Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development met on a virtual platform. The purpose of the meeting was to receive briefings from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and its entities on their performance in both the third and fourth quarters of the 2022/2023 financial year. The Committee also considered and adopted the Committee’s Report on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill.
The Department presented its third and quarter performance for the 2022/2023 year. Concerning the adjusted budget of R17.533 billion, the Department’s expenditure amounted to R11.296 billion or 64.4%, compared to the drawings of R13.476 billion. The main reasons for underspending included slow progress in some rural infrastructure projects and delays in the recruitment process, including filling vacancies in the Department.
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights also presented its third and quarter performance in 2022/2023. Much of the presentation was the Commission’s provincial breakdown of its achievement against 2022/2023 annual targets: per quarter, from 01 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.
The Committee raised concerns regarding the underspending of budgets, delays in the procurement of ICT equipment, the delayed filling of vacancies, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), outstanding land claims, the setting of low targets as well as the non-achievement of targets.
The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) also presented their performance in the third and fourth quarters of the 2022/23 financial year.
The Research Council reported some of its quarter three and quarter four highlights. These included mitigating against the impacts of loadshedding; Agricultural development support for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique; the 2022 ARC National Beef Performers Awards; 2022 ARC National Master Dairyman Awards, amongst others.
The Committee raised concerns about Alfalfa mosaic disease, the one health, FMD, variances in income and expenditure, the non-achievement of targets, underperformance in certain areas, water quality, the meeting of the new Trust Board, and issues with the procurement of internal audits.
The Committee also considered and adopted its report on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill.
Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson greeted the Committee. He set out the meeting’s agenda, which were briefings pertaining to performance in the third and fourth quarters from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and its entities. The agenda also included considering and adopting the Committee’s report on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill and minutes from previous meetings.
The Chairperson greeted and welcomed the Department and its entities, including the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Ingonyama Trust Board.
The Chairperson invited Ms Thoko Didiza, Minister of of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and officials from the Department and its entities to present.
Opening Remarks from the Minister
Minister Didiza said the Department’s presentation concerned the DALRRD’s performance and expenditure in the third and fourth quarters. She asked Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Director-General of the Department, to lead the presentation. The Minister indicated that the Department still needed to improve some issues, specifically expenditure. Regarding programme one, the Department had not performed as well as expected. She said that the presentation would outline some of the issues that the Department faced. The Minister said that there were programme officers, and DDGs present would speak at length in response to the Committee’s concerns regarding each programme in the Department.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Q3 & Q4 Performance
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Director-General, said that Mr Reboane Doctor Phuti, Acting Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DALRRD, and Mr Oreokame Choche, Acting Chief Financial Officer.
The Department proceeded with its presentation.
Departmental Executive Summary:
Concerning the adjusted budget of R17.533 billion, expenditure amounted to R11.296 billion or 64.4%, compared to the drawings of R13.476 billion. The variance is R2.180 billion or 16.2% slower. The underspending trend was under Rural Development; Administration; Agricultural Production, Biosecurity and Resource Management; Land Administration and Food Security, Land Reform and Restitution.
The main reasons for underspending included slow progress in some of the rural infrastructure projects; non-payment of office accommodation charges’ invoices due to incorrect Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s billing; and long procurement processes of ICT services mainly through SITA (State Information Technology Agency); delays in the recruitment process including filling of vacancies in the Department.
There was also the rejection of some of the land purchase prices offered by the Office of the Valuer-General to landowners; slow progress in the implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI); slow progress in the implementation of spatial planning and land use management projects.
