The meeting to discuss the policy imperatives on the “One Household One Hectare” and “One Household Two Dairy Cows” initiatives of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) became involved in two other issues – the cost factors hindering the Department’s efforts to communicate with poor rural communities, and the negative impact of having several senior DRDLR officials in acting positions.
Right at the start of the meeting, there was a debate over the advertisements regarding the Communal Property Associations (CPA) Amendment Bill, so that the public could voice their opinions on the amendment. It was pointed out that newspapers were expensive and did not reach rural communities, many of who were illiterate. Community radio stations were far more effective, but the government did not have contracts with them. It was decided to raise this issue with Parliament.
Members then expressed concern that there were too many acting appointees within the Department. They pointed out that when one was in an acting position, one’s freedom was curtailed because that was not their permanent post, and this made it hard to fully execute all the duties needed to be fulfilled within the post. The Committee urged the Department to take the necessary action to resolve the situation.
Although Members generally expressed enthusiasm for the “One Household One Hectare” policies, there were some reservations. They suggested closer collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, because the allocation of land involved other Constitutional values, such as food security. There was also concern raised that the idea of making people lease the land was reminiscent of the apartheid era, and it was time for people become complete owners of their land in order to have full control. Other concerns were expressed over the quality of land being made available, the issue of water rights, and the migration of “energetic” youths to the urban environment, when their talents could be better employed among the rural communities.
Concern over cost of communication
The Chairperson said it was important to follow up on issues that had been raised at the previous meeting. The main issues were the One Household One Hectare Policy and the 50/50 policy. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) had been given a week to submit relevant information regarding these core issues. There had been a resolution that advertisements regarding the Communal Property Associations (CPA) Amendment Bill would be out so that the public could vote on the amendment. The Constitution emphasised the significance of public involvement and it was important that it was encouraged.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister, DRDLR, said the main challenge with releasing adverts for a public vote was the cost. The Sunday Times was the most effective newspaper to use because it was widely read, but it was very expensive. Parliament was complaining about this expense.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) said the main concern with advertising in newspapers was the poor. It had to be realised that illiterate people would not be able to read these reports, and an alternative should be provided.
The Chairperson said the alternative could be radio. The only challenge was that although community radio stations were the best in terms of easily accessible information, unfortunately Parliament did not have contracts with them.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) said this was highly unfortunate. This issue must be raised further, because the Committee needed a framework that would guide them. The issue of how expensive communication was, raised budget allocation concerns. Every time the Committee tried to travel, they were told there was no money. To move forward with solutions for the advertising, the Committee must actually know how much the budget was. Parliament’s contracts needed to be reviewed, because community stations did not charge a lot of money and sometimes one did not even pay for community announcements.
The Chairperson thanked the Members, and said she would raise this issue at the next meeting with Parliament. The Committee could not go further with this topic without the public vote report.
Mr K Robertson (DA) said it was difficult to hear the Chairperson as she was speaking softly.
The Chairperson said the Committee needed to move on to the core issue: the “One Household One Hectare” policy. Section 25 (5) of the Constitution stated that the state must foster conditions which enabled citizens to gain access to land.
Ms Leona Archary, Acting Director General, DRDLR, apologised for the late presentation submission. The Department was learning lessons as it implemented policies. The Acting Deputy Director General, Mr Bonginkosi Zulu, would give the progress report of both the One Household One Hectare policy and the One Household Two Dairy Cows policy.
Senior officials in “acting” positions
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) asked how many members of the Department present were in acting positions, and how many were in permanent positions. It seemed like the lack of permanently filled posts would be a problem, because for quite some time the Committee had been dealing with people in temporary posts.
Ms Archary said the Department did indeed find itself in a bit of a predicament when it came to acting appointments. The acting appointments were in Rural Infrastructure and Development, Rural Enterprises and Development, the Director General, and currently the Deputy-Director General. Everyone present had an acting appointment letter and could present it on request.
