The absence of the Minister from the Annual Performance Plan briefings was again noted.
North West Department of Rural Development and Land Reform presentation had been rejected the previous day as it lacked a problem statement and it presented a corrected version about the concerns raised during the public hearings on the Communal Property Associations (CPA) Amendment Bill. These were about the CPAs of the Dikgatlhong, Mamerotse, Ramatlakane and Bakgatla Ba Kgafela. In the latter, it said the conflicts were complex and deep and only the symptoms were currently being treated. The underlying conflicts were the contestation of the chieftaincy (which the Maluleke Commission was currently handling); the beneficiation and control of the mines on the land; the administration of state land and communal land and restituted land. The CPA controlled 50% of the Pilanesberg game reserve. North West Department said it was sometimes unable to assist the ordinary person and there was a need to develop a way forward. To this end a Deputy Minister would be visiting to assist with the matter.
Other allegations levelled at the North West public hearings were that the Provincial Department was working like an agent for a colonial government; the conflict that existed between traditional leaders and CPAs were because of the old and new CPA laws; and CPA officials were allocating land for themselves; and that the term of office for the Batloung CPA has lapsed. There were also allegations made about the Modderspruit, Barolong Bo Modiboa, Ikaheng and Phomolong CPAs. The North West Department noted that there was a growing trend of community members directing allegations against officials and that Mr Bogatsu, Chief Director: North West Regional Land Claims Commission, did not relate in any way with the Bogatsu surname referred to in the allegations. The Provincial Department was appointing a person to investigate allegations against officials and CPA Committee members.
Members said the North West Department’s report did not inspire confidence in its officials as the complaints were not captured succinctly and clearly. What was the cost for appointing external mediators, election agents and how was this budgeted for? Members wanted to see one of the mediator reports to assess whether the money spent was worth it. Members asked the DG if Mr Bogatsu was being investigated because of the many complaints. Members related the complaints of Mr Jacob Mogale who had complained since 2006 already. Members said the Committee should recommend that all officials involved had to be removed or transferred elsewhere and that there had to be an inclusive and multi disciplinary forensic investigation to discover the veracity and extent of the allegations. Members proposed that a full report be developed containing a comprehensive profile of all CPAs, its officials, the hectares of land acquired by beneficiaries, how much the government had spent on the land and government’s role in the post settlement dispensation. Members said the North West qualified for special attention because unlike CPAs elsewhere there was a lot of mineral wealth below the CPA land. Did the Provincial Department have appropriately qualified staff? Was a criminal case opened to investigate bribery allegations against Mr Bogatsu? Members said title deed holders were experiencing a second land dispossession via the CPA, after being dispossessed of their land under apartheid. The Committee agreed that Mr Bogatsu be investigated, and it would consult with the parliamentary legal team on how to put the North West under scrutiny.
The Committee went through and accepted the drafting changes made to the Committee’s proposed amendments to the CPA Amendment Bill the previous day. The Bill was voted on and approved.
The Office of the Valuer General (OVG) presented its Annual Performance Plan spoke about its establishment and said that in 2018 it would be operating as a stand-alone entity reporting to the Minister. Its proposed structure was currently being reviewed by the Minister and interviews for the appointment of professional valuers were underway. Its performance targets were to do 1 268 restitution valuations and 153 land redistribution and development valuations. One of the shortcomings of the OVG was a lack of capacity, and the OVG was making offers to nine people to join the staff. Other shortcomings were that there was no approved organisational structure yet; governance structures still needed to be appointed; there was a lack of uniformity in valuation methodology; and a relationship with the Auditor General needed to be developed. It said the strategic goal of organisational sustainability had been included until the organisation reached a level of sustainability. Its budget was not broken down into quarterly targets because it had been difficult to quantify them. The OVG was looking to revamp the learning curriculum and provide specific training in land valuations because valuations for land reform were not based on market values.
Members said that quarterly financial targets had to be given in the budget and the Committee expected the figures by the following day. Members asked if the OVG had attempted to come up with numbers that would convert section 25 of the Constitution into weighting factors, that is, how its principles convert into number values. Members said the OVG was established to save money for the state but it appeared to be a small office seeking to expand. Some Members asked how they would convince students about the new way of thinking of valuations. Other Members wanted the valuation system transformed because one could not achieve land reform with market valuation. What criteria would be developed to do away with market value and by what percentage would the state save money? Who drafted the land reform course? Would the OVG support historical prices? Members said the OVG was a ground-breaking initiative and had an important mandate. Members thanked OVG for highlighting the ideological and philosophical environment they would be venturing into and identifying key challenges.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform presented its Annual Performance Plan targets and budget for 2018/19. DRDLR said the final Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) budget allocation is R10.4 billion allocated as follows: Land Reform 26.1%; Administration 17.5%; Restitution 32.3% Rural Development 17.4%; National Geomatics Management Services (NGMS) 6%. KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga received the biggest allocations because they have the most land claims compared to other provinces. DRDLR indicated its cash flow is anticipated to be higher in the months of July and October 2018, and January and February 2019. The main reasons for this is the transfers to the Agricultural Land Holding Account, Office of the Valuer General and Ingonyama Trust Board are disbursed in those months; funds for the construction of the new head office building through a public-private partnership (PPP) transaction would be disbursed to the Government Technical Advisory Centre, (GTAC) in February 2019; and higher numbers of land claims are anticipated in July and October 2018.
