The Portfolio Committee convened in a virtual meeting to receive a briefing from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on the annual report of the Communal Property Associations (CPAs) for the 2019/20 financial year, as well as a detailed provincial breakdown of the CPAs and their status.
The Committee heard that CPAs had become an issue that needed closer scrutiny, both in the sense of the Committee’s oversight visits and engagement in respective areas, as well as the Department’s own interactions. A breakdown of the CPAs' membership indicated a significant variation in the number of members per association, and the average membership per CPA had an impact on their functionality. The degree of the challenges within the CPAs differed from each other depending on the nature, form and economic activities existing within these entities. Disputes and conflicts were prevalent mostly where there were economic activities, and there was a generation of income through proceeds, rentals and dividends -- for instance, where mining, plantations, game parks and tourism were involved.
Challenges faced by CPAs included consequent and increasing non-compliance with the objectives of the CPA Act; the increased emergence of concerned groups of aggrieved members; unlawful and unaccounted alienation of immovable property owned by the CPA; a conflation of land administration and management responsibilities with the investment, development and economic affairs of the CPA into CPA executive bodies; the creation of CPAs resulting in families and communities with no relationship or joint history being bound together under this form of landholding structure; and insecurity of tenure for vulnerable groups like women, youths and persons living with disabilities, and members in general.
Other issues highlighted included tensions and conflicts surfacing where CPAs had been established in areas administered by traditional authorities or traditional councils (Amakhosi); land productivity being compromised due to conflict and disputes amongst members; criminal activities involving greed, fraud and corruption amongst members of these entities; CPA land invasions; and the illegal sale of CPA assets, including immovable property.
The Committee was disappointed with the Department's presentation, commenting that it lacked detail and was a repeat of the reports of past years. The Department was continuing to focus on the compliance of CPA executive committees at the expense of the improvement of rural livelihoods or beneficiaries. They pointed out that the Communal Property Association Act was still under amendment -- it was a Bill that had been introduced in 2017, but it was still awaiting the Presidential signature. The finalisation of the Bill had to be prioritised, as it would help the CPAs do better. The CPA members' skills in dealing with policy and procedure must be taken into consideration by the Department too, so that they could understand the policies that govern, and work according to those policies. The Department was asked what it meant for a CPA to be compliant. Did it mean that the lives of the people that were part of the CPAs had improved, or just that the Department had ticked the boxes that they were happy, or that they went around and did extension services to ensure that the CPAs were supported financially and in other areas where they needed assistance.
The Committee said it would follow up on the matters raised, and requested a detailed report on the CPAs in all the provinces of the country.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Members of the Portfolio Committee and the delegation from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DALRRD), who were accompanied by the Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha to the meeting.
He said that the annual reports of the Communal Property Associations (CPAs) by their nature and process of reflecting and introspection, compliance, as well as governance and accountability, presented both the journey and the destination. As the Members engaged with the presentation, it was critical that they also reflect and address some of the most pertinent challenges CPAs had encountered, including the incomplete verification of restitution claims. Some CPAs found themselves functioning with a list of partially verified members, which often created a problem concerning the eligibility of omitted members. In terms of poor governance, many CPAs did not hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) and, as a result, committees were not re-elected. Many of the CPAs had limited capacity for effective management of their own finances, and there was no accountability and lack of transparency by the CPA communities.
When there were complete land transfer processes, the Committee often found that there were cases where the transfer of the land and title deeds to CPAs had not happened, partly due to disputes and infighting within the CPAs. There was a real issue of power struggles where there were conflicts and tensions between CPA members and executive committee members. The Committee had witnessed this during its oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal, where it had visited some of the distressed CPAs. The CPAs coexist with institutions of traditional leadership, and often there were contestations about their respective roles and responsibilities. The executive members did not have sound business management skills, as well as skills to decide on land use and community development. While the number of registered CPAs was increasing, the Departmental human resources were not increasing to match the growing need to stretch and reach the increased function.
He said that the Department should also address the future of CPAs in relation to traditional councils --whether it was envisaged that the former would be replacing the latter, as this posed a risk, given the high degree of dereliction and malfunction. Should they run the risk of replacing functional traditional councils with CPAs and its attendant challenges? He asked the Department to address the issue of CPAs that were in the 5th Parliament legacy report, which speaks to Rama, Walmansthal, Elandskloof, Riemvasmaak, Nwandlamhari and MalaMala, especially those outstanding issues that were in the Fifth Parliament legacy report.
