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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS AD HOC COMMITTEE
3 June 2004
LAND CLAIMS COMMISSION STRATEGIC PLAN
Chairperson: Mr Masithela (ANC)
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Land Claims Commission presentation The Chair commented that the common goal of the Portfolio Committee, the Commission, and the Department was to achieve the 2005 deadline.
The Land Claims Commission, a statutory body of the Department of Land Affairs, presented its submission on the Department budget and explained its strategic plan
Presentation by the Land Claims Commission
Mr. Moshile Mokono, acting on behalf of the Chief of the Land Claims Commission, introduced the representatives of the Commission present at the meeting. He said the Commission's primary role was to give some form of redress (land, financial compensation, etc) to people whose land had been taken away. He said the President's 2005 deadline had created a sense of urgency in the Commission. Remarking on the progress of the Commission, Mr. Mokono referred to statistics that 48,825 claims had been settled since 1995.
Mr. Mokono then spoke about a major issue facing the Commission: the processing of claims finalizations. He said that for land to be transferred or bought, approvals by the DG, CLCC, and other government officials were required. He thought the process could (and should) be streamlined. He reiterated that since the 2005 deadline directive was announced, the LCC had operated in overdrive. However, Mr. Mokono questioned whether other departments and agencies were in overdrive mode as well. Another issue was one of communication. The Commission tried to get current landowners to understand that the claims process was not an arbitrary process, but that it was a legal one. Mr. Mokono concluded by saying that the Commission could achieve the 2005 deadline if those with the power to make effective changes adequately resource it.
Mr. Ramaharane, the Regional Land Claims Commissioner of the Free State and Northern Cape, spoke about employee retention issues. He said that there was currently an internal hemorrhaging of staff. Employees who received offers from other organizations/agencies expected the Commission to be able to produce counteroffers. However, in order for the Commission to do so, it needed approvals from the DG, which could take up to four to five weeks, at which point the employees had already left. In order to achieve the 2005 directive, Mr. Ramaharane said, the Commission needed to retain talented and skilled employees.
Questions and answers A member asked the Commission what factors informed the twinning of provinces. The member had the impression that the Commission concentrated more on urban claims in the Northern Cape. She also wanted to know what would enable the Commission to process claims faster.
Mr. Mokono replied that the Minister had instructed the Commission on which provinces were to be paired. In the North West and Gauteng provinces, it was an issue of capacity load; ultimately, he said, the decision was the prerogative of the Minister of Land Affairs. Mr. Mokono also said that he had not focused on urban claims. The reason more urban claims were processed than rural claims was that urban claims were easier to finalize. Most urban residents had identification, title deeds, etc. The settlement of rural claims, on the other hand, was a challenge. Often these cases involved a community moving from one part of the world to another (figuratively speaking), and many times there was more than one claimant.
The Chairperson asked how the Committee could assist the Commission in finalizing rural claims.
The Chairperson wanted the Commission to lay out a specific step-by-step plan on how it was going to adhere to the deadline. That way, he said, the Committee could put resources into the plan.
Mr. D Dlamini (ANC) referred to slide 26 on page 13, which stated, "Whilst we have increased the number of claims settled, the processing of rural claims remains the highest challenge. It takes approximately two years to finalize a typical rural claim." Given this approximation, Mr. Dlamini wanted to know how the Commission planned on meeting its deadline. He also referred to slide 29 ("Challenges for Commission") and said that he had seen these same problems identified every year. He inquired about what the Commission had done to make progress on these issues.
Mr. Ramaharane replied that after the President's address in 2002, the Commission had sped up the process to finalize claims. They had been able to move the average cycle from two years to nine months by grouping claims. In order to continue at its current speed, procurement and flexibility issues as well as personnel and outsourcing issues needed to be reviewed. He also said it was not impossible to settle the scheduled 27,000 claims by 2005; however, certain things fell out of the purview of the Commission. For example, surveying the land fell outside of the Commission's jurisdiction. The people in charge of surveying needed to understand that it was not business-as-usual.