DRDLR outlined its targets for 2018/19. For restoration of land rights, its targets are to settle 1151 land claims, finalise 991 land claims, and approve 117 phased projects during 2018/19. The target is 18 pilot farms acquired to support Accelerated Land Development and Redistribution Initiative (ALDRI) while the target for the number of farms to be supported post settlement is 166.
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) presented its Annual Performance Plan and budget for 2018/19, saying the APP was prepared independently though it is in line with that of the DRDLR. The APP ensures commitments made about the clearing of the backlogs, improving business processes and systems, people management, determining appropriate corporate forms, and piloting financial options are adhered to. The CRLR has a funded establishment of 744 posts, 721 posts are filled while six were filled in addition to the structure. The vacancy rate is 3.22%. In 2017, The Minister approved the re-appointment of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner as well as the Regional Land Claims Commissioners. The post of the Deputy Land Claims Commissioner has become vacant due to the transfer of the incumbent to DRDLR. The post has not been filled yet because CRLR is looking at the business set-up of the Commission, but there is an appointed acting person in the meantime.
Members suggested it would be a progressive step if CRLR provided the Committee with quarterly information that provides evidence that people who claimed land are still de facto owners of the land because there is a tendency of claiming land, which later gets given to other people. Members said the Bhaziya land claim has not been finalised yet and asked if there a technical problem. They asked for the percentage and a breakdown of the backlogs that will be settled in 2018/19 and if these were the old claims (as the new claims had been set aside).
Members remarked that the burning issue for them since 2014 has been the battle to persuade DRDLR to report on the calculated socio-economic impact of the outcome of the R10 billion. They said that a lot of this money does not end up in black hands and that is why the number of unemployed people keeps rising. Members asked how far DRDLR is with the land development agency that would look at infrastructure implementation in rural areas; what hinders DRDLR from accelerating land redistribution and what kind of help does it want from Parliament in order to do this. Members requested a summary on the cases of Msiza and Mala-Mala in the North West where there are corruption allegations within the CPA.
The Chairperson noted the absence of the Minister from the meeting.
Mr Pieter Kotze, DRDLR Parliamentary Liaison Officer, said that he had conveyed the sentiments expressed by the Committee at the previous day’s meeting to the Office of the Minister.
Ms Leona Archary, Acting DG, added that the head of Ministry had been present at the previous day’s meeting.
The Chairperson said the absence of the Minister from the meeting needed to be addressed and the Committee needed a written apology.
A letter of apology was read out by the Committee Secretary.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) said that what irked him was that the Minister, in the letter, had ignored the Deputy Ministers and had said the DG would represent her. He questioned whether she needed deputy ministers.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) acknowledged the issue of the absence of the Minister but said the Committee could not spend two days discussing an apology.
The Chairperson asked the DG and the PLO to convey to the Minister that it was imperative for her to be present and be accountable to the parliamentary body.
North West Public Hearings on CPA Amendment Bill: concerns raised by stakeholders
Mr Richard Keothaile North West Provincial Head: DRDLR (the Provincial Department) apologised for the presentation presented the previous day and said it had been corrected. He spoke to issues raised by Mr Jacob Mogale on the Dikgatlhong and Mamerotse CPAs. A mediator was appointed and a number of broad consultative meetings had been held. The two CPAs needed to be put under administration and the feeling was the interim administration was not trusted. Law enforcement agencies had been alerted. The Public Protector was on board on all the CPA matters. The CPAs had control of 1500 hectares of land. Ms Susan Mosito had also related allegations levelled at Dikgatlhong officials.
The Bakgatla Ba Kgafela CPA was also a big CPA with people frustrated with the CPA. A mediator was appointed to facilitate the dispute with the CPA and other parallel CPAs. The mediator provided a platform for people to raise their concerns and an election agency was appointed through the Office of the State Attorney. However the conflict was complex and deep and only the symptoms were currently being treated. The underlying conflicts were the contestation of the chieftaincy (which the Maluleke Commission was currently handling); the beneficiation and control of the mines on the land; the administration of state land and communal land and restituted land. The CPA controlled 50% of the Pilanesberg game reserve. There was a Constitutional Court hearing on 24 May 2018 to adjudicate the matter between Lesetlheng Community and Pilanesberg Platinum Mine (PPM).
North West Department said it was sometimes unable to assist the ordinary person and there was a need to develop a way forward. To this end a Deputy Minister would be visiting to assist with the matter.
The amendment of the CPA Act would assist the Ramatlakane CPA, as five CPAs were making use of loopholes and inconsistencies in the Act. A mediator had also been appointed and the Provincial Department was expecting a report by the end of June/July.
Other allegations raised at the North West public hearings were that the North West Department was working like an agent for a colonial government. The conflict that existed between traditional leaders and CPAs were due to the old and new CPA laws; and CPA officials were allocating land for themselves; and that the term of office for the Batloung CPA has lapsed. The Provincial Department was working on regularising that CPA. There were also allegations made about the Modderspruit, Barolong Bo Modiboa, Ikaheng and Phomolong CPAs. For Modderspruit, the Provincial Department was establishing an enquiry to consult with the CPA members by May 2018 and to make recommendations on the way forward. For Barolong Bo Modiboa, the Provincial Department was appointing an election agent to facilitate the election of the new CPA committee within a period of three months.
