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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
2 June 2004
Documents handed out:
Structure of the Department for Agriculture and Land Affairs
Vote26 on Agriculture: Estimate of National Expenditure 2004/05
Branch Agricultural Economics and Business Development
Agricultural Production and Resources Management
Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Communication
Department of Land Affairs Powerpoint Presentation by Dr Gilingwe Mayende
Land Affairs Budget Vote 30: Analysis by Parliament Research Unit
In the morning session, the Department of Land and Environmental Affairs broke down their presentation on Agriculture into four sections. Various officials identified strategic priorities and discussed the budget. The Department had divided its work into programmes that covered many areas, including resource management, planning, monitoring and communication.
In the afternoon session, the Director General presented on Land Affairs issues. The ensuring discussion particularly focused on whether the Department would be able to deliver by the stipulated deadlines.
Mr L Mabombo, Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Land and Environmental Affairs, presented an organogram of the five branches of the Department. He gave a demographic breakdown of personnel and focussed in particular on the number of women occupying management positions.
Priority programmes for the coming year were identified as the:
1. Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP)
2. African Agricultural Development Programme (AADP)
3. Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme (IFSNP)
4. Agricultural Black Economic Empowerment Programme (AGRIBEE)
5. Agriculture and Sustainable Development (ASD)
Planned expenditure for the next three years would be broken down into almost R158 million for 2004/05, R167 million for 2005/06 and R177 million for 2006/07.
Branch Agricultural Economics and Business Development
This part of the presentation was led by Peter Ngobese, Department Assistant Director-General. He discussed the implementation of three programmes: Farmer Support and Development, Trade and Business Development, and Economic Research and Analysis. Various policy implications, challenges and priorities were highlighted.
Agricultural Production and Resource Management
Department Assistant Director-General, Dr E Mogajane, explained the ways in which the Agricultural Production Programme could be improved. This involved looking at organisational development, research and technology development, animal and plant improvement programmes, as well as the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP). He also touched on Sustainable Resources Management; policy and legislation; implementation, services and challenges ahead. Finally, National Regulatory Services were concerned with the finalisation of a host of policies regarding safety and health regulations to be effected within the coming year. This would include contributing towards Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) policy for SADC countries.
Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Communication
Steve Galane, Department Senior Manager of Agricultural Information Services, presented the ways in which they would train and educate emerging farmers and liase with neighbouring countries. He highlighted the challenge of encouraging the next generation to "take up the plough". He gave feedback on the achievements of the previous year, such as the Female Farmer of the Year Competition, an experimental Training and Internship programme (where 94 students underwent training in the Department over 12 months), and the well-attended United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference in Limpopo.
Also within his ambit was the strengthening of agricultural relations within Africa, which included the signing of various bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Implementation of a bursary scheme and keeping commercial and emerging farmers up-to-date with new information and technology, would be challenges in the coming year. Another programme focussed on the creation of monitoring and performance review systems, including a client survey and CASP implementation guidelines.
Acting Chief Financial Officer, Mr Tommie Marais, went through the Agriculture budget. As part of CASP, R200 million would be allocated for the support of resettled farmers. A total budget of R1.3 billion needed approval, which was 4,5% up from last year. Budget allocations since 1994/95 had fluctuated from a high of R1.1 billion in 1994/95, down to R719 million in 2000/01 and climbing again to this year's allocation of R1.3 billion. This amount was divided as follows: 45% for transfers and subsidies, 28% for compensation of employees; 24% for goods and services and 3% for payments for capital assets.
The Chairperson reflected general Committee sentiment that the volume of information presented in such a short time did not allow for much absorption or discussion. Consequently, the number of questions posed to the Department delegation had to be limited. Furthermore, certain documentation had not reached Members in time or at all, precluding personal preparation.
Mr S Naicker referred to the R60 million budgetary allocation for LandCare and the R200 million set aside for CASP and asked what guidelines would be used in the distribution of these funds. He questioned whether these two allocations covered both commercial and emerging farmers. He also requested clarification of the term 'LandCare'.
Mr Mgobese (Department) replied that the R200 million would be transferred to the nine provinces according to a specific formula from Treasury. This formula took into consideration the relative wealth and needs of each province. The Department had identified areas for support, namely infrastructure, training and financial assistance. An agriculture credit scheme was being put together and would be announced in the next three months, so that various products would be made available to resettled farmers. This programme has an MTF term of three years and a R1.2 billion allocation.
Mr S Mkhize (Department) explained that within the LandCare programme, communities looked at their natural resources or the need for the rehabilitation of such resources. They then submitted proposals and business plans to which the Department responded.
Mr S Mkhize confirmed that both commercial and emerging farmers were recipients of the LandCare and CASP allocations.
Mr M Mzizi (IFP) asked whether people with disabilities, such as the deaf and dumb, were taken into consideration in the Department's information dissemination efforts. He also requested clarification of the terms 'FINREC', 'COMBUDS' and 'farm models'.
Mr R Dredge (Department) replied that substantial volumes of information and statistics needed to enter the public domain and that a client liaison unit had been established to do this. This unit had taken into consideration the needs of people with disabilities.
