In this virtual Portfolio and Select Committee joint meeting, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) stated that its three-year MTEF (2020-2023) allocation was R10.5 billion of which R3.5 billion was allocated for 2020/21 and that the expenditure breakdown was available upon request. Targets for its five year Strategic Plan were to settle 2150 land claims and to finalise 2200 claims in line with the current budget and capacity. There were 7 743 outstanding land claims. However, due to COVID-19, it had to revise its targets for 2020/21. For number of claims settled it was revised from 454 to 244 and for number of claims finalised it was revised from 479 to 295. The backlog reduction strategy would be ready in September and Treasury would need to approve it.
The Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) stated its four objectives in its five-year strategic plan focused on: improving corporate governance and service excellence; improving stakeholder relations; improving security of land tenure; improving coordination of human settlement on communal land. The ITB stated that it could not provide a detailed budget breakdown because its initial budget of R52 million did not match the new budget appropriation tabled in Parliament, as the budget cuts reduced its budget to R22 million.
Committee members asked about the financial impact of COVID-19 on the plans of CRLR and ITB; how the Commission was going to deal with the timely finalisation of the 7 743 outstanding land claims when it had revised its targets to deal with only 295 claims per year, which meant it would take 26 years to finalise them. They asked the reasons for the large number of CRLR outstanding claims. They asked about the suspension of ITB senior executives. They requested the finalisation of the 2020/21 ITB budget which Parliament had to approve. ITB was asked how its projects were benefiting the community and the youth in particular. Both entities were requested to submit answers in writing due to time constraints.
The Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC), stated that he would chair the first half of the meeting and the Select Committee Chairperson would then take over to allow him to go and break his Muslim fast. He asked the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and the to render a highly summarised presentation on its 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and Medium Term Budget Allocation. This would allow time for the Ingonyama Trust Board to present as well. He requested they also answer the questions that were sent to them by the Committees.
Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, introduced the CRLR team: Mr Lebjane Maphutha, Regional Land Claims Commissioner; Mr Sunjay Singh, Chief Director: Service Delivery Coordination; Ms Cindy Benyane, Acting Deputy Land Claims Commissioner; and Ms Francis McMenamin, Director: Programme Management and Admin Support (Finance and SCM). She noted that the Commission was supported by the Director General: Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Mdu Shabane, who was the accounting officer.
Ms Cindy Benyane, Acting Deputy Land Claims Commissioner, noted the CRLR key strategic objectives:
1. Land Rights Restoration by facilitating restoration of land rights and alternative forms of equitable redress.
2. Soliciting new land claims, which she stated that the Department was not doing at the given moment, in line with the LAMOSA ruling and equitable land dispensation and agrarian reform.
3. Improving governance and service delivery.
4. Improving customer service and redress as well as equitable land dispensation and agrarian reform.
5. Business improvement processing.
6. Improved information and project management
She stated that improvements in the Commission’s technological management would allow it to improve its customer service and develop better processes to deliver its mandate.
Targets for the five year Strategic Plan were to settle 2150 land claims and to finalise 2200 claims in line with the current budget and capacity. There were 7743 outstanding land claims with 3415 of them solely from Kwa-Zulu Natal, which had the highest number of outstanding land claims, followed by Mpumalanga and Limpopo at 1412 and 1119 outstanding claims respectively.
The Commission had finalised its backlog reduction strategy which would include four main areas: Project charter Development, Planning, Time-frames, Estimated costs, emphasising that there were plans in place to carry out all of the projects.
Mr Sunjay Singh, Chief Director: Service Delivery Coordination, spoke to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the settlements and finalisation of claims. CRLR had to revise its targets for the 2020/21 APP. The initial target for number of claims settled was 454 and it was revised to 244; the initial target for number of claims finalised was 479 and that number was revised to 295.
Ms Francis McMenamin, Director: Programme Management and Admin Support (Finance and SCM) stated that the CRLR three-year MTEF (2020 - 2023) allocation was R10.5 billion of which R3.5 billion was allocated for 2020/21. She said the expenditure breakdown was available upon request.
