The Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development convened virtually to receive a briefing from the former Department of Rural Development and Land Reform; and the Agricultural Land Holding Trading Account Annual Report for the 2019/20 financial year. The Minister was in attendance.
The Minister said that the Department is faced with issues of land administration, land governance systems, accountability, slow disciplinary processes and consequence management. The lack of appropriate skill sets to deal with the work of land administration is also an issue for the Department and is reflected in the numerous land cases that have been going on. Some matters were brought to the attention of the Department by the Committee - for that the Department is grateful.
The Department said that it is aware that any merger would have growing pains and that the merger of the various departments is not an exception and has its own challenges. The Department will go through phases and will start performing to provide outputs to the people of South Africa. The Department also reported that that 13 of its targets were achieved out of the planned 24. The 11 unachieved targets were because most projects were started but not completed so the budget had already been spent. The plans to implement the recommendations by the Auditor-General were also outlined by the Department.
The Agricultural Land Holdings Account reported that on the spending trends for the past six years from the 2014/15 financial year to the 2019/20 financial year, there has been a decline and a positive trend because of the budget cuts that have been rendered through the Department. Expenditure for 2019/20 was R490.297 million, so there was a decline in expenditure from the previous financial year. Total assets increased to R16.2 billion in the 2019/20 financial year, from R14.9 billion in the 2018/19 financial year. The accounting policies were outlined and for the 2019/20 Auditor-General’s management report there were 14 findings, 12 new findings, two repeat findings, nine findings resolved and five findings partially implemented.
The Committee queried the Department’s poor performance, considering that 100% of its budget was spent and that land reform is a government priority. For the year under review, the Department achieved a 37% performance rating, with an expenditure of R3.6 billion. A trend analysis of land reform shows a significant decline in performance when compared to 2018/19. The Members also noted that the Department had a vacancy rate of 16.4%. They reckoned that the Department does not prioritise the programme and it shows that there is no value for money on land reform.
The Committee raised concerns about the vacancies in senior management and the Department’s plans on consequence management and disciplinary action against culpable officials. The Committee called on the Department to provide an update on legislation and approved policies. Members had previously been assured that the Communal Land Tenure Policy, which commenced in the 2019/20 year, would be tabled by the end of 2020. However, this did not happen. The Committee urged the Department to take heed of the Auditor-General’s report and speed up land reform.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed everyone present in the virtual meeting and said that the Committee is privileged to experience the power of democracy and to participate in engagements at an inter-governmental level, which is an effective tool in serving the interests of the country. The struggle of people should not be handled through petty politics between Members of respective political parties because a few weeks ago a correspondence was received from a Member of Parliament about a beneficiary who became frustrated with the process of addressing a land claim. The matter was addressed by the Minister and a 30-year lease on the land will be completed by the Member. The power of democracy should be celebrated because the matter was peacefully resolved. The beneficiary, Mr Ivan Cloete, should be congratulated for standing his ground in the matter and in exposing corrupt official because most would have given up due to lack of resources. The land issue is deeply rooted and sensitive to the people of South Africa because the process of colonisation and the Native Land Act of 1913 turned natives into foreigners.
The commitment made by former President Nelson Mandela should be upheld by the Committee to ensure that land disposition trauma and the self-serving system that maintains land inequality and corruption are ended. The Chairperson applauded the Committee for working together to resolve issues, for sticking to the Constitutional mandate of restorative justice, addressing land inequality and supporting the citizens’ desire to make an economic contribution through agriculture, land reform and rural development. Appreciation was extended to the Minister and Ministry for their swift response to the Committee, for resolving the matter of Mr Cloete in an amicable manner, for the commitment of dissolving corruption in the Department and for the investigations into the officials who contravene the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The Committee looks forward to the outcomes of the investigations.
The Chairperson quoted that “returning land, which translates to wealth, back to the dispossessed majority is an important task because it is one way of addressing the injustices of Apartheid – which is why the ANC put the return of land to its original owners as a clause of in the Freedom Charter.” The Freedom Charter is an important foundational document for the ANC and the South African Government because of its content; it has been internationally acclaimed as an outstanding human rights document. The Freedom Charter reminds us “the national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people. The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people. All other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of all human beings”.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister to give opening remarks on the Department’s presentation.
Ms Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, greeted the Committee, Department officials as well as Parliament support staff and officials. She appreciated the opportunity given to the former Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and Agricultural Land Holdings Account (ALHA) to present, following the dissatisfaction expressed by the Committee on the late submission of the presentation and reports. She apologised on behalf of the Department and said that the Department does not take the matters that were raised by the Committee lightly; it considers Committee inputs on how the Department needs to professionalise its systems and allow the Members enough time to go through the forwarded presentations for effective engagement. The Department has no plans of derailing the work of the Committee.
The Minister said that the purpose of the meeting is to relook into the matters that were raised by the Auditor-General on the Department’s audit outcome and said that the matters relating to land administration and land governance are in the public discourse and are being addressed. She said that the Department is faced with issues of land administration, land governance systems, accountability, slow disciplinary processes and consequence management. The lack of appropriate skill sets to deal with the work of land administration is also an issue for the Department and is reflected in the numerous land cases that have been going on. Some matters were brought to the attention of the Department by the Committee, for that the Department is grateful.
On the investigated cases, the Director-General visited Mpumalanga to oversee the concerns raised by Ms Steyn on the farmers that were given eviction notices. The visit has revealed that there is a problem with the arbitrary nature of the allocation of the farms in district and provincial level. Farmers are given care-taker-ship agreements that are not confirmed on the land and the question becomes why an individual is entrusted with an asset of the state for a year or two years and not qualified. In some cases, the lease agreements are not finalised on time or managed to assist farmers in identifying misdemeanours. These are matters of concern and some farmers have come forward to report the faulty systems and administration in the land tenure systems. A land administration system has been set up by the Department, and it will lead to proper land management and governance with clear standard operating procedures and transparency on the criteria for allocation to avoid unethical rules formulated by officials. Disciplinary processes have also been implemented where traces of wrongdoing have been found and further investigations have been done, as instructed by the internal audit, so that the root of challenges can be addressed. One of the matters included an official that wanted to extort money from a farmer, but the official has sadly passed on without a conclusion on the investigation. One of the issues raised by the Auditor-General relates to supply chain management and the disclosures by officials that are doing business within the state; the issues are being dealt with accordingly.