Deputy Minister’s Opening remarks
Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, Deputy Minister, DALRRD, said that CPAs were a tool constituted by the democratic government with the ideal plan of trying to ensure that the country and its democratic ethos reached its logical conclusion. CPAs had become an issue that needed closer scrutiny, both in the sense of the Committee’s oversight visits and engagement in respective areas, as well as the Department’s own interactions. The Department was struggling with an issue relating to the old refusing to blend in with the new. The issue of traditional councils against CPAs was a matter that should be concluded. The democratic government gave back land to the people, but in some instances, there were interferences from councillors and traditional authorities in their areas. He also acknowledged that in some instances, there were areas where the Department had in the past given individual claims in communal areas, and that had become a problem. Some of the issues that had been raised by the Chairperson would be addressed in the presentation.
CPA's 2019/20 Annual Report
Mr Ramasodi Mooketsa, Acting Director-General, DALRRD, introduced the delegation from the Department, and handed over to Mr Zandile Zulu, Personnel Practitioner: Human Resources Department, to proceed with the presentation.
Mr Zulu provided a detailed breakdown of the CPAs and their status, as per the 2019/20 annual report. The presentation highlighted the challenges faced by CPAs across the country, the support provided by the Department, as well as its other planned interventions to address their current challenges. Commenting on the status of CPAs at the national level, he said that in the final analysis of all the registered CPAs, the Department noticed that the use of the term “compliant” and “non-compliant” may not be appropriate since CPAs varied in their nature, form and purpose for establishment, even though they all held land on behalf of members. Some were operating serious business and economic activities, and the CPA model for business may be problematic, and yet on the other hand, some were for security of tenure and subsistence farming for a living. He then provided a breakdown of the number of all registered CPAs across the country, based on the analysis.
The membership numbers varied per association, irrespective of the number of registered Associations, and the average membership per CPA had an impact in their functionality. Northwest Province had a smaller number of CPAs compared to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Mpumalanga, yet the membership was higher than other provinces, including the average per Association, followed by Mpumalanga, so there were many conflicts and disputes received from these provinces representing the highest numbers in terms of membership per CPA. The ownership of land geographically per province indicated that even though there were fewer CPAs in the Northern Cape for obvious reasons, these entities owned more land, followed by Limpopo and Northwest Province. It was noticeable that Limpopo CPAs owned more land in terms of hectares, yet they were only number five in terms of registered CPAs nationally.
Regarding the support provided by the Department to CPAs, he said the most important were:
- Establishment and registration of CPAs;
- Management and support;
- Preparation of CPA annual reports.
Referring to the key CPA challenges, he said that the degree of challenges differed from each other, depending on the nature, form and economic activities existing in these entities. Where there were economic activities with the generation of income through proceeds, rental and dividends -- for example, mining, plantations, game and tourism -- the challenges tended to be high. Disputes and conflicts were prevalent. Other challenges include:
- Consequent and increasing non-compliance with the objects of the CPA Act;
- Increased emergency of concerned groups from aggrieved members;
- Unlawful and unaccounted alienation of immovable property in ownership of the CPA;
- A conflation of land administration and management responsibilities with investment, development and economic affairs of the CPA into CPA executive bodies;
- Creation of CPAs had resulted in families and communities with no relationship or joint history being bound together under this form of landholding structure;
- Many restitution CPAs had contested beneficiary verification lists;
- Insecurity of tenure for vulnerable groups like women, youth and persons living with disabilities, and members in general;
- Where CPAs had been established in areas administered by traditional authorities or traditional councils (Amakhosi), tensions and conflicts had surfaced.
- Land productivity was compromised due to conflict and disputes amongst members.
- Emergency of criminal activities -- greed, fraud and corruption -- amongst members of these entities;
- CPA land invasions and the illegal sale of CPA assets, including immovable property.
He said that the planned interventions by the Department to address these challenges included:
- Auditing of all registered CPAs to identify individual challenges;
- Evaluation and review of CPA models as the land holding entity -- define new land holding instruments for land reform;
- Reviewing the draft CPA policy to provide for new on-land holding models for land reform;
- Vetting of all existing and new CPA constitutions to ensure compliance with other laws and the Constitution of the Republic;
- Quarterly reviews for all CPA’s referred to the Land Rights Management Facility (LRMF) to get a deep stick diagnosis of the problems;
- Developing a training and capacity-building programme for land reform beneficiaries prior and during the process of receiving land in partnership with institutions of higher learning and agricultural colleges;
- Amendment of CPA regulations to enforce compliance;
- Unbundling of CPAs created as a result of the consolidated restitution claims, including labour tenant cases or the Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment (ESTA);
- Deregistration of landless CPAs;
- Development of an electronic management system for registered CPAs.