He further explained that FINREC stood for Financial Recording System. This was a new and logical system to be used by farmers to determine their income and expenditure. COMBUS was an acronym for Computerised Enterprise Budget System. This was an old but revitalised system whereby farmers could determine which crop to plant at which geographical point, and income generation forecasts.
A Member asked about requested an explanation of the increase in the Agricultural Production Programme budget from 2003/04 to 2004/05, as well as how R38 million was spent last year. He also asked the exact number of male versus female staff members in management positions.
Mr T Marais (Department) replied that the difference was mostly made up of an increase in agricultural research. The R38 million was taken up by LandCare projects, details of which could be made available in writing.
Mr Swart (Department) responded that there were 19 men and 8 women in management
Mr N Mack (ANC) raised the issue of assistance to black farmers. Many black farmers, who had formed groups to purchase subsidised farms, now faced bankruptcy. There seemed to be no assistance or support.
He then asked whether there was any policy to assist municipalities to provide water, electricity and sanitation services to farmers. He thought there was a stalemate between farmers and local government.
Mr Mack expressed concern about the lack of any structure that catered for farm workers. There seemed to be no money set aside for the development of hydroponics or aquaculture. South Africa had extensive dry areas and limited water resources. He saw no vision being displayed in this regard. Such innovative approached could provide job creation opportunities.
Mr Ngobese replied that the Department was a signatory of the Growth and Development Summit agreement and that they were engaged on a regular basis with farm worker unions such a SAPOA. He recognised this area needed more emphasis. The Department would have to work in conjunction with provinces.
A Member acknowledged the work that the Department was doing in mobilising young people to get involved in agriculture and reiterated this as an important need. He then enquired about the success of a paprika growing project in the Northern Cape, as a sizeable amount of money had been spent on it.
He further questioned whether AGRIBEE should have been linked to the relevant Charter, so that one could reflect whether the two corresponded with each other. On the issue of the Co-operatives Bill, he asked whether there was any programme for training African women and youth on co-operatives, so that by the time the Bill was passed, such people could be involved. Co-operatives operated in a different way to the conventional market approach. Finally, he remarked that the Department admirable inter-departmental awareness promotiono on child and women abuse, but that such action needed to be followed through with an effort to do something about child exploitation on farms.
Mr Ngobese responded that there was already a co-operatives training programme in place. Workshops on co-operatives had taken place in various provinces. The Department had launched a District Co-operative Development Centre in Limpopo and a Regional Co-operative Development Centre in the North West province.
Mr Swart (Department) explained that the AGRIBEE programme would in fact be a draft charter. The document would go to Cabinet in the next two weeks for public comment and would be finalised in July.
Dr S Moephuli (Department) could not answer the question on the paprika project, as this would require some research. A plan was already underway to look at the sustainability of hydroponics, both for emerging and commercial farmers. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation were involved in the process. Other technologies were also being investigated.
After the lunch break, the Committee focussed on Land Affairs and was addressed by another Department delegation consisting of Dr Gilingwe Mayende, the Director-General; Ms M Tong, Chief Operations Officer; Ms C van der Merwe, Director of Redistribution Implementation Systems; Mr S Mathiki, General Manager Corporate Services, Mr E Greeve, Parliamentary Services, Ms Vuyi Nxasana and Mr N Lefafa.
Director General of Land Affairs presentation
Dr Gilingwe Mayende particularly focused on the Financial Review, stressing the Department's impressive level of expenditure and unqualified audits for two years running. He dealt with legislation to be implemented, and promised that a "pack" of background reading would shortly be made available to Members.
He then detailed the Department's implementation of Shared Service Centres (SSCs) that had taken over much of the administrative burden of the Department's subdivisions. Delivery had increased dramatically as a result. He concluded with the issue of demographic representivity within the Department, saying the Department had statistically "done well", especially in senior management. Changes identified in the Communal Land Rights Act (CLRA) would be a key-challenge.
Mr M Mzizi (IFP) questioned the Department's approach to HIV/AIDS, and asked what co-operation existed with the Department of Health. He asked how and what funding was being channelled towards this, and what the Department's policy was for providing land for HIV-positive people and children orphaned as a result of the disease. Mr Mzizi also asked for more details regarding the Department's "institutionalising of disability" and how support mechanisms were being put in place.
Ms V Nxasana (Department) answered that a desk within the Department, in close co-operation with the Department of Health, dealt specifically with raising awareness concerning HIV/AIDS, both internally and externally. They had a written policy and were very aware of the future impact of HIV/AIDS. For example, in the Communal Land Rights Act, Land Administration Committees had to include HIV-positive persons and facilitate support for child-headed households. As a disabled person herself, Ms Nxasana assured Members that providing for disabled people was a top priority for the Department.
Mr S Mathiki added that institutional mechanisms were in place to insure this, such as making buildings accessible. Provincial disability forums ensured that the special needs of disabled persons were recognised.
Mr F Adams (NNP) queried the settlement of restitution claims, seeking assurance that all valid claims would be settled by December 2005. He asked whether this deadline gave the Department sufficient time. Mr K Mokoena (ANC) echoed this concern.