The North West Department noted that there was a growing trend of community members directing allegations against officials and that Mr Bogatsu, Chief Director: North West Regional Land Claims Commission, did not relate in any way with the Bogatsu surname referred to in the allegations. The Provincial Department was appointing a person to investigate allegations against officials and CPA committee members.
At this point, Deputy Minister Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha joined the meeting.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) said the North West Department’s report did not inspire confidence in the officials of the Provincial Department. She felt that the complaints were not captured succinctly and clearly. It worried her that every time there were problems, external people were appointed. What was the cost for appointing these external mediators and election agents and how was this budgeted for? She wanted to see one of the mediator reports to assess whether the money spent was worth it. There appeared to be a number of complaints laid against Mr Bogatsu. She asked the DG if Mr Bogatsu was being investigated because of the many complaints. If he was innocent, then it was necessary to clear his name.
Mr N Matiase (EFF) said he had received complaints in 2016 already from Mr Jacob Mogale who claimed he was pushed from pillar to post and that there were officials in the Provincial Department with a conflict of interest who colluded with CPAs and other high-ranking officials about land and mineral resources. Mr Mogale had gone to the Public Protector and to the Special Investigating Unit. The investigators had either been removed or they or the police demanded bribes from him. Mr Mogale had reported these instances to IPID. He alleged that various mediators that had been appointed, like Mr Maharaj, who had used false spreadsheets to register fraudulent beneficiaries and that Department of Mineral Resources’ officials were involved in the scam. Mr Matiase said the Committee should recommend that all officials involved had to be removed or transferred elsewhere and that there had to be an inclusive and multi disciplinary forensic investigation to discover the veracity and extent of the allegations. He proposed that a full report be developed containing a comprehensive profile of all CPAs, its officials, the hectares of land acquired by beneficiaries, how much the government had spent on the land and what government’s role in the post settlement dispensation was.
Mr K Robertson (DA) said the Provincial Department’s report was extremely worrying. The High Level Panel Report spoke of the stumbling blocks to land reform as being corruption, nepotism, the lack of departmental capacity, and the lack of political will. Mr Jacob Mogale had made his first complaints in 2006, 12 years ago. If there was inaction from the Provincial Department, it was natural that there would be allegations of corruption. The North West Department needed to act decisively when allegations were raised. What role did the Provincial Department play in post settlement support and assistance? There would be conflict when 300 000 people were lumped together. He wanted elaboration on how a CPA for 300 000 beneficiaries from 32 villages functioned? Were Provincial Department officials inclined to corruption or were they informing people of their rights?
Mr Filtane said the North West qualified for special attention because unlike CPAs elsewhere, there was a lot of mineral wealth residing below the CPA land. Did the Provincial Department have appropriately qualified staff? The use of external mediators indicated that this was not the case. Was this use of external mediators and other contractors factored into the APP? What role did the mediator play when meetings were disrupted in Dikgatlhong and Mamerotse CPAs? What was the Provincial Department doing when people, like Mr Mogale, lost hope in CPAs? Why did the government force people to join Dikgatlhong CPA? In one CPA there were multiple contestations, did the Provincial Department not have the capacity to deal with these matters and were they aware of the mineral rights and chieftainship issues? Has a criminal case been opened to investigate allegations of bribery against Mr Bogatsu? What was the reason for the interdict at Rooiwal? Did the Provincial Department convey to people the implications of the David Mphahlehle Constitutional Court case? The most depressing thing about the North West report was that it was only about conflict and there was no word about production. There appeared to be zero production.
Mr Nchabeleng said the government was responsible for the problems in the North West. Apartheid had taken land away from people who had bought their own farms, either individually or as syndicates. The land restitution process was government’s attempt to return that land, but the land was now being bundled together to form a CPA. Why were the title deeds not given back to the original owners? Land owners had to be dealt with separately from labour tenants, because they could not be treated the same. Title deed holders were experiencing a second land dispossession via the CPA, after having been dispossessed of their land under apartheid.
The Chairperson said the CPA Amendment Bill public hearings in the North West turned very ugly, with people charging at Mr Bogatsu to physically attack him. People claimed that he created parallel structures and represented mining interests. The Provincial Department was asked to synthesize a report on the complaints, because the progress being reported on did not relate to the Committee’s recommendations on the CPA Amendment Bill. The Committee had agreed that Mr Bogatsu be investigated, and the Committee would consult with the parliamentary legal team on how to put the North West under scrutiny.
Deputy Minister Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha said Mr Bogatsu and DRDLR should be given the opportunity to speak.
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner (CLCC), said she noted the comments of the Committee and did not have any objections to an investigation being conducting on Mr Bogatsu. She had nine provincial heads and Mr Bogatsu was one of the strongest and there were issues around him because of his deep involvement and passion. She had no objection to the investigation, but she wanted to say that he was a man of strong morals. The concerns raised by the public were exclusive to the North West, but occurred in other provinces such as Northern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal as well. The concerns raised were about the processing of land and how the CPA managed it and who managed that process within the CPA.