Mr Jeff Sebape, Director: Communal Property Associations, DALRRD, said that the problem at the Rama CPA at the moment was that some of the people who were occupying the land in Gauteng were not beneficiaries, as most of the beneficiaries were staying in the North West, even though Rama was based in Gauteng. The people who were running the Rama CPA were selling the land, and so far they had sold between 40 and 60 percent of the land to outsiders to develop. There were also houses that were being developed. They had contacted the metro several times to stop the development, but it was still going on, and the people were complaining that their land had been sold illegally and asked the government to intervene. The Gauteng province was engaging the communities, and the Director General (DG) had approved the placement of the CPA under administration so that somebody else other than the factions within the CPA could run their affairs while dealing with the issue of land that was sold illegally. What was outstanding now was for the case to be brought to court. A lawyer had been tasked to represent the Department and come up with a date when the issue would be discussed.
The other controversial CPA was Oppermansgronde in the Free State. The problem there was that there were two factions. Some of the people who were given land had been removed because there was a certain fee that all members were expected to pay annually to become members of the community. One of the factions had gone to court regarding this matter, and the court had ruled in their favour, saying other people must apply to become members. The people felt that they should not have to apply to be members with benefits when they were beneficiaries anyway. The Department had appointed a land rights enquirer who was supposed to investigate all the problems that were there in the CPA. The enquirer had asked for an extension, as he had not finished the investigation, and had been given another six months to finalise the investigation. The Department also had a term of reference that had been agreed upon by the two factions that they must investigate whether the constitution was fair for neglecting some of the people while they were members. The enquirer was also tasked to come up with solutions in his report, and once the report had been received by the Department, it would report back to the community on the way forward.
In the Richsterveld in the Northern Cape, things were calm now because that CPA was under administration and was run by an outsider who had been appointed by the court and the DG. The Department in the Northern Cape had appointed an election agency, and there should be an election soon.
Mr Zulu said that in Walmansthal, there had been a claim from individual family trusts because of land that was dispossessed from them, and when the claim was settled, the Commission had settled the claim and transferred the land to those family trusts, as per the original title deeds. However, there was another community that was part of the Walmansthal CPA who had decided that they wanted to form a CPA of their own. The separation of the CPAs was part of the settlement, and had been completed without any issues. When the Walmansthal CPA was established, there was a promise that there was going to be a portion of land which was state land that was now going to be transferred to it. That state land was meant to be land that was additional to the claim, but it was never transferred to the CPA. This meant that Walmansthal was one of the CPAs that did not have land, so the Department could not proceed with the regularisation of that CPA.
The MalaMala CPA was one of the long outstanding and problematic CPAs. There were two groups in the CPA -- Mhlanganisweni and Mavhuraka -- and they had lost two claims, as both Mavhuraka and Mhlanganisweni had their own claims. An agreement had been reached between the two groups to establish a CPA called N’wandlamharhi. N’wandlamharhi was not the name of either group, but the name of a river. Both groups were in partnership with the MalaMala company, because there was game and tourism. The dispute between the two was how the income would be shared between them, and they had gone to a point where Mhlanganisweni had taken the matter to court, asking to be separated from Mavhuraka. The matter was still pending, and there was the Commission’s legal team and a counsel that had been appointed to deal with that matter from the Department’s side. The Department, alongside the Commission, had formed a task team and met with both parties and updated the beneficiary list in preparation for the elective annual general meeting (AGM). Both parties had cooperated, and a new beneficiary list, which was endorsed by the Committee of Elders was adopted, but the court order remained standing. The elective AGM would proceed, depending on the outcome of the court order, and the Department would deal with the other issues, such as the disbursement of the rental to members across all the parties. However, according to them, the properties for which they had claimed had not all been transferred to them.
He asked to provide the Committee with a written report on the Elandskloof CPA.
