Documents handed out: Minutes dated 25 October 2017
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) briefed the Portfolio Committee on the concerns which had been raised by stakeholders during public hearings over the Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill. The Committee had given the Eastern Cape an opportunity to investigate the challenges raised and report to the Committee on the progress made on the investigations.
The Department reported on the situation at 12 Community Property Associations (CPAs) and one trust, and described a wide range of challenges. These included delays in the settlement of land claims; conflicts of interest between tribal authorities and municipalities; individual members of CPAs paying off loans and chasing the other members away; a CPA chairperson selling off land to buy taxis without the consent the other members; funds being promised by the Department, but never arriving; unhappiness over how recapitalisation funds were being used; a municipality taking away a portion of a CPA’s land; and the slow title deeds adjustment process.
Members were generally critical of the manner in which the Department had been dealing with the CPAs and attending to their concerns. The Chairperson said that this was not the last meeting on the issue, and stressed the importance of addressing the challenges people were facing. There needed to be a clear plan of action. It was unfair that the Department was taking time to resolve the issues raised. The people complained that they were being sent from one office to another, without getting any help. The Committee expected the officials to meet the beneficiaries’ needs. Most of the beneficiaries were unemployed, and some of the offices were far away, so it was more logical for the officials to go to the people and assist them.
CPA Amendment Bill: Issues raised in Eastern Cape
The Chairperson referred to the issues raised at the Communal Property Associations (CPA) Amendment Bill consultations in the Eastern Cape. It was imperative that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) assisted in addressing the several issues and concerns raised by the members of the public who had participated in the consultation. The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister to give an overview of the presentation, and for delegation from the Department to introduce themselves.
Ms Leona Archary, Acting Director General: DRDLR, briefly introduced her colleagues. She informed the Committee that present today were the Chief Directors from the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, the provincial and restitution office, and the legal team.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister: Rural Development and Land Reform, said the CPA Amendment Bill was critical. She explained that once restitution occurred, a Community Property Association (CPA) or a trust was set up. After this set up, it seemed people were sent back to restitution, although that should not happen. This caused confusion. Added to this, when there was conflict among CPA members and beneficiaries, the matter went back to restitution, whereas that should not be the case. The passing of the amendment would clarify some of these problem areas.
She said that in the DRDLR there was a CPA management sector that was supposed to take over all the issues occurring. However, the view of the communities was that those who had given them the land must come and resolve disputes. The proposed amendment would help in clarifying things, particularly separating duties and drawing the line on who managed what after CPAs or trusts were created. The Department was still in discussions on whether the CPA management was supposed to be taken to restitution, because it was apparent that there was a separation of the two if the amendment Bill was passed.
Ms Archary said the Department would present province by province, on the issues raised by members of the public during the consultation meeting over the CPA Amendment Bill. Most of the concerns raised were on the land itself, rather than the Bill. The Department noted that there had been several problems around the management of CPAs throughout the country. This was largely around complexities that arose when the CPAs were formed, with regard to the land structuring. She added that the Department was working on dealing with these conflicts, and the Accounting Officer would report and table to Parliament on an annual basis, as was required by law.
The Chairperson asked whether the report requested by the Committee had been submitted.
Mr Mathemba Gcasamba, Acting Chief Director: Property Sector Charter Council (PSCC), Eastern Cape, said the Department had prepared the report which was supposed to have been submitted. In September, the report was submitted to the Department’s national office to check if there was a need to add other things which may have been omitted. It was up to the national office to submit the report. He believed that had been done.
Ms Archary apologised for the lateness of the report, and said she would look into why it had not been sent.
The Deputy Minister said the report that was sent from the Eastern Cape had been the wrong report. She acknowledged the mistake, and apologised for it.
