The Committee heard a briefing from the Department on its first quarter report. The overall departmental performance was a 36% achievement against planned targets, compared to the 71% achievement in the previous year. In Programme 1 (Administration), the Department recorded 0% for the second year in a row. In Programme 2 (Geospatial and Cadastral Services), it recorded a 50% achievement rate. In Program 3 (Rural Development), it recorded a 71% achievement rate. No targeted infrastructure projects occurred in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo or the Northern Cape and in the latter, an agri-park was also not completed. In Programme 4 (Restitution), the Department recorded a 0% achievement rate and missed all its targets. In Programme 5 (Land Reform), it recorded a 14% achievement rate. The Departmental expenditure at end of the first quarter was R1.495 billion and reflected under-expenditure of R1.16 billion, or 56.3%. The under-expenditures of the Programmes were: Administration, R191.9 million; National Geomatics Management Service (NGMS), 15.9 million; Rural Development, R116.8 million; Restitution, R759.6 million; and Land Reform, R75.4 million.
Members said that the underspending by the Department would lead to fiscal dumping and consequently to a lack of service delivery. Members said that the Department performance was dismal. What was the reason for the low performance? Members wanted an explanation of the R42 million National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) expenditure. Members asked why Mpumalanga had a lower intake of NARYSEC students compared to the other provinces. Members said a Communal Property Association (CPA) election that was witnessed was shambolic and included elements of bribery and blackmail and an intervention process needed to be put in place by the Department. Members said there was underspending in all programmes, especially land restitution. How many land claims was prioritised for settlement and how would the Department settle outstanding land claims? What was the HR capacity in the Office of the Valuer-General (OVG)? Members said the Department should concentrate on assisting the poorer provinces like Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West as historically, they did not perform well. Members asked when those in acting positions would be made permanent in appointments. Members asked if service providers were informed that they would not be paid within 30 days. What was the value of invoices not paid and was it since paid? Could the Department comment on the flood of complaints over the non-issuance of title deeds? Members said the non-acceptance of offers by landowners was a political statement. What would the Department’s next step be? What was the Department doing over the failure of the labour tenants programme? Was the Department not pre-informed regarding the Basic Accounting System (BAS) changes? What would its impact be on the second quarter? Did the Department only make a partial settlement offer on the Baziya peoples claim, and if so, why?
Members wanted to know what was happening about the case of the suspended Director General. Members asked if the Department had the capacity to do bulk buying procurement that it reported it intended doing. Members said the Department plan needed to be revised to include talking about the non-achievement of goals on land restitution. Members wanted to know what amount of money government spent on land reform since 1994 and was there proper monitoring. Members asked if there was consequence management for the invoices that was not paid. What was the reason for extending the lease agreements from five years to 30 years and did the lease come with or without an option to purchase?
Mr Eugene Southgate, DDG: Corporate Services, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, noted that the reports included provincial breakdowns as requested by the Committee.
Ms Thokozile Masangu, Acting Chief Director: Evaluation & Research, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, said that the overall Departmental performance was 36% achievement against planned targets, compared to the 71% achievement of the previous year.
She said that in Programme 1 (Administration), it recorded 0% for the second year in a row. On the performance indicator of paying invoices within 30 days, she said that the achievement was 77% because of the rollout of the BAS system which affected payments. Of the provinces, Mpumalanga’s achievement for administration was 10%. In Programme 2 (Geospatial and Cadastral Services), the Department recorded a 50% achievement rate. On the performance indicator of the average number of days to process diagrams and plans, KZN took 27.8 days compared to the targeted 16 days.
