Documents handed out: Committee Report on Mpumalanga oversight visit [All Committee reports available under Tabled Committee Reports once published]
The Joint Oversight Report was adopted with amendments that included comments made by the members of the Portfolio Committee of Women in the Presidency, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus on both the recommendations and the observations.
In the absence of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), the report suggested that DRDLR was buying farms without equipment, irrigation and even water rights. DRDLR employed strategic partners, that were not monitored or evaluated and that they were there in some cases, the only ones who benefitted from projects. There was also much less progress on Agri-parks than eluded by the DRDLR.
Other concerns and issues found were around the Marapyane Agricultural College, an incubator programme and tractors that were found abandoned in an area.
After a wait (of around 40 minutes) for enough Members to arrive to have a quorum - during which one of the Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr P Van Dalen (DA) left, the Chairperson of that Committee, Ms M Semenya (ANC) thanked all for coming. Apologies were made by Ms A Steyn (DA) and Mr N Paulsen (EFF) from the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The meeting was to be chaired by Ms Semenya who said they should deal with the report responsibly. The report they received from the MEC of Mpumalanga was disappointing and was sent back. Critical things the MEC and his team should respond on is the Marapyane Agricultural College issue and tractors that were found abandoned in an area. This will be followed up by the Committee until they get the answers that they need.
The Chairperson said the issues that are for the Committee on Women in the Presidency was separated from Agriculture. She expressed hope that the report was read and said they wanted to adopt the findings and recommendations. She also mentioned that farms were being bought by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) without equipment, irrigation and even water rights.
Ms Nokuzola Mgxashe, Content Advisor, Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, summarised the observations and said a comprehensive report on Agri-parks was needed and as the Content Advisor for Women in the Presidency was on sick leave she also read those obesrvations and findings on women’s issues. She noted the good work that was d by them reaching out to communities and making impact on woman’s lives. Gender equality would have no meaning without the economic empowerment of women. Education should happen from an early age and boys should be educated on gender equality.
The Chairperson read the observations and findings on the status of women found from point 7.2.1 onwards to the end of the document.
She asked the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture to respond first.
Ms M Chueu (ANC), from the Committee on Women in the Presidency asked if she may contribute if she was not on a part of the oversight visit.
The Chairperson said she may only contribute on the recommendations.
Ms T Stander (DA) said she was not a part of the oversight visit because her son fell ill very quickly, but she wanted to contribute in terms of page 53, point 7.2.
The Chairperson said they were giving the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture a chance to respond first.
Mr N Capa (ANC) said he agreed with the recommendations.
Ms R Morutoa (ANC), seconded that.
Mr P Maloyi (ANC) from the Committee on Agriculture proposed that the date for 6.2 and 6.4 changed to end of October instead of end of September. He suggested adding a recommendation: both provincial and national government must attend to buildings that are inaccessible to disabled as recommendation 6.6.
That was agreed on.
When Ms Stander wanted to make a contribution on the observations she was told that she cannot observe when she was not there.
She replied that she was there now and that she has waited for an hour for the meeting to start and to help form a quorum. She said she was going to make a contribution because her presence is not needed otherwise. On p 53, 7.2.2 – 7.2.4, are written like questions. It should state if there was a program what was the finding was. It needs to be rewritten so that the actual finding is recorded rather than a question being asked.
The Chairperson said her input was valid.
Ms Chueu said nothing was said about how many women are going to benefit and asked why Agri-parks in the middle of nowhere was agreed to in the first place.
The Chairperson answered that there was a project profile included in the report to show if beneficiaries were men or women. It has not been captured in this instance. Like with the Fortune 40 projects, Members have been asking why it seemed that mostly young men are involved.
Ms T Memela (ANC), Chairperson said what was being referred to was the main reason they accompanied Agriculture on the oversight visit and that Ms Chueu was right because for someone who was not there and is just reading the report it will look like their company was a futile exercise.
The Chairperson clarified that the report covered the issue of the bought farms. The observation was that there were no equipment and no water rights. It was also found that DRDLR employed strategic partners that were in some cases, the only ones who benefitted. There was also no monitoring on, or evaluation of these partners and their value was therefore unclear.