On ALHA, the Minister said that the entity received a qualified audit because of the R500 million that could not be accounted for and was used for the recapitalisation of the Department. The funding was introduced during the 2009/10 financial year and contractual agreements were made for funds to be deposited into the accounts of strategic partners and mentors. The model was then changed during the 2014/15 financial year where strategic partners who could not account for the funds were identified and the matters are still under investigation by the SIU (Special Investigating Unit). The second era of the recapitalisation started in the 2015/16 financial year and ended in the 2017/18 financial year. During this time funds were deposited directly into a joint account managed by the farmers and the appointed accountant; the contract signed made provision for unutilised funds to be returned to The Department. The Director-General had appointed an external company to assist with legal services to address issues where there were contract breaches within the model. Through this process the Department will be able to assess how much is due to return into the Department and a feedback report will be provided to the Committee on how much has been acquired from farmers.
The Minister also said that after the recapitalisation funding in 2018/19, the Department introduced the Land Development Support (LDS) where commodity groups were appointed to implement farmer development programmes. National Treasury said that the approach needed to be corrected, and in October 2019 the process was regularised, as instructed by Treasury. The Minister wrote to the Minister of Finance based on the advice given by Treasury on the system that needed to be used by the Department, which required the Department to enter into agreements with financial institutions (ABSA and FNB) to ensure that the resources are directly deposited into the accounts of beneficiaries and that the role of the commodity organisations is to render technical support, not to manage funds for the farmers.
On the irregular expenditures that were found in earlier agreements, the Minister said that the Director-General referred the matters to the SIU for further investigation. On the issue raised by the Auditor-General on the strengthening relative rights programme, which started in the 2016/17 financial year where the Department entered into agreements with the National Empowerment Fund to address the strategic partnership of farmers and their labour tenants, she said that the programme was a noble idea because it aimed to address the tenure security of labour tenants and farm workers and said that consultations did take place between farmer organisations and the Department on the initiation of the policy. Some farmers who were willing to participate indicated how they would want to participate and specified the measures of how to participate. Unfortunately, the implementation did not go as planned and the State did acquire the land in question and split the business shareholding between the farmer, the existing owner of the land and the farm workers/labour tenants. The Minister said that without proper facilitation, the changing of power relations of a farm worker/labour tenant, forming a partnership with the famer, was difficult; in some cases the shareholding certificate was delayed and not done in accordance to the power that would be given to the new beneficiaries. She said that some of the assets that were acquired were already going under, which was one of the weaknesses that happened and that should have been identified before they happened.
The ten pilot projects that were investigated by PwC and Intsika reflected weaknesses in the processes, which are now being addressed by the Department. Based on the findings, the Department has addressed the matters that were raised and is trying to be recoup some of the resources relating to the programme. The Minster said that the reports might be deeply evaluated, together with the Committee, one each and every asset. The Department is also addressing the failure to collect lease rentals, which undermines the ability of the Department to maintain existing portfolios; this will be necessary on advancing the land reform programme. The Department is appreciative that the meeting will expand on the engagements on concerns raised by the Auditor-General and other issues that were raised before the audit opinion. The time afforded for the meeting will allow for fruitful engagements and an opportunity to address the legacy issues, which are being fast-tracked by the Department on the implementation of corrective measures in order to avoid recurring audit findings. The meeting will also allow for the addressing of the issues around governance, accountability and consequence management.
Briefing by former Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR)
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Acting Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), apologised for the late submission on the Department’s reports and presentation in the previous week. He said that the Department is currently dealing with administrative issues and the filling of critical vacancies is a priority. The Department is aware that any merger would have growing pains and that the merger of the various departments is not an exception and has its own challenges. The Department will go through phases and will start performing to provide outputs to the people of South Africa.
On the spending within the Department, he said that 99% of the budget was spent and only 54% of targets were achieved. The failure to achieve targets was because some of the funding was not utilised and some targets were started but not completed. Prioritisation was made to the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights on the performance of the land that was bought for restitution. He said that there was also funding that was reprioritised on the ALHA account that was used for small-scale farmers.
On the contingency liabilities statements in the media, he said that contingency liability is important but the statements in the media were taken out of proportion; this area is less understood because the claims in the media state that the Department owes people, which is not true. The Department does keep record of all the claims that are forwarded and there is a process that is followed to determine whether the claim is correct or incorrect. Contingency liabilities need to be reflected in the correct manner.
He said that the first presentation will be made by the former Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the second presentation will be on the ALHA.
Mr Leabua Sebiloane, DALRRD, outlined the purpose of the presentation which was to provide the former Department’s annual report for 2019/20. The Department received an unqualified audit for the 2019/20 financial year. The Department had also achieved 54% (13) of set targets after planning to achieve 24. These targets were broken down as targets:
- On programme one (Administration): there were two planned targets and only one was achieved on the unqualified audit opinion.
- On programme two (Geospatial and Cadastral Services): there were seven planned targets and only three were achieved.
- On programme three (Rural Development): there were five planned targets and only four were achieved.
- On programme four (Restitution): all the planned targets were over-achieved.
- On programme five (Land Reform) there were eight planned targets and only three were achieved.
He outlined the completed and achieved capital projects and said that the list of the projects was circulated to the Committee. On the employment equity report, he said that there are 103 employees with disabilities and outlined the number of employees in the various occupational categories, their gender and race.
On the progress report of the implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations, he outlined the areas where deficiencies were detected in Information Technology, Records Management, Compliance Management, Project Management, Contract Management, Management of Fraud, Corruption, Misconduct, Irregularities and Mismanagement as well as consequence management. Concern was raised on the slow progress in the achievement of targets and poorly produced financial information. On the implementation of the Budget Review Recommendation Report (BRRR), he said that several recommendations were provided and response plans were initiated on the recommendations. The recommendations included:
- Reprioritisation of unused funds within the Department
- Fast tracking the finalisation of the fit-for-purpose organisational structure
- Prioritising the filling of vacancies at senior management service (SMS) level
- Ensuring that the accounting officer reports regularly on the activities of the intergovernmental working committees
- Ensuring that the Department engages with the Internal Audit Unit and the chairperson of the Audit Committee in order to improve findings
- Ensuring that proper risk assessments have been performed during the merger of the departments
- The submission of detailed reports to Parliament on the implementation of the Black Producers Commercialisation Programme and Blended Finance Model
- The submission of detailed reports to Parliament on the implementation of the COVID-19 Disaster Agricultural Support Fund.
Mr Sebiloane concluded by providing the future plans of the Department.