Mr Lengane Bogatsu, North West Chief Director: Regional Land Claims Commission, said he noted the comments made about allegations against him and he had no problem with an investigation. It was important for the Committee to know that the Bojanala area was very volatile for any official. The Dikgatlhong and Mamerotse CPA issues started before he joined the Provincial Department in 2010. His main problem was that in trying to find a resolution to the conflicts, sometimes the attempted resolution became a problem itself. He was more than willing to cooperate in any investigation.
Mr Robertson asked if there could be an investigation on individuals, on Mr Bogatsu and on the Commission.
The Chairperson said there had been a series of complaints against Mr Bogatsu and the people did not want a Registrar and were against the CPA Amendment Bill.
Ms Archary said that DRDLR accepted the convening of an investigation. Beyond that, DRDLR would conduct its own forensic investigation. DRDLR understood the need to change its strategy on CPA matters and could do a presentation to the Committee on its new strategy and on its capacity.
The Chairperson said the multidisciplinary investigation was a recommendation of the Committee.
Mr Filtane asked when this process would take place.
The Chairperson said consultations with the parliamentary legal team would first have to take place.
Communal Property Association Amendment Bill: finalisation of Committee proposed amendments
Mr Nathi Mjenxane, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, said the ‘A’ list of Committee proposed amendments contained the few changes that the Committee requested be done. These were the tautology in the wording of clause 18(1) on Regulations and in the Preamble, where a square bracket should not have been bolded for deletion. These mistakes had been corrected.
He then explained the process the A and B Bills had to go through to complete the Committee stage.
Mr Filtane was happy that the words “acquire” and "hold" remained in the Bill because he remembered the comment that CPAs should not be turned into managers of land without real ownership rights.
As the Committee was not quorate at that moment, the Chairperson left the adoption of the Bill for later.
Office of the Valuer General (OVG) Annual Performance Plan
Mr Christopher Gavor, Valuer General, gave a background to the establishment of the OVG saying that he had been appointed as the Valuer General and had been a one-man band. In 2018 the OVG would be operating as a stand-alone entity reporting to the Minister. Mr Thapelo Motsoeneng had joined him as executive manager of operations and three valuers were later added. There was now a proposed structure and interviews for the appointment of professional valuers were underway and would be completed by the end of June. The Minister, being new to the post, was currently reviewing the structure.
Mr Thapelo Motsoeneng Executive Manager: Operations, said the OVG was established in August 2015 as a schedule 3A public entity and was a juristic person.
The Chairperson asked what the term ‘non land reform valuations’ meant.
Mr Motsoeneng replied that it meant the OVG could levy fees for non land reform valuations. He then spoke to the performance targets of the OVG which were to do 1 268 restitution valuations and 153 land redistribution and development valuations. One of the shortcomings of the OVG was a lack of capacity, and the OVG was making offers to nine people to join the staff. Other shortcomings were that there was no approved organisational structure yet; governance structures still needed to be appointed; there was a lack of uniformity in valuation methodology; and a relationship with the Auditor General needed to be developed. On its strategic goals, he said the goal of organisational sustainability had been included until the organisation reached the level of sustainability.
Mr Gavor said that the budget was not broken down into quarterly targets because it had been difficult to quantify them. The OVG was looking to revamp the learning curriculum and provide specific training in land valuations because valuations for land reform were not based on market values.
The Chairperson said that he could not accept that the quarterly targets were not given in the budget. If the OVG needed more time, then they would be given more time. The OVG had to give the quarterly estimated breakdown of their R7m budget by the following day. He asked if the OVG had attempted to come up with numbers that would convert section 25 of the Constitution into weighting factors, that is, how these principles convert into number values. He said graduates from educational institutions might come to work at the OVG yet arrive with capitalistic values and the Constitution did not seek to advance that.
Mr Filtane said he was happy that the OVG was established as its purpose was to save the state money, but he did not see this happening. What he saw was the establishment of a small office whose major purpose appeared to be expanding its office. He did not see them doing valuations. He asked how they would convince students on the new way of thinking of valuations. He wanted the valuation system transformed because how could one achieve land reform when the process was subject to market valuation. He asked what criteria would be developed to do away with market value. By what percentage would the state save money? Who drafted the land reform course? Would the OVG support historical prices?
Mr Matiase said the OVG was a ground-breaking initiative. He was pleased that they highlighted the ideological and philosophical environment they would be venturing into and had already identified some key challenges. The Office of the Valuer General had an important mandate. He quoted Fanon on land in relation to property and said that land should be within the transformation agenda. Section 25 had built a laager around property ownership and the laager of property ownership had to fall. This would not happen if Britain or Europe were taken as the benchmarks. He proposed that the OVG make a clear distinction between land for public use on the one hand and houses in Sandton and Alexandria for example, on the other. He said the OVG should be bold and take on the big owners of property and the OVG should be given the means to restore land from the hands of big landowners into the hands of his people. This was the only way to realise economic freedom.
Mr Nchabaleng asked what the 50% on page 23 of the presentation referred to. Was this for three people or for 20 people? How much was the state saving? Who designed the land reform courses? What were the cost of the courses? Who paid for the courses? Were students attending via bursaries or was it free? Who were the lecturers and who paid them? He asked how the OVG could be evaluated if the output for the first quarter was zero. How much was the OVG costing the state?
