Ingonyama Trust Board 2017/18 Quarter 3 performance, with Deputy Minister

Rural Development and Land Reform

23 May 2018
Chairperson: Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Ingonyama Trust Board (IBT) achieved "zilch" in its Quarter 3 performance for 2017/18. This was the view of the Portfolio Committee after it was briefed by IBT. It wondered where the money had been spent because there was zero performance for the money spent. About 90% of the budget was spent on compensation of employees. The Committee complained that ITB presents the same plans every year for organizational restructuring, policy development and training of traditional councils. Also it keeps changing its Annual Performance Plan once approved by the Committee. The Committee resolved that it will peruse the ITB plans and reports submitted over the past two years. It appeared that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform did not review ITB documents before presentation to the Committee. There was concern that vacancies have not been filled although the posts were advertised in 2017. ITB has been only "planning to plan" and had provided as pretexts for not performing its incomplete organogram and the desire to outsource work. Members suggested the ITB had gone against the Committee resolution to halt the conversion of Permission To Occupy (PTO) to long-term lease agreements because of an advertisement on the ITB website about the "PTO upgrade".

ITB responded that it does not understand why the Committee is penalising it for ITB getting insufficient funds to do its work. It was busy restructuring and the other items would be done when the ITB organogram has been completed. Other services would be outsourced because they require specialised skills. ITB pointed out that there is no ruling that says it should not issue leases.

Members remarked that ITB has never approached the Committee about losing staff at a strategic level. It keeps telling the Committee about an incomplete organogram. Members asked that ITB consider its role and how conversion of PTOs to leases would help vulnerable communities. They asked why R5 was being collected from each KZN household and if ITB is part of the mobilisation of the Amabutho on the Ingonyama land matter. The relationship of the Acting CEO to the King was raised. Members asked about staff suspensions; if any cars had been purchased and about virements. Due to the lengthy discussions, the ITB Quarter 4 performance was not presented.

The Minister arrived at the tail-end of the meeting and spoke about land hunger. She also said that we need to understand that we must account for the money given by government

Meeting report

Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) 2017/18 Quarter 3 performance
Ms Thembeka Ndlovu, Acting CEO: ITB, went through the performance indicators of the Ingonyama Trust Board and indicated what had or had not been achieved (see document).

• Staff training on the monitoring and evaluation framework has been deferred until the new organogram has been finalised and the skills audit has been undertaken.
• 50% of the Customer Service Charter plan has been implemented. The process was delayed due to the review of the draft organogram.
• 50% of the stakeholder engagement plan has been implemented. Engagements are ongoing but depend on the finalisation of the plan. The plan is to be finalised with the KZN Provincial House of Traditional Leaders (PHTL) for future engagements.
• Communication reports were completed, but were not submitted to the Board. The submission of the reports would be fast-tracked.
• No workshops were done with amakhosi though the plans were set for January 2018.
• 50% of the IT infrastructure has been implemented. The draft implementation plan was done but had to be reviewed after receiving comments. The implementation plan would be completed by Quarter 4.
• There is 50% implementation of the plan for IT policies developed and approved by the Board. The draft implementation plan was done and had to be reviewed after receiving comments and it will be revised to effect these comments.
• Due to the specialised nature of the policies to be reviewed, the Board decided to outsource the function.
• There is 100% achievement in the recording of all movable assets in the asset register.
• No posts have been filled in the HR provisioning plan.
• 69% achievement was recorded for the timely conclusion of performance agreements. Drafts had been prepared but could not be concluded in the absence of senior management.
• Senior positions were being filled.
• Only one training programme had been conducted. The HR Committee resolved that training be done once the organogram is finalised and managers are appointed.
• No Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with traditional councils have been approved by the Board. This was suspended pending the finalisation of the new organogram.

Land Management
• No Land Tenure Policy has been developed and approved. Priority is given to approved tenure procedures. • No research has been conducted on the land allotment practices adopted by the various traditional councils. This would be done in the next financial year because it requires specialised skills.
• No valuation has been done on land parcels for commercial use. The decision is to use municipal values on these properties. The valuation would be finalised and reflected in the annual financial statements.
• No achievement was recorded for Spatial Development Plans of strategically located land. A discussion with the municipality has to take place. The discussion has been kept in abeyance. Terms of references have been finalised.
• The development of a report to identify prime land and its approval by the Board had not happened. This would be done during the next financial year.
• There are no approved plans for agriculture production on trust land.
• No agriculture projects have been approved by the Board.
• No potential projects of high commercial value for partnership with the private sector have been identified and implemented.
• No plan has been developed and implemented on land with development rights.
• No monitoring has been done on compliance and adherence to the ITB BBBEE scorecard for commercial developments.
• There are no development rights applications submitted and obtained in line with the findings of the land audit.
• No traditional councils have been trained and no training plan has been approved by the Board.
• The development of the framework for supporting social cohesion programmes would be outsourced. The terms of reference were being fast-tracked.