Mr. Dlamini stated that it was not appropriate that the Commission presented old information (re: Slide 26).
Mr. BA Radebe (ANC) stated that no plan could be executed without warm bodies. He wanted to coordinate these issues with the DG.
Mr. AH Nel (DA) asked Mr. Dlamini whom he had spoken to about the Commission's problems (Minister? DG?). Mr. Nel then referred to slide 37, which stated, "Integrated development approach to land reform is critical, commitment from Provincial Governments and Municipalities is a must." He said he agreed that the Commission needed provincial support, but he wondered why they needed assistance from municipalities when they were not even funded properly.
Mr. Mokono replied that development was happening at a municipal level. Municipalities, he said, could play a strong role in ensuring the sustainability of development efforts. The claimants were, after all, constituents of particular municipalities. While he acknowledged that municipalities were under-resourced, he also said that they had been quite helpful in rural development and sustainability issues. Mr. Mokono also said that since the LCC was a statutory body dependent on the DLA for resources, they often raised issues with the Department and the DG.
Mr. Mceba Nqana, the Regional Land Claims Commissioner of Mpumalanga, affirmed that certain provinces had given their full commitment to the Commission's initiatives. For example, in Limpopo, agencies are severely under-resourced; however, they were able to sacrifice a few to help out with land reform.
The Chairperson told the Commission that they should try to replicate that in other provinces. He wanted to understand what strategies had been developed so that they would know where the Commission was coming from.
Adv. SP Holomisa (ANC) said that the Minister had stated that the Department was in a position to meet the deadline. However, Adv. Holomisa was worried about the Commission's lack of resources and the staff exodus. He wanted to know if these issues were going to greatly impede the Commission's work. He also inquired about the effectiveness of the integration between the Department and the Commission.
Mr. Mokono replied that though the integration had allowed the handling of claims to be short-circuited, it had also led to a duplication of responsibilities. The integration had produced unintended consequences. For example, the Committee was now dependent on the Department from an administrative viewpoint. This dependency had created a bureaucratic environment, which posed several challenges to meeting the 2005 deadline.
Mr. Mceba Nqana said that though the integration had resulted in better cooperation between the Department and the Commission, it had also led to an inflexible decision-making process, which might impede the Commission's ability to meet the deadline.
Mr. Ramaharane repeated that in order to meet the deadline, the Commission would need approximately R13.5 Billion in the next 1.5 years.
Mr. MV Ngema (IFP) expressed worry at the fact that the Commission had a staff of 390 but needed to raise that number to 724 in order to meet the Presidential directive of 2005 (slide 31). Mr. Ngema also asked (in reference to slide 33) if claimants were getting guidance for the money they received from the government.
Mr. Ramaharane said that the Commission's plan to implement contract posts was dysfunctional because many people would be without a job in eighteen months. Therefore, the quality of applicants was lower than desired. He argued that they needed to ensure job security.
The Chairperson asked what would happen to employees after 2005.
Mr. Ramaharane said that they did not want to lose their skills base. He said that they should utilize the employees in post-settlement affairs so that their knowledge was not lost after their contracts end.
A member asked if the Commission had considered interns.
Mr. Mokono replied that they were using a few interns. Previously interns had been hired for a period of six months; however, that period had been extended to one year.
A member reiterated that the Committee wanted the Commission to reach the 2005 deadline. She said that they might visit provinces without waiting for the quarterly review. She said they would follow up on certain issues after the debate on June 8th. She thanked the Commission for attending the meeting.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
This document was generated on: 2004-06-11Disclaimer: Every attempt is made to ensure that this information is accurate, but this report is not an official record of the meeting and therefore should not be regarded as a complete and correct record of the proceedings.
The Chair commented that the common goal of the Portfolio Committee, the Commission, and the Department was to achieve the 2005 deadline.