Mr Robertson asked the Valuer General about the Mala Mala case. According to the court record a price of R600m was agreed on, which then went up to R983m. What was the role of the Valuer General in this change in price. Ultimately R1.1b.was paid to the beneficiaries. Who made the final decision on the value of the land?
On the change in value of 96 hectares of land dispossessed from the Adriaanse family, which the Commission had offered to pay in 1965, the land value now well exceeded the initial cost and it was now valued at over R120m. What was the Valuer General’s role in this instance? Would the OVG curb corruption in the form of deal inflation?
Ms Mbabama asked how the OVG did their valuations, especially agricultural land and said that this information should be in their plans. Different financial institutions used different valuation approaches.
Mr Gavor replied that the OVG needed to share a lot with the Committee, but time did not allow for this that day.
On Mr Filtane’s question, Mr Motsoeneng replied that Goal 1 of the APP was to do valuations and the OVG had a target of 1 400 valuations. The OVG was there to support the land reform programme. It was their primary reason for existence.
On savings, Mr Motsoeneng replied that savings was not included. The OVG could share anecdotal experiences of asking prices and what the OVG finally agreed to. The OVG had deals of over R2b in acquisitions and had saved R187m or approximately 10%. The OVG would do an empirical study rather than rely on anecdotal experiences.
Mr Gavor replied that the Property Valuation Act demanded that valuations needed to be done by professional valuers who determined the value. all factors had to be quantified. Currently there was a technical manual, written by himself, which was guiding valuers in determining value, including market value and current use value. The value was not proportion based. Each property was individually determined.
The course was designed by himself, but needed to be offered by an academic institution. Only UCT had been willing to offer the course. Four programmes had been run thus far and 100 professional private practice valuers, who paid for their own training, had done the course. Internal valuers of the OVG were paid for by the OVG. Private valuers had to do the course to get onto the Valuer's panel.
About a study into the profession itself, it was agreed, across the country, that a revamp of the valuations profession was needed. There had already been discussions with universities, who agreed that the current structure did not address the country’s needs. All curricula would be reviewed, and a new curriculum would be developed in consultation with other stakeholders so that transformation could take place in the industry.
On the amount to be paid to someone whose property was acquired, one had to examine the history of property. One had to look at the historical valuation and each case was unique. In the Mala Mala instance, the property was acquired before the OVG was established.
On the question about corruption, market value determination was a problem. The OVG had looked at how market value was determined. Government valuations were not proxies for valuation and the Department had relied on private valuations at the time, which it had taken at face value.
On the OVG headcount, the OVG was looking at a staff of 80 as the core structure. Currently it had a staff of 17 and by the end of the financial year it would be 40-50 people.
On how the OVG did valuations, it was guided by legislation and took into account the five factors. The OVG methodology was guided by the Act and aimed to balance the interests of both parties. It calculated the current use value and market value, added them up and divided the result by two.
The Chairperson said that there was not a clear line of accountability for the OVG strategy and systems. Tenders had prescribed formulas, so that big white companies were not advantaged, the PPP was also quantified. The OVG should attempt to put a weighting to the five factors. He suggested, for example, a weighting of 50% for market value. The formulas had to include instances where compensation was zero. He urged the OVG to give a weighting to these factors and to report back to the Committee. He asked if OVG had helped the Department or whether the OVG was holding the valuation work of the Department back.
Mr Filtane said location played a big role in valuations. The OVG had to bring a transformative system of pricing into the valuation of land.
Mr Matiase said he understood the environment the OVG operated in. Valuations were functioning under a capitalist system and needed to be tampered with, as land was fundamental to economic freedom. He expected the OVG to create an enabling environment for the valuation of land, far removed from private patterns of ownership of property. He wanted no excuses from the OVG.
The Chairperson agreed and wanted to see the valuation system transformed.
On Mr Filtane’s comment that OVG was busy building a bureaucracy, the Chairperson said the state was not interested in creating a bureaucracy, it was interested in making an intervention. He was unhappy with the court case that the OVG had lost and said that the OVG had to act.
Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRCL) Annual Performance Plan
Ms Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, reported the CRLR tabled a stand-alone Strategic Plan for 2015-2020, tabled its own Annual Report since 2016/17. Its Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2018/19 is again prepared independently though it is in line with that of the DRDLR.
A development in the past year was the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Phakisa which sought to stimulate socio-economic growth, foster job creation, and instil transformation along the agriculture and rural development value chain. CRLR developed an implementation plan flowing from the Phakisa mini-lab which came up with the following outcomes:
- Clearing the backlog
- Improving business processes and systems
- People management
- Determining appropriate corporate form
- Piloting financial options.
The 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan was developed to reflect these commitments and realities. Since 2012/13 to 2016/17, the CRLR has been able to meet all APP targets plus spend 100% of the budget.
One of the CRCL enhancement projects is a re-engineering project which amongst its objectives is to implement the recommendations of the skills audit and ensure alignment of performance priority areas with requisite human resource capacity. Increased pressure on the fiscus meant that particularly the budget for Compensation of Employees has meant the need to enhance efficiency in the manner of doing our work. The Free State Province has got the lowest number of personnel because of the low number of claims.
