NARYSEC programme and mandate: Department briefing; KZN Oversight Visit Report

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

12 November 2019
Chairperson: Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee was supposed to receive a briefing from the Ingonyama Trust. However, the Minister had written to the Chairperson requesting a postponement. The Committee re-organised its programme and instead received a briefing from the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform on the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) programme.

The Department reported that R3.9 billion was allocated to the proramme since 2010 and of this, R3.6 billion has been spent. The balance of the allocated budget was expected to be spent by the end of the current fiscal year. A total of 11 597 youth are reportedly certified, while 2 361 and 1 360 were awaiting certification and currently busy with training, respectively.

The positioning of the programme at the time was that the youth would find jobs or start their own businesses after they exit NARYSEC. The programme focused on skilling the rural youth as means for them to compete for jobs. The economy was not growing at a rate that created jobs. Hence the youth should be recruited when exit pathways opportunities have been identified. There should be intentional support for youth to find jobs or start their own businesses built in the programme design. That was why it was important that resources should be allocated for NARYSEC Exit Strategy.

The Department also stated it was busy refocusing NARYSEC. The strategic focus now is to recruit for purposes of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, but not for skills development only. The exit pathway opportunities should be clearly identified and confirmed before recruitment and should be aligned to the new District Development Model.

That was why it revealed it has proposed a new approach. This would involve contracting training institutions like local TVET and agricultural colleges, developing training programmes, assigning youth to projects, and conduct periodical programme review. Phase 3 would be the programme close out during 2021 and benefit realisation. This would also entail impact reporting and post-implementation plan activation and review period of 18 months and mobilisation for country wide implementation.

The Department, where possible, would make use of the services of the three provincial agricultural colleges: Fort Cox, Tsolo, and Grootfontein. Functional areas or regions would be identified by indicators or informants that include resources, infrastructure, and environmental and social activities. Key informants are socio-economic viability, poverty pockets, agricultural commodities, topography and hydrology, and infrastructure.

Members wanted to know how much money the recruits were paid as a stipend; why a big amount of money went to boarding fees; indicated the reason why young people could not find jobs was the delay in the issuing of certificates after training; asked what kind of communication was used to drive recruitment; commended the Department for its “lessons learnt” and “new approach” sections of the presentations because NARYSEC was about sustainability and absorption of students into the economy after completion of studies; wanted to understand if the support given to the training of the recruits could be customised to help some of the restitution farms that were not functioning; wanted to understand why certificates were being issued late to students; pointed out it was important for the Department to engage other departments like Basic Education, Small Business, etc. because some of these things need to be introduced to young people at an early age; and enquired why only three agricultural colleges were earmarked for the programme because the country has got other agricultural colleges.

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Development Reform (DALRRD)

Mr Nasele Mehlomakulu, Acting Deputy Director-General: Rural Infrastructure Development, DALRRD, reported that R3.9 billion was allocated to the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) programme since 2010, and of this, R3.6 billion has been spent. The balance of the allocated budget was expected to be spent by the end of the current fiscal year. A total of 11 597 youth are reportedly certified, while 2 361 and 1 360 respectively were awaiting certification and currently busy with training, respectively.

The positioning of the programme at the time was that the youth would find jobs or start their own businesses after they exit NARYSEC. The programme focused on skilling the rural youth as means for them to compete for jobs. The economy was not growing at a rate that created jobs. Hence the youth should be recruited when exit pathways opportunities have been identified. There should be intentional support for youth to find jobs or start their own businesses built in the programme design. That was why it was important that resources should be allocated for NARYSEC Exit Strategy.

Mr Mehlomakulu stated the Department was busy refocusing NARYSEC. The strategic focus now is to recruit for purposes of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, but not for skills development only. The exit pathway opportunities should be clearly identified and confirmed before recruitment and should be aligned to the new District Development Model. Training on short practical skills would be provided to help perform jobs.