Briefing by the Agricultural Land Holdings Account (ALHA)
Ms MMokono, Chief Director: Agricultural Land Holding Account, presented on Programme five (Land Reform), which forms part of ALHA performance indicators. She also highlighted underperformance for the indicators:
- Hectares acquired
- Number of small-holder farmers allocated land
- Hectares allocated to female farmers
- Hectares allocated to PLWD farmers
- Number of farms supported
On the spending trends for the past six years from the 2014/15 financial year to the 2019/20 financial year, she said that there has been a decline and a positive trend because of the budget cuts that have been rendered through the Department. Expenditure for 2019/20 was R490.297 million, so there was a decline in expenditure from the previous financial year. She outlined the budget vs expenditure graph. Total assets increased to R16.2 billion in the 2019/20 financial year, from R14.9 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.
On the challenges and remedial action, she outlined the following challenges:
- The implementation of LDS (Land Development Support Programme) through commodity organisations, which resulted in low expenditure and irregular expenditure.
- Underspending on strategic land acquisition due to withdrawal of projects and delays in finalising valuations
- Increase in irregular and fruitless expenditure
On the Auditor-General’s responses, she outlined the five-year audit reports outcomes:
- 2015/16 unqualified audit outcome
- 2016/17 clean audit outcome
- 2017/18 clean audit outcome
- 2018/19 unqualified audit outcome
- 2019/20 qualified audit outcome
The accounting policies were outlined and for the 2019/20 Auditor-General’s management report there were 14 findings, 12 new findings, two repeat findings, nine findings resolved and five findings partially implemented. She also outlined the matters that affected the audit opinion. The findings on the remaining on the remaining management action plan included:
- The limitation of scope regarding an assessment of receivables for RADP
- The late submissions of AFS (annual financial statements)
- Identified weaknesses in asset-ware relating to user control
- Lack of other audit trails enabling reviews for log on violations
- Payment of suppliers within 30-days.
Questions to DLRRD
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) welcomed the presentation and said that the presentation was not what was expected, especially after the opening remarks by the Minister and the Director-General.
On the non-financial performance, she noted that 54% of targets were achieved but 99% of the budget was spent and asked how this is possible. On the rural development programme, she noted that the Farmer Production Support Unit (FPSU) had a set target 27% and only 13% was achieved; she asked for a progress update on the programme and asked how the Department will continue the programme to ensure that there are FPSU’s around the country.
On the “One Hectare One Household (1H1H), she said that the variance of 2 596 is too big and said that the issue of food security cannot be left unattended. Maybe some of the targets that were set by the Department were over-ambitious and not realistic.
She also asked on the progress and status of food security. On the internal controls, she noted that the presentation states that they were partially effective for the year under review while the Auditor-General stated that the controls were inadequate. She asked on what will be done on the concerns raised by the Auditor-General for the current financial year. On the BRRR, she asked whether the Department’s focus is also placed on the actual recommendations that are provided by the Auditor-General; if yes, she asked how the recommendations are being dealt with, especially on consequence management. She also asked if the future plans of the Department have timeframes. If so, what are they?
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) shared the same sentiments with Ms Tlhape on the imbalances of the targets and the budget spent and on the lack of emerging black farmer support. She asked what the problem could be and what the challenge might be so that the Committee can intervene and assist the Department in coming up with solutions.
Ms A Steyn (DA) said that the list of investigations by the Department have also been received and raised concerns that the investigation reports date back to 2012. She asked why it takes the Department so long to finalise investigation reports and asked whether the full reports could be submitted to the Committee because there might be repeat offenders. She asked how many officials faced disciplinary actions and what happened to them because in the past disciplinary action took almost two years to finalise and conclude. She was disturbed that the Department does not deal with repeat offenders. On the list of officials that were doing business with the State, she said that a full report on what happened to the officials once they were caught must be submitted.
She said that an organogram from the Department has not been received since the merger and she asked who is responsible for taking action within the Department. She noted that only one complaint was resolved out of the sixty that were lodged with the Presidential hotline and said that it is clear that that issues are not being addressed within the Department, especially with the low achievement of targets and a spent budget. The Department is chasing targets and spending the budget without assessing the impact on communities. She asked whether a full Communal Property Association (CPA) report was received because there were concerns that the CPA was not a true reflection of what was happening in the communities. A number of complaints were received from the CPA’s on the high corruption between the leadership of the CPA and the Department officials. The corruption in the Department needs to be addressed.
On the AgriParks, she thanked the Department for the document that was submitted and indicated that five were completed but are not reflected in the document. She raised concerns on two of the AgriParks in the Eastern Cape and said that the Committee should conduct oversight on the AgriParks.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) welcomed the presentation and said that the information on cooperatives was not clear; she asked whether the matter on developing cooperatives is being taken seriously because they can create decent jobs in rural areas and develop some key government priorities. She asked if there is a plan to consider SMME’s and cooperatives. The matters are always discussed but the Department does not ensure the participation of development, transformation and support of the SMME’s and Cooperatives, in terms of the Co-operatives Act, to provide services to members where there is active cooperation. She also asked on the progress and status of the internal controls because the issue is constantly discussed and mechanisms are provided to help the Department address the issues.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) noted that 54% of the targets were achieved and 100% of the budget was spent. On programme one, 50% of targets was achieved but there is 99.7% expenditure. She asked how this misalignment between targets achieved and expenditure is possible. Still under programme one, she asked: although 95% of invoices were paid within the 30-day period, why is the achievement not 100%, because the 5% of unpaid invoices affects business in terms of cash flow and employment? She said that the Department should strive for 100% achievement in the payment of invoices.
On programme 3, she said that there is an 80% success rate of targets with 100% expenditure. She asked why the targets of FPSU’s were not achieved. She said that there is a critical need to improve the lives of people in rural areas and non-achievement of the targets affects the creation of sustainable of rural economies. She questioned whether socio-economic impacts assessments are done by the Department and noted that the target for youth and women was not achieved but there are a lot of youth who are unemployed. She asked whether the Department is aware of its contribution in reducing the high unemployment rate in rural areas.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) said that there is no sense of urgency because targets were not achieved and yet the entire budget has been spent. She asked how the Department plans on improving because it mentioned that it has plans to improve. Of the FPSU’s, she asked how the Department plans on catching up because if targets are not achieved rural communities are suffering. She supported Ms Steyn’s suggestion to conduct oversight on the AgriParks and that the Department should accompany the Committee. On capital projects, she pointed out that projects are being carried over yearly and asked how the targets will be achieved, instead of being rolled over.
On possible collusion and corruption, she suggested that a session be held for the Department to clarify how consequence management will be enforced, especially in KwaZulu-Natal where department employees and extension officers are colluding that beneficiaries do not receive what is due to them.
Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked whether the job creation achievement in the presentation relates to short-term employment such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). On the 1H1H programme, he said that the programme was implemented but the main challenge is that the poor were given the land without resources to tend the land. He asked whether the Department provides assistance in maintaining the land. He said that in the past trustees colluded with officials and members of the community, which led to these trustees being disbanded and selling pieces of land that was bought by the State.
On the colluding of department staff and members of CPA’s with beneficiaries, he said that there are demands for the farms to be sold and this has led to challenges in the working relationship and a lot of complaints for the re-election of CPA members. He said that there was a CPA that launched a claim and was declared to be under-claimed but the Department officials still leased land to the individuals. The main concern is assisting people in the communal land in providing for their families and demanding government grants to feed their families.
The Chairperson said that land reform is a national priority for government but for the 2019/20 financial year the Department achieved 37% performance rating, with an expenditure of R3.6 billion. The trend analysis shows a decline in land reform performance compared to the 2018/19 financial year. The Chairperson asked why the decline happened and said that the land reform programme had a vacancy rate of 16.4% and a performance rate of 37%. The expenditure was 100% for the programme and there is no priority programme; the Chairperson questioned whether there is value for money for land reform. The SMS vacancies should be a concern because there were 73 vacancies in March 2020 and the vacancies have contributed to the poor performance of the Department. The Chairperson asked, on what is being done to fill the vacancies, what progress has been made and when will the Department fully fill the vacancies and the timeframes for this. On the policy and legislation, the Chairperson said that very little information was provided in the presentation and asked for an update on the legislations and policies that were approved. The Committee was previously promised the communal land tenure right policy and that the policy would be tabled at the end of 2020. There has been no feedback on the policy. The year under review has 42 out of 342 SMS members who have not achieved their performance agreements. The Chairperson asked what the reasons were for non-compliance.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) said that there is no report on the farm evictions and that the number of evictions must be provided by the Department. He asked whether the Department has an eviction monitoring strategy. He requested that it is shared with the committee, if they do; if not, then the Department must admit that the strategy does not exist. He expressed satisfaction on the victory of Mr Cloete and asked for feedback reports on cases similar to Mr Ivan’s from the Department, where people were assigned land and given leases to occupy land. A lot of African people are frustrated with the incompetency of the Department. He asked on the status of Mr Zigada’s case in Matatiele and the case of Mr Kutwana in Sterkspruit. He reckoned that the two cases are unresolvable because the complainants are black and asked why issues that concern black Africans are not considered and resolved with urgency.
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said that in Bronkhorstspruit there is an elderly woman who lived on a farm since she was 26 and built her life on the farm; there is no report on the case. Another case was in Amaqumbi, where there were co-operatives on sugar cane farms and before these co-operatives the community used to work well and would get their money. She said that the co-operatives are a fruitless expenditure because the co-operatives have equipment but it is not working and she asked whether the Department is aware of the issues relating to co-operatives; if not, how best can the communities be assisted? If the Department is aware, what steps have been taken to assist the communities?
Ms Tlhape noted that the presentation stated that the targets for people living with disabilities were not achieved and she asked why this target was not achieved because equity needs to be a priority. She also asked on the impact of changing farmer loans into grants. She said that municipalities are struggling to pay their liabilities and that ALHA should assist municipalities in ensuring that municipalities’ debts are paid-off.
On the irregular expenditure, she said that the usage of commodity organisations has been stopped and asked what happens to the irregular expenditure of +R155 million. On the appointment of business rescue practitioners without following supply chain management processes and the deviation from procurement due to drought relief, she asked what was going to happen to the Acts except the expectation of a decline in the irregular expenditure.
Ms Steyn said that she struggled to understand the abbreviations that were used. On slide three, she asked what PLWD stands for. On the number of small-holder farmers’ allocated land, which was 76 people, she asked if the farmers received lease agreements for 30 years; if not, how does it count as a performance? Looking at the amounts on spending trends, the money was spent on recapitalisation.
On the reasons from the Auditor-General, she said that some of the farmers indicated that the amounts that were promised by the Department for recapitalisation funds were not received in full and somewhere the money goes missing. She asked how the Department monitors the processes to ensure that the money is fully accounted for and that beneficiaries receive the full amount and whether the investigations would fall under the SIU. On slide 5, about the impairment loss of R102 million relating to PPE, where assets are said to require repairs, she asked for clarity on what the statement means.
On the land administration programme, she asked for a full detailed list of all the PLAS farms that are on the asset register of the Department, the locations, the types of commodities that are being farmed and whether the 30-year lease was signed by farmers, who the beneficiaries are and whether lease amounts are being paid.
She said that the responses to written questions were received in December 2020, from three districts, but there is an entire municipality missing. She expressed frustration and dissatisfaction that reports from the Minister and the Department have to be further investigated by the Committee. It is unacceptable.
Ms Mahlo welcomed the presentation and she noted that the presentation stated that the system is outdated. She asked what system is in place, since the previous system is outdated. On the remedial action, she pointed out that it was not mentioned how long the investigations would prolong and the type of software of the new technology. She supported Ms Tlhape on the lack of support for local governments, especially because services rendered are not being paid for. Higher departments do not pay local governments, which causes problems on the ground. A standard should be in place to monitor payments and assistance needs to be provided to local government to do the work.
Ms Breedt said that the Department is not always forthcoming with information and the Committee is responsible for conducting oversight and holding the Department accountable. The criticism from the Committee should be taken as corrective measures.
On recapitalisation, she said that there are continuous disagreements with the Auditor-General but there are action plans. She asked on these plans and asked how the recapitalisation money is accounted for: do beneficiaries have to submit statements or balance sheets? How are findings kept from regression?
She asked the Department to share with the Committee the tools and tablets that are used to conduct oversight on monitoring the funding because the Committee has not been able to conduct regular oversight. She also asked how extension officers are monitored on whether they do perform their duties and work because senior managers believe what they are told even though it is false information. She asked whether the Department is fully compliant with GRAP (Generally Recognised Accounted Practice) in terms of its reporting; if not, when will it be compliant and what steps will be taken to ensure this compliance. Is the Department confident that a clean audit finding will be received in the next financial year? On the banks assisting farmers with loans, she asked how many farmers have been assisted to date, what the specifications of the deals are and how many more farmers are still expected to benefit from this initiative in the current financial year.
Inkosi Cebekhulu said that a lot has been happening in the Department, on the issues on recapitalisation. The new entrants into the farming space were made to believe that extension officers would assist them in finding strategic partners to help with the running of the farms; as a result, funds are taken and farmers are left stranded. He asked if the Department has ever taken action against the extension officers or departmental staff who were involved in deceiving the farmers and whether the individuals have been traced and if there is an initiative in dealing with the wrongdoers.
