Commission on Restitution of Land Rights & Ingonyama Trust Board on their Annual Performance, with Deputy Ministers in attendance
Rural Development and Land Reform
02 May 2017
The Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) presented its Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2017/18, indicating that expenditure was allocated to two programmes – administration (R59.7 million) and real estate (R54.3 million). The total budget amounted to R114 million in 2017/18. Income was generated mainly from rental of the land and issuing of tenure rights, such as royalties and servitudes. Capital expenditure was budgeted to be paid from the Ingonyama Trust’s budget, amounting to R21.8 million. Of this, R18 million was for new office accommodation and the balance of R3.1 million for furniture, vehicles and office equipment. Transfer payments from Treasury funding made up 14.2% of the total funding/budget, with the Trust funding making up the 85.8% balance.
The Committee emphasised the need for specifics in the budget, especially regarding the percentages used in the presentation, where it was unclear what the percentages stood for. Several Committee Members called for more collaboration with local government and municipalities, as the ITB’s APP did not reflect any relationship between the two. This concerned the Members, as no communication between the two could lead to future conflict. They asked to see a report on the practical impact that training had on traditional councils, questioned the money being directed to office accommodation, and sought more information about collaboration with the municipalities on people within the rural context, and how this would improve their standard of living.
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLP) also presented its APP for 2017/18. One of the crucial changes they emphasised was that the Constitutional Court had found the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act 15 of 2014 to be invalid. This meant that no new claims could be lodged and an interdict had been placed against the processing of claims lodged from 1 July 2014. The CRLR had redirected all its attention to processing the pre-1998 claims, with a specific focus on ensuring that all outstanding claims were researched. A second key development in the past year was the agriculture, land reform and rural development Phakisa, which was designed to fast track the implementation of restitution. As of 31 December 2016, 79 212 claims had been settled since 1998 at a total cost of R36.5 billion.
The Committee brought several issues to Commission’s attention, specifically the semantics of ‘finalized claims’ as opposed to ‘settled claims’, how long it generally took to settle a claim, and the need for greater specificity with regard to the number of claims and the budget. Members questioned the practical impact of these restitutions, and asked how the CRLR could persuade claimants to opt for the land, rather than financial compensation. The Committee strongly emphasised the importance of the CRLR in restoring historical justice in the current socio-economic context, where there was an increasing call for radical land reform.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), said the Department had submitted its annual performance plan (APP) to the Committee, but would appreciate input as to what should be emphasised. It was continuing to focus on the economic transformation movement and the land reform agenda.
Annual Performance Plan: Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB)
Mr Justice Jerome Ngwenya, Acting Chairperson: ITB, apologised for the operational plan not being attached in the presentation, and promised that it would be forwarded at a later date.
Ms Nosihle Gumbi, Legal Officer: ITB presented the APP of the Trust, with the programme and sub-programme plans. Programme One concerned general administration, where the main component provided administrative support services to the board, and the secretariat as a whole. The core functions of this component included fleet management, logistics, registry, reception and human resources. Programme Two concerned the real estate department, whose sub-programmes included land and asset management, rural development and Traditional Council support.
Mr Amin Mia, Chief Financial Officer: ITB, pointed out that for 2017/18 and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, separate budgets had been prepared for the Ingonyama Trust Board and the Ingonyama Trust. Transfer payments to be received from the DRDLR amounted to R19.7 million for 2017/18, which was an increase of 5% from the previous year. The total source of funding of the ITB consisted of the R19.7 million, together with 10% from the Ingonyama Trust (R4.3 million), amounting to a total of R24.0 million.
Funds had been allocated to the administration programme, as the ITB administered the affairs of the Trust’s land. Due to the shortfall in the Board’s budget, an amount of R4.3 million had been allocated from the Ingonyama Trust’s income
Expenditure was allocated to two programmes – administration (R59.7 million) and real estate (R54.3 million). The total budget amounted to R114 million in 2017/18. Income was generated mainly from rental of the land and issuing of tenure rights, such as royalties and servitudes. Capital expenditure was budgeted to be paid from the Ingonyama Trust’s budget, amounting to R21.8 million. Of this, R18 million was for new office accommodation and the balance of R3.1 million for furniture, vehicles and office equipment.