The Chairperson remarked that the ITB seemed to have underperformed during the third quarter. Most of the non-performance was attributed to the lack of a finalised organogram and ITB wanting to outsource.

Mr M Filtane (UDM) said that the ITB has not performed. The score is zero. He does not think the Department goes through the ITB reports before they are presented to the Committee. The R20m given to the ITB appears to be used for the Administration Programme. The Act clearly states what the money should be spent on. The ITB's presentation is full of rhetoric. Every year they present plans to restructure the organisation, train traditional councils, and develop policies. The Department should be tasked to look at the ITB reports of the last 24 months because the ITB is “planning to plan”. ITB has never approached the Committee to state it is losing staff at a strategic level. It told the Committee of an incomplete organogram. It is not clear which traditional councils are going to be trained. It is not acceptable to plan to train them because traditional council members do not come and go like politicians. He wondered where the money had been spent because there is zero performance.

Ms Jabulile Bhengu, ITB Deputy Chairperson, informed the Committee that traditional councils have terms of office. The members are not there for good. COGTA has to ensure these traditional councils hold elections. That is why new members need to be trained after elections.

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, ITB Chairperson, added that a traditional leader is not a sole leader. The traditional leader addresses the concerns of his or her own people in the council. Training for members of the traditional councils would continue to happen even after the election of new members because they need to know the Constitution and they would continue to receive training on the broader aspects of legal and other matters.

Ms Matsimbi (ANC) said that the ITB has presented good reasons for non-performance, but it is under-performing. IBT has advertised posts since 2017 and those posts have not been filled and they are going to be re-advertised.

Judge Ngwenya replied that three posts were advertised in November 2017. Ms Ndlovu occupies one of the positions and another is occupied by Mr Madondo who has just been appointed. The position of the CEO has not been filled and the process is underway. He did not think that somebody else would take a different view from what was presented. Members were not aware of the structural problems the ITB is sitting with. They have budgeted for more funds than what they have. He asked where the shortfall is going to come from if the government gives you R20m and you need R100m to perform. The trust money in the olden days was collected by tribal authorities for specific projects. The Committee is penalising them for not getting sufficient funds to do their work.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) referred to the conversion of PTOs to leases and asked what role the ITB was thinking of following to help vulnerable communities.

Judge Ngwenya replied that there is no ruling that says the ITB should not issue leases.

Mr P Mnguni (ANC) remarked that the land portfolio is a burning issue. The sole trustee is the King. It is a big error for the ITB to think that everything must fall under the King is correct. He wanted to know if the Acting CEO was related to the king. He said if she is related, there is a conflict of interest by her participating in the activities of the ITB and she should be kind enough to protect the image of the king. He further wanted to know if the chairperson of the Board is doing business with the ITB because there is a conflict of interest if he is doing that. He wanted to find out why ITB has disregarded the call of the Committee to halt the conversions of the PTOs to leases in the interest of an inclusive process. Tthe Committee pronounced itself on the leases and asked ITB to halt the process and focus on other activities. However, ITB has advertised on its website for the conversion of the PTOs. By doing that, it was rendering this Committee useless. He wanted to know why R5 was being collected from each KZN household and asked if ITB is considering being part of the mobilisation of the Amabutho on land matters.

Judge Ngwenya replied that the emotions arising from the Committee were for good and sometimes for bad reasons. He said he would not deal with issues that have a political sting. Some of the questions were personal. There must be a better way of understanding why things are the way they are. He stated that Mr Cebekhulu is an ITB beneficiary. He asked if people are going to say there is a conflict of interest if he is on the Committee and an ITB beneficiary. On the question of business interests, his family has been in business for a very long time and he was carrying on with that. When leases had been discussed by the Board, he had recused himself. He was aware of the “PTO upgrades” process and said that there should be an inclusive process that involves consultation with relevant stakeholders. No one has come to the ITB to say that he or she wants to upgrade a residential PTO. The exception is only when a person wants to take a bond on tribal land and has no papers because commercial banks are not involved with PTOs. The ITB is compliant with the law.

Judge Ngwenya replied that there was no mobilisation of amabutho on land matters. He was aware of the R5 that was being collected. The King had stated it clearly that people should contribute R5 to defend the Ingonyama land. It was the King's call. ITB is not receiving that money and is focusing on its constitutional mandate.

Ms Ndlovu told the Committee she is a professional person. She is a qualified teacher and she knows people’s land rights. She has served the Department. The Quarter 3 and 4 reports were not crafted by her, but by her predecessors because she was not with the Department at that time. She asked the Committee to give her a chance and that her CV and files would be handed to the Committee by Mr Southgate. She applied to ITB for land tenure management services because she wanted to cut a niche for herself. It was a personal choice. If there is a need to apply for the CEO position, she would apply. She stated that she was not directly related to the King, but is only related to Queen Thandi Ndlovu who is her mother’s sister. Queen Thandi Ndlovu is married to the King Zwelithini.

A DRDLR official commented that there was no nepotism in the appointment of Ms Ndlovu. The ITB is addressing a big piece of land where there are more than 300 chiefs and the traditional councils have plus minus 1 000 members. The Department deals directly with the King.

The Chairperson asked if the drafting of the organogram is outsourced and when it would be completed. She asked how many vacant posts have been filled, and if any staff members have been fired or suspended. She remarked that 95.1% of the budget has been spent on compensation of employees but there are unfilled posts. The compensation of employees is supposed to be under the Administration Programme. She asked if any cars have been bought and who is responsible for their maintenance. She asked if there were any virements during the 3rd quarter.

Judge Ngwenya replied that they have outsourced the process of compiling the organogram and it would be finalised soon. He said they have created posts to the tune of 200. The current staff complement is 60. They have added 35 people who are on contract and that was why they have 60 staff members. Three posts were advertised in November 2017.

Judge Ngwenya said the suspended employees were suspended in 2016 for refusing to cooperate in the upgrading of the PTOs. They distorted information. They colluded with public figures to deprive people of their rights. The person they colluded with got awarded thousands of hectares. This then led to the suspensions and disciplinary hearings. ITB is not tampering with the disciplinary process. The six suspended employees have lawyers that have told ITB the employees were given instructions by people in higher-up positions. The cases are ongoing and have to do with corrupt activities.

On the compensation of employees, Judge Ngwenya replied that those fixed costs would always be there whether there is performance or not. He indicated to the Board that ITB has not performed. That is why they did not hide it in the presentation. Some projects are funded by the communities and those communities have the right to keep their money. The Committee needs to give itself more time to understand matters between COGTA, ITB and the traditional councils.

Mr Amin Mia, ITB Chief Financial Officer, reported that ITB did not buy new vehicles during the third quarter, and that the administration is responsible for vehicle maintenance. He replied that the underspending is in the Rural Development programme under ITB. He noted that the Quarterly Report highlighted only the underperformance. There was no virement by the ITB.

Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) remarked that the Committee needed to apply for legal help to rescue IBT because it is sliding downhill. Interventions need to be put in place. He said he is tempted to request the CV of the Acting CEO and to know of her relationship to the King.

Mr Filtane remarked that it is wasteful expenditure to pay ITB employees for work not done. It is not understandable why the Board is retaining people who are not productive and not given work. He wanted to know if written permission is obtained from the traditional council for obtaining communal land if the Act is specific on what the king could do or in appointing people for leases.

Judge Ngwenya replied that a person is allocated land by a traditional leader who would then inform the ITB about the matter. Then the ITB would send an inspector to look at the land.

Mr Mnguni pointed out the ITB website has an advertisement on the conversion of PTOs.

Ms Bhengu apologised for the advertisement and stated it would be removed and they were not undermining the resolution of the Committee.

Ms Matsimbi said she did not accept the story that ITB has been given insufficient money by the Department to do its work. It is stated in the report that ITB has got money elsewhere. She asked for clarity on the R2.7m paid to beneficiaries.

Mr Mia replied that the money is used to fund projects in communities and expenses for traditional councils.

The Chairperson acknowledged the arrival of the Minister and asked her to comment.

Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, remarked that when we fought for freedom, those that had come to colonise us did not leave post-freedom. That is why we are fighting for a political freedom of a special kind. Land hunger should not find obstacles along the way. We have not arrived at where we are going. In most rural areas, traditional leaders are overseeing dry land. We need to understand that we must account for the money given by government. People are tired of not being able to access fertile land.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee is not happy with the Quarter 3 performance and the delays in the finalisation of policies. The Committee is also not happy with the ITB changing its Annual Performance Plan after it has been presented and adopted by the Committee. She requested that the Committee staff look at all the reports that the ITB submitted over the last 24 months.

The meeting was adjourned.

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