Mr Mnguni said being an acting employee was not as effective as being a permanent employee. There was a whole theoretical, academic, intellectual and professional motivation that explained why an acting appointee was not as effective as a permanent one. There were circumstances where it was acceptable for one to hold an acting post. An acting employee would be needed to hold the post in circumstances where, for example, someone was on maternity leave, sick leave or events of that nature. Now this Department had five acting appointees, and that was an unhealthy state of affairs. He asked for it be noted that a concern had been raised that the Committee was worried about the Department. People needed to be put into permanent posts.
Mr Robertson said he supported Mr Mnguni. The Committee would like a progress report on how far the Department was with changing acting appointees to permanent appointees. There needed to be a report on why there were so many acting officials.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) expressed his agreement with Mr Mnguni and Mr Roberts. There needed to be a date when these posts would be filled by permanent employees. It had to be noted that this Department was very important, as land was the ultimate political programme of the country.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Filtane for raising this matter. The length in office of the acting Director General needed to be made known to the House. Appointees in acting posts were never fully free to do their job because they lacked the full dominion.
Ms Mashego-Dlamini said the acting Director General did not have a specific time period of being in office. The post could not be advertised before the case involving the Director General had been finalised. The Department would sort out their internal issues within three months.
Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, Deputy Minister, DRDLR, said the Department was currently busy with the process of interviews that would commence in July.
The Chairperson said the main concerns for the Committee were the top positions. A further concern was that the Department advertised a post at level 12, but appointed at level 11. It was unacceptable for the Department to continuously advertise a post and then later change the level.
Ms Mashego-Dlamini said the advertised posts were supposed to be level 12, but the Minister had taken them to level 11.
The Chairperson asked who had power between the administrator and the deputy head. This question was relevant, because often the heads say they did not know about advertised posts, and only the executive and administration knew.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) advised the Department to put everything on record. Did acting appointees get the full responsibility of those who were occupying the post before? The issue about the levels needed to be explained further, and a progress report on appointments had to be submitted to the Committee.
Mr Mnguni said that the Human Resources Department should get on top of this.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) said he hoped administration did not give the Department troubles. He asked what the Public Service Commission had said about this appointment issue.
Mr Skwatsha said he understood all the points that the Department were raising. An acting appointee assumed the full responsibility and powers of that particular post. It could be a blessing in disguise that this issue had been raised, because it would help the Department solve their continuous problem. Correcting this problem meant addressing the backlog.
Ms Archary said she was looking into the issues raised, and would supply a report. Acting appointees must assume full responsibility. Usually, every person appointed at the same level post would usually go to a higher post. The Department had been advised to carry full responsibility in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and had signed of the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).
The Chairperson advised the House to move on to the agenda of the meeting.
Policy Imperatives: “One Household One Hectare” and “One Household Two Dairy Cows”
Mr Zulu said the Department had adopted an agrarian transformation strategy to deal with issues of land, livestock, cropping and community. The most important thing was respecting the Constitutional mandate and aligning the policies with the Constitution. Provisions on food security were found in Section 27, 28 and 35 of the Constitution.
The report identified food security and nutrition as a consequence of poverty and inequality. The main demographic affected by this food security were women. The Department looked at information from StatsSA, and were advised on the status of food in the country. It should be noted that the number of women living in poverty had reduced, and the Department planned to further decrease the number of individuals experiencing hunger. The rationale for the policy had been drawn from the New Growth Path (NGP). This programme was critical as it provided tenure security and tackled equity.
The objectives of the programme were to achieve a high sense of security and a high calibre of highly productive black smallholder farmers. Individuals had to be given the opportunity to have a hectare available to them. There would be training and development programmes aimed at encouraging these households to produce and rebuild the dignity of their family life. Households would work all year long. Some rural areas had land that had never been in use. The proposal was that, through the programme, households would be producing more, and 10% of the profit from these households would be reinvested into the programme. The programme could also introduce opportunities for unemployed agricultural graduates as site managers. So far, Limpopo had the most benefiting households.