Overall, the accumulated funding was R19.7 million from the ITB and R118.3 million from the Ingonyama Trust, amounting to R138 million. Transfer payments from Treasury funding made up 14.2% of the total funding/budget, with the Trust funding making up the 85.8% balance.
The Chairperson said that at the beginning of each year, the departments were supposed to put forward a five-year plan and cite an example from the report on their capital expenditure. This report stated that R18 million would be spent on the new office accommodation, and R3.1 million for furniture, vehicles and office equipment. She requested the specifics of the office equipment. There needed to be realistic, practical and smart implementation of funds. The Committee also needed specifics on the traditional councils in order to oversee the implementation plan properly.
Judge Ngwenya said that he had previously requested that the document presented should have more details so that in the future, the requested information would be readily available. He also took note of the fact that the document should strive to be more detail orientated and elaborate on issues such as vehicles and other details.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) also emphasised the need for specifics on the budget, and stressed the need to keep in mind the rural context, specifically with regard to transport and vehicles, and requested to know what types of vehicles were being used in this process. He asked about the social element of the fund: was it only Zulu people, or Zulu-speaking, or people with Zulu surnames who could access this fund? Were people from other groups being excluded?
Judge Ngwenya responded that it was true that there were some members of the community who were not Zulu speaking that were being provided, but that Mr Nchabeleng’s concern would be raised at a further point.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) said that the presenters had spoken of ‘measurable’ and ‘estimated’ interchangeably, and wanted to know if there was a reason for this change. This emphasised the need for specifics. What was meant by ‘new indicator’?
In quarterly targets 1.4 on page 12 where the number of policies reviewed or approved by the Board were completed incrementally, Mr Filtane suggested that it would be helpful to develop policies in one year and then complete them, rather than protracting the process. He asked who the board intended to target to attract investors. There was a lot of political talk about who was being targeted.
Linked with that was the question of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA), where there was a clear shift in the management of land from the traditional methods. The shift was that in the act, local government was at the centre. His question was whether the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) was excluded from the SPLUMA Act. There had been no mention of local government in the presentation. Was the land under the Board’s management excluded from SPLUMA?
Mr Filtane asked how the Board planned to circumvent the Treasury instructions regarding staffing, which stated that the government should apply brakes in terms of staff bonuses.
One of the ITB’s stated strategic objectives was to ensure integration related to mining for sustainable rural development on the Ingonyama Trust Land. To what extent was the Board planning to engage with the Department of Mineral Resources? Did they have anyone on the Board who was able to understand the highly-regulated industry? Was there a form of a Memorandum of Understanding? Cooperation could not just take the form of compliance.
Another strategic objective was the promotion of social cohesion and cultural values. Mr Filtane asked what intent the Board had as a strategy, as far as implementation went.
Judge Ngwenya responded on the use of the words ‘estimated’ and ‘measurable,’ and their interchangeability, and said this was not a conscious decision made when writing the report. There was no conscious difference between the words, in the loose sense of the words. As far as the ‘new indicator’ was concerned, he said that this referred to those indicators that had not been in the APP last year. Ideally, one would like to write the policies, review them, and then have them implemented one by one. What often occurred instead was that policies were written, reviewed and implemented while others were being processed because there was a need, and the Board needed to account for that.
Mr T Walters (DA) said that outcomes had been linked with the municipality’s plans, and asked if that included actual approval by the council so they were aware of what happened. He suggested an amendment there. He asked if the Committee could submit the questions that were contained in this meeting to the ITB.
He said that the traditional council support seemed to take a very big section of the budget, and asked why it was the biggest part and where the line supports were. He further asked why it seemed to continue long into the future, how it was linked to the outcome, and how it improved the lives of the rural communities. One of the issues was the problem of reporting, in that there were a lot of outcomes. What were the actual effects on the community - the report was not clear enough. How many people were benefiting, and by how much? He wished that to remain the priority of the Committee.
Mr A Madella (ANC) said that being a sub-plan of real estate did not actually sit well with the rural development and traditional leaders. The laymen could get confused, because real estate was concerned with housing alone, but the Ingonyama Board was concerned with the development of communities.
The Committee had previously been informed that there were more workers on contract than there were in permanent employment. The ITB could be in breach of the labour law, because the contract workers were employed for more than three months.
A strategic objective was to provide training to Traditional Councils, and he was worried that the target of the number of traditional councils trained in 2017/18 (12) had dropped substantially from the 45 in 2016/17.
