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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
26 March 2003
STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET VOTE OF DEPARTMENT OF LAND AFFAIRS: BRIEFING; SA NATIONAL PARKS BOARD LIST OF MEMBERS: CONSIDERATION
Chairperson: Rev P Moatshe (ANC North-West)
Documents handed out:
Medium Term Strategic and Operational Plan
Please note: These minutes were prepared by the Committee Secretary, Mr Keith Williams
Dr G Mayende on Strategic Plan and Budget Vote of the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) - briefing
Dr Mayende briefed the Committee on the Strategic Plan and the Budget Vote for DLA (see Presentation 1: 26/03/03). In his briefing he stressed that a shortage of funds was making it impossible for the Department to meet its targets both with respect to Land Restitution and Land Redistribution. He appealed to the Committee to use its influence with the National Treasury and the Minister of Finance in order to obtain more funds for the Department.
He also stressed that post settlement support was of paramount importance for the success of the land reform process and said that efforts were being made to integrate the contributions of the relevant departments in this regard.
In their responses to questions raised by members of the Committee, officials from the Department raised the following points:
With the LRAD project, every attempt was being made to implement a partnership with civil society and other state departments. However, there is still a problem with the integration process and the Department was working earnestly on this.
The LRAD process has been implemented for the past 1 year and 7 months. Basically the experience has been good. Demand has been high and hence a problem of overexpenditure arises. As a result, certain projects have had to be parked. This is more the result of a lack of funds than the encountering of red tape.
The 30% of land that is targeted for redistribution will be prime agricultural land. It will be land that is already under production. Put bluntly, it will be "White-owned" land and therefore will be economically productive.
There is very little unutilised state land left. Most of it is used for defence purposes or has been built on by the various state departments.
Copies of the Minister's and DG's speeches, on which the strategic plan was based, will be made available to the Committee.
Overexpenditure had occurred where provision was made for the payment of the capital works of the Deeds section. In future, the Deeds section will have to make these payments from their own funds and the overexpenditure will be reversed.
Sufficient funds were not made available for the Department to complete the Restitution process by 2005. This shortfall must be addressed as a matter of urgency and the Department will approach the National Treasury in this regard. The Committee could use its influence to help.
Sectional title development is not the function of Deeds Registries, although it is administered by DLA. The Department has sought to get rid of dormitory suburbs and has aimed at densifying those suburbs which are more favourably situated. The upcoming Land Use Management Bill will play a role here.
State land is held by the National Government along with provincial governments. Land held by municipalities is called public land. This is privately owned by communities, who decide on their own what they wish to do with the land. Where this land is unutilised, the state does engage the communities on it.
A fiscal (economic) analysis of LRAD is underway to ensure that people are not settled on uneconomic land. The analysis should be complete by September.
If problems are encountered with settlement projects, members of the committee could approach the provincial offices of the department or the Director General and DDG Thomas as a last resort.
The relevant commissioner had been approached about the Heidelberg and Wonderkop settlements. He had been advised to speed up the settling of the claims and the matter would be raised with him again.
People have various options when claims are settled. They could be restored on the land, they could be settled on alternative land or they could receive financial compensation. The principle of equity is always observed when the original land cannot be restored to its rightful owners.
With the settlement of claims, development components are always included. The Committee can encourage provinces to assist in this regard by ensuring that productivity is maintained on resettled agricultural land. Limpopo has been very good in this respect.
There are some pockets of anti-land reform agents amongst the previously advantaged sections of society. They attempt to discourage farmers from selling their land for redistribution. Although there is still land for sale, the Department is becoming concerned about this disquieting development.
The Department was way behind schedule for redistributing 30% of the land in 15 years. This is not due to a lack of demand but rather to a lack of resources. For this to succeed, Land Reform must be made a government priority. The Committee must assist in this regard. Details of the shortfall of funds could be made available to the Committee.
The Richtersveld judgment was still being analysed. There has been no appeal by the Department thus far. An announcement will be made through the proper channels when the time is ripe.
Amendments were brought to ESTA to bring clarity as to who could be buried on farms. It was stated that where there was an "established practice" of burial on the farm, workers had a right to be buried there. Impecunious farm-workers cannot go to court and an unsympathetic, unreformed Justice system still creates problems in this regard. For this reason, the Department is aiming at guaranteeing rights to land ownership for farm-workers.
The Chairperson thanked the Director General and his team for their presence at the meeting and promised that there would be more interaction in future. He also expressed his understanding of the Department's funding difficulties and promised the Committee's assistance in this regard.
Consideration of the list of members of the SA National Parks Board:
The Committee accepted the written document from the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in which he explained the process that had been followed in arriving at the list of appointees. For this reason, the Committee saw it fit to adopt a report accepting the list of appointees.
Adoption of Report:
The Committee adopted the following report:
Report of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs on Appointees to the Board of South African National Parks, dated 26 March 2003:
The Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs, having considered the list of members appointed to the Board of South African National Parks for the period 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2003 (see Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, 25 February 2003, p86), tabled in terms of section 8(1) of the National Parks Act, 1976 (Act No 57 of 1976), and referred to the Committee, is of the opinion that the list of members is in order and recommends, pursuant to section 8(2) of the said Act, that the Council does not disapprove any appointment.
The Committee however wishes to express its dissatisfaction with the procedure followed in making the appointments and will seek to amend this in upcoming legislation.
Report to be considered.
The Chairperson thanked members for their attendance and reminded members that a quorum was required at the next meeting on 28 March 2003. He adjourned the meeting at 16:20.
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