The CRLR has a funded establishment of 744 posts, 721 posts are filled while six were filled in addition to the structure. The vacancy rate is 3.22%. In 2017, the Minister approved the re-appointment of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner as well as the Regional Land Claims Commissioners. The post of the Deputy Land Claims Commissioner has become vacant due to the transfer of the incumbent to DRDLR. The post has not been filled yet because it is looking at the business set up of the Commission, but there is an appointed acting person in the meantime.
For 2018/19, the Commission plans to finalise 991 land claims from the 2661 outstanding claims. The strategic plan target is to finalise 3812. The target to settle land claims is 1151 while the target for the number of phased projects to be approved is 117. She said as they progress the number of claims gets reduced. (Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate personnel composition; 2018 budget and MTEF estimates; and annual targets for performance indicators per objective)
Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) Annual Performance Plan
Mr Eugene Southgate, DRDLR Deputy Director-General for Corporate Support Services, explained the indicators and targets for the various DRDLR programmes. Programme 1 Corporate Support Services intends to achieve 100% compliance with all public sector legal prescripts and obtain a clean audit opinion.
On facilitating rural livelihoods development, the Department’s target for the number of households supported under the One Household One Hectare and One Household Two Dairy Cows aligned to Agri-Parks is 3 210 and 227, respectively. The target for the number of socio-economic infrastructure projects to be facilitated in support of the revitalisation of rural towns and villages is 10 while that of Agri-Parks infrastructure projects to be facilitated is 53.
On provision of support to rural enterprises and development of rural industries, DRDLR is targeting 150 rural agricultural enterprises aligned to the Agri-Parks and 58 non-agricultural enterprises supported in priority districts. The target for the number of skills development opportunities provided in rural development initiatives is 6 864. The target for the number of jobs created in rural development initiatives is 5 191.
On restoration of land rights, DRDLR target is to settle 1151 land claims, finalise 991 land claims, and approve 117 phased projects during 2018/19. The target is 18 for the number of pilot farms to be acquired to support the Accelerated Land Development and Redistribution Initiative (ALDRI) while the target for the number of farms supported through post settlement support is 166.
On functional systems and institutional arrangements, 1947 labour tenants’ applications would be settled while 583 state land parcels would be confirmed as vested. 8 500 is the target for the number of hectares to be allocated to farm dwellers and/or labour tenants.
Ms Violet Matshidza, Acting CFO: DRDLR, said the final Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) budget allocation is R10.4 billion allocated as follows: Land Reform 26.1%; Administration 17.5%; Restitution 32.3% Rural Development 17.4%; National Geomatics Management Services (NGMS) 6%. KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga received the biggest allocations because they have the most land claims compared to other provinces.
She reported the Committee had previously recommended there should be continuous engagement with National Treasury about increases in budget allocation for redistribution and restitution programme because they are central to the radical transformation of the agrarian structure. During the 2018 MTEF process, National Treasury was engaged to request additional funding for the redistribution and restitution programmes. Restitution and Agri-Parks were included in the Budget Mandate Paper. However, due to fiscal constraints, the R228 million 2018/19 budget was cut in December 2017 by National Treasury while R725.2 million was allocated for medium term.
On Compensation of Employees (CoE) for the previous year ending 31 March 2018, the Department’s head count was 4 297. The establishment had 4 304 approved posts with 3 835 posts filled and 469 vacant. DRDLR gained 238 employees while 350 employees were lost. This implies an overall loss of 112 employees. The CoE budget for 2018/19 is R2.326 billion. Projected expenditure including posts to be filled would be R2.326 billion so there is no projected shortfall.
Ms Matshidza its cash flow is anticipated to be higher in the months of July and October 2018, and January and February 2019. The main reasons for this is the transfers to the Agricultural Land Holding Account, Office of the Valuer General and Ingonyama Trust Board are disbursed in those months; funds for the construction of the new head office building through a public-private partnership (PPP) transaction would be disbursed to the Government Technical Advisory Centre, (GTAC) in February 2019; and higher numbers of land claims are anticipated in July and October 2018.
She reported that the total budget allocation for ALHA (Agricultural Land Holdings Account) is R1.6 billion and is made up of R1.4 billion and R202 million cash and non cash, respectively. The cash allocation moved from R1.477 billion to R1.480 billion which is a 0.002% increase from the previous financial year. Grant allocation from DRDLR decreased by 2% from R1.348 billion to R1.326 billion.
DRDLR serviced and decreased the Recapitalisation and Development programme old commitment balance. An introduction of the land development programme with a total budget of R191 827 million was made in order to ensure DRDLR upgrades and constructs farm infrastructure to enable farming and productivity of the land. The Project Management Unit has been allocated R71 million for 2018/19 and 2019/20 R35 million which is a decrease of 0.25%. This would ensure that necessary support is given to all farm projects implemented under PLAAS programme. (Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate transfers; projected expenditure; staff movement; allocations)
Mr Filtane suggested it would be a progressive step if CRLR provided the Committee with quarterly information that provides evidence that people who are claiming land are still de facto owners of the land because there is a tendency of claiming land, which later gets given to other people. The government does not know if those owners are still there because if they are not there, this would regress the work of the Commission. He reminded the Committee that the Bhaziya land claim has not been finalised yet and asked if there a technical problem because money is always made available by government but the Bhaziya claim has not been settled. He suggested the Committee to do an oversight visit to see if the problem is with the people or the regional office.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo replied that people are given land in terms of the current legal document where they have to wait for ten years before they can sell the land. She is aware there is slow progress with the Bhaziya land claim. An update would be requested from the province because the Commission had responded to the Committee on the Bhaziya issue last year. A response in writing would be sent to the Committee.