She said that in Programme 3 (Rural Development), it recorded a 71% achievement rate. No targeted infrastructure projects occurred in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo or the Northern Cape and in the latter, an agri-park was also not completed. In Programme 4 (Restitution), the Department recorded a 0% achievement rate and missed all its targets. She said that in Programme 5 (Land Reform), it recorded a 14% achievement rate. It acquired only 9 131 out of a targeted 26 350 hectares for the Agricultural Land Holding Account (ALHA) and 801 out of a targeted 14 290 hectares for smallholder farmers. The Department acquired 0 out of a targeted 2 858 hectares for farm dwellers and labour tenants. She said that the Department would have to overachieve in the following quarters to avoid missing its annual targets.
Ms Rendani Sadiki, CFO, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, gave a presentation of the financial performance. She said that departmental expenditure at end of the first quarter was R1.495 billion or 14.7% of the allocated budget of R10.184 billion. The expenditure reflected an under-expenditure of R1.16 billion, or 56.3%. The under-expenditure of Programmes was: Administration, R191.9 million; National Geomatics Management Service (NGMS), R15.9 million; Rural Development, R116.8 million; Restitution, R759.6 million; and Land Reform, R75.4m.
The Chairperson said that the underspending by the Department would lead to fiscal dumping and consequently to a lack of service delivery
Mr K Robertson (DA) said that the Department’s performance was dismal. What was the reason for the low performance? He wanted an explanation of the R42 million NARYSEC expenditure. He asked why Mpumalanga had a lower intake of NARYSEC students compared to the other provinces. He said the 700 jobs created as reflected in the report was because of the recapitalisation programme, so it was not a true reflection to refer to it as jobs created. He said he witnessed a Communal Property Association (CPA) election which was shambolic and included elements of bribery and blackmail and an intervention process needed to be put in place by the Department.
Ms N Mashabela (EFF) said that there was underspending in all programmes, especially land restitution. How many land claims was prioritised for settlement and how would the Department settle outstanding land claims?
Ms T Mbabama (DA) said the quarterly report was disturbing. What was the first quarter budget as this was a better indicator than available funds? What was the HR capacity in the Office of the Valuer-General (OVG) as she was concerned about its capacity to do its work? She was disappointed in the performance of Rural Development and Land Reform and it looked as if the Department was not managed properly. She said that the Department should be using its resources. She said that the Department should concentrate on assisting the poorer provinces like Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West as historically, they did not perform well. She wanted the Department to develop a ‘catch up ‘list.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked when those in acting positions would be appointed permanent, as it was not good to have people in acting positions. He said that low expenditure equalled low job creation. He noted that the failures of the Department were mostly due to internal rather than external factors. He asked if service providers were informed that they would not be paid within 30 days. He asked if staff members were paid their salaries. What was the value of invoices not paid and were they since paid? Could the Department comment on the flood of complaints over the non-issuance of title deeds? He said that the non-acceptance of offers by landowners was a political statement. What would the Department’s next step be? Did the OVG have sufficient manpower? What was the Department doing over the failure of the labour tenants programme? Was the Department not pre-informed regarding the BAS changes? What would its impact be on the second quarter? Did the Department only make a partial settlement offer on the Baziya peoples claim, and if so, why?
Ms C Matsimbi (ANC) said that the report made no mention that the Department was under resourced. Was the Department not setting targets based on the capacity of its HR complement? What plan was in place to ensure the Department met its targets? She said that nothing was happening at one agri-park in Mpumalanga. Was there any system or plan for the park?
Ms N Magadla (ANC) said one could not have the situation where there was no spending on land reform.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) asked how long it would take to transfer Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) to the Presidency’s office and did they meet with the Traditional Leaders. He wanted to know what was happening regarding the case of the suspended DG because he was under suspension for a long time and this put constraints on the people in the acting positions.
Ms Mbabama asked if the Department had the capacity to do bulk buying procurement that it reported it intended doing.
The Chairperson said the Department plan needed to be revised to include talking about the non-achievement of goals on land restitution.
Ms Leona Archary, Acting Director General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, said that the Committee’s concern on the underperformance of the Department was also management’s concern and the Department would provide its plan of action to catch up to the Committee.