The Chairperson said she was surprised that there was a wrong report, as it had been made clear that the report was to address issues raised by the public at the consultations on the Bill. She added on that the report was supposed to lay out an intervention plan.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) said that it was an unfortunate situation that the Department had not handled its own legislation process in the right manner. Parliament was ensuring that members of the public had an opportunity to respond to the proposed laws. If the Committee had a report to work with, it should proceed. This was because there was no time, as legislation put before this Parliament needed to be dealt with.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) he expressed disappointment that the 30-day deadline had not been met by the Department. The report had not needed research, except simply noting issues raised by people and coming up with an intervention plan. The challenges people met on a daily basis included harassment, access to services, bank accounts and removals from land. Another issue raised had been that of training, which was supposed to be conducted the Department, in order to assist the people to understand their Constitution and make the Constitution work for them. He expressed great disappointment with the conduct of the Department, adding that what he had heard people say they had experienced when dealing with the Department, was what the Committee was facing today. He said it was perhaps the attitude of indifference, which was informed by the position that Members of Parliament would go, while the civil service remained. He said the Committee need not take this matter lightly.
Mr P Mguni (ANC) said it was important to leave the Minister and his deputies out of this discussion, as it boiled down to administrative issues. The Department needed to have sharp management and administrative tools as opposed to what was present today. The people felt failed by the system, because the Department was not keen on addressing issues raised by them. He expressed disappointment that a wrong report was sent. The weaknesses of the Department were being transferred to Parliament, making it a ‘banana parliament’ -- ineffective and useless. This was something worth rejecting, especially with the integrity the National Assembly holds. The Department ought to note the issues and process them. It was unacceptable that the Department showed up before the Committee unprepared. It was imperative to come before the Committee prepared and take the Committee seriously.
Mr Nchabeleng proposed that the Department be sent back, and the travel expenses be taken from their salaries.
Mr Mguni asked the Acting Director General to give reasons why they should not be sent back.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) asked how the Committee could be sure that the correct report had been submitted.
The Chairperson also asked what had been wrong with the first report.
Ms Archary apologised to the Committee, and said the Department did take the Committee seriously. She also acknowledged that the administrative failures of the Department affected the Committee. She admitted she had the responsibility of submitting quality documents with the details that the Committee had requested. She would make follow ups on the reports. She begged for indulgence, noting that the Committee had requested the presence of the Department. The request had been made last week, as an opportunity to present on particular issues. The Department would improve on its service delivery, especially as there were communities that required service from them.
Mr Mguni said he was persuaded by the substantiation given by the Acting Director General. Indeed, the Committee had requested the Department to be present today. However, the Department must consider itself cautioned, and should always respond to public hearings and the issues raised with the urgency they deserve.
The Chairperson said it was imperative for the Department to meet the deadlines set by the Committee.
DRDLR on CPA issues: Report back
Mr Gcasamba started by giving a brief background to the presentation. The Portfolio Committee had given the Eastern Cape an opportunity to investigate the challenges raised, and the Eastern Cape Office had been instructed to submit a report to the Committee on the progress made on the investigations. In the presentation today, 12 CPAs and one trust had raised issues.
This Association challenges with delays in the settlement of the claim, with conflicting interests between the CPA and the Chiefs contributing to the delays in finalising phase 2. He explained that phase 2 of the settlement package involved the restoration of the land on portion of the Ncora Irrigation Scheme, measuring to about 5 500ha. The restoration required the office to conduct a survey to determine the extent of the land to be restored to claimants and to excise state domestic functions, if any. A surveyor had been contracted and a draft sketch on the map had been produced.
This CPA was faced with the challenge that some members were being refused entrance into the farm by a fellow CPA member. The same member requested members to pay R1 500 each. He said that the Department had prioritised the Goodhope CPA to be provided with support in order to ensure that it complied with the CPA Act. Once the CPA was given a loan by the Land Bank, it had been brought to the Department’s attention that only one member of the CPA had been contributing towards repaying the loan. This was the reason why he had chased the others away from the farm, and said that if they wanted anything from the farm they had to reimburse him the amount paid to the Land Bank. The office, however, had advised Mr Ntungela that even though he had paid the loan to the Land Bank, the property was still registered in the name of the CPA, and when the Land Bank issued a title deed, it would issue it in favour of the CPA. There was an on-going facilitation process amongst the CPA members to establish the best way to resolve the matter. The members were indicating that they were interested in working on the farm. However, Mr Ntungela wanted to be reimbursed first.