Mr Masipa said the Department lacks the capacity of doing basic things and said that the question should be how to ensure that the Department pays the municipalities on time and that the municipalities invoices on time. On the R16 billion in the balance sheet on the Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE) report, he said that he is sceptical of the information because there are struggling and neglected farms that received no form of support from the Department. He asked how often the Department conducts evaluations to ensure that the value of the farms is maintained, and he requested that the Department shares its valuation reports with the Committee.
On the MDS (Master Data Services) model with the commercial banks, he said that the Land Bank is supposed to be an agricultural bank and said that the bank should be returned to its original glory so that it ensures farmer support. Commercial banks are profit driven and have no interest in providing extension assistance to farmers.
On the low expenditure by commodity organisations, he said that there are doubts because the commodity approach is a perfect approach and should not be let go by the Department. On the Auditor-Generals report, he expressed concern that the Department is trying to prove that everything is suddenly correct and encouraged the Department to relook at its work in supporting farmers on the ground. Even if 50% of the land reform farms are functional, 5% of unemployment will be decreased, which is why the Department is crucial.
Responses by DRDLR
On programme one having 50% of targets achieved and 99.7% expenditure, Ms Rendani Sadiki, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Department, explained that the two targets under the programme are not attached to any budget but are administrative in nature, which is why 100% was spent. Most of the costs for the programme are compensation of employees, goods and services, organisation commitments (rental spaces) and administration costs. She said that payments could not be finalised because the budget had been spent.
On the land reform programme, she said out of the R2.9 billion budget for the programme, R1.6 billion is transferred to ALHA so it would be reflected as 100% spent and the performance would be reported separately by ALHA. The R277 million meant for COVID would also be reported separately under ALHA – R100 million to OVG and R21 million to the ITB; so there is very little money left for the land reform programme that is used for households in rural areas.
On the internal controls, she said that the audit implementation action plan of the Department includes a summary of the audit findings and those that are related to deficiencies of internal control and other of non-compliance. A full comprehensive audit implementation plan has been developed and it is monitored monthly and achievements on the implementations are interrogated; weaknesses are addressed accordingly. In trying to address the internal control deficiencies and weaknesses after the merger of the two departments, the Department has included all the information in its new policies, new delegations of authority and new standard operating procedures that try to address the deficiencies and weaknesses.
On the organogram, Ms Bafedile Bopape, Chief Director: Policy Development and Planning, DALRRD, confirmed that the organogram has not been forwarded to the Committee because the Department was still finalising it. She apologised that the organogram was not sent to the Committee once it was finalised. The NMOC process was approached in phases; these included phase one (start-up structure), which was approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration on 11 November 2019. After the approval, the Department started placing SMS members on the structure using the criteria that was defined by the resolution one, 2019. Once placed, some of the SMS members were direct placements and some were not placed because they did not meet the criteria for the post. Supernumerary officials were not placed and were eventually placed. The process of the placement took long because of the criteria that were used. The people who did not fit the posts were repurposed as per the requirements, and the officials had to indicate the post that they preferred. The structure has been finalised and the number of vacancies at SMS level can be declared. On the concern on the filling of the SMS posts, she said that the vacancies are: the Director-General post, four Deputy-Director General posts, 11 Chief Director posts, 76 Director posts. The information can be forwarded to the Committee. The micro-structure has also been approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration and the same process has been started and the timeframes have been set. The document will be forwarded to the Department. Placements will be finalised by the end of May 2021. There was request that the specialised and critical posts are filled.
On the labour cases, she said that the number of cases is clear – the grievances and misconducts, the lifespan of the cases and reasons for the delays in the cases. The document will be forwarded to the Committee. On the officials doing business with the state, she said that the document is also available and will be forwarded to the Committee. On the disciplinary measures, she said that anyone doing business with the state and has not made declarations have been given letters informing them on their actions.
On the poor performance of the 1H1H project, Mr Terrie Ndove, DDG: Land Redistribution and Development, DALRRD, said that the programme was initiated in 2016/17 with the intention of allocating one hectare to each household and it had a supplementary programme called ‘one household two dairy cattle’. When the programme was initiated it was focused on the land that is in the hands of the municipalities and communal land but it focused more on land that was outside the communal land space. The programme was also linked to the AgriParks initiative with the intention to achieve rural economic transformation, and it focused on poverty reduction as well as giving support to small holder production at a household level. On how it is supposed to be implemented, he said that the programme is slightly different from other food security projects. There has to be a selection of a site involving other stakeholders such as the municipalities, provincial Department of Agriculture, traditional authorities etc., so that there is an engagement before a site is identified. A list is then compiled on the sites in an area, and a mobilisation has to take place in the community to inform members of the community on the programme. Household profiling has to be done to understand the profile of the households and then the identified site has to be mapped to ensure that the land is surveyed and demarcated. This will then lead to the issuing or registration of institutionalised land user rights, which is supposed to be done by the Deeds Office. The normal approval process will begin after a business plan has been approved. There are people who need support in the communal land space. Site managers, accountants and a banking account are all required in the process. He said that challenges were experienced because the branch had to be changed and that the difficulties of the programme need to be repositioned with other food security projects so that it is easier to implement and can effect change.
On the future plans, he said that work has been done on realignment and that the only challenge during the reprioritisation of the budget was the huge cut because of COVID-19. On the Land Development Support (LDS), he said that the performance of the LDS was not good in the year under review and that it was initiated towards the end of 2018. There were things that had to be done to ensure that the challenges that were faced in the implementation of the recap programme were not repeated. The key problems in the recap programme was how the money was spent and the use of the strategic partners, which created problems of a lack of accountability, and some funds could not be accounted for. The objective was to assist black farmers to be sustainable, have rich productions and capacity as well as to develop their own agricultural enterprises so that they are commercially viable. The project was meant to assist black farmers in collaboration with financial institutions to reach full production capacity, develop their enterprise into sustainable enterprises and to contribute to the participation of black farmers in the agricultural value chain. On the expected outcomes, he said that the LDS is supposed to provide financial support to black farmers for farmers to improve their access to resources and funding. Skills transfer also has to be achieved by working with agricultural development partners to increase productivity. He explained that agricultural development partners are any institution that is organised to assist in the development of black farmers. But in this regard, commodity organisations were regarded as appropriate vehicles that would assist the development of black farmers. This would lead to farmers farming independently after gaining skills from training and mentoring. Another expected outcome from the programme was access to the markets and participation in the value chain. He said that the programme was focused on the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS). During the same time, there was a process to perform farm assessments in the PLAS portfolio. When the project was initiated there were already 262 farms that were found to be commercially viable and could be assisted though the stimulus package. He said that there were engagements between the Department and Treasury, regarding the procurement process between the financial institutions and commodity organisation. The discussions were long and the finalisation was not done; the Department had decided to use the internal processes of procurement to start the project. Twelve projects were involved. When the issue of concurrence between the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform and the Minister of Finance was started, the Department developed and interim disbursement arrangement where the Department was working with the commodity organisation for them to assist the Department in the procurement and money would be transferred to the commodity organisations. The agreement was stopped in September 2019.