Mr Terries Ndove, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Land Distribution and Tenure Reform, DALRRD, said that to address the conflict that existed between the traditional authorities and the CPAs, the Department would have to work with other critical institutions in government and outside government to find a lasting solution. An initiative had been undertaken by the Deputy Minister, together with his colleagues from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) regarding the consultations that were going on with the intention of engaging with communities and traditional authorities regarding the communal tenure rights. The consultations were very intense in nature, as they involved various stakeholders, including the members of CPAs, as well as traditional authorities, and when the process was concluded, it would culminate in a summit.
There was another parallel process that was going on in line with the issues that had been raised by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee in connection with the challenges of the CPAs. The process to amend the Bill was being finalised, and it captures some key elements of the challenges faced by the CPAs, as well as how these challenges could be managed by empowering the Minister with some powers over the CPAs and the establishment of a CPA office and registry, which would have power to an extent that they could even be able to dissolve the CPA should there be conflict. Once CPAs were managed properly and could work properly, they would also be able to coexist well with the other organs of society, including the traditional authorities.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) said the presentation did not differ from the previous years, and added that she had a problem with the Department’s obsession about the compliance of the CPAs with the Act or legislation, which was what it had been presenting consistently in the past annual reports. The Department usually fought for the compliance of executive committees at the expense of the improvement of rural livelihoods or beneficiaries. She said the Communal Property Association Act was still under amendment, which was a Bill that was introduced in 2017, but was still awaiting presidential signature. She wanted to know how long it took for the President to sign the Bill. The reason why the Department was struggling to resolve the challenges faced by CPAs was because there was no Bill.
She said the establishment of a CPA was so it could be a custodian of the land of communities or beneficiaries of land reform, and a CPA should not have been established if there was no land, as it did not make any logical sense. She asked the Department to provide a full report on the matter, especially on the CPAs that it was planning to deregister. She said they needed to look at the institutional and structural problems of CPAs.
Regarding the human resource capacity in the CPAs over the years, there had never been adequate support in terms of warm bodies and staff that were assigned to deal with support and the oversight and monitoring of CPAs. There had been no slide in the presentation that referred to the improvement of human capacity in the CPAs, even though it was outlined as one of the challenges. Until the Department took a deliberate decision to staff these units or directorates that were dealing with CPAs, they would never go anywhere. She wanted to know whether the Department was deriving joy from the CPAs and whether they were getting a good return on investment from them. She asked whether the Department wanted to dissolve CPAs altogether, and whether it had an instrument they would use to drive forward the proposal for land expropriation without compensation.
Ms A Steyn (DA) said that she was very disappointed that they were discussing the same things they had discussed two years ago regarding the CPAs, and nothing had changed. She wanted to know the plan of action from the Department regarding the CPAs and whether they had a development plan, or a process plan, or plan of action. She had been in contact with the CPAs, and most of them were still facing the challenges they were facing five years ago. Some of the CPA community members had written to the Department seeking help, but they had not received responses or assistance. It was starting to look like the only solution that the Department wanted to offer for the challenges faced by CPAs was putting them under administration or taking on court cases on their behalf.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) said that the issue of compliance on financial management should be prioritised in order to help the CPAs manage their funds, to avoid being removed as beneficiaries because they cannot pay annual membership fees. She said that the finalization of the Bill must also be prioritised, as it would help the CPAs do better. The skills on policy and procedure must be taken into consideration by the Department too, so that the people could understand the policies that govern, and work according to those policies. The CPAs needed to be trained on how to market their products so that they could participate in the national markets and grow the economy of the country.
Mr N Masipa (DA) wanted to know what it meant to be compliant. Did it mean that the lives of the people that were part of the CPAs had improved, or did it mean that the Department just ticked their boxes that they were happy, or did it mean that they go around and do extension services to ensure that the CPAs were supported financially? He wanted to know what happened to the CPAs that were not complying and what the Department was doing to ensure that they did comply. There was a need to start looking at the tangible benefits, because the report just talked about compliance.
According to the Department’s report, one of the CPAs had been liquidated due to a judgment by the Land Bank, but the Department had mentioned the financial and internal support that they had provided at that CPA. He wanted to know how the CPA had managed to land itself into such a situation with the Land Bank while the Department said there was good understanding between them and the bank. The CPA had said in its report last year that the other initiatives by the Department included an integrated financing or funding model for agriculture support, which incorporated a producer support model that was being finalised. He asked the Department to provide an update regarding the CPAs that they had supported, and their success rate with those.