Mr T Walters (DA) said presentations were of interest to the Committee if they were correctly implemented. When the policies referred to ownership, did this ownership go hand in hand with title deeds? The Department needed to make the difference between cooperative land and company owned land. Was it assumed that there was a right of residency? The land audit that had been done seemed like it was at the micro level. The Department needed to be clear on the sources on investment. Profits started after a year, and this required internal entrepreneurs. The only concern was at the top, as it was intrinsic to start at the top. He asked about job creation.
Mr Robertson said he would speak on the practicalities. On one hectare of land, one could not plant sustainably over the years. The report showed that the commonage had been stopped, and a reason needed to be provided for this. What were the criteria for the choice and handing over of sites, and why had the Committee not been invited?
Ms Mbabama said people who grew up in rural areas appreciated this policy a great deal. The problem was that in rural areas there was a lot of migration of youth to urban areas. How did departments plan to attract the youth, because those were the people with the most energy? The DRDLR was encouraged to share its lessons learnt around implementation. What failures had it experiences, and what had they done to negate them? It was important to get agricultural schools interested. She asked why the two cows had to be dairy. There needed to be variety. How had the DRDLR included restitution land in this programme, and which types of restitution land would be included? What would happen to the people who already resided in these areas chosen as sites -- how was the Department including them in the programme?
Mr Filtane said in certain sections of the Constitution there was a difference between food and nutrition. The Department was asked if there would be any collaboration with other departments, such as roads, because roads in rural areas were in a bad state. Energy requirements were further enquired about. Eskom was expensive and if this issue was not looked further into, it defeated the purpose of radical transformation. The Department was asked if it had looked at the potential risk factors.
Ms Magadla expressed her happiness and excitement about the programme. The migration of rural people to the cities should not be too much of a stress. However, the report was still not clear about the criteria used for the allocation of sites.
Mr A Madella (ANC) asked the Department to indicate how many women and people with disabilities were part of the programme. Representation was important and minority groups should be given a standing invitation. He raised concerns which had not been dealt with. The list of the requests and complaints from community members who had applied for land was not moving. There was currently no communication from the Department to the people, and people needed to know whether there was progress or not. If the Department could not answer for this right now, then it could be dealt with at a later stage.
Mr Nchabeleng asked how the programme linked with the Integrated Food and Recreation Programme. Was there some form of collaboration and cooperation with them? It would be helpful to know what the Department’s contribution to this programme would be. The challenge with land in the rural areas was that it was arid land, with some areas close to being deserts. The soil texture had changed and only a sea of sand remained. What would the Department plant on those rocky hills and sand dunes? There were various clashes among communities about who owned irrigation schemes, and this issue needed to be dealt with.
Mr Mnguni said he would direct his point to the acting Director General and acting Deputy Director General. Both of these appointees had wasted the Committee’s time because they did not know the correct format of presenting a report -- it was more like a narrative format. He asked whether the information presented was the programme or a sub-programme. Where did the report fit in the overall strategic plan of the Department? Was it piloting both its policies, or implementing them? The data and figures on page 21 and 22 of the presentation did not seem to be proportional. It was confusing, as the Committee was not sure about which households were being referred to. Information had not been sufficiently explained. Programmes and policies would prove to be non-scientific and inconsistent if things were done in a non-systematic way. He added that he and the Chairperson were required at another meeting, and might leave this meeting before it ended.
Ms Archary said she definitely agreed that in implementing the programme, there must be a level of expertise. There had been various questions about agricultural graduates, and it had to be confirmed that these graduates were paid. There would be a mentor to groom the students.
The difference between cooperatives and a company was that a cooperative was coming together and cooperating, while still having individuals who would become part of the whole.
The Department had done a very detailed commodity analysis of what worked on the ground. The findings had led to collaboration with Department of Trade and Industry, as well as the Department of Agriculture. In most cases, the Department was dealing with food security at the household level.
