than spending so much money on legal fees when the issues went to court.
Dr Madlopha added that the procurement delays to source an IT service provider had been caused by the ITB’s capacity issues. The organisation was small, and therefore things took longer to execute. She clarified that when the report said agreements had been concluded, it meant the agreements had been signed by both parties. The capacity problems faced by the ITB had been due to the suspension of staff members, as mentioned by the Judge. She said the drought had affected only one project of the ITB, because most of its projects were done along rivers where a water shortage was not a problem.
To work on land issues, the ITB had appointed a land specialist to assist in auditing prime land, for example, in Mathulini. The communication reports had been done, but were found by the Board to be of poor quality. Management was therefore reviewing the outline and that was why there were no further reports in the second and third quarters. She said the requirement for MOUs to be approved by the Board was not cumulative, and although the annual target was four, it was not a requirement to have the other two approved in Q3 in accordance with the ITB’s annual performance plan (APP).
She said the staff were working on a turnaround plan with Traditional Councils, and would work to create a business plan. The travel expenditure had increased because surveyors had to travel to all the locations when a person had applied for land. There was therefore a direct link between the increase in travel expenses and the rate of approvals of applications.
Mr Mia said there had been a marked decrease on expenditure on land management because in Q2, the ITB had undertaken land evaluation, but had not done an evaluation in Q3. The external audit was done annually by the Auditor General, which was why in Q2, there was an increase in audit expenses due to the presence of the auditors. The Board had added five new members in Q2, and that was why there had been an increase in travel costs, and the budget had allocated money for construction of an office block. However, since the project had not been done, there was a surplus in the budget.
The Chairperson asked how many Board members the ITB had in Q2, compared to Q3.
The Judge answered that the term of office of seven Board members had come to an end in Q2, and the new appointments came from areas of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) which had borders with Mozambique.
The Chairperson asked if the travel for the Board members was not included in the remuneration budget.
The Judge responded that the term remuneration was used loosely to also include travel.
The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the components of the travel expenses, if the travel cost for directors was included in the remuneration budget, and not accounted for as travel.
Dr Madlopha asked the Committee to allow the ITB to submit a detailed expenditure list of the travel expenses. There had been eight meetings that took place in Q3, and the directors had submitted claims for travel, professional services and accommodation.
Mr Nchabeleng said that as ITB had said that the municipalities had regulations and the ITB had the land, there were grounds for conflict and tensions. He asked how it would resolve the conflict and make land available to municipalities for distribution. He asked why it appeared that the ITB Board members were very involved in the operations of the Trust, just like employees.
The Chairperson asked if the tractors that had been procured by the ITB for people to use were accessible to them. How many people had benefited from the money raised by the ITB from communities, and did it account to the communities on the usage of the money collected? She asked why ITB could not adopt a “Train the Trainers” programme to avoid the Board members having to travel so far to train people all over the country, and use the money saved for more bursaries.
Mr Filtane asked the Minister to comment on whether the money given by the government to the ITB could be used for projects and whether there could be an adjustment to allow some part of the government funds to be used for development projects by the ITB.
Mr Madella asked if the MOU signed in KZN also extended to land for housing development.
Mr Mnguni said the ITB should come up with a turnaround plan and submit it to the Committee before the end of the week.
Judge Ngwenya responded that there was not much land that was unencumbered, and the tension with municipalities was with the traditional leaders who were de facto owners of the land on the one hand, and the ITB who owned the land in law. The tension came when a project was brought to the Province by a traditional leader and the municipality wanted to impose on who should be recruited for the jobs. The Board was very active in the affairs of the Trust, unlike other Boards in the public or private sector. The ITB was only a custodian of the land and not the owner, per se. The ITB did account to Traditional Leaders on the money raised and how it had been used.
Dr Madlopha added that the ITB worked with municipalities to deal with land invasions even where there were tensions between it and the municipality. The tractors were still being managed by the Trust, and were accessed by the people. They were not in use at the moment due to the season, but the communities used them during planting season. The ITB would provide a report on the disbursement of R1.5 million, as asked by the Committee.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, said the beneficiaries knew the amount of money that was available and the money was disbursed in keeping with the Department’s disbursement policy, in consultation with traditional leaders. The bursaries were paid by ITB from Board funds to benefit children whose provinces could not afford to give them educational support.
The Chairperson stressed that accountability was important. She said there was no need to have conflict between the Traditional Leaders and the municipality when both parties were working to benefit the people. Legislation had been passed to remove those conflicts between stakeholders.