Ms Benyane presented the Commission’s plan to becoming an autonomous unit, noting the time frames for the Business Case Submission and Transition Plan together with the Legislative Bill Institutionalisation Plan. The former would take about 14-18 months to complete while the latter would take 18-30 months.
Ms Gobodo stated that the Commission had answers to the questions submitted by the Committees. She answered the question on when the still-outstanding 1998 Land Claims would be finalised, saying that the Commission had introduced a backlog reduction strategy to ensure that the 1998 land claim are finalised. The strategy would be ready to launch by September 2020.
The Chair welcomed the presentation by the Commission and asked ITB to deliver its presentation.
Ingonyama Trust Board Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Mr Mdu Shabane, Director General: Land Reform and Rural Development, stated that they were expecting the Chairperson to link up Judge Jerome Ngwenya, ITB board chairperson, to lead the ITB presentation.
Judge Ngywenya stated that Mr Gabela would be delivering the presentation and he in turn would answer questions from the Committee members.
Acting ITB Chief Executive, Mr Sandile Gabela, opened by defining the ITB, stating that the Ingonyama Trust was established by the former KwaZulu Homeland as a Trust with a wide ranging mandate which is expressed in Section 2(1) of the Ingonyama Trust Amendment Act: “A corporate body, to be called Ingonyama Trust, hereafter referred to as the Trust, is hereby established with perpetual succession and power to sue and be sued and, subject to the provisions of this Act, to do all such acts and things as bodies corporate may lawfully do".
The four main objectives of the ITB five-year Strategic Plan was outlined:
1.Improve corporate governance and service excellence; which targeted capacitating 50 Traditional Councils through training programmes on land administration over the 5 year period.
2. Improve stakeholder relations; wherein 50 relationship agreements were to be signed by
relevant stakeholders over the 5 year period.
3. Improve security of land tenure; 5200 land rights are to be approved by the Board over the 5 years
4. Improve coordination of human settlement on communal land.
Mr Gabela said ITB had plans in place to improve their audit outcomes and he assured the Committees that ITB would be working towards getting unqualified audit opinions and eventually get clean audits.
The budget came to a total of R52 million. ITB was informed after finalising its budget that an appropriation was made in Parliament of R22 million and hence ITB had to revise its budget to align with the appropriation made in Parliament. He showed the budget expenditure breakdown but did not give detailed explanation as it was still pending revision, which ITB was busy with.
Mr Gabela provided the additional information requested by the Committees on 29 April 2020, stating that:
• On the question of a five-year account of lease fees collected by ITB, he said that due to time constraints, as well as the pending court case, this information was being prepared in consultation with the lawyers and was yet to be finalised since it is part of the dispute in the pending matter. He said ITB would provide the account as soon as it was available via the office of the Executive Authority.
• On the question of the capacity of ITB to implement its plans by presenting its macro-structure and the organogram, he said that ITB had finalised its macro-structure and it was being costed in the meantime, so it could be submitted to the Executive Authority for further consideration; suffice to say that the current micro arrangement consisted of the Board and 60 staff members.
Judge Ngwenya continued to answer the questions asked by the Committees:
• On what informs Programmes 1 and 2, it is the details of the nature of the activity as well as the process to be followed, as stipulated on page 7 of the presentation.
• On the ITB presentation being incomplete, the Board did not understand the question and needed more information on that.
• On the land tenure process, this was a process of arranging land that is to be allocated, getting the appropriate description, putting the land on the GIS, and doing a survey of the piece of land.
• On ITB spending R4.6 million on two community workshops, these were meetings with all 250 traditional councillors once per quarter, it was one meeting [not two] and those meetings were not community workshops. The other meeting was in preparation for the meeting with the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform, the meeting did take place.
• On ITB defaulting on spending 90% of its income on beneficiaries and traditional councillors, the matter was noted in the press and there was no such obligation on the ITB for starters and the ITB did not default at any point.
The Chair said that he was going to give Members an opportunity to ask further questions. Two questions from the Select Committee and two from the Portfolio Committee, as moderated by himself and the Select Committee Chair.
