The Minister and Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform briefed the Committee on the adjusted Annual Performance Plans (APPs) for the current financial year.
All the deeds registry offices are affected by positive cases of COVID19. The Department took measures to record the number of affected people. It identified the type of support which can be provided to staff during isolation. The Minister said this procedure will be normalised and will be carefully managed. Three offices are directly affected by COVID19. Infected staff members means offices must be closed. Mental and physical needs of staff members are considered..
The allegations made by former Director-General, Mr Mlengana, will be investigated. The Department asked Mr Mlengana to give further details on his allegations. Some issues cannot be addressed by the Department because it is already in the Public Service Commission (PSC) report. The report was sent to be reviewed by Mr Mlengana.
The Minister said a meeting with Treasury and Black farmers took place. It was held to discuss the future of the Land Bank. Concerns from Black farmers about the Land Bank needing to be capitalised without being liquidated, was accepted by Treasury. The strategies on how the Land Bank must remain sustainable will be discussed by the Land Bank Board. Funding to emerging small farmers must be made a priority. The Department will engage with the Land Bank Board and Treasury to report on all matters of concern.
The Portfolio Committee raised concerns on how the Department will perform with the budget cuts which were made. The Minister said Cabinet decides on the reallocation of money. The Department said it is supposed to receive a 20% cut in its budget. The percentage was reduced to 16%. The four percent not cut is regarded as money retained by the Department. It equals R968 million.
On the Ingonyama Trust, the Minister said the evaluation of the Trust’s performance will be done and presented to the Committee. The way forward and if the Trust must be recreated, must still be determined.
On the cannabis plan, the policy was concluded by the Department of Health and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). Cannabis must be declassified according to Schedule Seven. There is still an issue with classifying hemp. There is a lot of work to be done
Minister Opening remarks
The Minister thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present following the Minister of Finance’s supplementary budget presentation in June 2020. The Minister paid her respects to the families and staff members infected and passed on because of COVID-19.
The Department is participating in discussions with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (UNFAA) on how member countries will deal with the effects of COVID-19 and agricultural diseases.
It discussed the effects of budgets on the departmental programmes and management of the programmes.
The Minister said the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and the budget plans in the presentation show the changes from the previous plans. The Department will advertise 700 hectares of land announced by the President in the State of the Nation Address (SONA). It is expected to be distributed to beneficiaries. Applications for the beneficiaries must include females, youth, people with disabilities, and communal farmers from communal areas. An amount of 300 000 hectares of state land with claims on it, will be distributed and allocated to the rightful beneficiaries. Budget cuts will affect strengthening the Department. It caused limitation in employee compensation. The Department’s infrastructure projects are also affected by budget cuts. The cuts include employee compensation which incorporates filling vacancies. This will be challenging. The work done by the Deeds Office will continue to be funded despite budget cuts. Costs of transfers to provinces are included in the revenue allocation in the budget cuts. Regarding transfers, the Department had discussions with the Members of Executive Council (MEC) to determine if funds can be sourced to fund farmers who do not qualify for the COVID Relief Fund. Farmers must be supported.
Provinces said funding will be challenging because of budget cuts in provincial departments. The COVID-19 budget was sourced from land development and has met the needs of communities. The Minister said the agriculture sector must be fully examined both provincially and nationally. This is to be able to execute functions fully.
Land acquisition is also affected by budget cuts. Strengthening support of land administration will be the current financial year’s focus. The Minister said other departmental issues include appointing the Agriculture Research Council (ARC). The previous Council’s term ended on 30 June 2020. A new Council was appointed. The Agriculture Master Business Plan (AMBP) was launched. The first meeting regarding the process of the Plan took place. There are also consultation processes which are ongoing with stakeholders.
The Minister said the Ingonyama Trust workshops were held. It related to restitution on the Ingonyama Trust land. One of the issues experienced is establishing the relationship between the Ingonyama Trust and the Traditional Authority. There are reflections on the number of staff members the Trust has. An agreement was made to create an arrangement with the Trust to manage issues. The Minister asked for the amount in the adjusted budget to be transferred to the Trust.