Regarding traditional councils’ memorandum of agreements, Mr Madella wanted to know how many traditional councils existed under the jurisdiction of the ITB. The danger was that the Board was targeting the same traditional councils for the same things. Lastly, regarding the training of the Amakhosi, it did not make sense that there was such a small number of participants. This was not realistic, given the number of Amakhosi.
Judge Ngwenya said that the Board was conscious that land planning was linked exclusively to the municipality. The ITB, on the other hand, related to tenure – people living in rural areas, in communal areas, without formal documentation. There would thus be no clash over land rights with the government, because that was the responsibility of the municipality. The space the ITB found itself in was between local traditional leaders and the municipality. The law stated that the land was owned by the people on the ground. The funding of the ITB was from the government, and therefore it was answerable to the government. The ITB was a mediator to the people. It not meant for service delivery like the municipality.
The traditional councils were involved because they had legitimacy and were recognised by the people in the community. They collected the money from the fund. They functioned informally and the power sat with them. He hoped that this would answer the question regarding the Extension of Security of Tenure amendment Bill. As far as he was concerned, the tenure bill replaced the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA), and was party to that. He therefore did not foresee any conflict between the ITB and the land tenure bill. There was no land readily available.
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) said that there was a need to fine tune the Committee’s stance on the analysis, and what model should be followed. In particular, he was concerned as to how constituency issues would find expression in the reporting. Hotspot issues would be neglected if the researchers alone reported. The politicians had a better idea of what their constituencies wanted, and therefore should be more involved in the analysis process.
Mr Mnguni found that to sit in May and discuss a policy statement and budget in the middle of the year was inherently flawed. The budget approach started in July. The Committee could not change anything, so they were simply rubber-stamping and had limited room to implement changes.
The policy matter was the ITB issue of land tenure. How would the Board take that in relation to local government, their statutes, and to SPLUMA? He wanted to know where the land tenure policy was placed in terms of the proposed current bill.
The Chairperson asked whether the issue of the National Development Plan was aligned to the ITB, and what the role of the Attorney General in the administration of land was. She also said that while the training of the Traditional Councils was good, when considering the planning it was vital that the Committee look to the outcomes of this training. The Traditional Councils were increasing every year, and she asked if the ITB was changing policies every year and what the impact of this was. The money should rather go towards rural development, particularly skills development for children, and improving the general standard of living.
The other issue that the Chairperson raised was the use of ‘100%’ in the presentation. For example, in slide 9, a measurable performance indicator was the percentage of posts filled in relation to the human resources (HR) provisioning plan, where 100% had been used to signify the estimated performance, the planned performance, and the medium-term targets. She asked what the ‘100%’ stood for, what informed the number of training programmes, and whether the office accommodation budget needed to be approved.
Judge Ngwenya said that there had been no collaboration between the Department of Mineral Resources and the ITB, but the two were working together on certain matters.
The SPLUMA by-laws would inevitably extend to the Ingonyama Trust. The Trust could not exist outside of the law of the country. However, there had been a vacuum regarding local legislation and the planning of the Board. The laws that had been applied during the apartheid era were not associated with spatial planning in the rural areas. Thus, the question of planning and land ownership involved two different things.
Regarding the training of the traditional councils, in the absence of any governmental power sharing, the traditional councils saw any movement as a war against their authority. By training them, they were included in the process.
He added that not one municipality had incorporated ITB land into the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP).
Mr Mnguni asked whether the Judge was referring to every CRDP, as CRDPs covered rewards and therefore in those rewards, land was included in those programmes.
Judge Ngwenya said that in one of the towns that was owned by ITB, the Board had never been consulted by the municipality about what their CRDP was, and how they would be involved. When people asked for land, the claimant form had space for the municipality to comment and intervene if the potential claimant was within a CRDP. The ITB had not once received word from the municipality about a contestation of the CRDP.
On the notion of social cohesion, the ITB did not have policies on cultural differences, but had now developed policies regarding under what circumstances it should budget for social differences.
Mr Mia added that where the strategic objectives were to ensure that efficient internal resource management was aligned to legislative requirements, this was in the context of a policy review. Where the Committee saw gaps and the need to amend, the ITB would comply with their judgment.
Ms Gumbi said that on the issue of staff, the ITB had taken the stance of compliance with legislation, and that no contract worker should remain in employment longer than three months. She added that the reason that there had been a drop in the number of those in training was due to adhering to the Committee’s advice not to train as many as before.