This CPA had the challenge of its chairperson selling the land without the consent of the CPA members. A lawyer had been appointed by the Department to represent the CPA to challenge the sale. The Elliot magistrate ordered that the sale was legal, however, and an appeal was made to the Grahamstown court citing that the magistrate had never given the CPA members an opportunity to prove their case. The matter was sent back to the Elliot magistrate’s court for arguments. The matter would be heard at the Elliot court during the third week of September 2017.
Nduge Family Trust
The trust had had a challenge over a claim that an official had promised R3 million but that promise had never been fulfilled. The restitution project had been settled and land had been returned to the claimants, and the settlement award was without development grants. The official had never promised the trust R3 million, as claimed by one of the beneficiaries of the Ndunge Family Trust. A development assessment was conducted on a number of projects to determine the cost of developing the farms. The cost of the developmental needs for the property amounted to R3 million. The assessments were conducted in order to request funds from the national office, but funds could not be accessed due to other priorities. He added that project prioritisation would be considered.
The Association had raised a challenge that Mr Mbongwa and Mr Nadime from the DRDLR in Pretoria had made a promise, but still nothing had happened. About 75% of their farm was being used by the reserve. The CPA was not yet registered, however, and the Department was in the process of registering it. An application for the disposal of land to the beneficiaries was being facilitated.
The members had expressed that they were unhappy with how the recapitalisation money had been used. The community and strategic partner for this particular CPA had not saved money for new inputs, and hence there was very little production. The Department was in the process of verifying the work done by the strategic partner, including the financial management. There was currently no, or very little, production taking place on these farms.
Members were not happy with how the recapitalisation money had been used. Investigations had been conducted, and the members who were not happy and had abandoned the farm, had come back when they saw production.
Joe Slovo CPA
The CPA faced the challenge that the municipality had taken 199ha of their land. The office was not aware of the challenges facing the CPA until they had raised it at the public hearings. A project officer had been assigned by the Department to investigate all the matters and assist the CPA to resolve their challenges.
The challenge here was that the title deed adjustment process was very slow. A commissioner had been appointed to deal with the matter.
Some members had sold their shares. On 29 March 2017, the DRDLR had already appointed a legal expert to assist the CPA with the challenges that it was facing and to assist them to ensure they were in compliance with the CPA Act. The CPA had already started its own process with lawyers, and the Department was looking into the work that had been done so far. An annual general meeting would be organised to register membership.
The Chairperson raised a query with the report, pointing out that there were no explicit timelines and that some CPAs had been omitted from the presentation.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) she said she had noticed that there were gaps in the report. This was because the report from the staff in Parliament had names that were not included in the presentation by the Department today. She suggested that the parliamentary staff and the Department should reconcile the list of the CPAs.
She said that in respect of the Ncora-Qumanco CPA, the presentation had highlighted that R129 million was paid, while the remainder was not due owing to simple things like a lack of documentation and identity documents (IDs). She felt the Department had failed the people, as it was a very simple exercise to visit the people and get the necessary details and documents. She questioned why there was seemingly little to no worry over getting the money to the people. She added that timelines were essential to specify.
She refered to the Goodhope CPA, and questioned how one person from a CPA had received a loan from the Land Bank. She also asked why the title deeds were being issued by the bank, according to the presentation. With regard to the Nqancule CPA, she asked for the court date. She highlighted that the Ndunge Family Trust had been reprioritised, and asked what that meant, and requested timelines too.
With regard to the Sikhukulekile CPA, she said that the names that were given were people she knew, and she felt the Department should have consulted Mr Mbongwa to find out what had really transpired. She suggested that the people who had mentioned his name could not have consulted him. The Department should have given the Committee a report on the conversation with Messrs Mbongwe and Nadime.
On the Masizakhe CPA, she questioned how effective circulating minutes to members of that CPA had been. Finally, with regard to the Joe Slovo CPA, she again stressed that it was imperative for the Department to give specific dates.
Mr A Madella (ANC) said that the Department had not played the role it should have played in supporting and guiding all the CPAs. The Committee needed clarification on the Ncora-Qumanco CPA, as it appeared as if the Department was saying the remainder of the 4 000ha that the Chiefs had a problem with would not be part of the transfer. The action plan did not address the progress to be made. His primary concern was the conflict between the traditional chiefs and the legal claimants. The Department must not run away, but rather deal with the matter and ensure that the land was returned to the rightful owners.