Mr Mehlomakulu took the Committee through the proposed new approach. He made an example about the OR Tambo Khawuleza Programme Pilot. The programme would have three phases. Phase 1 would deal with programme delivery plan development, political endorsement, and stakeholder consultation. All these were expected to be concluded end of November 2019. This phase would also include the identification of youth for the skills development programme and development of a plan of action for job skills readiness. Phase 2 had to do with implementation during 2020. This would involve contracting training institutions like local TVET and agriculture colleges, developing training programmes, assigning youth to projects, and conduct periodical programme review. Phase 3 would be the programme close out during 2021 and benefit realisation.  This would also entail impact reporting and post-implementation plan activation and review period of 18 months and mobilisation for country wide implementation. The eThekwini and Waterberg Districts would also apply the same approach.

In identifying and profiling districts, functional areas or regions would be identified by indicators or informants that include resources, infrastructure, and environmental and social activities. Key informants are socio-economic viability, poverty pockets, agricultural commodities, topography and hydrology, and infrastructure. As part of the comprehensive land analysis the following information and data was used:

  • functional regions
  • concentration of youth
  • levels of unemployment
  • sector projects
  • agricultural capability analysis

The Department, where possible, would make use of the services of the three provincial agricultural colleges: Fort Cox, Tsolo, and Grootfontein.

(Graphs and tables were shown to illustrate short skills programmes offered by the 3 agricultural colleges of the Eastern Cape; key commodities and agro-processing opportunities of the OR Tambo District; OR Tambo District profile and analysis; youth currently busy with training per province per sector, youth awaiting certification per province per sector, certified youth per province per sector; and budget expenditure)

Deliberations on the letter from Minister Thoko Didiza

The Chairperson informed the Committee that he had received communication from Minister Thoko Didiza requesting the Committee to postpone the planned discussion with the Ingonyama Trust Board and this be held after two weeks. The Ingonyama was supposed to brief the Committee on the programmes it was implementing in the communities it was serving. As a result, the management of the Committee met to discuss the request. He asked Members to comment on the matter.

Ms A Steyn (DA) stated she was concerned about replacing the Ingonyama Trust presentation with NARYSEC because NARYSEC was easy stuff.  There were massive outstanding matters that needed to be dealt with concerning the Ingonyama Trust. She was not sure if the Department was ready with any of the programmes of the Committee because it has been given two weeks to respond to matters raised by the Committee, but there have been no written responses that have been received yet.

Ms B Tshwete (ANC) welcomed the proposal from the Ministry, but indicated the Committee would have loved to get proper answers from the Department. Her concern was that the Department was not keen to account to the Committee though it was the Committee that decides on the programme on whether it wants to tackle Ingonyama issues or not. She had a serious concern about the item that has replaced the Ingonyama presentation because she wanted to engage with it on very important matters, and to also ask the Department about its plans on the filling of vacancies, and pending cases on land claims that have been on the roll for more than two years.

Ms N Mahlo (ANC) supported the view from the Minister so that the Ingonyama could bring the right detailed information to the Committee. She would like it registered that the Minister was accounting to the Committee, and when the Committee wants work done, that work must be executed but the Committee must not be dictated to by the Department in its work.

The Chairperson acknowledged the work of the Committee, and pointed out the mandate of the Committee was to hold the executive accountable. The programme was always drafted and adopted by the Committee in good time and then distributed to the relevant structures.  The Committee should start circulating the next term programmes, so as to avoid a repeat of what has happened. The scheduled joint meeting with COGTA on disaster management was also disturbing the already penciled engagement with the Department on its first quarterly performance. Unfortunately, that meeting has been rescheduled to accommodate COGTA. He asked if Members were agreeing to the new arrangements.

All members agreed in unison.

Discussion with Department

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked about the amount of money the recruits were getting paid as a stipend because during 2010 the recruits were paid a fixed stipend. He asked for clarity on the Northern Cape matter where the recruits did not get work after training. It appeared there was no commitment from the Department in terms of monitoring, informing the recruits timeously on practicals, and programme changes. He also commented that livestock owners affected by drought had complained of not being given information in time.