The other feedback during last year, when the Department spoke to the Portfolio Committee regarding the CPAs, was that it was encouraging agricultural cooperatives to participate in setting up a cooperative’s financial institution with the aim of establishing a rural development bank. He asked for an update from the Department in this regard.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) said that the Department came back and reported year-in year-out on the exact same things, and the problem was that the presentation ticked all the boxes. She wanted to know the number of CPAs that were enrolled in court proceedings, as well as the number of those that were under administration. She also wanted to know the number of CPAs that were functioning at full capacity. From her observation, CPAs struggle with two things year-in and year-out -- compliance and board members not being part of the CPAs.
The Chairperson requested the Department to submit full financial reports to the Portfolio Committee detailing the total budget allocated for support to CPAs, and the expenditure thereof. The report must indicate a breakdown of all items and interventions necessary for the support of CPAs. For example, the annual reports must show whether CPAs received funding from the "one household, one hectare" programme. In assessing the status of CPAs, it was important for the Committee to understand the impact of such funding to CPAs.
Secondly, it had been reported that there were CPAs that had lost land because they had used it as collateral, and he wanted to know the extent to which the problem was widespread. He requested the Department to submit a report of all cases where CPAs have lost land and the actions it had taken to remedy the situation. In 2018, the Department had reported that there were 99 CPAs that had not received title deeds, which meant that they did not hold or own any property, and the Department undertook to process the release of the title deeds. He wanted to know how far the Department was with the project and requested them to submit a progress report.
The Chairperson said that the report was thin on details of the cases that had been referred to the Land Rights Management Facility, and those placed under judicial administration, liquidation and deregistration, and requested a status report. He also asked the Department to submit a report with age analysis, as well as the proposed interventions. There had been a great emphasis on problems emanating from the CPA's constitutions -- that they were written in language that was not understood by members or clauses that were problematic -- and one failed to understand why this was so, because Section 6 Subsection 2 of the Act provided for the Director-General to designate an official to assist communities to draft a constitution. He wanted to know whether this meant that the officials designated by the DG continued to approve constitutions that were problematic.
He requested the Department to submit a report on the specific cases emanating from the legacy report. He wanted to know whether there was a registered CPA in Gwatyu and if there was one, he wanted to know its name and who the traditional council located in that area was. He also wanted to know whether the Department had had any interaction and engagements with the traditional council located in the Gwatyu area.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that the Committee’s comments and questions were hard hitting, but perhaps it ought to be that way. It was a difficult uphill battle when dealing with CPAs, and without taking anything away from the Committee’s criticism in relation to its expectations, the Department should do some self-introspection. There should also be recognition of the problems that they engage with in this regard, involving the in-fighting and the corruption that existed. He said that compliance was needed from the CPAs.
He said that Gwatyu had been a challenge for several years, and unfortunately it had become a tramping ground for selfish politics, but the truth of the matter was that there was no CPA in Gwatyu. There were people who called themselves a CPA, but they had not complied at all, and they have not been regarded as a CPA by the Department. The Department was busy with a land rights inquiry in Gwatyu, and in some instances, the officials from the Department had had to go there under police protection because people did not want them to do their work. There had been meetings with the people of Gwatyu and the traditional authorities under the leadership of the Tshatshu clan. There seemed to be constant conflict between the traditional authority and the people of Gwatyu. The Department’s report was ready and about three days ago, he had agreed with the officials that it was time that that they went to the area and spoke directly to the community in their entirety. The people who called themselves the CPA had not been allowing them to do that, but there had been some attempts from the Department's side to try and get them to understand that it could not speak only to them.
Mr Mooketsa said that there was a lot of evidence that pointed to challenges in the CPAs, and work had been done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on CPAs to try to improve their status. There were issues around strategy in terms of livelihood diversification as an offset of the CPAs that the Department needed to look at, as well as other alternatives that could be implemented. Referring to the blended finance input, he said that CPAs, like business entities, had a right to apply for government services that were being offered in different localities, including the blended finance, and the comprehensive producer support development policy that was being processed by the Department was looking at which categories the CPAs would be falling under. The different financial instruments were also assisting the CPAs. The review of the policy that dealt with the CPAs was very important in ensuring that there was a proper policy that would guide the framework.