On the report of the CPA, he said that annual reports are prepared on the CPA and are tabled before Parliament, which has happened. He said that the report can be tabled before the Committee if requested. On the challenges of the CPA, he confirmed that there are challenges around governance, corruption, fighting amongst members and said that the Director-General is responsible for the CPA. There is a plan on how the matters can be resolved, which includes having a clear audit of all the CPA on their status, how they are functioning and their challenges that will enable the Department in separating those CPA’s that are performing better, those that have potential to function and those with challenges. Using CPA’s as land holdings cannot be predicted and will be informed by the results of the engagements from the CPA audits and analysis of the challenges instead of generalising. Engagements with various stakeholders will be held on the way forward in addressing the challenges so that CPA’s can function properly. The issue of land that is sold out in the CPA’s has been noted by the Department and it is a reality. Some even refuse to occupy the land but sell the land immediately. Factions create challenges that have resulted in the loss of lives because of the conflict of the CPA’s. The issue of the CPA in Pietermaritzburg will be followed up and resolved.
On the 1H1H equipment support, he said that part of the programme was to buy farming equipment for the households and the issue will be addressed as the programme continues to exist. On the decline in the performance of land reform, he confirmed that there has been a decline and said that the factors linked to the decline are that government has experienced a decline in the budget over the last two-three years, which has affected land reform. The price of the land has been an ongoing problem because if the land price increases, it limits the number of hectares that can be acquired.
On the status of the Communal Land Tenure Rights Bill, he said that the land tenure bill is being processed by the Department and it ready but there are consultations that need to be held with traditional authorities and COGTA (Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs). The Bill will be tabled in the current financial year. It is not a policy because there is a process of developing a position paper on communal land, which will become a policy. He said that the position paper has been accepted by Cabinet and the process of consultation in all the provinces will commence in addressing the issues relating to communal land.
On the farm evictions, he responded that the recent report on the matter should be with the Committee and said that the information can be provided; the issue is being monitored. On the eviction monitoring strategy, he said that the matter involves other departments as well as law enforcement and that a safety strategy led by SAPS (South African Police Services) has been improved to include other matters relating to land such as evictions. The IMC will be adopted in Parliament and made available to South African.
On the two land cases in Sterkspruit and Matatiele, he said that the matters are being assessed by the Department and it would be premature to provide more details on the cases. The outcomes will be shared with the Committee as soon as they are available. On the three cases raised by Ms Mbatha, he said that the issues will have to be followed up.
On the FPSU’s failure to achieve targets, Mr Nasele Mehlomakulu, Acting Deputy Director-General: Rural Infrastructure Development, DALRRD, said that rural development for the year under review was split into two branches: Infrastructure and Rural Enterprise and Development. One of the reasons for not achieving targets was the TITS, where projects are outlined and how they will be measured when the work is delivered. There were six basic requirements for the functionality of FPSU’s that were supposed to be met and most could be dealt with except for two. First, the appointment of the FPSU manager - the reason for not appointing the FPSU manager was that the focus was on the activities of the FPSU because the farmers were able to manage the affairs of the FPSU so there was no need for a manager. The 27 FPSU’s have integrated implementation plans that are co-signed with the heads of provinces. There were agreements for the deployment of extension officers to assist with the daily operation of the FPSU, so the need for an FPSU manager was eliminated. Secondly, on the registration of secondary co-operatives, he said that farmers must be organised to ensure that the activities are properly managed but delays were experienced so the co-operatives that had to be registered could not be registered in all of the FPSUs.
On the AgriParks programme, he said that the programme was an ambitious initiative by government in the 2015/16 financial year because all three legs (FPSU, AgriHub and Urban Rural Market Center) of the AgriParks are resource intensive to implement. When the programme was presented to the Minister, the Department was advised to focus on the first leg of the AgriParks programme and look for alternative ways on addressing the other two legs of the programme so that the Department remains focused on its primary production level, which links with the mandate of the Department. So the other two legs, AgriHubs and Urban Rural Market Centers, were not ignored. On the concerns raised on the two AgriParks in the Eastern Cape, he confirmed that there were delays in the construction of the AgriParks because of ongoing investigations but once the investigations have been finalised, the project will resume. On making the programme a government programme instead of a departmental programme, he said that the Department looked at the various departments involved in the space of the AgriHubs such as the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has its own incentives for Special Economic Development Zones (SEDZ). The Department is trying to partner with the DTIC so that the alternative mechanism is applied to the AgriHubs. In the Free State, incentives were secured through an investor, Intabezwe Agri (pty) Ltd, where R78 million has been invested to develop the Hub; a vision is to invest an additional R11 billion. The weakness of the Department is that it has no incentives to attract private sector investors into the AgriPraks programme and it exposes government as the only investor. During the investment and job summits, the Department tried to bring in the private sector but there were no investors because the investors were eager to know what the return of the investment would be. The revised medium term strategic framework outlines the DTIC as the lead department on the Hubs supported by the DALRRD. He said that, in attempts to attract investors, the Department has also met with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which also has a larger programme similar to the AgriParks programme. The DBSA showed interest in investing, and assessments on the potential of the AgriParks programme were conducted. The expertise of the Department was highly regarded by the DBSA and the Department was asked to come on board. An application was then submitted by the Department to Treasury, for the middle income development grant, which the DBSA provides to conduct feasibility and viability studies with the intention of investing. About six to eight months were spent trying to secure the grant, and in 2020 the grant was approved for US$500 000, to invest in the work of the Department – appointing a transactional advisor who will focus on repackaging the AgriParks to attract the private sector, which will ensure rural economic transformation. The DBSA will be included in the partnership of the Department and the African Development Bank. People with the necessary expertise will be involved in the work of the Department to ensure that productivity is achieved.