The resignation of the former Director-General (DG) of the Department, Mr Mike Mlengana, was published. This resulted in the merger of the two Departments. The re-appointment of a Director General is a decision made by the President. On 30 September 2019, Mr Mlengana asked for his deployment as Agriculture Chairperson in Rome. There are engagements on Mr Mlengana’s request. These are by the Department of Public Services and Administration, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, and the Presidency. It led to Mr Mlengana giving consent for the re-determination of his contract. There are matters Mr Mlengana raised which were not discussed with the Department. Delegations of the Director General had to be finalised to allow Mr Mlengana to resume his duties as the Accounting Officer.
The Department’s staff has its weaknesses. However, the Minister said a great amount of effort is invested to ensure the smooth operating and functionality of the Department. Regarding the investigations by Public Service Commission (PSC), the Commission concluded and made recommendations in 2019. The recommendations are not implemented because the report is up for review by Mr Mlengana. The reviewed report is still awaited. Regarding the allegations made by Mr Mlengana on corruption not being addressed, the Minister said the allegations are serious. Mr Mlengana did not address or report the issues to the relevant authorities.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for the opening remarks and for addressing some areas of concern raised by Members on Mr Mlengana’s statements.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Revisions to the Annual Performance Plan tabled in March 2020
Ms Pumeza Ghubuza, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, said she will present the revisions in the Annual Budget Plans. She handed over to the finance division to present.
Ms Violet Matshidza, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, outlined the various budget cuts as approved by National Treasury. It amounts to R2.3 billion.
She also outlined the revised allocation of the Budget per Programme and Project, the Revised Allocation per Economic Classification, and the Revised Allocation of Departmental Agencies which did not have many reductions. She highlighted the Conditional Grants per Province.
Ms Ghubuza provided the Budget Revisions of various Programmes which include:
Programme One - Administration; Programme Two - Agricultural Production, Health, Food Safety, Natural Resources and Disaster Management; Programme Three - Land Reform and Restitution; Programme Four - Rural Development; Programme Five - Economic Development ,Trade and Marketing; Programme Six - Land Administration.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform: Provincial Indicators
Mr Mdu Shabane, Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, said the provincial breakdown is not different from the initial presentation.
Ms Ghubuza said programme two is not included in the Provincial Indicators because it is a policy making process so there is no allocation per province.
For a complete set of indicators, see attached presentation.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) welcomed the presentation and the opening remarks by the Minister addressing some areas of concern. She said the Committee must have a say in some of the Department’s programmes.
She said she is concerned about the timeframes for the programmes, the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) not having any reductions, and the news of the retrenchment by the ARC. She said she is disappointed the ARC is not as functional as expected. On the shifting of the cannabis policy in the Fourth Quarter, she said the Department of Health concluded the regulatory part of the policy.
The private sector is way ahead on the matter of cannabis. This is a disadvantage for people waiting on the public sector. She asked if the 800 enrolled students at the agricultural training institutions included Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. There is a lack of skills in the agricultural sector. She suggested the TVET colleges receive an equal distribution of students. The restitution programme is delayed justice because people are still waiting for land claims to be attended to.
Ms A Steyn (DA) thanked the Minister regarding the land transferred to communities. She asked which committees will be involved in the decision of land transfers and showed concern about the land committee.
She raised concerns regarding the people who are on the list for land and on the system for long periods. She asked what will happen to these people, some of whom are currently struggling to make ends meet, and those with livestock. Speaking on state land which will be given to communities with land claims, she asked if there is a list of communities, and if people will get titles to the land.
She also asked how the budget cuts, especially in programme three, will affect people who will get land. People get land but do not get the support for the land. She asked about programmes in place to assist farmers to run farms. Ms Steyn asked for clarity on the Agricultural Registered Input involved in programme two.
She wanted to know about the climate change target. The Department is not doing enough to ensure provinces are drought free. She asked which offices are affected by COVID-19 and its functionality.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) said the allegation made by Mr Mlengana was not made randomly. It must be investigated. A group of farmers reported meeting with the Finance Minister. The farmers were told there is no funding for emerging small farmers. He asked if the meeting took place and if funding is truly unavailable for small farmers.
He asked how much of the R500 billion is allocated to the Department. There is no reference to the allocation in the adjusted budgets. He asked how much of the R2.7 billion moved to the COVID Relief Fund will affect the critical programmes such as food security it is sourced from. He wanted to know if the Fund will assist people during COVID-19.
He asked about the amount of R3 billion allocated to the Land Bank, and the extent to which the bankruptcy allegations of the Land Bank are addressed, as well as the mechanisms in place to ensure the Land Bank is held accountable. He wanted clarity on the amount of R3 billion, asking if it is separated from the amounts in the report.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) thanked the Department and the Minister for the presentation. She said adjusting the Budget is not an easy task. She welcomed the statement made by the Minister regarding additional assistance to address COVID-19, and asked for a breakdown of this assistance.