She said that regarding the R42 million expenditure on NARYSEC, a total of 500 people completed their skills training in the first quarter and in Mpumalanga the target was for 310 people to complete their training in the current year. The Department increased Mpumalanga’s numbers compared to the previous year.
She said that 798 jobs were created in land reform and there was no target for the first quarter. The Department consciously targeted job creation and had job targets for land reform and for rural development. The Department only reported on direct jobs created. The Department established a research unit to calculate how many indirect jobs were created from the Department’s activities.
Regarding the jobs lost or created in the recapitalisation program, she said that jobs were created through the “one household one-hectare programme” and a small number of jobs were created on farms where the recapitalisation program was finalised. So, these jobs were different from jobs that were there originally.
On the challenges in the supply chain, she said that the Department was working with the OVG and the Land Claims Commission to get valuations fast. The Department placed a Chief Director and people with valuations expertise in that office to strengthen it permanently. The OVG was in the process of filling other posts and should have extra capacity by the end of November 2017.
On CPA targets, she said that this only talked to those regularised for the first quarter. There was work done even though there was no target for the first quarter and milestones were achieved. She said governance issues in CPAs were a huge challenge and the Department was trying its best to improve controls via the CPA teams. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was used for the election processes in some very difficult CPAs.
She said that what the Department was doing in rural provinces in terms of their capacity was that across the country the district level would be capacitated. National would be responsible for strategy, oversight and monitoring and evaluation. Provincial would be the tactical and operational arm, while districts would be the implementation arm. In the Northern Cape, where there were challenges, the Department appointed a new Chief Director, and similarly for the Eastern Cape.
On overachievements which members claimed was because of backlogs, she said that there were multiyear projects where infrastructure would be targeted to be completed in a particular quarter.
On acting positions, she said that people in acting posts were taken out of their previous posts and were only responsible for the posts they were currently filling. Also, a total of 1 755 jobs were created in Rural Development and 798 in Land Reform.
On the non-payment of service providers and staff members, she said that it was about consequence management and dealing with officials if it was because of an official’s mistakes or inaction.
On complaints over slow delivery of title deeds, she said that land was purchased proactively and lease agreements were initially given for five years and this was extended to 30 years. There was also the Extension of Security and Tenure (ESTA) Act and the Labour Tenants Act programme that gave direct title to people. She said the labour tenant matter was a priority and a Chief Director was appointed for a five-year period to drive the transfer of titles. She said there would be an increase in the number of projects in the quarter under review because the final certification was being done. The land was already held by the State.
On the issue of target setting and HR capacity, she said that targets were set, but that warm bodies did not necessarily equate to skills and ability. The Department was engaged in a re-engineering process for the Department.
On the agri-park, she said the Department met with the municipality on the agri-park in question. The municipality initiated the agri-park and the Department offered R6 million to finalise the project in conjunction with the municipality and make the facility operational. The Department monitored what happened to agri-parks across the country and received quarterly reports from municipalities and provincial government.
On the Department’s plans to deliver on the underachievement, she said that in land reform, for example, part of the challenge was conveyancing and there would be increased expenditure on this and increased hectarage would be acquired.
On the appointments to acting positions, she said that there were advertisements placed for the DDG posts for Land Redistribution and Development (LRD) and the Land Tenure Administration (LTA). The advertisements were placed three times and the Department now moved to head hunt people for the posts so that at least one of the posts was filled. She said one of the challenges was that not many candidates fully understood all the legal aspects of the land laws.
It normally took 120 days to fill a post but the Department was aiming to fill posts in 90 days and panels were created to assist it achieving this target.
She said that the transfer of SPLUMA was agreed upon and the proclamations were in progress, but the Department believed that the proclamation in its current form presented challenges and so wanted some amendments to be made. The Department was working towards a smooth transition to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). COGTA would have to then take over the function of dealing with traditional leaders. She added that the Minister wrote to the Chair on the DG’s suspension.