Mr Matiase enquired about the number of unused state-owned farms because it is believed there are about 4 000. He asked where they are located and when the transfers would be finalised.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo replied that they would be able to provide an answer once the land audit report has been finalised. The Commission does not have the exact figures, but has information on what could be done with the land.
Ms Archery added the figures would be requested from the team working on the state land audit, but pointed out the number is not 4 000. She said this project is assessing all properties acquired after 1995 and about what is happening at them.
Mr Matiase remarked that the Commission is supposed to report to DRDLR about this matter, but it appears DRDLR knows more than the Commission about land lying fallow. The Commissioner's answer was dismissive and just passing the buck. She is not giving the Committee accurate answers and has the option of responding in writing, but the response she gave to the Committee was not satisfactory. He has been writing to the Commissioner about this matter, but no answer has yet been received.
Ms Mbabama remarked the presention document looks very simple and does not reflect the work load of the Commission. She asked about the percentage of the backlogs that is envisaged to be settled this financial year. She said Operation Phakisa is supposed to speed up the backlogs. She asked for clarity on why there is a big variance in payments for capital assets.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo replied that the presentation was a summary of the Annual Performance Plan. The percentage of backlogs is 18% for this year based on the allocation given to the Commission. On the variance, they do not think they would be buying land from the state because they did not budget for that.
Ms Cindy Benyane, CRCL Gauteng Chief Director: Land Restitution Support, added that the Commission had undertaken to accelerate the claims. Many of the issues are not as easy as envisaged. Claims are not from the agriculture sector only, but from the forestry sector as well. The processes are creating bottlenecks because of too much centralisation of power. Some of the land claims would be finalised even though the figure is very low.
Mr Nchabeleng asked what the backlog is for the old claims because there is plenty of time given to them as the new claims had been set aside for a while. He asked for provision of a breakdown. He said Mr Filtane is not the only person who is raising concerns about specific land claims from the communities. The same applies in Sekhukhune. The regional CLC has been invited to deal with the matter, but nothing has so far happened. He said if matters continue to be put aside because they are complex, then who would settle the claims. All people who have registered claims have to be responded to. Some of the people who submitted claims are now ageing.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo reported they have a breakdown of claims targeted in provinces. Information on what is targeted and the number of claims approved would be forwarded to the Committee in writing. She said work in Sekhukhune is in progress and what needs to be done for the Sekhukhune area has been instituted already. A progress report would be sent to the Committee. She said the Commission has been trying to make use of technology in order to get data on communities that have lodged claims.
The Chairperson advised the Commission to use the required format for the presentation. The presentation must have meat because the Commission is requesting R3.3 billion from the government. It is important to attach weight to what is presented and wanted from Parliament. The presentation does not have errors. It is watertight. No loopholes. She reminded the Commission that land reform and restitution are topical subjects. There is a need to expedite old claims. The Commission should state the amount of money that is needed to settle the claims and meet public expectations. The Commission is not responding to the mood and momentum out there. No turnaround strategy is in place. The Commission is not talking to the reality out there. The Committee does not want to be locked in a lift with the Commission nor sink with it. It would be sad if the Committee sank with the Commission.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo admitted there is a lot of debate on land and they are engaging with the public and private sector to define the way forward. As a result, they have submitted proposals to the Minister on its organisational structure to determine posts to be created to meet the service delivery needs.
Mr Filtane maintained he has reminded DRDLR many times about the Bhaziya affair and has been promised a report would be sent to the Committee. Unfortunately, not a single report has been received by the Committee. Since 2012, he got to know the reason the Bhaziya land claim has not been finalised. It is because there are people who must still be verified. He got to know about this when he was working at the OR Tambo Municipality. He suggested the Commission report on Bhaziya should state the number of claims from Bhaziya, the names of people who need to be verified, and confirm ring-fenced money that would be enough to cover the Bhaziya claims. He noted that when SAA hit a snag, it convinced Treasury, and money was allocated. If the CLC has budget constraints, there is no reason why it could not tell Parliament about the money it needs to settle claims. The budget of the National DRDLR is less than 1% of the fiscus because Parliament is getting no pressure from DRDLR.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo assured the Committee that the Commission would provide responses in writing and a comprehensive report would be provided once the land assessments by DRDLR are finalised.
Ms Archary reported that they have provided Treasury with a detailed breakdown of the need for more budget. All the information submitted to Treasury would be forwarded to the Committee so that it could use it during the budget debate in Parliament in order to assist the Department.
The Chairperson indicated that its work is ongoing and the Committee would make time again to engage with the Commission on these issues. The Commission needs to align matters to the prevailing mood on the ground and try to be many steps ahead so that it could draw up its plans.
The Chairperson asked how many DDGs are acting and permanent in the Department.
Ms Archary reported that out of 10 DDGs, there are 6 acting appointments and 4 are permanent.
The Chairperson stated it is unacceptable to have that kind of a situation because no acting person would fight for what DRDLR really needs.
Ms Archary said the posts have been advertised. Applications have been processed and submitted to the Minister so that candidates could be interviewed for the posts.