Regarding the workshops, Ms Gumbi said that they had been created to deal with the issues of engaging with the people on the ground. There were specific workshops to engage with the people, specifically the Amakhosi.
The Chairperson said that the ITB had said that this was due to limited funds, and yet the Board had investments. If the ITB had limited funds, why were they then investing surplus funds? She asked how many accounts the ITB had, and said that the Board had many different accounts in different institutions, which made it hard to account for the amount of money the ITB possessed.
Judge Ngwenya replied that there was not one cent that was not accounted for. The money that sat there was administered by the trustees. If the trustees preferred their money invested, it legally belonged to the people, through the people. The government gave only a portion of the budget -- the government gave R20 million and the budget was R100 million. Perhaps the ITB should relay these concerns to the trustees, as the Committee did not have enough information
Mr Filtane said that his question that was not addressed towards this investment, but rather to who the Board was planning to target to attract investors. Was the ITB not planning to have the Guptas included in the planning of strategy?
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Filtane, and said that the Committee needed more time to find adequate information regarding the attracting of investors to the ITB.
Ms Gumbi said that the ITB advertised for investors and did not target anyone in particular, nor did it disallow certain investors. On the issue of the communication report, it would be premature to say that the plan had been completed and implemented
The Chairperson asked whether the measurable performance indicator of ensuring the reduction of vacancies was the percentage of posts filled in relation to the HR provisioning plan, and what the 100% of the estimated performance was referring to. She asked what the actual number of posts filled due to the HR plan was, rather than a percentage.
Ms Gumbi replied that 69 people had been employed, which figure was contained elsewhere in the presentation. Internal training was started by an audit, and the training of officials never ended, based on the operational requirements, because there were constantly new people, policies or frameworks with which to familiarise the employees.
Regarding office accommodation, Ms Gumbi said that the current staff needed new accommodation in Pietermaritzburg. This was being arranged, and was owned by provincial department.
She added that research was going to be undertaken within this year to establish the impact that the ITB had on the ground and what difference they had made in the rural areas. The views of the investors would also be established.
Mr Mia said that the ITB still had commitments to fulfil from the previous year.
The Chairperson asked to get the cost of those commitments. She said that the issue of office accommodation had not really been answered. The Board had said that the offices were not big enough to accommodate existing staff. She asked how many offices the Board required.
Ms Gumbi said that the current scenario was such that the Board needed a report on how much space was required.
The Chairperson responded that if the ITB was still investigating how much more space they would need for accommodation, why was R18 million for new office accommodation already spent?
Ms T Mbabama (DA) asked if the offices the Board was providing were offices per person, or open plan.
Judge Ngwenya said that the ITB had grown and bought space which was still not enough for their needs. There were three stages of development. Firstly, the old house had been updated, secondly the new office block had been built, and the third phase was when the staff had been appointed. The R18 million had been used in the past to pay for these phases.
In addressing the question that Mr Madella had raised in terms of human resources (HR) provision, the Board had noted that they needed to employ contract workers in compliance with labour law, but there still needed to be a proper job evaluation for each position. In the next report presented to the Committee, what appeared as contract labour would have changed drastically.
Mr Walters said that he was still confused about the interaction between the ITB and local government. He asked if the development plan had been done in tandem with the ITB. The target in the report needed to be amended to say whether it complied with the development plan. If one worked with local government, they would have had access to local government planning staff. If there were problems with local government, the report should signify when and what the problems were regarding the local government.
Ms A Qikani (ANC) asked if the ITB was self-sustainable without the investors, and why the Trust could not work alongside the local government.
Mr Filtane asked how the ITB intended to circumvent local governments. From his understanding, there was no relationship between the two of them. He asked the Board what the long-term implications of this were, and if the ITB did not impact on the planning process of local government. As Judge Ngwenya had said, the government contributed only one-fifth of the budget, but they still contributed. The Department should find out what the implications of this were. However, he appreciated that local government would not always take the initiative and come forward to work alongside the ITB.
Mr Walters said that the law was the final authority on the land development and pointed out that if there was a misalignment between the ITB and the law, this would negatively impact on the rural communities they both intended to aid. The Department could be heading towards an illegal land situation if the ITB did not fit into the legislation. If the local government did not want to work alongside the ITB, then the Committee should make it part of their mandate to make sure that local government was notified of their role.