He said that they would submit the financial report regarding the CPAs, and it would include the programmes that were implemented. The other report would be on the spread of the land and the actions taken regarding CPAs that had lost land. They would also provide the Committee with a progress report on the 99 CPAs that were awaiting title deeds, as well as the cases that went to the LRMF, and all those reports would be submitted within this year.
Mr Zulu said that a CPA was a land holding entity that holds land on behalf of its members, but what the Department had discovered was that the issue of security of tenure of individual members was not guaranteed. The Department was not doing away with the whole model of CPAs, because there was legislation that gave rights to the establishment of entities. However, the model itself needed to be scrutinised, having identified the issues and the lessons that the Department had learnt over time so that they could improve on the issues of governance and the model itself.
The Department was expecting more from the CPAs, as some of them were generating lots of income, which was supposed to develop the members of the CPAs. CPAs were not created to run operating businesses in terms of the constitution, hence the need to review the model. The audit would help the Department to zoom in on CPAs to understand what was happening in each one of them, and then relook at how they deal with their issues.
Mr Ndove said the selling of land had become a challenge, because some of the CPAs were selling land to people who were not members, and there was no way to say for sure that the buyers of the land had the right to buy land in the country. The Bill covered this area in terms of restrictions and how land should be sold and the processes that needed to be followed. The capacity of the Department that focuses mainly on the CPAs was insufficient, as they recently had to deal with the merging of two departments into one, in line with the Development Bank of Southern Africa's (DBSA’s) guidance on how the Department should deal with the recruitment of officials. The Department was gradually recruiting more officials, but it might take a while for them to reach the required capacity.
Mr Sebape said that he understood the frustration of the Committee with how things had progressed in the CPAs, but commented that Members of the Committee should also look at the conditions that the officials worked in when working with CPAs. When dealing with CPAs, one was dealing with people, which could be very difficult as they could be dishonest. When dealing with CPAs, one was also dealing with private land, and the Department did not have control over all the land, as it could monitor and assist to only a certain extent. In certain instances, people interfered with the Department’s work with the CPAs and block any input that the Department officials try to make, especially where there is economic activity happening. He said that it was important that in their criticism, the Committee should also look at the conditions that the officials had to work in when intervening in the CPAs, as officials had been threatened and were being undermined in many instances by people who did not want them to intervene. Another big setback in the progress of some CPAs had been the COVID-19 outbreak last year, as some CPAs had been unable to elect new committees due to the restrictions.
In response to the question about CPAs existing without land, he said that before land was transferred, one had to form a CPA so that the land could be transferred to the CPA, but sometimes even though one may have negotiated with a landowner and agreed on terms to form a CPA to transfer the land, the owner may change his/her mind. This meant that the land was not transferred to the CPA, even though it had been created. The problem was that once a CPA had been registered, it was difficult to de-register it, and this frustrates people to the point where they lose interest in de-registering.
Regarding the compliance question, he said that there were a lot of CPAs that were rich in respect of soil, minerals, etc., but because they did not comply with the Bill, they end up misusing funds and resources. The Department was not dealing with the capacity issue alone, as it had outsider stakeholders who assisted. It had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), which was going to train CPAs in four provinces --Gauteng, Northwest, Mpumalanga and Limpopo -- for free on finance, how to deal with land, etc. The Department had also approached the Vumelana Advisory Fund, which identifies CPAs with the potential to attract investors, and they had been involved with the Northwest CPAs that were in the game areas.
Ms Tlhape asked for timeframes for the finalisation of the Bill that was awaiting the signature of the President, and wanted to find out who was responsible for following up on the President’s signature on the CPA Amendment Bill that had been there since 2017. She said that with all that was happening with the CPAs in the country, the Department needed to be vigilant and have targeted interventions if they wanted to win the fight on CPAs.
Ms Steyn said she hoped that when the Committee received the report of the last financial year, they would get answers with more details. Much as she understood what happened on the ground with people interfering with the officials, the Committee must ask these types of questions, because they receive calls from the communities telling them that they were not getting assisted. The people in some instances also say that some officials are involved in the in-fighting. She agreed that when it was private property owned by individuals, it was their ownership and Department could not just come in and tell them what to do. However, she was concerned that it did not seem like a lot of training went into the responsibility of getting a property or ownership. For people to be able to comply, there needed to be emphasis on training them to understand the clauses and legislation, and the implications of non-compliance.
Mr Masipa proposed that the Department restructure their presentation by clustering the CPAs according to those that were focused on agricultural purposes, those that were residential, and all the other CPAs, so that when the Committee looks at them, it could understand where the gap really was.