The Department was bringing back state land that was not utilised. In terms of restituted land, the idea was to bring back all land that was not under production, but could be in production. Many farms had been restituted and these communities had a choice to participate in the programme or not.
In terms of investment sources for the poor, the Department had set aside a budget of R268 million. A concern that would probably arise from the entrepreneurial nature of the programme was whether or not the Department would be able to come with the support to allow for skills development. The Department was bringing a lot of skills development, training and business management skills. In terms of collaborating with other departments, the DRDLR was working on the access of roads with the Department of Roads and Public Works.
The Department appreciated Ms Mbabama’s compliment. One of the key solutions the Department had for rural migration amongst the youth was the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC). There were many young NARYSEC people who had acquired skills that they now imparted in their villages. There were also various community centres that had been aiming at helping young people identify what they were passionate about in their communities so that they could feel a sense of attachment to their communities.
Mr Mnguni commended Ms Archary’s response, and said that was the format the presentation should have been given in. The Department’s work was not arbitrary, but they just needed to work on the format of presenting. It was commendable that the nutrition vs food security issue was being tackled with the Department of Agriculture. The issue of energy had not been adequately dealt with. What were the risk factors of using the Eskom grid?
Ms Archary apologised, and said a slide on energy would be provided in the future. On each of the sites, there was a business plan. Urban areas seemed to be doing well, while metros had requested the Department’s systems. The Department collaborated with Agriculture because rural development was their key area, not food security.
Mr Zulu said in the future the team would have a SWOT analysis to make their presentations easier to follow. The Department did have a breakdown of how many women and people with disabilities were employed in these programmes and could provide the report on request. Each province was requested to have a business plan of sites and households, as the households would buy in bulk as a combination of various households.
With regard to the issue of restitution, in most instances communities came to the Department to offer help with the One Household One Hectare policy. In respect of the rights of persons, there were lease agreements that went up to 20 years, and thereafter there was an option to buy the property or renew the lease for another 20 years. When it cames to commodities, the Department had used the data from the Department of Agriculture to identify the commodities. The Department had contacted the Deeds Office with regards to registering rights for the people. The Department could present this information in future by giving a detailed report on how people could register their rights.
The Chairperson said Mr Mnguni had asked whether this programme was a policy or not.
Mr Filtane asked what the expected turnover per site would be.
The Chairperson said Mr Zulu would provide the House with the costing.
Mr Zulu said the Department would add that part to the presentation. The issue of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) had been debated and the decision was based on the fact that the infrastructure provided to farms would not be done on the site, but on the One Hectare. The One Hectare would be subdivided for production. With a farm, one needed various parts for different plants, and consent for these different parts needed to be given in terms of the SPLUMA, so people would have to have an application to use certain parts of the farm. The programme was a sub-programme. The pilot had started on 5 June. This financial year, the Department needed to roll out and implement the programme.
Ms Mbabama said she was not sure about the security of tenure. The lease idea was very reminiscent of the apartheid era. People still were not owners of their own land because they had to lease the land. A reason must be given for this. Was it because the Department thought people were not capable?
Ms Archary said, regarding the security of tenure, the right would be registered at the Deeds Office. This meant people would have an ownership claim to the property, and it would be able to follow from generation to generation. The people would be given land use rights certificates.
Mr Zulu said the identification was being done in collaboration with the local municipality.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and said the presentation had been outstanding. There was much that the House had meant to discuss but had to postpone because of time. Next week’s meeting should start at 9:30am so that there would be adequate time to go through all the reports.
Mr Mnguni thanked the Chairperson, and suggested she excuse the Department. He said that he had been looking at training that would provide some ground work for the Committee. The most easily accessible institution that would adequately provide the training was the University of the Western Cape. The only way that this programme would work was if Members fitted into the academic programme of the institution. The Department could engage with the Portfolio Committee of Water and Agriculture and find out if they were interested.
Members were given a number to call in order to indicate their interest in the programme.
The meeting was adjourned.
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