Ms Sadiki said she would provide the first quarter budget figures to the Committee.
On bulk buying procurement, she said procurement panels was set up over three years across the country.
On suppliers being informed, she said that they were not advised unless they phoned in to query the matter. As at the end of June, R15 million was still unpaid and this was due to issues with the invoices itself. She said that the staff was paid and that money could not be withheld from staff without going through disciplinary procedures.
Mr Southgate said that the Department was in the process of being re-engineered because it was top heavy with a minimum amount of resources at the district level. The Department advertised director posts and resources at provincial level would be dispatched to district level. The new staff strategy would be in place by April 2018.
On the filling of vacancies, he said that the Department was trying to fill the 90 vacancies. It experienced challenges finding available staff to conduct the interviews.
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner (CLCC), said she was also not happy with the performance of the Commission in the first quarter.
She said that 1 001 land claims were prioritised for 2017. The target for the first quarter was 200 and 49 claims was achieved.
Historically the Commission met all its targets but this year was difficult and the Commission needed to change the way it was operating. She was confident the Commission would catch up on its targets.
On the offers made to land owners, Mr Sanjay Singh, Chief Director: Service Delivery Coordination, CLCC, said that the issue arose because of the Valuer General’s offers as compared to the market value and the Commission wanted to move to appropriation under section 42.
He acknowledged that the organisation had capacity constraints and it was talking to Treasury about that.
On the Baziya people’s claim, he said that he had not spoken to the Chief Director so he did not have full details of the case, but he pointed out that the Commission paid in stages. The Commission would provide full information on the case to the Committee.
He said that in terms of performance, the Commission was over ambitious and that warning signs were apparent in June. A recovery plan was instituted in July so that at the end of the second quarter the organisation should be up to 50%.
On the issue of the phased projects, he said that there was a decline of phased claims because the finalisation of the bulk of the claims was being reached. He said that they expected to be very close to finalising research.
The Chairperson reminded the Department the Committee wanted a progress report on the DG issue. She said that there was no report on the achievements of the OVG despite having requested detailed reports before.
Mr Robertson wanted a detailed report on the amount of people covered in NARYSEC and what the value of the stipend was. He asked previously but did not receive any reports.
Ms Mashabela wanted to know what amount of money government spent on land reform since 1994 and was there any proper monitoring.
Ms Mbabama asked what a SDC was. She asked if there was consequence management for the invoices that were not paid. What were the vacancies in the OVG office? She wanted more information on the setting up of procurement panels. What was the reason for extending the lease agreements from five years to 30 years and did the lease come with or without an option to purchase?
Mr Filtane requested that the Department be asked to provide a written reply on why the Baziya people’s claim was not paid. He asked if the Department was notified in advance by National Treasury or any other body regarding the change to the BAS system. Did the systems failure affect civil servants too? He asked for clarity whether the Department was going for expropriation or whether it was just considering going that route.
Mr P Mnguni (ANC) said that the format of the report improved and this was what the Committee was calling for several years. He said that the 10% achievement of Mpumalanga in the Administration Programme was worrying. He was not impressed with the acting appointments and this appeared to be a blind spot. He said that the report noted that the Department was headhunting for appointments but he said that there were qualified people available and he knew of a few people.
Mr Filtane said that he was happy the Department was decentralising its work to the district level and asked if the district level had the power to procure from local suppliers.
The Chairperson said that people were given land but did not have anything to show that they owned the land. What was happening regarding their title deeds? She said 733 of 738 Commission posts were filled with only five posts vacant, yet the Commission was speaking about a shortage of human resources. She said a court decision said that all the claims had to be processed within two years and she wanted an indication where the Commission stood regarding that matter. Where was the Commission in terms of becoming an autonomous body?
On the DG issue, Ms Archary said she that wrote to the DG of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) asking for clarity and they replied that they were having a relook at the issues. Since then the Department did not hear anything more. They rewrote to the DPSA in August.