She said in a previous meeting the Minister mentioned a drought relief fund which will be made available. She asked about the progress on the Relief Fund.
She also asked how the decrease of the Office of the Valuer-General (OVG) budget will impact the work of the Commission, especially in light of backlogs on land claims.
Regarding the transfers to the departmental agencies and accounts, she asked which specific departmental agencies and accounts got a decrease of R300 million in the budget. She wanted to know how the decrease and transfers affected provinces and farm management.
She also asked for clarity on the Farmer Production Support Units (FPSU’s), if it already exists and those not completed. She wanted a list of the FPSU’s.
On the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC), she asked if the intake targets of youth in the fourth quarter are realistic considering the COVID-19 lockdown regulations. She questioned if targets were met in the first two quarters and asked about the adjusted timeframe for upgrading colleges.
Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) thanked the Minister and the Department for the presentation. She said the presented Annual Performance Plans are not new and was adopted a month earlier. She said she is thankful there are no major changes in the APP except those from COVID-19.
The Minister assured people processes of allocating and distributing land will be done. She asked if the Department had a strategy to ensure downscaling programme one does not affect service delivery. This is an area of concern.
The NARYSEC target has not changed. These indicators are reflected in the APP. She asked the Department to look into the mental health of employees. Programmes must be put in place. The Department must have continuous discussions with farmers. Farmers must get support by the end of the year. She said the Department is unable to provide a list of state land. She pleaded with Members to understand the challenges the Department faces.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) thanked the Department and the Minister for the presentation. She said budget cuts on the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) infrastructure are the same for all Provinces. She asked why the adjusted amounts are the same, and not made proportionally.
She also asked if the R2.3 billion budget cut will be included in the R300 billion COVID Relief Fund. She wanted to know who the Fund will benefit.
Land will be distributed and allocated to people. She asked what the criteria for land distribution is because there are farmers who are having problems selling farms.
Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) said the budget cuts on food security and land redistribution impact the country. This is especially so since there is a lot of food insecurity seen in large numbers of people queuing for food parcels. He said the Department spends money on buying land. Since then two structures were implemented. The structures are not serving its purpose. There are complaints from farmers. Land is not used for its intended purpose. This leads to farmers selling portions of the land. Some officials are involved in splitting land between beneficiaries.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) said she is pleased land will be distributed to its rightful beneficiaries. She asked how many plaas farm beneficiaries will be affected by the budget cuts in the different provinces. She also asked how the Department plans to ensure there is continued business on the plaas farms.
Intergovernmental relations of trade agreements are implemented by the Department, and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. It ensures the implementation of the trade agreements benefit small farmers with export capacity.
Ms Mahlo asked for clarity on employment opportunities during COVID-19. Agriculture has the potential to grow the economy. She wanted to know how the Department plans to ensure employment is created as a labour intensive sector.
The Chairperson said the Department’s purpose is to provide access to land, integrated rural development, sustainable agriculture, and food security. These core activities are not removed from the APP. As reflected in programmes one, two, three, four, and five, there is still food security, farmer support and training programmes, land redistribution and land claims settlements.
The Chairperson said this is concerning. The agriculture sector is important. R2.4 billion of the original budget is inadequate. He asked which of the essential services the Department plans to perform on during COVID-19. He applauded the engagements held by the Minister on the Ingonyama Trust. The Committee is responsible to ensure tax payer money is used to make sure disadvantaged people’s needs are met under the Ingonyama Trust land. The Ingonyama Trust’s effectiveness and efficiency over the past 26 years must be evaluated. If it is proven effective by the Committee, the question is how the Trust will be recreated and implemented in other Monarchs in the country. It must ensure the same budget is afforded to different communities.
The Chairperson said it is unacceptable only one Monarch is supported by the Department. He asked for the Minister’s input on the improvement of other Monarchs in the next three to five years to benefit from the same budget as the Ingonyama Trust.
Regarding compensation of employees, the Chairperson said the budget reductions of R300 million are in important activities such as Administration, Food Security and Land Reform, Agriculture Production, Food Safety and Disaster Management. He asked the Department to specify the proportion of Senior Management Service (SMS) vacancies in the activities, especially since the Department reported a 13% vacancy rate. The critical vacancies are reported to be the focus.