Judge Ngwenya said that the ITB was aware of any potential development by the individuals approaching them. If a person went to a tribal leader and put up a home, they did not apply for permission from the local government. There was no conflict between the ITB’s role and local governments. The ITB allocated tenure. It could not allocate tenure without having followed the law. Building houses on land needed tenure, and this needed to fulfil the legal requirements. The ITB was not outside the regulations. It could allocate short term leases where the individuals aligned themselves to the regulations and then a long-term lease was allowed, based on following those regulations. On the question of circumventing the National Treasury, the ITB did not go around them -- when it needed the National Treasury, it approached them
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha said that this Committee meeting had shown strikingly that there was a need for the ITB to have come better prepared.
The Chairperson said there was a need for another meeting with the ITB to go into depth to discuss these particular issues. On Tuesday the following week, the Committee needed to re-evaluate these issues. When things went wrong, it was the government’s fault, so the Committee had to make sure that their work was thorough and protected those in the rural areas. She thanked the ITB for their presentation, and the Members for their questions.
Commission on Restitution of Land Rights: Annual Performance Plan
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, DRDLR, said that the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) had been created through the constitutional mandate, but there was an issue of autonomy, as it did not have support outside the Department. The Commission received its appropriation from the Department. Their mandate was to move towards autonomy
Over the past reporting year, a crucial change in the environment was that on 28 July 2016, the Constitutional Court had found the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act 15 of 2014 to be invalid. This meant that no new claims could be lodged and an interdict was placed against the processing of claims lodged from 1 July 2014. In addition, the Constitutional Court essentially gave Parliament 24 months to process a new amendment act. This meant that the CRLR refocused all its attention on processing the pre-1998 claims, with a specific focus on ensuring that all outstanding claims were researched.
A second key development in the past year was the agriculture, land reform and rural development Phakisa, which sought to stimulate socio-economic growth, foster job creation and instil transformation along the agriculture and rural development value chain. The key initiatives of Operation Phakisa for the CRLR was to ‘fast track the settlement of the outstanding restitution claims in a sustainable manner,’ which meant that all outstanding research should be concluded by 2017/18, and that all outstanding verification of restitution beneficiaries must be concluded in order to settle all outstanding claims within in the next 24 months. To facilitate this approach, various administrative and business processes would be revised to ensure that the pre-1998 claims were dealt with as quickly as possible. In the light of these developments, the 2017/18 APP had been developed in order to reflect these commitments and realities.
In 2015/16, all the APP targets had been achieved for the number of land claims settled (617 against the target of 463), the number of land claims finalised (560 against a target of 373), the number of phased projects approved (82 against a target of 62), and the number of claims lodged by 1998 to be researched (2 541 against a target of 2 660). Expenditure of R2 611 324 247 had been within the budget of R2 656 949 290. Approximately 80 000 claims had been lodged, of which 79 212 had been settled as at 31 December 2016. This had resulted in 3.3 million hectares of land, and R11.63 billion-rand financial compensation, being awarded to 2.03 million beneficiaries from 408 231 households, of which 328 852 were female-headed. Had claimants who opted for financial compensation chosen land restoration, an additional 2.7 million hectares would have been restored. The total cost of the settlement of these claims was R36.5 billion. There were 6 989 claims that were lodged before the 1998 cut-off date which were outstanding.
The programme had a funded establishment of 738. 733 posts were filled, and six posts were filled in addition to this establishment. The vacancy rate was 0.68%.
The total budget allocated for Programme 4 (restitution) amounted to just under R3.25 billion for the 2017/18 financial year. A total of R10.3 billion has been allocated for settling land restitution claims over the MTEF period, which constitutes 31.9% of the DRDLR budget. Consultants were extensively utilised as part of the pre-settlement of claims, especially the appointment of valuers, conveyancers and specialist researchers, and was a major cost driver in the restitution programme. Over the MTEF period, R503.7 million would be spent on such consultants. It was of concern that the compensation of employees budget had been reduced by over 3%, which did not allow for the filling of critical posts.
The Chairperson commented that there were 724 claims to be finalised by 2018. Finalised meant either financial or land restitution. She asked how long claims took to be finalised and if the Commission had the capacity to finalise these 724 claims.