The Minister said the conflicts existed between Traditional Leaders and municipalities, and the Department was working to resolve them. The Councils were competent to handle matters without ITB intervention, and when the Communal Land Bill was passed into law, it would address some of the challenges affecting land management in municipalities.
The Chairperson said the Committee was looking forward to seeing the Customer Charter once it was approved by the Board. She advised the ITB to fill the vacant post and proposed that the Committee needed to go to the communities to meet the beneficiaries, and hear their side on the benefits. She emphasised that the turnaround plan should be submitted within seven days, and that the ITB should align service delivery with expenditure. The revenue generated should be invested in the communities, and the under-expenditure was not acceptable when there was an obvious need for funds in the communities.
She said the ITB should align its projects and targets to the APPs submitted to Parliament and ensure that when coming up with project plans and timelines, it had sufficient capacity and staff to avoid setbacks. She further recommended that the tractors should be given to the people to use, rather than parking them at the ITB offices.
The meeting was adjourned.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform: 3rd Quarter Report
Mr Eugene Southgate, Deputy Director-General: DRDLR, informed the Committee the overall performance of the Department for Quarter 3 was 62%, compared to the 70% of Quarter 2. It had achieved 81% of its cumulative performance towards the annual performance report (APR) targets for Quarter 3, while during Quarter 2 it had achieved 62%. He took the Committee through the performance of the five programmes of the Department.
Programme 1: Administration
This programme achieved 0% and 93% for its Quarter 3 and cumulative targets, respectively. The main problem was with the invoice tracking system and delays in the payment of invoices.
Programme 2: Geospatial and Cadastral Services
It achieved 100% and 91% for its Quarter 3 and cumulative targets. Five targets had been planned for implementation in the period under review, and all the targets were achieved. 90% of deeds were made available within seven days from lodgement. 162 maps against a target of 149 were reviewed and produced during Quarter 1 to Quarter 3. The programme took 13 days, against a target of 14, to process registerable diagrams.
Programme 3: Rural Development
The programme achieved 0% of its Quarter 3 targets and 56% of its cumulative targets. Seven targets had been planned for implementation in the period under review. Two targets were partially achieved and five targets were not achieved. The programme facilitated 126 infrastructure projects against a target of 37 during Quarter 2, but achieved nothing during Quarter 3. During Quarter 2, it had facilitated six agri-parks infrastructure projects against a target of five, while during Quarter 3 it had achieved nothing. The programme had supported 60 rural agricultural enterprises in the 44 priority districts during Quarter 2 against a target of 37, while during Quarter 3 it had partially achieved only 24 against a target of 38. The programme had recruited 1 272 youths through the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) programme during Quarter 2, against a target of 860. During Quarter 3, it had achieved zero against a target of 910. It had created 2 177 jobs in rural development initiatives during Quarter 2, while in Quarter 3 it had managed to create 720 against a target of 4 417.
Programme 4: Restitution
Three targets were planned for implementation in the period under review, and were achieved. The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) had achieved 100% of its Quarter 3 targets, and 65% for its cumulative targets. It was noted the Commission was not on track with all its cumulative targets. On the number of land claims settled, it had achieved zero during Quarters 1 and 2. Regarding numbers of phased projects approved, the programme had achieved 12 out of 25 targets during Quarter 2, and during Quarter 3 it had managed to achieve 23 against a target of 20. Concerning the number of claims lodged by 1998 which had to be researched, it had achieved 468 against a target of 422 during Quarter 3, while it had partially achieved 255 out 490 targets during Quarter 2.
Programme 5: Land Reform
Seven targets were planned for implementation in the period under review. Five targets were achieved, while two were partially achieved. The programme had achieved 71% for its Quarter 3 and 89% cumulative targets, respectively. Regarding the number of hectares acquired, it had achieved 53 322 against a target of 29 927, while in Quarter 3 it had achieved 76 733 against a target of 23 036. Concerning the number of jobs created in land reform projects through the Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RADP), it had achieved 717 and 724 against a target of 440 during Quarters 2 and 3, respectively. On the number of farmers under the RADP, it had achieved 80, and partially achieved 60, against a target of 88 during Quarters 2 and 3, respectively. With regard to the number of farmers trained through the RADP, it had achieved 439 and 593 against a target of 440 during Quarters 2 and 3, respectively.
Ms Rendani Sadiki, Chief Financial Officer: DRDLR, said that at the end of Quarter 3, total expenditure amounted to R1.222 billion against the budget of R1.518 billion, representing 80% of the budget allocation. Expenditure to date amounted to R6.287 billion, representing 62.1% of the adjusted appropriation of R10.124 billion. Of the total expenditure, 31% was on land reform; 27 % on restitution; 18% on rural development; 16% on administration; and 8% on National Geomatics Management Services (NGMS).