The Chairperson wanted to know if there are currently vacancies being filled. Members raised concerns on the previous APP, specifically on the capacity of the MNE policy development and legislative implementations in corporate services, and vacancies in provincial co-operatives. Both are under administration.
The Chairperson asked if the two sub-programmes are affected by the budget cuts and how. In the revised APP, one of the important indicators is the 100% compliance with performance management frameworks. It is not included in the presentation.
The Chairperson asked if the indicator is permanently removed and how financial and performance management weaknesses which are raised as concerns by the Auditor-General, are determined.
The Chairperson said the Land Bank charges high interest rates. The Bank operates as a commercial bank. He asked how the Department will ensure the Land Bank addresses challenges by black holders and small emerging farmers. He wanted to know if the Department will work with National Treasury to ensure the Land Bank does not fail. This is because it will impact the development of the agricultural sector.
The Chairperson asked how much money will be transferred by the Department, if any, to the Land Bank for the 2020/2021 financial year. He also asked the Department to briefly explain the progress of the hemp and cannabis industry since the President’s SONA.
He asked which stakeholders the Department engages with, and asked which concerns are raised by stakeholders. He also wanted to know about the challenges faced by the Department in developing the cannabis plan.
The Chairperson asked if the CPAs are important in the productive use of land. Management and administration has negatively impacted CPA’s productive use of land in the past.
On investment infrastructure, the Chairperson said investment will improve the economy and create job opportunities. This is especially since the economy, is determined by credit rating agencies as crippled. The potential of agriculture is expected to improve the economy. The President said this. The Chairperson asked how the Department’s budget cuts relate to investment infrastructure projects for job creation.
On NARYSEC, the Chairperson asked if the Department ensured full compliance of COVID-19 regulations in Education and Skills Training. If it did not, he asked how compliance will be ensured under the NARYSEC Programme.
The Minister said the ARC retrenchments process to implement repositioning is ongoing since 2019. The matter relates to Members who are working on the ARC farms. The matter is not concluded because some processes involved in the CCMA.
On the cannabis master plan, the Minister said two processes are being engaged. It includes firstly, the court judgment on growing marijuana for personal use. The technical committee consists of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Department of Health, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Department of Police, and the Department of Justice. The Committee met to discuss how the court order can be operationalised to determine how much marijuana is for personal use, and how to deal with issues of compliance.
Secondly, is the licensing of cannabis and hemp. The Department of Health is leading the processes on the matter. One of the licenses regulates the use of cannabis. The Minister said the Department of Health did not conclude the regulatory part of the plan. The Department has to conclude the registration of cannabis as a plant. The plan is expected to be finalised by the end of the fourth quarter.
Regarding the release of state land, the Department is committed to deliver the land in the current year. The criteria for beneficiaries will be provided to the Committee for further discussions and to raise matters of concern, to avoid discriminating against people.
The Minister said there are challenges with the budget cuts and aiding identified farmers. The commodity sector and the private sector partners are involved to ensure farmers get support. The impact of COVID-19 on the functionality of the Department offices exists. The Office of the Restitution Commission in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo are closed for decontamination. The Department head office was also closed but has since reopened.
All the deeds registry offices are affected by positive cases. The Department took measures to record the number of affected people. It identified the type of support which can be provided to staff during isolation. The Minister said this procedure will be normalised and will be carefully managed.
Regarding the funding model for agriculture, blended finance involves engaging financial institutions on the process of the model. One of the issues under review is the way support for acquisition changed. There are not any past models in place allowing applicants to sell land directly, instead of the State buying the land and re-selling it to qualifying applicants. The policy is under review to ensure different streams for selling are available to farmers.
The allegations made by former Director-General, Mr Mlengana, will be investigated. The Department asked Mr Mlengana to give further details on his allegations. Issues are addressed. Some issues cannot be addressed by the Department because it is already in the Public Service Commission (PSC) report. The report was sent to be reviewed by Mr Mlengana.
The Minister said the meeting with Treasury and Black farmers happened. It was held to discuss the future of the Land Bank. Concerns from Black farmers about the Land Bank needing to be capitalised without being liquidated, was accepted by Treasury. The strategies on how the Land Bank must remain sustainable will be discussed by the Land Bank Board. Funding to emerging small farmers must be made a priority. The Department will engage with the Land Bank Board and Treasury to report on all matters of concern.