Mr Mehlomakulu replied that the recruits were paid R1320 per month. Concerning the Northern Cape, the programme was to give the recruits access to the job market. Unfortunately, the economy did not respond to them.

Ms Steyn said she has not been getting the sense of what has been spent per year and the impact of the programme. She wanted to know why a big amount of money went to boarding fees. In her view, the reason why young people could not find jobs was the delay in the issuing of certificates after training. She asked what kind of communication was used to drive recruitment.

Mr Mehlomakulu replied that the reason why boarding was expensive was that in the beginning the recruits were accommodated in hotels when the programme was started, but that was stopped. The recruits were then given a top-up allowance of R2180 for their own accommodation, transport and meals. When the Department is recruiting, it makes use of local media like local radio stations, newspapers and local shopping centres.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) commended the Department for its “lessons learnt” and “new approach” sections of the presentations because NARYSEC was about sustainability and absorption of students into the economy after completion of studies.

Ms Mahlo wanted to understand why certificates were being issued late to students. It was important for the Department to engage other departments like Basic Education, Small Business, etc. because some of these things need to be introduced to young people at an early age. She enquired why only three agricultural colleges were earmarked for the programme because the country had other agricultural colleges.

Mr Mehlomakulu explained that the certificates was an administrative matter within the SETAs and colleges. The Department was constantly pushing for a resolution on this issue because it understood what it means for students. The matter of three colleges against the other nine agricultural colleges in the country was only because those three colleges (Fort Cox, Tsolo and Grootfontein) were based in the Eastern Cape where the OR Tambo Khawuleza Project was being piloted.

Ms Tshwete noted that NARYSEC was mainly investing in future generations of this country. When it was presented to the Committee and inputs made, it was pointed out that some of its offerings should be done away with. Currently, the Department is faced with drought, shortage of extension officers, and equipment that needs to be repaired. She proposed the draft document should focus on the core issues of the Department, and not be concerned about hospitality. She commended the Department for recruiting youth in rural areas. She asked how the communities were identified for this programme.

Mr Mehlomakulu replied that the information on the profiles of the districts was received from COGTA and key indicators that identify poverty pockets, resources, infrastructure, social, and economic activities. COGTA is the one leading all these district model projects.

Mr N Masipa (DA) wanted to understand if the support given to the training of the recruits could be customised to help some of the restitution farms that were not functioning.

Mr Mehlomakulu replied they have taken note of the point raised and it would be addressed.

Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) said the budget has been spent, but it was difficult to pinpoint areas of success. She said the skills revolution should be in full swing. The Committee came with many recommendations on how NARYSEC should run, but those recommendations appear not to be seen in the presented document to address, for example, maintenance of boreholes, shortage of vets, etc. 60% of the population is made up of young people who were not benefiting from the R3.6 billion programme. She suggested the NARYSEC draft document should be reworked.

Ms T Breedt (FF Plus) commented NARYSEC was just going to be another programme that would be given a new name every year and the impact on the ground would never be seen. She wondered if NARYSEC could be used to strengthen the work of the extension officers by training the recruits on some extension work and then absorb them into the system. She wanted to find out if January or June were the periods for the intakes; and she asked how students for the programme are selected, and what happened to students that dropped out of the programme.

Mr Mehlomakulu explained that when the Department selects the recruits, the entry point is rural youth between 18 and 25 years who reside in the targeted area with Grade 12. But the new approach is trying to close the gap and accommodate those that do not have Grade 12 so as not to lock them in poverty because 80% of the youth in OR Tambo District Municipality do not have matric. Hence the offering of practical short courses. On drop-outs, there was no penalty clause. No money has to be paid back.

The Chairperson wanted to know if there is a government policy on NARYSEC. He asked if the allocated R10b was only for the OR Tambo Project or for the whole NARYSEC Programme. He asked how many young people, women and disabled have been trained on rural road network maintenance like the road leading to the Bumbane Great Place that has been built.