On the whether the Department’s focus is also on the actual recommendations provided by the Auditor-General, Mr Ramasodi said that the Auditor-General’s recommendations were fully covered in the Department’s audit action plan and the plan is assessed monthly to ensure that there is implementation. He appreciated the work of the Committee in exposing the corrupt activities to ensure that they can be assessed by the Department and so that transparency can be achieved. On the case is Bronkhorstspruit, he said that the issue has been reported to the Department and officials of the Department have visited the old lady, Mrs Skhosana, on her farm. The report on the matter will be forwarded to the Committee once the matter has been finalised. On the slow rate in addressing disciplinary cases, he said that the Department has a number of matters which date back to 2012 and the backlog will be addressed by engaging with service providers to assist in resolving the matters.
On the lack of emerging black farmer support, he said that the Department recently launched an Agri-industrial Fund for black commercial farmers and agri-businesses with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to the value of R1 billion over five years, with the possibility of an extension. The blended finance includes a 40% grant from government and a 60% loan, which will assist in commercialising black farmers and businesses in the rural areas. A similar approach that was initiated with the IDC is being pursued with the commercial banks and other development finance institutions that inter-relate with the Department’s goal of ensuring transformation within the sector. Once the instruments have been initiated then issues will be addressed on the financing of farmers. The Department is also looking at how to ensure that there is an uptake of insurance within the enterprises because insurance is critical for good development. On the Department’s approach to illegal farm evictions, he said that the issues involve the Department having to issue termination letters to farmers because when farmers take up leases there is an agreement with the Department, and when there is a breach of the contract a termination letter is issued. There is difficulty in this process because of the poorly executed land administration. He said that no eviction letter is issued without the Minister’s approval. An investigation will be conducted by the Department to look into the issues.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that the issues raised are critical and are greatly appreciated because they assist the Department. He said that the Department does not come before the Committee innocently. On the evictions, he said that the Zigana and Cloete cases are matters that are coordinated under his leadership and they are reported to the Minister and a report is generated. He understood the frustrations of Mr Matiase and said that the merits and demerits of each case depend on the situation, which influences the response times in finalising the matters. The Kutwana case is different from the others because Mr Kutwana was given a farm in 2009 and he applied for another farm. When another application is made for a farm, the Department prioritises those who do not have farms at all. Mr Kutwana then re-applied in 2018 for a farm and at the time the farms were advertised. Mr Kutwana has been encouraged to apply for other farms in the Gariep District along with other farmers who want additional farms.
Responses by ALHA
On the abbreviations in the presentation, Ms Mokono apologised to the Committee.
On the impact on the change from loans to grants, she said that the impact was huge because the SRR programme, which was supposed to ensure that tenure for farm dwellers/labour tenants was secured and giving them a stake in the business which will ensure a financial return. During the 2018/19 financial year, the impact of the recovery of the loan that NEF (National Empowerment Fund) brought created a challenge because the business would focus on servicing the debt by government instead of ensuring that the processes are dealt with – which is why the matter was addressed at a strategic and Ministry level for the loan to be reversed. This was to ensure that farm dwellers reap the financial rewards from the businesses.
On the Department owing municipalities, she said that there have been a lot of engagements in trying to assist municipalities and there are debt management forums where COGTA assists municipalities with invoicing. The biggest challenge is that some municipalities are small, the record keeping was not up to date and some invoices are not linked to a particular property. There were challenges with invoice submissions and the quality of invoices. There is representation in the forums throughout the country. This decision is proving to be beneficial because R200 million was unlocked in the previous financial year and paid, so the intervention and constant communication with municipalities is yielding results on the debt. The other challenge is that municipalities will bill the Department from 2009 and 2010, which would have never been billed. Proper regular reconciliation needs to happen before payments are made.
On the irregular expenditure, she said that the R308 million will not disappear but only through a particular process. On the National Treasury framework on irregular expenditure, she said that if there is irregular and fruitless expenditure it needs to be confirmed; once confirmed there needs to be a determination on who needs to be held liable and then the process of recovery is drafted. The consequence management issues that have been dealt with need to be identified and through the investigations the recovery process can begin. She said that within the Department there is a financial compliance committee that has been established to find out what happened, who is responsible; recommendations will be submitted to the Accounting Officer, who will write to Treasury depending on the outcome of irregular expenditure. All the matters concerning irregular expenditure for ALHA have been referred to the financial compliance committee and there are ongoing investigations. On the SRR, she said that the forensic unit is dealing with the matters and a report has been tabled on what needs to be done. After a recovery has been made, it is classified as a debt or receivable, not as irregular or fruitless expenditure.
On the issue of farmers not receiving full amounts, she confirmed that farmers do not receive the full amount and that recap had risks because once an individual had access to the money upfront it was misused; so the Department came up with a solution that the farmer has to look at the implementation plan on things such as the production plan. Once that has been done the farmer has to report to the Department and if the extension officers approve then financing can be released. The full figure that farmers receive is reflected in the applications, so money will not go missing in between. If the contractual obligations are not met by the farmer, then the full amount is not released. On the recap funding, she said that there was a recap for PLAS and a recap that was transferred through the Department. The Department has one recap programme but because of implementation there are multiple PLAS projects. The figure that was highlighted by the Auditor-General was not accounted for by farmers. There was an approval of R2.2 billion and R1.7 billion has been accounted for. Out of R1 million, she said that if a farmer receives R800 000 then they have to account for the R800 000; the remaining R200 000 will be part of the unaccounted funds.
On the impairment losses, she said that there is a portfolio of R16 billion and at year end each of the values of the assets have to be checked so each farm will be visited and the state of each asset will be evaluated. On the lease debtors, the recoverability of each bill that is sent to farmers is evaluated. Some assets will require repairs to be brought back to their value. Once the reports on the assets have been received, the property plan equipment and assets are revalued, so an impairment loss will be conducted to adjust the value. The Auditor-General audits the entire process of impairment loss and they visit the farms and conduct an independent assessment. The assessment is then compared to ALHA’s.
On the land administration programme, she said that the full asset register can be submitted to the Committee and that each and every asset is recorded in the register. There is compliance with the GRAP standard and it is applied on the ground. On the outdated systems, she said that there is an interim plan on the limitations of the system and that a project monitoring tool had to be developed to capture data on the ground; the data can be analysed and captured into the system. A full plan on the full implementation of Information Technology was finalised in the ICT Committee but there was merger, so the impact on the merger on the implementation had to be relooked at before implementation could take place.