The question on money cut from the Department’s budget and returned cannot be answered by the Minister. Cabinet decides on the reallocation of money. On the matter of the R3 billion for the Land Bank, the Minister of Finance said the Land Bank received funding to ensure obligations are met. On the Ingonyama Trust, the Minister said the evaluation of the Trust’s performance will be done and presented to the Committee. Issues raised by the Chairperson are already being discussed. The way forward and if the Trust must be recreated, must still be determined.
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Deputy Director -General (DDG): Agricultural Production, Health and Food Safety, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, said amounts of the drought relief fund are being transferred to provinces.
On the cannabis plan, the policy is concluded by the Department of Health and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). Cannabis must be declassified according to Schedule Seven. There is still an issue with classifying hemp. Although a report is completed on cannabis and hemp, there is a lot of work to be done.
On climate change and drought, he said there are times when the issue of drought is not a shock. Adaptation measures will be requested from the Department. This is why interventions deal with climate change inputs for the re-implementation of an already existing plan in line with the Paris Agreement.
On the agricultural inputs, registrations are in line with the Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act. It ensures South Africa reduces its reliance on exports and registering internal products.
On the foot-and-mouth disease, the process is budgeted for. It has not been used. The budget will assist the Department in regaining its status.
Ms Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, said the Commission always transfers state land with claims. There is never a decision not to transfer land. There is a good relationship between the Commission and the OVG. There is currently a process of signing a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to streamline processes. Assistance is provided to the OVG for valuations which need to be addressed.
The impact of COVID is real and will affect the Commission’s interactions with stakeholders. It will also affect how fast claims are settled. Three offices are directly affected by COVID-19. Infected staff members means offices must be closed. Mental and physical needs of staff members are considered. There must be a balance between work performed by the Commission and the health rights of staff members.
Ms Matshidza said the Department is supposed to receive a 20% cut in the budget. The percentage was reduced to 16%. The four percent not cut is regarded as money retained by the Department. It equals R968 million. Regarding departmental agencies, direct transfers are considered.
She answered on the matter of conditional grants, and the information noted by Members on the same amounts for all provinces. When the presentation was compiled, there were still ongoing consultations and updated information can be shared with Members once completed.
Speaking on the allocation of R300 billion and filling critical vacancies, she said, in administration, there is a merger. It led to duplicate positions. Critical positions are in core areas and will be funded with the R15 million surplus from the Department.
The Chairperson asked for some responses to be submitted in writing and circulated to Members. The Committee appreciates and welcomes the appointment of the ARC Council. The Chairperson said future appointments must comply with the ARC procedures. New Council Members must be announced to stakeholders. This includes Premiers, Portfolio Committee Members, and Select Committee Members for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform. The processes are not followed in the appointment of the Council.
Follow up discussion
Ms Thlape said the Department’s focus is on the total targets instead of the individual provinces. She asked about the reduction of the FPSU’s from the previous meeting and said one province does not have any FPSU’s and others have only one. She wanted to know if the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape will not have any support for the next five years. Land acquired for farm dwellers is zero in some provinces. She asked what the Department does to address provinces with nothing while some provinces get services. She also asked why NARYSEC has 32 youth trained.
Ms Steyn asked if the totals for NARYSEC is an old figure or a recent one. She said the presentation is based on ideas and plans instead of actions. The challenges for farmers are in marketing and trade. She asked why there are no targets or plans in place for requirements in provinces. Farmers must be identified and get assistance with trade and marketing. She asked if there is a programme in place to assist farmers with land reform.
Mr Matiase said the Minister of Finance spoke about budgeting methods which must be reviewed by the Department in line with performance. He asked if the Department’s budget is reviewed or supplementary, and if it is performance based. He wanted information on the number of outstanding emerging Black farmers who did not receive support from the COVID Relief Fund. He questioned the Department’s commitment to ensure outstanding applicants get assistance.
Ms Breedt said the NARYSEC programme has more students in other provinces than in some and some are larger than others. She asked what drives the Department’s decisions regarding measures taken for the Programmes in provinces. She also asked if there is feedback from provinces on the needs of farmers facing challenges.
Ms Mbabama asked for the amended budget cuts per province to be attached to the expected responses from the Department.
Ms Mahlatsi asked about the allocation of NARYSEC in the District Model. She wanted to know what the determining factor will be for Provinces, as the District model will experience delays.