Programmes & Subprogrammes
- Programme one: Administration
- Programme two: Agricultural Production, Health, Food Safety, Natural Resources and Disaster Management
- Programme three: Food Security, Land Reform and Restitution
- Programme four: Rural Development
- Programme five: Economic Development, Trade and Marketing
- Programme six: Land Administration
- Compensation of Employees spending amounted to R2.848 billion or 66.3% of the current budget, compared to the quarterly drawings of R3.116 billion. The variance of R268 million or 8.6% of the quarterly drawings was mainly due to delays in the recruitment process within the Department;
- Goods and Services spending amounted to R1.857 billion or 48.2% of the current budget. The variance of R1.042 billion or 36% the quarterly drawings of R2.899 billion was mainly due to: (1) outstanding invoices for office accommodation from Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, (2) long procurement processes of ICT services mainly through SITA; and (3) slow progress in the provision of farmer support through the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiatives (PESI)
- Transfer and Subsidies’ items spending amounted to R5.617 billion or 71.3% of the current budget. The variance of R1.649 billion or 22.7% of the quarterly drawings of R7.266 billion was mainly due to delays in finalising valuations process and resolving landowners' and claimant’s disputes regarding offer purchase.
- Transfer and Subsidies’ items spending amounted to R5.617 billion or 71.3% of the current budget, compared to the drawings of R7.266 billion. The variance was R1.649 billion or 22.7% slower. The unspent funds were mainly due to slow progress in processing land acquisition applications; delays in finalising valuations process and resolving landowners, and claimants’ disputes regarding offer purchase.
- Payment of Capital Assets spending amounted to R973.3 billion or 64.7% of the current budget, compared to the drawings of R194.4 million. The variance was R778.9 million or 400.6% higher. The over-expenditure was mainly due to delays in the new building construction projects, and delays in the procurement and delivery of ICT equipment.
Province & Subprogrammes
Concerning the provincial current budget of R7.842 billion, expenditure amounted to R5.144 billion or 66%. Spending was nine percent below the linear target of 75%. The slow spending trend was mainly in the following provinces:
- KwaZulu-Natal which was 43% below the linear target;
- Mpumalanga which was 39% below the linear target;
- Western Cape which was 37% below the linear target;
- Eastern Cape which was 35% below the linear target; and
- Northern Cape which was 32% below the linear target.
On the other hand, North West’s spending was one percent above the linear target.
(For more details, see attached)
DALRRD Financial Performance 31 March 2023 (Q4 of 2022/2023)
Departmental Executive Summary:
- Adjusted budget R17.533 billion,
- Expenditure amounted to R17.106 billion or 97.6%.
- Spending was 2.4% below the linear target of 100%.
- The underspending programs were
- Programmes one, two, three, and four
Reasons for underspending after implementation of virement and shifts:
- Non-payment of office accommodation charges due to incorrect invoices billing;
- Delays in the procurement and delivery of ICT equipment;
- Non-submission of requests for subsidies in cash from emerging and small farmers who may be affected by outbreak of diseases;
- Delays in confirmation of funding for recruitment Assistant Agricultural Practitioners, as the Department had to source funds from National Treasury;
- Non-payment of stipend for National Rural Youth Services Corp (NARYSEC) graduate during the Youth Leadership Development Programme; the new NARYSEC policy does not allow payment of stipend while students attend the Youth Leadership Development Programme, which resulted in not spending the allocation.
- Outstanding invoices regarding membership subscriptions fees to international organisations that were not received by close of the financial year;
- Outstanding invoices regarding membership subscription fees to the Regional Centre for mapping that were not received by close of the financial year.
- Agricultural Production, Biosecurity and Natural Resource Management
- Food Security, Land Reform and Restitution
- Rural Development
- Economic Development Trade and Marketing
- Land Administration.
- Compensation of Employees spending amounted to R4.075 billion or 95% of the current budget. The unspent funds of R220.5 million were mainly due to delays in the recruitment process;
- Goods and Services spending amounted to R3.751 billion or 97.7% of the current budget. The unspent funds of R87.3 million were mainly due to delays in procurement of ICT services and the settlement of office accommodation charges.