She confirmed that municipalities need to look into the systematic challenges within the municipality. The criticism is welcomed and the Department is working hard to turn the situation around. On recap reflecting as a finding and the plans to address the matter, she said that the first error of recap was in relation to an agreement of strategic partners and mentors, where funds are managed by these partners and mentors. This caused conflict between farmers and these partners. The contract that was in place did not give the Department time to recover the money immediately, so it meant remedial and legal action that focused on mediation and arbitration could be applied by the Department. When the process was reviewed, provinces had already raised allegations against the strategic partners and mentors. Some of the projects are being investigated by the forensic unit and other by the SIU. Upon conclusion, a recovery process will begin. The second error was that an agreement was then entered into with the farmer directly but it still did not give the Department rights to the recovery of the funds.
Ms Tshwete said that although the Department has responded to questions, there are concerns on how the Department responded to questions on the co-operate services because there are cases that have been outstanding for many years. A case cannot be left unattended for more than three years and situations where officials are suspended with full pay are not acceptable. She pleaded with the Department to address the issues and said that reasons that cases are being attended to is not good enough. Cases should be finalised with set targets in mind.
She also raised concerns that the Department focuses on one recommendation in the BRRR and not from the Auditor-General and she said that there should be a balance between the recommendations from the BRRR and the Auditor-General. On the 1H1H programme, she said that it is clear the there is no proper monitoring on the programme and said that monitoring should be strengthened because the programme is important in resolving food security challenges. During the oversight visit in KwaZulu-Natal, the 1H1H programme was dead. She said that the Department should perform oversight on its implemented programmes.
Ms Breedt said that the Department did not respond to the questions concerning the capital projects and that the questions on the 99% spent budget with 54% targets achieved was not adequately responded to.
Ms Mahlo asked if the Department has a project cycle plan on the monitoring and evaluation of the households involved in the 1H1H programme and asked what happened to the extension officers because they are not seen on the ground. Previously, the extension officers would assist the households but they have disappeared. If the extension officers have new titles, the Committee should be informed.
Ms Steyn expressed disappointment in the responses by the Department and asked for further clarity on the responses concerning the investigations of the officials who are doing business with the state because investigations have been ongoing for eight years and the allegations are serious. The Committee only received one list of investigations from the SIU and six more were received from the Presidency with very serious allegations against officials. She requested the full investigation reports that are stated as completed and said that Mr Zigana’s issue has still not been resolved. She said that it is not good enough that officials resign when they are in trouble.
On the AgriParks, she asked for details on the five AgriParks that were listed as completed and an indication of which commodities they handle, so that the Committee can conduct oversight on them. On the 1H1H programme, she requested full details on the programme because there is nothing going on in some of the areas.
The Chairperson said that the issue on the investigations should be handled separately in preparation for the briefing on the investigation issues from the AGSA and the Department.
Ms Tlhape said that the 1H1H programme is a food security programme that created a lot of expectation. She asked whether the ‘2 dairy cows’ initiative was ever implemented in the programme and asked whether the programme is implementable because the concept of the programme is unrealistic and there is a lot of red tape in the implementation process. She also asked whether the programme will be redesigned.
On the AgriParks, she said that the response stated that focus is on the FPSU’s and not on the AgriParks. She asked whether the stakeholders are considered because a big expectation was created for the programme; asked what will happen to the 14 AgriParks and whether the 14 AgriParks are the FPSU’s that were not achieved. She said that old concepts are often forgotten when new concepts are introduced and asked where the district models leave the AgriParks that were supposed to be allocated per district.
Responses by DALRRD
On the time taken to address disciplinary issues, Mr Ramasodi said that there were engagements with the Minister to try and finalise the issues by the end of 2021/22 financial year because a culture of compliance will be enforced within the Department. External capacity will be invested into to try and address the issues.
On how the issues of extensions are handled, he said that the extension regime has been covered through the extension recovery programme and extension officers are still active. The Minister of Finance did indicate in the Budget Vote Speech that there would be an additional 10 000 extension officers deployed by government to ensure that there is a good ratio of extension officers to farmers. A new programme has been relaunched together with the Japanese government on small holder empowerment, which will be done throughout all nine provinces to ensure that subsistence farmers also have exposure to the commercialisation of different aspect of farming.
On the monitoring of the 1H1H programme, Mr Ndove agreed that monitoring is necessary and said that the challenges on making the programme sustainable were highlighted in the previous responses and that there is a process to review the programme with the intention of making it easier to implement by removing some of the requirements. If the programme is put into a policy without the requirements, then the Auditor-General will produce an audit finding. What is important is that the food security projects are put together since the merging of the two departments. Programmes need to be refocused so that they address the challenges faced by the communities. The details of Mr Zigana’s case can be provided to the Committee and other issues that required further clarity and details. He said that the refocused plans look good on paper but are difficult to implement, especially but alignment will be ensured. On the 2 dairy cow initiative, he said that the initiative had very little success because it is difficult to keep and maintain two dairy cows, especially the costs of maintenance for the households.
On the spent budget versus the actual performance, Ms Sadiki said that the cost is split into two sections and she said that in Administration there are two targets. The two targets do not have a financial implication because they are delivered by the Department officials and the Auditor-General. She said that the performance reflects the one achieved and non-achieved target and that the budget was exhausted because the remaining R60 million was dedicated for employee compensation. The 99% expenditure was influenced by the amendment of the reporting framework and most FPSU’s were not finalised. The 99% reflects projects that have been started but not yet finalised. In a business all the costs would be allocated in the budget. The Annual Performance Report should include all the targets that have not been achieved but have been started.
On the capital projects, Mr Mehlomakulu said that by nature the projects are multi-year infrastructure projects, which last over 12 months so they are not being rolled over. There are cases where the contracts are terminated because of poor performance and re-appointments are reflected in the next financial year.
On the five completed AgriParks, he said that a report will be submitted on the completed AgriHubs not AgriParks because an AgriPark is a network system of AgroProduction, processing, logistics, marketing, training, extension services, etc. On the AgriParks, he said that focus is not shifted from the AgriHubs to FPSU’s but a better approach is being drafted in addressing the challenges.
On the abbreviations in the presentation, Ms Mokono apologised to the Committee. On the impact on the change from loans to grants, she said that the impact was huge…
[PMG did not cover the last 20 minutes of the meeting due to technical issues]
Mandela, Nkosi ZM
Breedt, Ms T
Cebekhulu, Inkosi RN
Didiza, Ms AT
Dlamini, Mr SM
Mahlatsi, Ms KD
Mahlo, Ms NP
Masipa, Mr NP
Matiase, Mr NS
Mbabama, Ms TM
Mbatha, Ms SGN
Montwedi, Mr Mk
Skwatsha, Mr M
Steyn, Ms A
Tlhape, Ms ME
Tshwete, Ms B
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