On the Goodhope CPA, he questioned how it was possible that the CPA had reached the point of one person paying for the loan. Had the Department assisted in obtaining the loan, and explained repayment terms of that loan? There was a report that said the Department had dealt with the issue, and questioned why Mr Ntungela was still insisting on the payment of R1 500 from each member.
On the Ncaqule CPA, he asked if it was possible for the chairperson of that CPA to sell land without the consent of the other members. He asked if the chairperson had been made the custodian of the land, because the land could have not been sold without title deeds.
With regards to the Sikhululekile CPA, he asked the Department to clarify what the plan of action was in dealing with 75% of the farm by other people, and not the CPA members. Finally, he queried why the title adjustment process had been slow on the Thornham CPA.
Mr Filtane referred to the opening statement of the Deputy Minister, who had commented that it was never clear to whom people should go once a CPA had been set up. He said this was in part because the Department itself had not effectively explained things to the beneficiaries, who they had to talk to after restitution. It was important for the Department to communicate effectively with people, because the amendments may take another year before they were reflected in the law. It would be helpful if the Department gave them the names of the relevant officials.
He said that the Dordretch CPA and Masizame CPA both referred to an annual general meeting (AGM), and the Committee needed to know the dates of those meetings. The timeline column simply said ‘already started,’ which needed more detail as to what the Department had done so far towards an AGM. He requested minutes of the meeting which showed that the Department had had a meeting with the members and had agreed to an AGM on a particular date.
He also noted that the presentation on the Amatshezi CPA had included the statement that ‘each member had been given homework to write down how they want their challenges to be resolved and this would be used towards the amendment of their CPA Constitution’. He said that directing the members of the CPA to write down their challenges and solutions was unfair, given the low literacy rate in the Eastern Cape. He questioned how practical was it to require written submissions in an area where it was public knowledge that literacy was low. He also asked the Department why it was seemingly impossible to organise a meeting where there could be verbal submissions by the people. He commented that the Department was complicit in organising to oppress black people, hindering the realisation of the socio-economic trajectory for people to move to the next level. He said that the Department had poor management by allowing this to happen. He also asked whether the Department had someone who knew how to resolve issues, rather than asking people to go back home and write.
On the Ndunge Family Trust, he asked how much made up part of the budget. On the Masibambane CPA, he said one of the reasons why the CPAs were allocated strategic partners was because there was an assumption that the strategic partner knew how to do the accounting. He questioned why there was an issue with financial management. The Committee needs proper accounting as to where the R5 million had gone.
Mr K Robertson (DA) said accountability was essential, and one of the key elements of accountability was answering questions regarding the issues of land in the Eastern Cape. With regard to the Thornham CPA, there was a report that was supposed to have been sent in April, but there had been nothing sent. It was not acceptable that the issue of a title adjustment commissioner had been raised at the public hearing when it should have been resolved six months ago. He asked why a new title adjustment commissioner was being appointed.
Ms Magadla asked about the status of the case of the Nquacule CPA.
Mr Nchabeleng asked how the sale of land of the Nquacule CPA was possible. He expressed disappointment that the report had not given details of the status of the case. He questioned if the Department cared that poor people had had their land taken away from them.
Mr Mguni stressed that the thief who had sold the land must be brought to book. He was disappointed that the land had been sold to buy taxis. He asked for the registration numbers of the taxis.
The Chairperson asked why there was no report on the water supply to the Ncora-Qumanco CPA being stopped. The Joe Slovo CPA had raised an issue of being in possession of a copy of their title deed, but not the original one -- why was that the case, and why had the Department not reported on it? She asked when they were going to get the original copy of the title deed.
On the Masimbabane CPA, the Chairperson highlighted that the members had reported that they did not have title deeds. She also expressed concern that strategic partners were given money and the Department did not follow up to see if that money was used properly. She was also concerned over officials who dictated to members of the CPA on what to do, holding the title deeds to ransom. She said that the land belonged to the beneficiaries and the officials must listen to the land owners for the purpose of offering their guidance.
Ms Archary responded that she would ensure that the CPAs not covered by the presentation were captured and that their issues would be addressed. She also explained the situation raised by Mr Robertson regarding the previous title adjustment commissioner, and why a new process of appointment had to be followed.