The Chairperson asked for the name of the CPA that was officially registered in Gwatyu, if the Department was in the process of registering them, or if they had already been approved. He was unsure that he heard correctly from the Deputy Minister that the CPA in Gwatyu had not allowed them to meet with the traditional council of the area, and commented that it would be disturbing if that was correct, because a government department should not have to seek permission for conducting its affairs in any area of the Republic.
According to a letter that was sent to his office through a Communal Property Associations Forum, which was formally established by the former minister and the Chief Land Claims Commissioner in the past, it seemed that the Minister and the Director-General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform at the time had tabled the annual reports of CPAs, which included the role, existence and the importance of these forums’ structures. To the surprise of the CPA forums today, they were being told that the officials under the current Minister did not recognise these structures, and yet there had been no formal notification that had been written to them as the forums, and they were only getting a negative attitude from the officials. This was how it seemed the government treated its people, and they had therefore requested the Chairperson to ask the Minister and the DG, whom they had contacted in writing, about the matter, as they had not received a response from either of them. The Chairperson wanted to know the status of the CPA forums to date.
Mr Mooketsa said that there were no registered CPAs in Gwatyu.
Regarding the second matter raised by the Chairperson, he said that he would investigate it, because it was a serious matter. If there was recognition of a particular forum, the next level or even administration could not disregard that recognition. He would check the mailings that had come through on that issue and respond accordingly to the Chairperson and the forum.
Mr Zulu said they had noted the comments from the Committee and had already engaged with their legal services to follow up on the Bill, and would soon report back to the DG, the Deputy Minister and the Committee on its progress. He added that they were hoping that the Bill would be signed by the end of the week.
He said they would do the clustering of the CPAs when they were compiling the report, as they did have the necessary information.
Mr Ndove said that they were at an advanced stage of finalising the report that was due, and would also consider inputs from this meeting, depending on how far they could integrate the reports. If not, then it meant they may have to find a way to include the inputs in all of the reports, even if they were not in a single report.
Mr Sebape said that in the past, there had been CPA district forums, and in the last report there had been a report on these forums. However, in the next report there would not be any report on them because although they were meant to assist the CPAs, the Department realised that they did not work properly, because some members who were part of the district forum committees ended up asking for stipends from the Department. The Department also realized that some of the district forum members were fueling conflict in other CPAs that they were supposed to be helping. The Department had decided to step back on the establishment of district forums, and was pondering on a better way in which to implement them. There were no district forums in the past financial year, hence there had been no mention of them in the presentation.
Deputy Minister’s concluding remarks
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said he appreciated the engagements and the comments of the Committee. They had been hard hitting, but were necessary to make the Department do better to serve the country. They had all taken copious notes and would oblige, as there were no points of disagreement. The issues faced by CPAs arose because of the kind of history that the Department had, and the greed that visited many people. He thanked the Portfolio Committee for the engagement and assured them that he would give feedback to the Minister.
He said that Gwatyu had come to his attention shortly after he arrived in the Department. At the time, he had noticed that there was a lot of hostility towards an official of the Department and the previous Minister. He had got involved in trying to work and resolve the issues, but one of the problems with Gwatyu was that when one was trying to resolve the issues, one became involved in the politics of the time. What was mainly happening in Gwatyu was accusations against accusations. The people of the Gwatyu area did not want to listen to people who lived in Pretoria, but rather to the people who called themselves the leaders of the Gwatyu CPA. The people who called themselves the Gwatyu CPA also did not want to be told what to do, because they said it was their area as well. The Department had engaged all the parties, and had not required their permission. However, meetings had been disrupted specifically by the group that called itself a CPA, to the extent that officials had reported to him that for that group to listen to them, they had to speak through Members of Parliament who belonged to the Democratic Alliance (DA), because they seemed to be happy to hear from them.
Chairperson’s concluding remarks
The Chairperson said that what was lacking in the presentation from the Department had been a detailed report on each of the provinces and each of the CPAs in those provinces. At the next meeting, the Committee would like the Department to zoom into each province and give a detailed report.
He thanked all the Members who had availed themselves and were able to carry out the work of the Portfolio Committee, as well as the executive of the Department, as represented by the Deputy Minister and the officials of the Department, led by the acting DG and all those who had participated in the presentation on the CPAs.
The meeting was adjourned.
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