Mr Madella expressed confusion regarding the figures. The presentation stated that 80 000 claims had been lodged, yet this number was an approximation. What was the actual number of claims lodged? The presentation had also indicated that there were a certain number of claims that had not been settled, and he asked if those had been those factored into the 80 000.
Ms Qikani said that if the Commission could not process the claims of 2014-16, did this mean that it could not assist the claimants at all? She asked if the Commission had information on the impact of restitution.
Mr Filtane asked if the Commission saw itself finalising its research by June 2017. What measures were being taken to persuade people to opt for land rather than money? Given the socio-political environment at the moment and the recent statement of radical land restitution by various groups, how could the programme address these calls? This was in the context that the rhetoric of the ministers did not reflect the allocation of resources, particularly land.
Mr Walters said that the objective of the CRLR was about active historical justice. He asked what happened to the land that was passed over for financial restitution, and whether there was a system of checking that the land was being used so it did not get lost in the system. What was the reason for the hold-up of certain claim forms not being resolved, and what were the main systemic issues resulting in claims not being resolved? One of the concerns that Committee had raised was that it was one thing to reopen claims, but it was another thing to not have the budget for them. It had been estimated that it would take 140-150 years to solve all the unsettled claims. Was there a contingency plan when new policies were instituted?
Mr K Robertson (DA) expressed interest in the 3.3 million hectares that had been transferred. He asked how much of that was agricultural land? There were also people who had gone for financial compensation -- was there any way to translate that into hectares so the Committee could see how much was given back? The Committee had asked a while ago who was in charge of the research, and the Commission had said that students had been tasked with this. Mr Robertson asked the Commission to elaborate on this.
Ms Mbabama said that there were 6 989 claims outstanding, and the Commission had had 24 months to finalise them. However, when she calculated the number of claims lodged by 1998 to be researched on slide 11, she did not come to the number of 6 989.
Mr Nchabeleng asked what the role of the Commission was in Phakisa, because Phakisa was involved in water and fishing restoration. Did that mean that the CRLR was working alongside Phakisa? Where did they see their niche in Operation Phakisa? Regarding land claims on state-owned land, he asked how the process worked and if those were not the easiest claims to settle, as there should not be any contestation by the state to give up the land. Part of the state-owned land would be land claimed in military bases. The community could not function in those spaces, because the infrastructure had been looted. Regarding those areas, and national parks and game reserves, he asked if there was a strategy specific for this, as they were not the general land claims.
Mr Mnguni asked to receive reassurance on the processing of claims, and how the CRLR would inform those parties in South Africa interested in radical land reform of the socio-economic impact of this Commission.
The Chairperson said that 916 claims were to be researched in the third quarter, as shown in the presentation, and the Commission had finalised its 2017 plan. However, an amount of R503.7 million had been spent on consultants. She asked the Commission why so much money was spent on consultants for 2017 if the plan was already finalised.
The Chairperson then asked about the status of those cases that were still in court, the untraceable claims and the commitments. She asked what plans had been put in place to deal with service deliverers that were not competent, and what plans had been put in place to establish the criteria of the required qualifications.
Mr Madella asked if the Commission could elaborate on the mini-labs that had been mentioned in the presentation.
Ms Gobodo responded by saying that a claim was settled when all the research had been done and it was given to the Minister, as stated in section 44, and the Minister signed to confirm the validity of the claim. The claim was finalised when every cent was given back. As to how long this process took, if it was a simple claim, the gap between settlement and finalisation generally took about three months. However, if it was difficult situation, where the claimants interdicted the CRLR saying that the Commission had signed over to the wrong people, it could not continue until the situation was resolved. A lot of the cases which had not been resolved were the older ones, where there were many issues that prevented them from being solved. Where there were financial claims by a community, if the Commission was paying a town of 2 000 and it could not find some of the people, the claim could not be finalised because there were outstanding claimants. It was important to consider the terms ‘settled’ and ‘finalized’, and recognise their differences.
The Commission had done an audit and had counted all the claim forms. However, it could not satisfactorily answer as to how many claims had been settled, as there could be as many as five rights on one claim form, so that meant that the numbers did not always add up because the rights were sometimes included. That was why the Commission had to do thorough research to see that they had dealt with all the claims.