Mr Gcasamba said the Department had taken note of the comments made by the Committee, such as the need for time frames and to provide feedback on the case currently at the Elliot magistrate’s court.
He said that the training that was supposed to be given to CPAs in the Eastern Cape had not been given yet, and this had been noted and would be addressed. The capacity of the office posed as a challenge for the Department.
With regard to the Ncora-Qumanco CPA, there was a challenge with the Chiefs and the CPA, but the Department was continuing to engage both parties. With regard to paying out money to the members of this CPA, the Department had been making follow ups, trying to track down the people. It was unfortunate that some of them were not currently residing in the Eastern Cape.
With regard to the Nqancule CPA, he apologised for not updating the court case. The court had sat in September and had heard arguments from both sides, but the matter was still continuing, with some presentations still to be made. What had been a success in the case was the Grahamstown Court referring the matter back to the Elliot magistrate’s court, because the latter court should have given members of the CPA an opportunity to make submissions. There was hope that the Department and the national office would work as a team and support the lawyer that had been appointed to represent the CPA. The members of the CPA were being harassed by the person who had bought that farm, but fortunately the court had ordered against such harassments until the matter had been resolved.
The Sikhululekile CPA, which had issues relating to the Minister and Mr Mbongwa, was set to be under investigation by the Chairperson, because she had said she would do so. This explained why no report had been provided with regard to the engagement with Mr Mbongwa. The title deeds for this CPA were not provided for, as the property was not registered under the name of the CPA. The CPA itself was not yet registered. The property was registered in the name of the government and the Department was facilitating the transfer of the property to the CPA.
With regard to the Joe Slovo CPA, the reason why there was no exact date for the meeting with the municipality was that the municipality itself had said they were still busy with other programmes. The Department had indicated to the municipality that it would be engaged with the CPA Bill hearing. They had both agreed to arrange a date to meet in November.
The Goodhope CPA loan had not been given to an individual, but rather to the CPA. What had happened was that Mr Ntungela was paying back the loan on his own, with no assistance from the other members. This was why Mr Ntungela was saying if the other members wanted to come back to the farm, they must pay him back the money. The loan had been settled and the bond on the CPA property would be cancelled, therefore the bank could release the title deeds. The Department had, however, explained to Mr Ntungela that the farm belonged to the CPA and not to him individually. The Department had also engaged the members, informing them that Mr Ntungela had paid the loan on behalf of the CPA, and not for himself. The question remained what arrangements could be made for Mr Ntungela to recoup his money from other members.
On the Amatshezi CPA, apologies were conveyed on how the report appeared to say the Department had sent people home to write down their concerns. The CPA members had not been sent away. The CPA was one of the few CPAs that understood what the Bill was proposing. The Bill was silent on what happened to the members of the CPA who did not want to work, and how to deregister them as CPA members. There were also questions on how to get more land once the farm business and the family had grown. Furthermore, they had raised a concern over members who did not want to work at the beginning when the farm was struggling, and now wanted to come back when the farm was flourishing and claim the proceeds. What the Department had said was that the members were supposed to meet and list all the problems, so that all issues were addressed. The Department had not dismissed them.
Follow up questions
Mr Mguni questioned the purpose of the Chief Director: Legal, being present when legal issues were not being addressed by that Director. He asked why the Department appeared fragmented and uncommitted to painting the full picture of what was going on. He urged the Department to be coherent.
Ms Mbabama said she did not believe it was difficult to get hold of people from the Ncora-Qumanco CPA to whom payment was due. The Department was not doing its job. She asked in whose name the Nquncule CPA was, so that it was possible to sell the land without the consent of the other members of the CPA. She also asked the Department to give the court date for the case to be held in the Elliot magistrate’s court. In conclusion, she said the there was a lot of complacency within the Department in the lower structures. It was imperative to adopt the culture of “RFT” – right first time.
Mr Filtane said three questions had not been addressed. Firstly, when were the AGMs going to be held? Secondly, with regard to the Ndunge Family Trust, he asked for clarity on whether indeed someone had promised R3 million. He had made a follow-up question asking about reprioritisation and the budget for the Ndunge Family Trust. Finally, the Department had to talk to the people, rather than the people showing the Committee that there had been no engagement with the people of the Masibambane CPA. He suggested that some of the people needed to go for project management, and that it was unacceptable that there was nothing to show for the R5 million grant.