Ms Mbabama indicated it is illegal for persons to act for more than six months.
Mr Nchabeleng added that if there are acting positions at the top, this always affects the bottom part as well in terms of service delivery.
The Chairperson asked how many chief directors are acting and permanent.
Mr Southgate replied there is no one who is acting beyond the six-month period and approvals of these posts would be sent to the Committee.
Ms Archary said she noted the Committee’s concerns about the presentation by the Commission because DRDLR has had challenges in terms of the entities’ APPs and ensuring all the presented documents are correct. The APPs have been linked to the projects DRDLR is busy with. DRDLR has also ensured that across the country there is capacity in district offices and the urgency of land reform has been noted.
Mr Filtane said the burning issue for him since 2014 has been the battle to persuade DRDLR to report on the calculated socio-economic impact which is the ultimate outcome of the R10 billion. A lot of this money does not end up in black hands and that is why the number of unemployed people keeps rising. There is not a single line in the presentation about socio-economic impact. He asked for comment on the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) policies.
Ms Archary replied that the socio-economic impact does not sit in the APP. The ENE has a socio-economic impact programme which would be presented to the Committee when DRDLR is invited to do so. She replied that the ITB policies have been approved with the ITB. DRDLR is working on creating a unit which is going to work on the reporting lines.
Mr Nchabeleng asked how far DRDLR is with the land development agency that would look at infrastructure implementation in rural areas.
Ms Archary replied that they are trying to ensure the land development agency is included in the Rural Development Bill.
Mr Matiase commented there is lack of effectiveness from DRDLR to deliver on its primary mandate which is land redistribution. It seems as if it is not doing well in that regard. 96% of the land is owned by whites while blacks only own 4%. He asked what hinders DRDLR from accelerating land redistribution and what kind of help does it want from Parliament so that it could deliver on land redistribution.
Mr Bonginkosi Zulu, Acting DDG: Land Redistribution and Development at DRDLR, explained that the main factor is that the budget to buy land for redistribution has been decreasing since 2009. There are other challenges as well that DRDLR is faced on land redistribution. Pilot farms would be addressed in peri-urban land for persons living in those areas who want to practice agriculture.
The Chairperson asked for a brief summary on the Msiza and Mala-Mala cases in the North West where there are allegations of corruption within the Communal Property Associations (CPA).
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo explained that 21 claims were lodged by different people. The first focus was on the 13 000 hectares for the Mala-Mala ranch. Negotiations happened in 2008. The Department offered R751 million to the land owners which is R52 000 per hectare. The claim was then referred to the Minister for approval. The Minister rejected it. The land owners indicated it must be referred to the court and they were demanding R66 000 per hectare. The state was offering R30 000 per hectare. The matter was then sent to the Constitutional Court, but just before the court sat, the Minister stated he no longer opposed the offer. The parties tried to re-negotiate the offer and the settlement ended up being R71 000 per hectare. The Minister then settled for a total amount of R993 million.
Mr K Robertson (DA) proposed there should be a forensic investigation on this matter so that the Committee could know more about it.
Ms Ntloko-Gobodo stated that the value in the Msiza case was R1.8 million and the presiding officer ruled for R1. 5 million. One of the weaknesses was that DRDLR agreed to R1, 8 million before the matter went to court. The owner took DRDLR to court to reinstate the R1.8 million. The court ruled for R1.8 million, and DRDLR did not move forward with an appeal.
Mr Filtane informed the Committee of a Department of Justice Report which indicated that state lawyers and advocates are winning only 30% of court cases. 70% of the cases are lost. So, it is clear the legal brains of the state are failing the state departments.
The Chairperson asked about the unresolved matter of the ministerial staff and salaries being supernumerary.
Ms Archary replied that these issues would be followed up with the new Minister because this matter is dealing with ministerial appointments and they are still with the Department.
The Chairperson remarked that DRDLR must give itself enough time to polish its presentation. The work is mediocre. It needs to open up itself. The Mala-Mala story is disappointing. He asked DRDLR to provide a three-page response in writing and concentrate on the substantive aspects of the Mala-Mala case and also provide a detailed overview of the Msiza case. He stated that the Land Rights Management Facility has been a disaster. He asked DRDLR to provide a response in writing about the LRMF.
Communal Property Association Amendment Bill: adoption
The Committee Secretary read through the Committee Report on the Bill and it was adopted with minor changes.
The Chairperson asked the Members to adopt the Bill clause by clause.
The Members agreed to all 24 clauses and the long title.
The Committee then approved the adoption of the Bill with amendments
- Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill: adoption; DRDLR Annual Performance Plan with Deputy Minister 3
- Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill: adoption; DRDLR Annual Performance Plan with Deputy Minister 2
- Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill: adoption; DRDLR Annual Performance Plan with Deputy Minister 1
- Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill: adoption; DRDLR Annual Performance Plan with Deputy Minister 4
- CPA Amendment Bill (with Portfolio Committee Amendments) [B12B-2017]
- Portfolio Committee Amendments to CPA Bill [B12A-2017]
- DRDLR Annual Performance Plan presentation
- DRDLR Budget allocation presentation
- Commission on Restitution of Land Rights 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan presentation
- Office of the Valuer General 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan presentation
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