Regarding the 916 claims to be researched, the majority of the research had been given to service providers, some of which included universities, but none of the research had been given to students. Universities had institutions that could deliver those results. Those that did not live up to the standards required were not hired again. The 916 claims were the number to be researched from the old order. The Commission was doing everything it could in terms of working with the Department of Home Affairs and their database in order to locate missing claimants.
The Commission did prioritise state land claims, but sometimes there were competing rights and claims, and conflict arose over that. The land had not always been surveyed, so that needed to be considered. Regarding the claimants of land on game reserves, the Commission was able to provide financial restitution and they were given rights in the running of the park.
Generally, the issues facing the Commission were very cumbersome and required a number of hoops to be jumped through in order to settle a claim. Examples were one community competing against another one, as well as the problem of different periods of dispossession where, for instance, a community had been moved several times. What was happening now was that there was limited capacity within the Commission’s research. If one looked at the five-year budget, it had stayed within the budget. However, if there were more cases, the Commission needed to be up-scaled in terms of access to finances.
The Phakisa context means that a claimant was fast tracked in the settlement of the land claim. The Commission was going to use the mini-lab to unpack what it meant to fast track Phakisa. Firstly, however, it needed to realign its business model to see what the new ways of settling claims more efficiently were.
Regarding a socio-economic impact assessment, Ms Gobodo said that she would have to speak to the legal department about this.
The 916 was the end target for claims settled by the end of June 2017. If they were not completed, then at least they would all be in the hands of the research reporters, and there would be no research outstanding.
Regarding the Wallmansthal claim matter, there had been an irregularity in that the Commission had thought that it was a community claim. However, it transpired that the claims had been handed in individually. The CRLR was in the process settling them individually, but there was conflict within the families themselves. The land that was invaded had been state land and was not owned by the communities.
Ms Gobodo said that the Commission did not have actual figures of the percentage of agricultural land allocated, but could give the Committee those figures at a later date. It had already presented on the fact that 2.7 million hectares of land would have been restored if claimants had taken land rather than financial restitution. If people opted for financial restitution, the Commission did not buy that land.
Currently the Commission was sitting with 131 court cases, and this number fluctuated. It was being taken to court either by the claimants, particularly communities, or the current land owners.
Phakisa was a programme that had been launched for restitution and redistribution, but because the content was not moving fast enough, Operation Phakisa had been designed to fast track the implementation of restitution. A mini lab was allowed after a Phakisa where certain issues that had not been resolved were addressed, and additional time was allowed bringing stakeholders together.
Mr Nchabeleng said that if there was to be any event that would affect their constituencies’ committees, such as Operation Phakisa, the Committee would like to be informed.
Mr Walters wanted to suggest specifically that Operation Phakisa needed to be presented on as soon as possible.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini said that this Phakisa needed to be approved by Cabinet before it could be brought to a presentation before the Committee. The second issue was that of the arable land, 8.9% of which had been given back to the people. Regarding the issue of the invitation, the Committee was asked to bear with the Department, as there had simply not been enough time to invite people before the event. The Department apologised for that oversight.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha wanted to emphasise the apology, as the Department needed to invite the Committee. In the issue of money versus land, he assured the Committee that the Department had been busy with this project for a long time. It advised people to take the land and gave workshops on how to use it. The fact that people went for the money was not a failing of the Department. In some instances, the Department even offered alternative land, because the original land was not up to standard.
Regarding radical economic transformation, there was an increasing leaning towards radical economic restoration. However, this Department had prepared this restoration movement for the long haul and did not want to hasten this process. In South Africa, it was impossible to deal with economic restoration without bringing up land. This had to be dealt with in order to create a just and equal society. People should prioritise the land over the money so that the government could deal with the current situation in SA.
Mr Robertson asked about the land audit, and a date when it would be finalised.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha replied that it was in phase two of being completed, as the Department had been advised to make some amendments. However, it should be ready by the end of May.
The Chairperson thanked the Commission, and said she hoped that the issue of unsolved claims would be finalised as soon as possible.
The meeting was adjourned.
Ngwenya-Mabila, Ms PC
Filtane, Mr ML
Madella, Mr AF
Magadla, Ms NW
Makhubela-Mashele, Ms LS
Mashego-Dlamini, Ms K C
Mbabama, Ms TM
Mnguni, Mr PJ
Nchabeleng, Mr ME
Qikani, Ms AN
Skwatsha, Mr M
Walters, Mr TC
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.