Mr Nchabeleng asked how the Masibambane CPA got to where it was under the Department’s supervision. He asked who the person responsible for this project was, and when he/she had reported that things were not going well.
Mr P Mataise (EFF) said there were some CPAs not mentioned in the presentation. The Department had to facilitate the country moving to the next level. There was a wave of land consciousness across the political spectre. The people of South Africa had an inalienable birth right to land, and if the country failed to recognise and realise it, then it was not worth its sovereignty. He added that the land would ensure food security for the people. Further to this, he made reference to Black Monday and said those that produced food would hold the country hostage and control the people. Thus it was imperative to ensure that the issue of the transfer of land be swift and effective.
Ms Archary said the Nqancule CPA had been given legal assistance. The Department would remain close to the matter. The AGM dates would be emailed today, and would also be provided in the report to be submitted before the Committee.
The Nduge Family Trust was a restitution project which had no development grant. There was an assessment of what the Trust may need, and R3 million was what the business plan had identified as the need for the project. The Department and the commission had established a committee that would look at the development needs of the restitution project, and the R3 million would be made available for the development of that particular property.
Regarding the issues raised on the Masibambane CPA and the strategic partner, these were old projects. When recapitalisation was started, there no accountants appointed at the time to help oversee. However, the Department did do its own accounting and verification. Every time, each of the amounts of money had to be re-transferred, because there were two different amounts. When funds of that nature were approved, they were not released all at once. It was released in tranches, depending on what was needed. The things that had been procured included bakkies, inputs, seeds and livestock among other things. This had to be reconciled each time before new money was released. Therefore there would be verification process, and if something did not add up, the Department would take action against the strategic partner. When there was the appointment of a strategic partner, the Department did look into the capabilities of such a partner. In the more recent recapitalisation projects, accountants had been appointed. She added that the CPA was producing and selling at the East London fresh produce market, so it appeared as if all was well.
With regard to the Thornham issue, the Parliamentary question (PQ) had been responded to in April. She had signed off on it. The issue was that the first commissioner had passed away. The second commissioner had not done all of the work she was required to do, and she had also disappeared. There was legal action under way over this. The process of appointing a new commissioner had been started, especially because it was not acceptable that the members of the CPA had been in the same place with no progress.
Mr Gcasamba informed the Committee that at the Ncora-Qumanco CPA, the secondary cooperative did not want to report to the CPA. The roles had been explained, however. The secondary cooperative existed because of the establishment of the CPA. Development had started before claims were settled, and as a result the secondary cooperative had signed a business agreement with the business partner for the establishment of a dairy, and had signed the milk agreement. There was also an agreement on the land that was to be used for the pasture. The problem had started after the establishment of the Ncora-Qumanco CPA, because the CPA would be the one in control of the land. The secondary cooperative did not want to report to the CPA, citing that they were the ones who were in charge of the business, and were in agreement with the business partner. The Department had tried to bring the two together, to try to explain the role of each party. The dispute was ongoing. Some who were now part of the CPA, were part of the secondary cooperative. They were still to choose which structure best suited them – between the traditional council, the cooperative and the CPA.
Mr Nchabaleng commented that the programme had been running well until the Department interfered with it.
The Chairperson asked why the Department was still talking to the surveyor with regard to the Ncora-Qumanco CPA.
Mr Nchabaleng expressed doubt that the Department was doing all it could to resolve the issues in the Ncora-Qumanco CPA. He had heard some people from the Department were benefiting from the confusion.
Mr Gcasamba responded that a surveyor was needed to survey the land in Ncora-Qumanco, because there were invasions and settlements on that land. When the surveyor had gone to conduct a survey, on the direction of the Department, the Chiefs had stopped this. The Chiefs had said the Department must have a meeting with them. The diagram, however, had been made and the Department simply needed the surveyor to finish off his job and the land could be restored to the CPA.