The Director-General answered that the Department was under "strict orders" to deliver within this timeframe, Management was committed and was looking into recruiting "supernumeraries" from other departments to ensure settlement. The Department had also had to change their definition of "settlement" i.e. when all the parties involved had signed written assurances and the paperwork had been done, although more practical matters might still be outstanding. Settlement could be considered earlier under this new definition.
Mr Mokoena furthermore queried the 46 court referrals in the budgeted. He asked how these could be avoided in the future, since they took too long and were costly.
Ms Nxasana replied that although court referrals should ideally be avoided, there were still certain instances where they were necessary, especially in a climate where certain farmers still illegally evicted workers or committed other abuses. However, she stressed that court referrals have certainly decreased, and it was a positive indication that only 46 had been budgeted for.
Mr N Mack (ANC) commended the Department on its establishment of district offices, which had particularly benefited his rural Central Karoo constituency. He asked about the percentages of state land to be distributed, and whether this was "farm" or "business" land. He also asked whether the increasing cost of land was being taken into consideration in the Department's future plans. Lastly, he raised the issue of representivity of disabled persons in the Department. He was not satisfied with the 2% cited, and asked why senior management positions had decreased from three to two.
Ms C Van der Merwe (Department) answered only about 5% of state land was available for redistribution. The Department was leasing some of this to various stakeholders. Therefore, there were instances where redistribution might be to people already settled on the land. Of the land available, about 60 % had been redistributed.
Mr Mathiki added that the decline in senior management was due to one person resigning to pursue a different career path. He reiterated the Department's commitment to empowering disabled persons, and said that certain advertised available posts were always earmarked for disabled persons. Unfortunately there were not enough skilled disabled persons within the Department available for senior management positions.
Mr S Naicker enquired about the competencies and rights of national, provincial and regional government,he knew of confusion causing problems on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. He also queried the co-operation between Land Affairs and Housing. Lastly, he asked the criteria for evaluating the costs of both state and privately-owned land to be redistributed.
The Director-General replied that Land Affairs was clearly an area of national competence. Most implementation took place at provincial and district levels by national department, but often with close co-operation with provincial departments. Land redistribution programmes could never be initiated at a local level, but the Minister had occasionally in the past delegated responsibility to provincial MECs.
Mr J Tau (ANC) said Members would like to see what land redistribution progress was being made in various areas. He also raised the issue of rights abuses of farm workers and farm tenants. Departments were being proactive but consistency was needed. He asked whether a special unit was charged with this.
Mr Tau further queried the problem of land shortage along the N2 freeway in the Western Cape. He asked how the Department of Land Affairs was working in conjunction with the Department of Housing, which seemed formally in charge of the issue.
Ms Van der Merwe replied that the Department would work with the Department of Housing in identifying land for housing. Most state land had been leased to emergent farmers .The land in Power of Attorney was all leased to the Department of Agriculture. With regards to the N2-question, the Department was working in close conjunction with the Department of Housing to facilitate rapid land release.
Ms van der Merwe said that evaluation of state land continued to be at market-related prices, and that evaluation processes were in place.
Ms R Ramogkoba added that Land Affairs needed the support of the police in monitoring farm evictions.
Mr Mzizi asked a specific question of the Director-General about the Kekana family of Hammanskraal. He would await the answer in writing.
Ms M Oliphant (ANC) questioned what formal assistance the Department provided for peoples after they had benefited from the redistribution programmes. She cited another example from KwaZulu-Natal, where a community was promised back-up support, but was still waiting for this four years later. She further enquired about the specific criteria for land redistribution, asking whether it was always local communities who benefited. She then asked when the drafting of the regulations on the Communal Land Rights Act would start. She was informed that the regulations would be finalised by 2004.
Mr Naiker expressed his disapproval that state land was related to market prices.
The Chairperson brought up the issue of amending the Land Rights Act so that the Minister could expropriate land without a Court Order. He realised that this would only ever be used as a last resort, but asked whether the land-owner could still go to court. He also asked what was being done to re-open the process of land claims. He also raised the issue of the possible taxation of under-utilised land.
Mr N Lefafa replied that some farmers demanded exorbitant restitution prices not linked to market value. The Minister of Land Affairs was then empowered to expropriate land from such farmers, even though the farmers were constitutionally allowed to go to court.
Dr Mayende added that late land claims would be solved by restitution. Progressive land taxes had to be introduced to address the imbalances of apartheid taxation, but this would depend on political decisions. Professor Du Toit had been mandated to look at means to ensure farm workers and labour tenants were not evicted. There was only one set of laws governing the rights of farm workers and tenants.
Mr Mokena asked how the Multi-Purpose Centres (MPCs) related to the Department of Land Affairs, and what mechanisms were in place to ensure that profitable land was used appropriately.
Mr Mathiki replied that MPCs were established with the sole purpose of providing free access to government documents and services, while Shared Service Centres were meant to free Land Affairs personnel of duties like recruitment; finances and other related administrative duties.
The meeting was adjourned.
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