On details of the OVG, she said that would be provided in writing and an annexure would be attached to each quarterly report in future.
She said the Department would provide the details of the NARYSEC programme payments. R1320 was paid as a stipend from the Department apart from the skills development program. There was also a top up stipend for accommodation for a total of R2800.
On the issue of money spent on land reform since 1994, she said the details of that would be submitted in writing including how much was paid for household grants.
On the acronym SDC, she said it stood for Service Delivery Co-ordinator at the level of Chief Director to monitor and drive performance.
She said signed leases were for 30 years with commercial farmers who had the option to purchase the farms after five years.
She said the power to procure by district officials would depend on what was delegated to them.
She said that she noted the concerns of the Committee about people placed in acting positions. She said that the post was not relinquished but the person involved did not have dual functions.
On the DDGs for LRD and LTA, she said that the issue was not qualifications in public administration but that the posts needed a level of technical expertise in particular areas. There were people with the requisite skills in the country but the challenge was that the Department could only interact with people that responded to the adverts.
She said that the “one household- one hectare” and “one household - two dairy cows” programmes did not disappear. She said the Department responded to concerns around the CPA.
Mr Southgate said the Department had a full time M&E unit. M&E was done at project and at programme level. He said that the M&E reports was made available but he would check that it was done. On the issue of consequence management, he said consequence management resulted in huge improvements and had an impact on the Department’s work. However, if an official was suspended then that official’s work had to be carried by the rest of the team.
He said that when there was a switch to the updated BAS system at the end of March, Treasury switched over but the Department was not informed by Treasury. The updated version of BAS was not compatible with the Department’s biometric systems and the number of data lines was insufficient leading to the system not working and causing delays in payments especially in April and May, but the issues were being addressed. There was no upgrade to the Persal system so it was not affected.
He said 286 people had public administration qualifications but the “millennials” did not want to stay permanently in a job and HR was asked to plan to mitigate against that. He said that they were doing a project to establish the minimum resources required at district level.
Ms Gobodo said that regarding expropriation, the OVG was an independent body and did the valuations. The Commission informed the landowner of that value. Sometimes the landowner rejected the offer and then the Commission could implement an expropriation request to the Minister for approval. The Commission made a number of expropriation requests to the Minister. She said the Commission acquired 3.4 million hectares since the start of the programme at a cost of R21 billion for land costs, financial compensation of R12 billion, and a grand total of R77.5 billion from a restitution perspective. There were more than 2 million beneficiaries of the programme.
On the issue of research, she said that they had 600 research reports with the service providers. A dedicated project manager was seconded because in the past there were challenges with the quality of the reports and the management of that part of the work.
There were untraceable claims and work already started to try and identify those claims. She would provide a written update on the untraceable.
She said that with regards to title deeds, the only titles that were not transferred were those where communities were in conflict. The transfers would not occur until the issues were resolved otherwise it would create further complexities. She would check to see how many were not transferred. Another issue of concern was the failure to communicate by the CPA committee to the community. The community would not know that the title was transferred to the CPA.
On the five vacancies, she said that in real terms the Commission was at a position where only 47% was filled. In the last two years, they could not fill posts and if an employer resigned that post disappeared so the Commission was not functioning at an optimum level.
She said that as part of Operation Phakisa, the Commission was working towards becoming an independent entity and becoming a Chapter 9 entity in the near future. It was reviewing its business processes and re-engineering the Commission and was looking at intermediate and long-term solutions. She proposed that the Commission present the plan to the Committee. The Constitutional Court ruled that the Commission should settle the old claims first before it processed any new claims and the Commission had a plan that it could implement and it was talking to Treasury on how that could happen but it would be better if the Commission presented the plan to the Committee.
The Chairperson said she was not happy with the Department performance and was hoping to see an improvement. She added that documents for Committee meetings should be submitted on time.
The meeting was adjourned.
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.