The Chairperson indicated to the Department that they have an outstanding report on CPAs, and that they would need to hand it in as soon as possible. She also said timelines had to be indicated. She had not said she would investigate Mr Mbongwa and the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, but had said the Committee would raise some of the issues when the Minister was present. However, it was the responsibility of the Committee to summon Mr Mbongwa and clarify things.
She said that this was not the last meeting, and stressed the importance of addressing the challenges people were facing. There needed to be a clear plan of action. It was unfair that the Department was taking time to resolve the issues raised. The people complained that they were being sent from one office to another, without getting any help. The Committee expected the officials to meet the beneficiaries’ needs. Most of the beneficiaries were unemployed, and some of the offices were far away, so it was more logical for the officials to go to the people and assist them.
The Chairperson suggested deferring the presentation by the Western Cape office to next week, Wednesday 8 November, owing to time constraints. She reiterated that the Department needed to compile a progress report and submit it on time. The title deeds of land must be given to the respective CPAs. The Director General must appear before the Committee to account for the shortcomings of the Department in terms of interface with the people, and address their challenges within a reasonable time.
Departmental staff grading issue
Another issue the Chairperson tabled before the Committee was that of an advertisement saying there were level 12 jobs, only for the people to be paid on level 11. She asked for a comment from the Department.
Ms Archary said the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had been engaged with the DRDLR in February this year, and several time before that over the matter. The Chief Director of Human Resources was present and could clarify some of the issues.
The Chief Director of Human Resources said the DPSA had done away with level 10, therefore those on level 10 had been downgraded to level 9. This was because of cost cutting. The reason why the posts were advertised for level 12 and appointed on level 11 was as the result of the assessment conducted by DPSA which concluded that those people were supposed to be employed at level 11. The advert had been placed before the DPSA had made the decision to do away with certain levels.
The Deputy Minister said the Deputy Ministers were not listened to by the Department. She that the staff under the Ministers and Deputy Ministers were governed by the Ministerial Handbook, and not by the Public Service Act. Her secretary and parliamentary officer were both deputy directors at level 12. According to the Ministerial Handbook, the MEC and Deputy Minister had the same staff. She had questioned this status quo when she became part of the Ministerial delegation within the Department. Her secretary had been changed from level 12 to 11 without informing him. All the Deputy Ministers and MECs in South Africa paid their staff at level 12, save for the Ministerial delegation of Rural Development and Land Reform. In 2012, the DPSA had wanted to abolish level 11, and had reversed it with a letter. She had proved to Mr Eugene Southgate (DDG: Corporate Services, DRDLR) that there was a circular sent by public service to reverse that position. The Department had not listened and continued to do so. She questioned why the cost cutting was applicable only to the Deputy Ministers of Rural Development and Land Reform. She said she was seriously undermined.
Chairperson said the policies that were used in the DRDLR were different from those used throughout the rest of departments in South Africa. She said the Director General needed to come before the Committee.
Mr Filtane said it was important for the Department to send a senior person for the public hearing to be conducted on Friday 3 November.
Ms Magadla said there was serious undermining of the Deputy Ministers, and Mr Southgate must come before the Committee to account.
Mr A Madella (ANC) said the Ministerial Handbook must be implemented. This matter had been before this Committee, before and the Committee had said the Ministerial Handbook had to be implemented. The Acting DG was not able to implement anything, because the respective DDG was refusing to listen to her. The Acting DG did not have limited powers and must thus take charge and implement the Ministerial Handbook. He added that Deputy Ministers should not be undermined.
Mr Nchabaleng asked who was in charge of the Department. He thought it was deplorable that the Department did what it wanted, while the rest of South Africa was doing something else. It was frustrating for the people who worked in the Minister’s office. He opined that there may be people meddling in politics within the DRDLR, and the actions may be politically motivated to fulfil some political agenda.
Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, Deputy Minister: DRDLR, said he had texted Mr Southgate over the matter, to which his response had been, “I am blocked by the DPSA”. He felt that there was some arrogance over a straightforward matter. He said Deputy Ministers were undermined and it was disheartening that one could not implement what was clear should be implemented.
The Chairperson asked the Department to address why the Ministerial Handbook was not being used. It would be important to have a report on that.
Adoption of Minutes
The minutes of 25 October 2017 were adopted, with no corrections.
The meeting was adjourned.
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