Mr N Capa (ANC) stated that there was little effort being made by the Commission to create a mechanism to assist rural areas with land claims, emphasising that there was not enough being said about the matter.
He asked ITB to give clarity on the R4 million allocated for legal fees and the R5 million for debts.
Mr N Masipa (DA) asked the Commission how it was going to deal with the timely finalisation of the 7 743 outstanding land claims when it had revised its targets to deal with only 295 claims per year. This means that it would take 26 years to finalise all the outstanding claims. He asked if it was not possible for the Department to help in speeding up the claims process.
Mr Masipa asked ITB what programmes it has for empowering youth and the budget allocated to those projects if indeed such programmes exist.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how long had the Acting ITB Chief Executive been acting in that post and when was ITB planning to capacitate its executive structure. She asked the Board why projects were listed for execution but they were not reflected in the budget allocation. She requested the Board provide reason why two executive members had been reportedly suspended recently.
Ms Tshwete said that the ITB projects did not cover woman and people with disabilities and requested comment. She asked why ITB had not submitted its 2020/21 budget allocation as requested by the Auditor General. Of the 1 200 tenure rights, she asked how many of them were residential.
Mr S Matiase (EFF, Eastern Cape) asked if the Commission had aligned its Land Restitution programme to be in line with the draft constitutional amendment to Section 25. He noted that there were 444 outstanding land claims in Gauteng Province alone. He asked what was the Commission’s plan in the event that the successful applicants opted for land as opposed to money. Was there enough land to provide for all?
Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked for the Department’s intervention plans for the vandalisation of farms throughout the provinces.
Chairperson Mandela asked ITB for the status of its 2020/21 budget which was absent. The Committee would have to approve the budget. He stated that the ITB management had been suspended, particularly executive management, and he requested that ITB to give reasons for this and elaborate on the matter.
Chairperson Mandela said to the Commission that there was lack of information about land claims and that was worrisome, given that it had not submitted its APP with full details on how the outcomes of the APP were going to be achieved. He highlighted that the APP failed to integrate the Project Kuyasa outcomes.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) said that the ITB presentation indicated four policies and legislation that are said to be prejudicial to the Board. She asked what ITB was doing to amend those. Page 8 stated ‘had it not been for ITB, people living in communal areas would be homeless’ and she requested clarity on what ITB meant.
She asked if ITB had abandoned youth capacitation and why it was not providing bursaries.
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked the Commission for the reasons for the high number of outstanding claims. She asked ITB how many of its sites had been surveyed. She said that 70% of land still belonged to white farmers and requested clarity on why this was still the case, wanting to know what were the plans to create equal opportunities to all in that regard.
Chairperson Mandela was excused and Select Committee Chair took over chairing the meeting.
Mr T Mathibe (ANC, Limpopo) said that the Commission had a large number of land claims and for the plan to finalise effectively and efficiently those claims. He said ITB compensation of employees accounted for 60% of its budget. He asked how this would be adjusted in response to the new budget appropriation.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) requested clarity on the status of the Integrated Growth and Development Plan (IGDP).
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) asked ITB how the community benefiting was from ITB projects.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) asked both entities to give clarity on the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on both of them. She requested ITB for a clear audit action plan to ensure improvements in it audit.
Ms Mahlo asked the Commission what quality management systems had been put in place. She noted that 27 smallholder farmers were identified for support by the Commission and asked where those farms were situated so that Committee members could go and evaluate them.
Ms Montwedi requested detailed information about the suspension of the IBT CEO.
Ms T Modise (ANC, North West), Select Committee Chairperson, requested the entities respond.
Ms Gobodo replied to the question about an APP and Strategic Plan for the CRLR, saying that the Commission did not have its own individualised plan and that its plan stemmed from that of the Department as guided by Section 25 of the Constitution.
On the Gauteng land claims, should a successful applicant opt for acquiring land as opposed to accepting monetary compensation, the Commission would seek to make alternative land available to that applicant – that is if the land initially applied for was found to be in use, as such can be the result due to urbanisation.