About the issues raised by Ms Chueu, she said that Agri-parks falls under Rural Development, but Agriculture looked at it for strategic purposes because these parks must ultimately service smallholder farmers. The visit was to see the “progress” of these Agri-parks, but no Agri-parks were found.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) responded to Ms Chueu saying that the involvement of women was captured in the report on pages 32 and 35. On the observations she wanted to add that initially women appear in leadership positions, but that in time they disappear.
Mr Maloyi agreed with Ms Stander and said what she said also applied to the part on the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE). That part should also be rewritten in the form of findings and observations which should then be adopted. How will this process work?
The Chairperson said the report needed to be adopted to go to the House and in the meantime the officials must help to rewrite because adopting cannot be postponed.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said on page 53 a sentence was not captured well. What the delegation saw was gender disparities across all departments in Mpumalanga.
The Chairperson said that they should include that they must engage with the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Ms Susan Shabangu to make sure that the structures in the province and in the Premier’s offices are able to include women in rightful positions. Public service is a bureaucratic system. She suggested that a proposal should come from the side of Women in the Presidency and the engagement with the Ministry of Women should continue.
Ms Memela asked what criteria are used for the farmers to get the funding.
The Chairperson responded that the individual farmer applies to the provinces, but the norms and standards (to say how long a smallholder farmer will be supported, what the programme is for and how long it will take the farmer to become commercial as well as what the exit strategy around those issues are) was not established. There was no comprehensive support framework to guide provinces. This must be developed by the Department and the Committee have engaged on this with them. Conditional grants, where the farmers are funded from, are motivated by national departments. The Department was busy with the framework and integrated financial support for the smallholder farmer and this must be done and finalised next year.
Mr Capa’s input was related to what Mr Maloyi said. There was information in the report that was not part of the recommendations.
Ms Stander gave a general comment for consideration by the drafters of the report. She said that it was a 55 page document and that she can almost guarantee around ten people in Parliament will actually read the document. Therefore the summary was important and it should be in simple language. Recommendations need to be smart, specific, measurable and achievable. When the report goes to Parliament they are bound by the recommendations. The recommendations should be far more specific and directional.
The Chairperson agreed, but said it can only be done up to a certain limit. For instance, with intergovernmental forums, parts of government are not bound to each other’s instruction unless they are appropriated to. Provincial legislations have the responsibility of doing that. That is why it was said that the MEC for Mpumalanga should submit reports on the Agri-parks, the incubator program and Marapyane College. This should include the cost because they are appropriated to. With provinces it is useless to use such language because they know it is an empty threat. That is why the Multi-Party Caucus should convene with the nine multi-party caucuses for them to convene on gender mainstreaming and issues of women. For issues that affect other governments such specific language cannot be used.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) said working together would be the best option, i.e. the local communities, government and ward councillors. Opportunities should be directed to local communities, and specifically targeted to young people. Government provided funding for people to use it for agricultural use where they have been given land, but the problem was that the funding was not used for the intended purposes. This was where ward councillors could come in to assist
The Chairperson said she was right and they need the intergovernmental framework to be implemented on the ground. Any project that happened in the community should have a project steering committee and a ward councillor must be involved. Most of the projects that Ms Khawula referred to were before intergovernmental frameworks. With Agriculture, assistance to the farmers had to be considered and accommodated with factors such as rain. The Department of Agriculture should establish a better monitoring system and each programme should appear in the Local Economic Development (LED) programme of municipalities.
Mr Maloyi said that the day was not allocated to Agriculture; because they are meeting Tuesdays and that there was another meeting at 12h00. He requested that they should focus on the report, adopt it and then excuse other Committees.
The report was adopted.
Ms Stander said that the report, its observations, its findings and recommendations can be stronger and firmer.
The Chairperson said they have agreed with her and therefore they are adopting the report with amendments which means the inputs that she made will be included in the report.
Ms Stander thanked the Chairperson.
Mr Maloyi said that the report should not be debated.
It was agreed that declarations will be made.
The Committee on Women in the Presidency and the Multi Party Women’s Caucus was excused as the Agriculture Committee had another report to adopt on that day.
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