The Committee considered the Rural Development and Land Reform Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report. The discussion centered around the ‘Recommendations’ portion of the report, where few grammatical issues arose and significant attention was given to the issues of time-bound deadlines and the autonomy of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights. After a brief discussion, the Committee resolved to adopt the report with corrections.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and read out the apologies.
Rural Development and Land Reform Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson explained that the Rural Development and Land Reform Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report fulfills the Committee’s legal obligations, as mandated by the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, 2009, which calls for an assessment of the Department’s performance considering its financial means.
The Chairperson said that each member of the Committee is to read out a portion of the ‘Recommendations’ section of the report. The draft report is to be analysed for errors or inconsistencies and thereafter a decision will be taken whether the draft report is to be upheld with corrections or not.
Following a reading by Mr T Walters (DA), Mr A Madella (ANC) pointed out a minor grammatical error on page 25, section 7.1.3, line 4, which states that ‘The model must be based on a strategy that prioritise land claim that were settled prior to 2009 …’. Mr Madella corrects the words ‘prioritise’ and ‘claim’ to their respective plural forms ‘prioritises’ and ‘claims’ to the agreement of the Committee.
On grammatical errors, Mr M Filtane (UDM) directs the Committee’s attention towards page 26, section 7.2.5. The last sentence reads that the ‘Department adheres to the revised legislative programme which entails when pieces of legislation would be tabled and referred to the Committee’. Mr Filtane’s finds that the use of the word ‘would’ in the phrase ‘would be tabled’ and recommends the use of the word ‘to’ instead and is supported by Ms S Mbabama (DA).
The Committee accepts the change.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) takes the attention of the Committee back to section 7.2.3 which reads ‘Ensure that the second phase of the land audit is finalized. Further, submit timebound plans on the state land audit and quarterly progress reports’. Mr Nchabeleng had concerns about what this ‘second phase’ implies.
The Chairperson explained that the second audit simply indicates who owns the land but admits that she is unsure whether the second sentence fits the finalization of the land audit. She suggests that the phrase ‘the second phase of the’ should be deleted.
Mr Madella said that the intention of the section is to give the instruction to finalise or wrap-up the auditing. There must be a clear date for this finalisation as it can continue for the next ten years. It is a further entrenchment of the time-bound nature and it is only the formulation of the sentence that is wrong.
The Chairperson notes that the time frame in the recommendation is three months after the tabling and that the progress report of each recommendation must be submitted.
Mr Nchabeleng further notes that the section implies that the first phase of the land audit is done and that attention must be on the second phase alone.
The Chairperson notes that per the report presented, the first phase has been finalised and presented to Parliament. Parliament may need to submit a progress report to inform the Committee when they intend to finalise. She further proposes that it must be finalised by the end of the financial year 2017/18.
Ms N Magadla (ANC), in agreement with the Chairperson, says that if there is no time-frame then the deadline becomes open-ended and agrees that it must be finalised by the end of the financial year.
Concerning section 7.3.3, the Chairperson suggests the restructuring of the sentence ‘Table a comprehensive report on the commitments in the form of grants approved in terms of Section 42C of the Restitution of Land Rights Act before 2009 …’. She suggests that ‘before 2009’ be deleted and inserted instead after the phrase ‘… of grants approved’.
The Committee accepted the change.
Ms T Mbabama (ANC), in reference to section 7.3, which reads ‘With regard to the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform the Commission must – ‘, notes that the sentence would read better if the phrase ‘the Commission must’ was changed to ‘via the Commission must’. She also points out an error in section 7.3.2, whose first sentence reads, ‘Table quarterly reports on the processes to fulfil decision to transform the Commission into an autonomous entity’. She corrects this by adding the word ‘the’ between the words ‘fulfil’ and ‘decision’. The commission agrees with her.
On the topic of section 7.3, Mr Filtane says that the Commission is not yet an autonomous body and questions whether it is correct to address it as a separate entity. At this point the Commission is still a subsidiary and it is advisable to address the Minister and then talk to issues that affect the Commission.
The Chairperson responded that when addressing the issues, the Minister does not work alone but with the Commission/
Ms Mbabama saw it as a matter of consistency.
Ms Magadla recommends that the sentence is left as it is. Though a Commission is an autonomous body it is not a Chapter 9 institution. This commission is under the Minister and therefore they report to the Minister.
Mr Filtane says that the phrase must be altered to ‘… the Minister must make sure that the Commission …’.
The Chairperson agrees with Mr Magadla that the issue should be left as is and moves on to page 27, section 7.4.2 where she notes that ‘2016/17’must be changed to ‘2017/18’.
Ms Mbabama, about the last sentence of the report, notes an inconsistency in the obligation placed on the Minister as the sentence reads that the Minister ‘should’, in contradiction to earlier points in the report where it was stated that the Minister ’must’. The Chairperson agrees with this change.
Mr Filtane notes minor grammatical errors in section 7.4.1 in the words ‘the Act’ as opposed to ‘this Act’ and in section 7.4.4 where the plural ‘extents’ is used instead of the singular ‘extent’. He also draws the Committee’s attention towards the last line of the report, which states ‘… report to Parliament, about these recommendations’, which must be corrected to ‘on these recommendations’. The Committee agrees.
The Chairperson requires that the Committee decide whether it is for or against the adoption of the report with corrections.
Ms Magadla moved to adopt the report with corrections.
Mr L Mbinda (PAC) seconded the motion.
The report was adopted with corrections.
There is brief discussion about the minutes of the previous meeting and the itinerary of a trip.
The meeting is adjourned.
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