On the finalisation of the 1998 land claims, Ms Gobodo replied the Commission would use a backlog reduction strategy that was still under development and would be finalised in September. Once the backlog strategy is complete, the Commission would be able to start finalising the backlog claims. She noted that the backlog reduction strategy would have to be supported by Treasury. Kwa Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo which had the highest backlog numbers.
Ms Gobodo replied that the Commission had not yet finished reworking its projects in line with the COVID-19 pandemic and was functioning under “business unusual” mode.
Chairperson Modise, noting that time was running out, said that both entities were to submit their answers in writing and asked ITB to give its answers in the remaining time.
Judge Nwgenya responded that it was important for the Committee to understand what the legislation said with regards to the ITB. With regards to the budget, ITB had never received a fund higher than R22 million before and the budget got exhausted yearly as there had never been a provision what should the source of income of the Ingonyama Trust Board be.
On the suspension of management, Judge Nwgenya replied that the reportedly suspended members of the Board were in fact on ‘special leave’ and it was not a suspension per se.
On land surveillance, Judge Nwgenya replied that more than 99% of the land was not surveyed yet.
Judge Nwgenya emphasised that with a provision of only R22 million from the state, there was hardly any profitable projects that could be undertaken.
Chairperson Modise asked both CRLR and ITB for the answers to be submitted in writing, both answers covered in the meeting and those not covered. She asked the Deputy Ministers and the Minister for their closing remarks. Deputy Minister Dlamini was no longer available for comment.
Deputy Minister response
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha commented on what the Department was doing to address the problems of the Communal Property Associations (CPAs). The Department had being doing ongoing work in the area of CPAs. He emphasised that the Department alone could not solve all the challenges involved there and it required help from the rest of the country as this was supposed to be collective effort. He said that the government had never postponed the delivery of land to the people, and this was not going to start with the new amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.
The Deputy Minister said the government was not holding back the CPAs, but rather those groups that identified themselves as CPAs were not complying with the definitions of what a CPA is and hence they could not receive the required help.
Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, said that ITB had in fact presented its APP and it was tabled in Parliament. The only item that was missing was the budget.
On the Department calibrating its work to be in line with the draft constitutional amendment in Section 25, she said that indeed the Department was awaiting the outcome of that process as it would bring clarity to a number of questions. For example, in what instances could land expropriation without compensation occur? She pointed out that the Department of Public Works was responsible for the Expropriation Act and that would give an indication on how this expropriation for equitable redress would be undertaken.
On reducing the outstanding claims backlog, Minister Didiza replied that the backlog was not always due to the Commission but in some instances, the applicants caused delays in submitting relevant documentation. Sometimes it is the applicants who delay the start of land negotiations by not providing all the documentation required in due time. She said the other matters would be responded to in writing as requested.
Chairperson Modise thanked the CRLR, Ingonyama Trust Board and the Department for their briefings. She particularly thanked the Minister for her presence in the virtual meeting.
- Media Statement: Committees on Agriculture Welcome the Absorption of All Employees in the Reconfigured Department
- CRLR Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and MTEF Allocation
- Ingonyama Trust Board’s 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and 2020-25 Strategic Plan
- Research Unit: Overview and Analysis of Ingonyama Trust Board’s 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and 2020-25 Strategic Plan
Mandela, Nkosi ZM
Modise, Ms TC
Arnolds, Mr A
Bebee, Ms LC
Breedt, Ms T
Capa, Mr N
Cebekhulu, Inkosi RN
Cloete, Mr AB
Didiza, Ms AT
Labuschagne, Ms C
Mahlatsi, Ms KD
Mahlo, Ms NP
Mashego-Dlamini, Ms K C
Masipa, Mr NP
Matiase, Mr NS
Matibe, Mr TB
Mbabama, Ms TM
Mbatha, Ms SGN
Mokause, Ms MO
Montwedi, Mr Mk
Ngwenya, Ms W
Nhanha, Mr M
Ntshayisa, Mr LM
Ntsube, Mr I
Nyambi, Mr AJ
Shaik Emam, Mr AM
Sindane, Mr P
Skwatsha, Mr M
Smit, Mr CF
Steyn, Ms A
Thring, Mr WM
Tshwete, Ms B
Zungula, Mr V
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