Expenditure on compensation of employees (COE) was R1.55 billion. The improvement in spending was mainly due to performance bonuses paid in December 2016. The goods and services expenditure was R1.074 billion, mainly for contractual obligations such as office accommodation rentals and software licence renewals, legal expenses, and travel and subsistence when supporting delivery on the core mandates of the Department. Expenditure on transfers and subsidies was R3.6 billion, mainly for household projects (R2.254 billion) and transfers to entities (R1.309 billion). Expenditure on payments for capital assets was mainly as a result of land acquired due to land claim related issues, computer hardware and lease of photocopiers.
Year-to-date expenditure consisted of the following:
- Land acquisition at R666 million, against a R657.8 million budget, representing 101% spending;
- Recapitalisation and development at R156.4 million, against a R341.5 million budget, representing 46% spending;
- Planning at R17.1 million, against an R18.7 million budget, representing 91% spending; and
- Strengthening of the relative rights (50/50) project amounting to R381.9 million, against a budget of R500 million, representing a 76% spending.
Ms Sadiki also reported that the Deeds Trading Account had collected R452.9 million in revenue, representing 60% of R757.9 million in annual projected revenue. Revenue collection between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 had increased by an average growth of 5.4%, but had declined in Quarter 3 due to inactivity in the property market. The R452.9 million in revenue collected, set against expenditure of R440.1 million, represented 97% of spending against revenue collected, leaving a positive balance of R12.8 million. Spending on COE amounted to R340.1 million, or 65% of the annual projection of R521.7 million. Deeds’ spending on goods and services amounted to R83.4 million, representing 39% of the projected spending of R215.6 million. Under-spending was attributed to the cash inflow challenges, where a decision had been taken to procure goods and services only for emergency and essential services until the approval of the retention of the surplus was approved by National Treasury.
In her conclusion, she indicated the Department had had the highest second and third quarter achievements of 70% and 62% respectively, compared to the past two financial years. Cumulatively (Quarters 1-3), the Department achieved 81%.
The cumulative performance of 81% in the first three quarters towards its annual targets, resulting from the recovery and improvement plans put in place by all the programmes during the second and third quarters, had put the Department on track towards achieving its annual targets. However, there were some areas where the Department was closely and routinely monitoring the progress of recovery plans to ensure they made up for any shortfalls resulting from slow performances in the previous quarters. Those programmes were Rural Development (56% cumulative performance), and Restitution (65% cumulative performance). The performance of these programmes was being reported and monitored on a monthly basis.
Mr Filtane asked if the Department was going to maintain its 56% cumulative performance on Rural Development, and 62% performance in Quarter 3, at the end of the year. How was it going to improve on its under-performance with the procurement programme? What were the other factors that had affected the uptake of properties, besides the interest rates hike?
Ms Leona Archery, Acting Director-General: DRDLR, replying on the 56% and 62% performance issue, indicated the Department was likely to get to 65%. Non-financial performance would be achieved, except on skills development. Regarding low performance on procurement, she admitted they were experiencing challenges, especially on infrastructure programmes around the country. The targets were going to be improved because they had engagements with several municipalities in terms of identifying projects and agro-parks. Capacity problems were being addressed with the supply chain management (SCM) unit.
Ms Sadiki added that the mass exodus of staff had made it difficult for them to recruit people. The Department had had to stick to the prescripts of the government. For example, if one put up a tender, one needed 67 days to conclude the advertisement of it. If there was no capacity, it was difficult to manage the whole tender process, and that was why it took a long time to complete it. Concerning the low uptake on property markets, she said the link with interest rates was not the only reason. If the Committee wanted a full briefing on that, the Department would prepare a comprehensive report for it.
Mr Madella asked for clarity on the poor performance regarding the recapitalisation programme, and said it was useless to give farmers land if there was no support given to them. He further wanted to know why there were separate targets for women, youth and the disabled.
Ms Archery pointed out they were having challenges on recapitalisation across all the provinces. They had engaged with provinces, but the difficulty was in changing the system. The Department had not succeeded the way it wanted to. Soon the targets were going to improve, and provinces that were behind were employing remedial actions. The Department was trying to come up with a simple way of doing the work on this programme, and was working closely with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. On the separation of targets, she said this allowed the grouping of youth and women at a statistical level to be shown.
The Chairperson asked why the “One Hectare, One Household” project had not been mentioned in the report. She wanted to know in which programme the office of the Valuer-General was located. What impact would the deficit on COE be on the programmes? What would the financial implications of over-achievement on the acquisition of hectares be?
Ms Archery said the “One Hectare, One Household” project would still remain under the recapitalisation programme. It was going to be on its own. The Department was going to report about it in Quarter 4. Concerning the deficit on COE, she explained that compared to last year, this year the Department had lost a lot of employees who were difficult to replace, due to the deficit. This was affecting the performance of the Department, because one person was doing the job of two persons. There was no funding to bridge capacity problems. Money was available, but it was ring-fenced. People were being stretched and were working even on weekends. The Department was left with money which it had received from National Treasury, only for service delivery. The problem was on the capacity to deliver services.
Ms Sadiki, concerning the location of the Office of the Valuer-General, said that its budget was with Land Reform, and the work it did was on land restitution and land reform. Once it had its own office, it would be reported separately. Regarding implications on over-achievement of hectares, she said this was being financed through the recapitalisation programme. The recapitalisation had been reduced in order to fund the hectares, because the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) targets had to be met. The recapitalisation programme worked in tranches, and the money would be recovered.
The Chairperson asked if the Department was not going to experience over-expenditure in the long run because of its over-spending on COE. She also asked why there was no certification on the NARYSEC programme. How were challenges on research going to be resolved? She also remarked that English had to be put aside and deliver land to the people, and that people must not hide behind the English language while the services were not reaching the people. It did not help to take money from National Treasury if service delivery was not happening.
Ms Archery said the NARYSEC programme would achieve its target for the year. The programme had recruited the figures it wanted in order to add to the ones it had already. In the presentation made to the Committee, the numbers were supposed to be on Quarter 4, not where they were located. She also added they were working with the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) in order to bring the number of outstanding certificates down. On the over-spending on COE, she assured the Committee there would be no over-spending taking place at the end of the financial year. The Department would report on the matter during its next engagement with the Committee.
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner: CRLR, referred to the research challenges, and explained that they had appointed a research task team. The person who ran it had been taken from the Department, because there was no money to recruit a new person. The number of external researchers working with the Commission had been broadened. They have engaged with the provinces during a recent research summit. The CRLR had put mechanisms in place to improve both external and internal resources/researchers. The Commission had a monitoring and evaluation tool which tracked the status of each research project. All research projects were in a phase of being finalised. Furthermore, the CRLR had been given mandate from the Minister to finish all outstanding matters and research. The expectation was that it would have to work twice as hard. The problem was that if an operations director resigned, no one was going to do that work, and the issue of people in acting capacities was proving to be a challenge.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) wanted to find out why people were leaving the Department, and if the salaries had been budgeted for.
Ms Sadiki said the Department had been given money which was not equal to the warm bodies they had. It had now been forced to reduce its structure and there were no funded posts. If a person left, no replacement took place.
The Chairperson commented that she did not remember the Department tabling before the Committee an approved organogram. The Committee did not know the staff complement of the Department. She urged it to forward the organogram to the Committee.
Ms Archery added that head counts had been capped. Even if the Department could be given money, that money would not go to the personnel, but to the normal functions of the Department. It had had to reprioritise, and this came from the desire to make the public service mean and lean. Unfortunately, this had had unintended consequences.
Mr Southgate said the organogram would be tabled before the Committee when it had another engagement with the Department, and it would detail the projects that needed to be done and who would be responsible for them, the restructuring of the Department, as well as the budget.
Mr Mnguni suggested it would be a good idea to have a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Public Service on matters raised by the Department. The Members had to convince themselves that they were doing their work and that everything was moving in the right direction. Everyone talked about the land, even if they knew nothing about it. It was time the research came to the fore on this matter, and he encouraged the Department to tackle sensitive issues and fast-track land reform.
Mr Nchabeleng asked if the Department had a system of making counter-offers to people because if it did not, it would become a training institution for other departments and the private sector.
Mr Southgate replied there was a system in place, but it had its limitations. Counter-offers were done up to a certain limit.
Mr Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, remarked that the global economic climate had created an environment where the ministers had had to take a decision to encourage people over 60 years of age to retire. This had brought limitations to the functions of the Department in terms of employing and recruiting people. Now one had to motivate very strongly for the employment of a person. The National Treasury had been taking money from the Department under the perception that a department receiving money was performing better than one losing money. There was no consultation. One only received a report. Treasury had never given the DRDLR money for the recapitalisation programme, and realised that later. The land reform subsidy was given to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to do land reform. Responsibility for the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) had been taken away by the Presidency and was now under the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). He did not know what the DPME was going to do with SPLUMA. Though the Department was experiencing difficulties, it did not like to complain and was focusing its energies on the re-engineering process, and was trying to work in a manner that was inclusive of municipalities.
The meeting was adjourned.
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