Ms Ghubuza said the provincial distribution of NARYSEC is reflected in the APP. It shows the training as if it is completed. The APP is calculated from 1 April to 31 March so plans for the number of youth intake are already in the system. The trained refers to youth sent to agricultural colleges, and to any training given by the Department. Youth went through training. Some provinces reflect youth already in the system. Due to the budget cuts in the NARYSEC District Model, some youth were taken from the District Development Model.
Mr Shabane said the youth in the programmes are not forced to join the programmes. The Department provides support to youth who apply to the programme. On the Land Reform Council, people who qualify will not be included in the old Land Reform Council. Finalisation of the report is underway. It will be presented to Cabinet. On people occupying state land, people will be prioritised.
Mr Shabane said the APP refers to 500 000 old hectares of land because some hectares are already distributed since the President’s announcement. This is why there is no mention of the 700 000 hectares. Allocated land is given to people who occupied the land before having permission to occupy the land. On the Relief Fund amount, there is not any allocation to the Department from the Relief Fund. Regarding the recapitalisation of the Land Bank, the Department has the interest to ensure farmers are supported. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Land Bank communicated with the Department to prioritise work and to finalise the trade agreements to support farmers.
The Department approached companies to support the PLAAS farmers. A specific amount was transferred to the Land Bank by the Department. Full accountability of the use of the money is expected from the Land Bank. Due diligence will be done by the Land Bank and submitted to the Department. Commercial banks showed interest in the Department’s plans. There are ongoing discussions with these banks. The OVG budget cut of R100 million happened. The Department did an assessment on the impact to the Commission. It was determined the Commission’s support will not be affected by the budget cut.
Mr Shabane said that there are a lot of farmers who get assistance from the Department. Some are unfortunately left out by provincial department officials. The matter is addressed. Due to budget constraints, not all farmers will receive assistance.
Provinces were encouraged to set aside 5% of the conditional grant to support farmers. The conditional grants are also cut. The provincial departments lost money. A new selection criterion is being discussed, as well as new forms of grants for farmers. Controls are currently being tightened on the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB). It will provide an expenditure plan against the APP and full accountability is provided for money received and spent. A monthly monitored budget will be expected from the ITB.
Governance structures on the Board are under review. It has sub-committees which must determine mandates from the Ingonyama Trust Amendment Act, and ensure full compliance. NARYSEC will not be irresponsible and send youth back to training facilities without following the COVID-19 regulations.
The decision to reduce FPSUs was not easy. Only the APP can be funded and will be used by the Department. Although there are provinces with no FPSUs, it does not mean there will be no work done. Targets for land acquisition in the current APP show the Department cannot buy land because of budget cuts. It reflects the land acquisitions done in the previous financial year and its progress. In the past, land was acquired. The PLAAS trading account was used. The farm dwellers are surveyed and given titles to portions of the land the dwellers occupy.
On budget cuts, the Department did not make this decision - National Treasury did. 20% of the Department’s budget was cut. There are negotiations, but the decision is non-negotiable. Reprioritisation must be made by the Department. On the District Development Model, there are plans in place to recruit young people in 23 districts. This cannot happen because of the budget cuts, which is why the decision was taken to continue with the older recruits.
Mr Sdumo Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, thanked the Chairperson for the meeting and Members for raising matters of concern. The matters are taken seriously especially in the current circumstances the country is in.
Ms Thandi Moyo, DARDLR, shared the process used and followed to appoint the ARC Council. She said on 21 November 2019, the Minister wrote a letter to the Premiers, National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson, and the Speaker of the National Assembly on the openings in the ARC and the advertisement for the posts. The Chairperson of the NCOP replied. The notice was sent to the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committee and Select Committee. In January, the advertisement of the posts was sent out again. Currently there are no responses or nominations from the Premiers. The Minister appointed a Committee to appoint the Council. 12 names out of 81 applications were recommended and signed off by the Minister. It was sent to the Department. The Department re-sent the document the Minister had, to submit to the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committee and Select Committee, regarding the candidates of the ARC Council.
The Chairperson thanked ARC for clarifying the matter and said the information is satisfactory. The Minister will get feedback on the matter and appeals will be made to the Department officials. The Chairperson reminded the Department to submit responses before 15 July 2020 on Wednesday so Members can go through the responses. The Chairperson thanked the Department officials, Deputy Minister, the Minister, and Committee Members for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned
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