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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Mr N.H. Masithela (ANC)
19 August 2003
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE AGENTS AMENDMENT BILL; SECTIONAL TITLES AMENDMENT BILL AND THE SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Mr N.H. Masithela (ANC)
Agricultural Produce Agents Amendment Bill Powerpoint Presentation
Agricultural Produce Agents Amendment Draft Bill
Sectional Titles Amendment Bill
Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill Powerpoint Presentation
The Director of Marketing, Department of Agriculture briefed the Committee on motivation on changes as reflected on the Agricultural Produce Amendment Bill, and highlighted the consultative process that had been followed. The Committee advised the Department on issues that need to be revisited. The Registrar of Deeds: Legal Administrative Support and Deeds Training presented a brief overview of the Sectional Title Amendment Bill and prospective changes. The Committee was not convinced that the issues highlighted necessitated legislation. The Chief Director - Spatial Planning and Information emphasised the necessity and important benefits that the Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill held for South Africa. The Members in appreciation requested the opportunity to go through the Bill more closely.
Agricultural Produce Agents Amendments Bill
Mr B Morokolo, Director of Marketing, Department of Agriculture (DOA) defended the necessity of Agricultural Produce Agents Bill by outlining the key implications to the Committee in his presentation. The thrust of the changes were to make sure that there was sufficient transformation.
The objects of the Bill and the prospective changes were explained:
The financial implications of the Bill and the matter of consultation were also covered.
He highlighted inclusion of export agents, broader representivity in terms of coverage, the procedure of appointing a registrar, and the changed definition of agents to include persons working for principals. The financial implication for the amendment would amount to R45000, which would be the cost for publication in the Government Gazette. He outlined the consultative procedures that the department had undertaken.
The discussion of the issues were broken up into 3 parts concerning the various issues for discussion, namely the Bill, the appointment of a Deputy Registrar and the term of office of the Council of Agriculture.
Mr A Botha (DA) questioned why the agricultural producers were not consulted in this matter since it is was their produce being marketed. He also asked how the council was constituted.
Mr W Johnson (Consultant and Registrar) who was part of the DOA delegation said that National African Farmers Union (NAFU) and Agri-South Africa were consulted. Producers were consulted to give their view on the Bill and that the council consisted of two persons representing producers of fresh produce, two persons representing producers of livestock, three persons representing fresh produce agents, three persons representing livestock agents, three persons representing export agents, two persons representing consumers and one person representing the department.
Dr A Schoeman (ANC) was concerned that Agri-South Africa and NAFU were not red meat agents, yet it was essential to have red meat representatives on the Council. He also felt that the two persons representing consumers should be nominated by consumer consultants.
Mr Johnson said that currently two female members of the council had been co-opted as per an arrangement between the Council and Government.
Mr Kugel (Legal and Regulatory Consultant) added that the problem was that most bodies were white and therefore the nominations would be white , thus lacking in representivity, whereas they had to ensure that the Council keeps pace with what is happening.
Dr A Schoeman insisted that they would like the appointees to be representative of what the Minister really has in mind hence the nominations should be of a sizeable interest group.
Mr Kugel assured the Committee that the Minister used her discretion.
The Chairperson, Mr N Masithela (ANC), felt that the Department should have consulted the Red Meat Producers Organisation. He asked the Department if this had been done.
Mr Morokolo said the nature of consultation was at the apex . Agri-South Africa had been consulted and DOA had thought that this would have given them sufficient coverage. He added that they would take note of these responses.
Mr M Ngema (IFP) suggested that if the Minister appointed the two consumer representatives , this would surely address the Ministers issues of representivity.
One of the main features of the Bill read that : upon the commencement of the Act the Minister shall appoint the two persons to the council; with the hope of addressing representivity issues. The Chair person felt this bullet should be done away with as it did not speak to the Bill's clause 2, section 3(1) (f) of Section 3 of Act 12 of 1992.
Mr Botha asked which section the Department was referring to regarding the Ministers discretion.
Mr Kugel said it was indeed clause 2, section 3(1). And pointed out that the nomination procedure is not prescribed in the legislation.
At this point the Chairperson asked about how things had been done before and why there was no procedure in place.
Mr Kugel responded that in the past the Minister had been bound by the nominations and that the Minster had to find a balance between the nominations and the appointments. He explained that the Minister had no discretion as to the number of representatives coming from each category he only had discretion regarding who he should appoint as a representative for that particular category.
Mr Schoeman expressed his concern about the wording in the Bill and felt that it was not balanced.
The Chairperson felt that the Bill should give people direction as to how many people to nominate and he stated that the Department of Agriculture should look into this matter.
Mr Kugel stated that there was various examples of Nomination procedures set out in other legislation and the Department would take a look at that.
Mr M V Ngema (IFP) was concerned about the phrasing of section 3.1 of the Bill and felt that it should rather read that the Minister "may" appoint members in stead of "shall".
The Chair stated that the Minister should not be inhibited from appointing members. He asked whether it was still the prerogative of the council whether the Minister appoints the Registrar. In the absence of registrar there should be a deputy registrar.
Mr Johnson, as the current registrar, confirmed that the registrar was appointed by the Minister. He explained that the appointment of a deputy registrar was being considered.
The Chairperson said there was a need to legislate that process. He advised that a clause needed to be inserted whereby the same procedure for appointing the registrar would apply to the appointment of the deputy registrar. He suggested that the wording "The Council with the Minister", would be simpler so that in event of problems the Committee would be able to intervene. He requested that the Department send to the Committee the names of those that they consulted. With reference to the term of office of Council being two years, and the Minister being able to appoint a council member for a third term, Mr Masithela suggested that the Department insert a rider that the Minister after consultation with the Portfolio Committee may appoint
Mr Morokolo highlighted section 31 of the Bill ,and pointed out that the Bill did not need proclamation and that when the Bill is assented to it should become law.
Sectional Title Amendment Bill
A brief overview of the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill was given by the Department on Sectional Titles. Mr Hennie Geldenhuys ( Registrar of Deeds: Legal Administrative Support and Deeds Training) dealt with the scope of the Bill, the proposed changes and why such changes were necessary.
Mr H Geldenhuys, Registrar of Deeds: Legal Administrative Support and Deeds Training, from the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) warned the committee that the changes needed were in his opinion very technical. He emphasised that without the changes progress under the Section Title Body Corporates found difficulty in progressing because in the current Act they had to obtain a unanimous resolution. Reference was being made to clause 1 of section 1(b) of Act 44 of 1997. The concern was that the Act did not give way to approaching the courts. The Department felt that the courts would give balance where the majority was used to override the minority.
Mr Botha (DA) wanted clarity on the powers of the Body Corporate.
Mr Geldenhuys said that the Bill dealt with their right of recourse to court. The problem is that when the Body Corporate want to change something such as the rules, and the home owners do not want to, they [Body Corporate] have no legal recourse. This Amendment simply wants to allow the Body Corporate the chance to do this because at the moment this not possible. At the moment there is not progress.
The Chairperson inquired why the home owners could not go to court on their own.
Mr Geldenhuys replied that they had no way to approach the courts.
The Chairman asked about the procedures involved and why it was necessary to legislate on the matter.
Mr Schoeman pointed out that the committee had to be convinced that there is no deadlock breaking measures available at the moment.
Mr Botha felt that the committee should clarify the issue as to whether the amendment is necessary.
The Chairperson stated that anybody had a right to go to court and that the committee should take cognizance not to create difficulty for future development.
Mr Maluleke (DA) asked if there are no rules and regulations in place for the Body Corporate.
Mr Geldenhuys responded that rules and regulations did exist but that it sometimes was not enough. He further pointed out that courts were very costly.
The Chair expressed concern about whether the parties wanted legislation or regulations regarding this matter.
Mr Botha said that the committee should go and read the Bill and come back to it at the following meeting, as many of the members had only seen the Bill for the first time.
Ms J Ntuli (ANC) said it was not clear why they wanted to amend the original Bill instead of coming up with regulations.
Mr H Geldenhuys assured the Committee that they would prepare clearer objectives for the following meeting.
Mr Masithela said that some of the amendments sought to better the lives of individuals. He also asked who was consulted as the Committee would like to also consult with them.
Mr H Geldenhuys said that South African property owners had been consulted. He added that they had also been inundated by individual owners.
Mr Masithela asked the Department whether there was anything specific they should focus on when going through the Amendment Bill, and whether there would be any financial implications for passing the Bill.
Mr Geldenhuys did not highlight any other specific sections but said there were no additional financial implications.
The Chairperson advised that they could not legislate every small detail. He added that their good intent was recognised, but the Department needed to go back and look more closely at the matter to try and find the best option.
Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill (SDIB)
Mr Kaba H Kabagambe (Chief Director: Spatial Planning and Information) gave a presentation on the new bill and the reasons behind the need for such legislation. The presentation covered topics such as considerations and objectives regarding spatial information. He went ahead to point out the current situation and shortcomings regarding spatial information as well as the problem regarding the sharing of information between different groups, not only nationally but also internationally. He went ahead to discuss how this situation will be improved and for whose benefit such improvement would be, should the Bill be passed. This was a new Bill and not an Amendment and that such Bill would only regulate spatial information like maps and other typographical information.
He stated that to become a country that operated efficiently, the accuracy of decisions largely depended on the ability to access accurate spatial information. He added that this not only in line with meeting the development and transformational needs of South Africa, but would also allow them to becoming part of international trends and requirements. The SDIB, sought to regulate only spatial geographic information in response to Cabinets mandate to DLA in 1999. Of concern was that Geo Spatial Information was still one of the few sectors that remains unregulated thus prompting duplication of information, and underutilised spatial information where the public could not access public information; this being what the Bill sought to rectify . The Bill proposed establishing standards and policy, promoting accessibility and having a central electronic metadata catalogue that could give you information, tell you who collected data, when it was collected and what methodology was used.
The Chairperson asked about the financial implications of passing this new Bill and which people had been consulted and whether they were all comfortable with the Bill.
Mr Kabagambe said that there was no added requirement for funding and he further pointed out that there might be some savings. He said that all the parties consulted with would be happy and that the new Bill made provision for two representatives from the local sphere of government.
Mr D K Maluleke (DA) asked why the Department had revisited the provinces.
Mr Kabagambe replied that the Minister felt that given the amendments obtained, it would be best to see whether these amendments were accepted by the provinces.
Mr Schoeman (ANC) enquired whether there had been extensive consultation with government departments and whether these departments were happy with the situation.
Mr Kabagambe said that they had consulted with the special committee on government departments that meets quarterly, and that they had their complete support.
Ms Ntuli ( ANC) wanted to know what the financial implications of the groupings of the various committees are and what powers such groupings have. She was referring to the committee, sub-committees.
Mr Kabagambe said that these groupings have no decision-making powers but they have an advisory function to the Minister.
Mr Ngema asked the department to provide the portfolio committee with the list of people and organisations that had been consulted.
Mr Kabagambe said sub committees were designed to ensure sufficient work, that recommendations were rectified, to look at policy and co-opt experts. Sub-committees did not have decision making powers. Committees were an advisory body to the Minister.
The Chaiperson was pleased with the briefing and said the Committee would look at it more intensively.
The meeting was adjourned.