Then Chairperson asked how the Department was ensuring the certificated youth were getting jobs and becoming specialists in their fields.

Mr Mehlomakulu explained the Department had started to question the relevance of the programme last year. As a result, it conducted an evidence-based research which was carried out by the HSRC. The findings then provided a new direction for the programme. The R10 billion budget was brought to the Department by COGTA because when it comes to entrepreneurship and resources, COGTA was the one analysing the environment and collating data. As part of skills development, the Department would secure land first to start farming, so that the youth could learn to run a farm or a project. Support is being provided to the youth post-training or certification. For example, if they study planting, timing for the studies is limited to the planting season. When they finish their studies, they start practicing planting when the planting season starts, not when it has ended. The Department has commitment from various institutions and other sectors to absorb the current crop of youth that is being trained after completion of their studies. On the OR Tambo rural road network maintenance, the Department started to engage on this matter with the provincial department of transport and other stakeholders to develop a programme for rural road maintenance. The rural road maintenance project would be built in the programme. He added artisanship was being offered to service tractors that were being used in some of the agricultural projects.

Ms Steyn asked if the youth that were exiting the programme were monitored, and who was monitoring the accommodation of the youth. She further indicated NARYSEC was about employment, and the Department should not be reluctant to reveal the number of youth employed.

Mr Mehlomakulu stated the Department had statistics on trained youth, where they were, and what they were doing. The Department was also looking for opportunities for those who have completed training but were still at home. The intake process was being reviewed. He also informed the Committee the directors of the programme were responsible for the accommodation of the youth because they were dealing with accommodation arrangements with TVET colleges and inspecting the food given to the students.

Ms Mahlo made some inputs regarding communication for recruiting the youth. She said the word should be spread to the headmen, ward councilors, chiefs and other structures because that was the purpose of bringing the government closer to the people. She also indicated the Department must indicate the other colleges that were going to be used for these agricultural projects.

The Chairperson enquired what has happened to the AgriHub that was near the Umtata airport.

Mr Mehlomakulu replied that as the Department was rolling these projects, there would be interactions with Agriparks because it was driving a production-led approach. He noted the Department has not listed all that could be done, but it was tabling the programme offerings because the courses were tailor-made to suit conditions on the ground. He welcomed the constructive comments from the Committee; they would help the Department in reworking the programme and to gauge if it was moving in the right direction.

Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Acting Director-General, DALRRD, pointed out the main thing about the presentation was to higlight the Department was following the district model approach, so that it could make their programme offerings suit the conditions of those district models.

The Department then requested to submit responses in writing to questions that were not answered. The unanswered questions were around: the number of youth employed after the NARYSEC training; programme success stories; socio-economic impact of the programme; NARYSEC success on hectares of forestry land in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape; what the new proposal is on refocusing NARYSEC seeing that there is a merger of two departments; what the connection is between the agriculture project in Thaba Nchu and the OR Tambo one; status of the certificates and grading; the number of red meat abattoirs in Umtata; and statistics on the number of drop-outs.

The Chairperson stated that agriculture is about creating jobs, especially when you look at what NARYSEC is doing and aligning it to the objectives of the Department. NARYSEC was not only about training the youth to find jobs. The Department should indicate the number of youth trained and where they have been placed after training. This would ascertain if they have been properly utilised in the programme.

Adoption of Minutes

22 October 2019 minutes

The Chairperson took the Committee through the document, page by page.

Ms Mbabama moved for the adoption of minutes.

Ms Mahlatsi seconded the motion.

The minutes were adopted with no amendments.

5 November 2019 Minutes

The Chairperson took the Committee through the document, page by page.

Ms Masipa proposed for the adoption of the minutes.

Mr Cebekhulu supported the proposition.

The minutes were adopted with no amendments.

Draft Oversight Report on KZN

The Chairperson took the Committee through the recommendations of the document, page by page.

Ms Tshwete moved for the adoption of the document.

Ms Mahlo seconded the move.

The document was adopted with no amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

Share this page: