Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill; Restitution of Land Rights Amd Bill: finalisation; Agricultural Research Council Strike: brief

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURAL AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE


9 September 2003
SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: FINALISATION; AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STRIKE: BRIEFING; RESTITUTION OF LAND RIGHTS AMENDMENT BILL: FINALISATION

Chairperson
: Mr N Masithela

Documents:
 

Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill [B44-2003]
Amendments Agreed to Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill (Appendix 1)
Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [B42-2003]
Amendments Agreed to Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill.(Appendix 2)
Agricultural Research Council -Transforming Research & Technology Systems Presentation

SUMMARY
The Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill was unanimously adopted. The Agricultural Research Council briefed the Committee on the issue of the looming strikes which centred around wages and human resources related benefits. The remuneration formula and the procedures for wage dispute resolution were major factors. However, the Agricultural Research Council was committed to collective bargaining. Discussion on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill focussed on whether the Minister should have power to expropriate land without a court order and whether land restitution was part of land reform. The majority of members voted in favour of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill including the amendments they agreed to earlier without further amendments.

MINUTES
Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill
A representative of the Department read the amendments agreed to the Spatial Data Infrastructure Bill. One member (DA) asked if the Department had taken into account matters that were raised by Telkom. The Department agreed.

The Chairperson proposed to put the Bill in front of the committee. Mr Schoeman (ANC) agreed and seconded by Mr. Dlali (ANC). The secretary read the motion of desirability and the committee report. The Chairperson moved for the adoption of the Bill. Mr Dlali (ANC) and Mr. McIntosh (DA) seconded him.

The Bill was adopted.

Agricultural Research Council Strike
Mr. Chinning, Executive Manager- Human Resources, Agricultural Research Council (ARC) said that the issue of the looming strikes centred around wages and human resources related benefits. He explained the remuneration formula and the procedures for wage dispute resolution. He concluded by stating that the ARC was committed to collective bargaining.

The President of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Dr. Tau-Mzamane gave background to the establishment of the ARC. She outlined the Council's commitment to its members and how the Council tried in 2001/2002 to engage with its members in Science, Engineering and Technical institutions on some challenges facing the Council. The main task of the ARC was to overhaul itself so that it could be useful to its members. She concluded by listing some of the successes of the ARC. Some of the successes included; increased funding from both government and private donors; improved financial management system; integrated strategic research planning; market related remuneration.

The Chairperson asked the presenters to highlight the impact of the strike on the day to day functioning of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

The CEO of the ARC said that the strike by researchers normally took place during lunchtime. Consequently no major disruptions of research work had taken place. The Agricultural Research Council recognised that the most important resource was the labour force. For every organisation to be successful there should be an environment that enabled people to succeed in what they do. Various elements created such an environment. The ARC was very much committed to improve the conditions of researchers.

Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [42-2003]
The Chairperson allowed the committee members to caucus in their respective parties to finalise their comments on the Bill. From their report back, it was clear that the all parties but the DA agreed to the power of the Minister to expropriate land without a court order. The DA felt that the Minister should only expropriate land with a court order. Other parties disagreed. The PAC and ACDP were not present yet.

The Chairperson summarised the Bill's deliberations into three issues. The first one was that the Land Commission needed more resources. The second one was the separation of powers between the Minister and the courts. The third one was reconciling expropriation for restitution and that of land reform.

Discussion

Mr. Botha (DA) asked what would happen if two people claimed the same land. He wanted to know how the Minister would have the judicial capacity to determine the authentic claim.

The Deputy Minister reminded the house that this question was asked before and that there was no clear answer. He however said that the Minister could not expropriate land on insufficient evidence and that expropriation was not final but that it could be reviewed or contested. He added that Section 43A of Chapter 14 of the principal Act provided for competing claims.

Mr. Botha maintained that even so, it seemed that the Minister would still decide on expropriation instead of the courts.

Mr MacIntosh (DA) asked a similar question. The Department said that the Minister acted on quasi-judicial grounds and that where there were doubts, the Minister could refer the matter to the Land Court.

Mr. Nofolovhodwe (AZAPO) commented that the committee should not debate questions that defeated the purpose of the Act. The committee agreed to expropriation, that it should resolve on the best way to do that. The debate on the Minister's power was not an issue at all because all executive powers were subject to legal review in any case.

Mr. Dlali (ANC) later agreed with Mr. Nofolovhodwe.

Mr. Botha said that the amendments vested too much discretionary power on someone who had no legal training at all.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) said that the Constitution provided for the restitution of land and also guarded against any executive abusing power.

One member (ANC) suggested that the meeting should be adjourned because it was clear that someone did not want change in terms of land redistribution.

Mr. Maluleke (DA) asked for the number of backlogs in land restitution. The Chairperson reminded the committee that the meeting was for debates and not questioning. However, it was clear that the Department had no statistics of the backlogs.

The Chairperson did a round check on the parties' views about the Minister's power to expropriate. ANC and AZAPO agreed that the Minister should have the power to expropriate. The IFP and NNP agreed that the Minister should have the power to expropriate subject to some provisions. The DA and the ACDP maintained that the Minister should appropriate only with a court order.

The Chairperson asked if the DA wanted to maintain the status quo. There was a lengthy debate on what was meant by the status quo. The Chairperson explained that by status quo he meant the present principal Act and not the situation prior to 1994.

On the issue of restitution and land reform Mr. Botha (DA) said that he supported reform but that combining land reform and land restitution was a misdirection of legislation and that the issue of restitution should not be dealt with here.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) disagreed with Mr Botha and said that the Constitution provided for both land restitution and reform.

Adv. Holomisa (ANC) added that land reform was not separate from land restitution. The Land Commissioner agreed and added that land restitution was one of the three aspects of land reform.

The Deputy Minister said that land expropriation was the best option around the world.

Mr. Groenewald (NNP) said that the issue was not the principles of land reform, but the procedures of land restitution and land reform.

Mr. Crocker from the Department, read the amendments agreed to in the Restitution of Land Rights Bill. The Chair asked if the Bill could be put in front of the committee and it was agreed. The secretary read the motion of desirability and the committee report. Just as the Bill was about to be adopted there seemed to be some confusion raised by the ACDP and IFP. It was clear the committee needed more time to deliberate on the Bill. The Chairperson retracted the motion of desirability and committee report. The deliberations were extended to resume in the afternoon.

Afternoon Session
Dr A E Schoeman (ANC) proposed that the long title of the Bill be amended. He said that the word "any" in the fourth sentence of the long title should be deleted and the letter "s" be inserted in the word "purpose" in the last sentence of the paragraph.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) proposed the deletion of reference to "for any other land reform purpose" from the long title.

The state law advisers felt that both of the proposed amendments would not make any difference especially with regard to the interpretation of the Bill. The Department shared the same feeling.

The chairperson asked members to indicate by way of voting if they preferred to have the long title as is or with the suggested amendments. The majority voting in favour of retaining the long title. This meant that Mr Schoeman's and Mrs Dudley's proposals were rejected.

The chairperson presented all clauses of the bill one after the other and asked members to vote in favour or against individual clauses. The majority of members voted in favour of all clauses of the Bill.

The chairperson thereafter asked members to vote in favour or against the Bill as a whole. The majority of members again voted in favour of the Bill whilst some rejected it.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
AMENDMENTS AGREED TO SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE BILL
[B44-2003]

ARRANGEMENT OF ACT

1. On page 2, in line 16, to omit "Access to and distribution of" and to insert "Manner and refusal of access to".

2. On page 2, in line 17, omit "Appointment and accountability of data vendors" and to substitute "Supply of and accountability for spatial information".

CLAUSE 4

1. On page 4, after line 21, to add the following subclauses:
"(3) The Minister may suspend or revoke a decision or measure of the Committee.
(4) The Minister must, after suspending the decision or measure of the Committee and before its revocation, remit such decision or measure for the Committee's reconsideration.".

CLAUSE 5

1. On page 4, after line 24, to insert the following paragraph:
"(a) One person to represent the Minister;".

2. On page 4, in line 25, to omit "Two" and to substitute "two".

3. On page 4, in line 55, to omit "Director-General" and to substitute "Minister".

CLAUSE 7

1. On page 5, in line 35, after "term" to omit "or further terms".

CLAUSE 8

1. On page 5, in line 49, to omit "or".

2. On page 5, after line 49, to insert the following paragraph:
"(g) has been determined by a court, tribunal or forum as contemplated by the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 (Act No. 4 of 2000) to have contravened section 7 or any other provision of that Act; or".

3. On page 5, in line 54, after "two" to omit "or more".

CLAUSE 9

1. On page 6, in line 18, after "Minister" to omit "or".

2. On page 6, after line 18, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(b) the Director-General; or".

CLAUSE 10

1. On page 6, after line 34, to insert the following paragraphs:
"(b) delegate any of its powers and functions to a subcommittee on such terms as it considers appropriate;
(c) direct the subcommittee to perform such tasks as it considers appropriate;
(d) at any time revoke the delegation to a subcommittee;
(e) despite any delegation, itself exercise a delegated power or functions;

CLAUSE 13

1. On page 7, in line 5 to omit the heading and to substitute:
"Manner and refusal of access to spatial information"

2. On page 7, after line 8, to omit subsection (2).

CLAUSE 14

1. On page 7, in line 12, to omit the heading and to substitute:
"Supply of and accountability for spatial information"

2. On page 7, after line 16, to add the following subsection:
"(3) A data custodian or a data vendor supplying spatial information must provide—
(a) the information in a prescribed manner; and
(b) the relevant metadata together with the spatial information."

CLAUSE 19

1. On page 8, in line 22, to omit subsection (2).

CLAUSE 20

1. On page 8, after line 36, to add the following subsection, the current clause becoming subsection (1):
"(2) The Minister must, before making, amending or repealing any regulation under subsection (1), publish the proposed regulation, amendment or repeal once in the Gazette and call for written comments by any interested party to be provided within 30 days after such publication.".

Appendix 2
AMENDMENTS AGREED TO RESTITUTION OF LAND RIGHTS AMENDMENT BILL
[B42-2003]

NEW CLAUSE

1. On page 2, after clause 2, to insert the following clause:

Amendment of section 42C of Act 22 of 1994, as inserted by section 30 of Act 63 of 1997 and amended by section 4 of Act 61 of 1998 and by section 11 of Act 18 of 1999

2.
Section 42C of the principal Act is hereby amended by the substitution for subsection (1) of the following subsection:
"(1) The Minister may from money appropriated by Parliament for this purpose and on such conditions as he or she may determine, grant an advance or a subsidy for the development or management of, or to facilitate the settlement of persons on, land which is the subject of an order of the Court in terms of this Act or an agreement in terms of section 14(3) or 42D or which is expropriated in terms of section 42E, to—
(a) any claimant to whom restoration or the award of a right in land has been ordered;
(b) any claimant who has entered into an agreement contemplated in section 14(3) or 42D;
(c) any person resettled [as a result of an order of the Court] on such land.

CLAUSE 4

1. On page 3, from line 1, to omit subsections (1) and (2) and to substitute:
"(1) The Minister may purchase, acquire in any other manner or expropriate land, a portion of land or a right in land for the purpose of—
(a)
restoring or awarding such land, portion of land or right in land to a claimant who is entitled to restitution of a right in land in terms of section 2; or
(b)
providing alternative relief as contemplated in section 6(2)(b).".
(2) The Expropriation Act, 1975 (Act No. 63 of 1975) shall, with the necessary changes, apply to an expropriation under this Act and any reference to the Minister of Public Works in that Act must be construed as a reference to the Minister for the purpose of such expropriation.".

 

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