- Transfer and Subsidies’ items spending amounted to R7.313 billion or 99.2% of the current budget. The unspent funds were mainly due to non-payment of stipends while students attend the Youth Leadership Development Programme, which resulted in not spending the allocation; non-submission of requests for subsidies in cash from emerging and small farmers who may be affected by outbreak of diseases; outstanding invoices regarding membership subscriptions fees to international organisations.
- Payment of Capital Assets spending amounted to R1 959 billion or 96.9% of the current budget. The under-expenditure was mainly due to delays in the finalising and submission of inspection report for the construction of the new head office premises; and the procurement and delivery of ICT equipment.
(See attached for the detailed presentation)
Briefing by the Commission of Restitution of Land Rights: 2022/2023 APP Targets and Performance Reporting for Quarters Three and Four
Mr Francois Beukman, Deputy Chief Land Claims Commissioner at the Commission of Restitution of Land Rights, proceeded with the Commission’s presentation.
Achievement against 2022/2023 App Targets: Per Quarter 01 October 2022 to 31 March 2023
Number of land claims settled:
- In Q3, 53 claims were settled.
- In Q4, 200 claims were settled (199 actual plus one adjustment).
Number of land claims finalised:
- In Q3, 91 claims were finalised.
- In Q4, 187 claims were finalised (187 actual plus ten adjustments).
Summary Provincial Breakdown:
Number of Land Claims Settled: 01 October 2022 – 31 March 2023
Q3: target = 18, achieved = 15
Q4: target = 22, achieved = 38
Q3: target = zero, achieved = zero
Q4: target = zero, achieved = one
Q3 – target = five, achieved = two
Q4 – target = two, achieved = four
Q3: target = 35, achieved = 14
Q4: target = 30, achieved = 58
Q3: target = 17, achieved = eight
Q4: target = 20, achieved = 49
Q3: target = 16, achieved = seven
Q4: target = 10, achieved = 23
Q3 – target = one, achieved = zero
Q4 – target = zero, achieved = one
Q3: target = one, achieved = two
Q4: target = one, achieved = two
Q3: target = 15, achieved = five
Q4: target = 16, achieved = 24
Summary Provincial Breakdown:
Number of Land Claims Finalised: 01 October 2022 – 31 March 2023
Q3: target = 23, achieved = 10
Q4: target = 28, achieved = 34
Q3: target = two, achieved = zero
Q4: target = four, achieved = four
Q3: target = 12, achieved = 10
Q4: target = five, achieved = 61
Q3: target = 50, achieved = 28
Q4: target = 20, achieved = 40
Q3: target = six, achieved = eight
Q4: target = three, achieved = eight
Q3: target = 14, achieved = 12
Q4: target = 13, achieved = 20
Q3: target = two, achieved = 15
Q4: target = two, achieved = one
Q3: target = four, achieved = one
Q4: target = six, achieved = zero
Q3: target = 17, achieved = seven
Q4: target = 20, achieved = 29
Restitution 2022 - 2023 Financial Performance
As at 31 December 2022:
- Total Budget = R3 785 063 000
- Total Expenditure = R2 230 864 203
- Total Available Budget = R1 502 711 745
- %EXP = 59%
As At 31 December 2022 (Household/Projects):
- Total Budget = R3 151 243 000
- Total Expenditure = R1 746 140 097
- Total Available Budget = R1 407 014 816
- %EXP = 55%
As at 31 March 2023:
- Total Budget = R3 785 063 000
- Total Expenditure = R3 902 541 015
- Total Available Budget = - (R138 389 276)
- %EXP = 103%
As at 31 March 2023 (Household/Projects):
- Total Budget = R3 151 050 000
- Total Expenditure = R3 251 978 154
- Total Available Budget = - (R100 931 324)
- %EXP = 103%
(See attached for the detailed presentation)
The Chairperson thanked the CRLC for their presentation. He said those were the presentations from the Department and CRLR. He opened the floor for comments and questions from Members.
Ms M Thlape (ANC) greeted and welcomed the presentations. Regarding the Department, she noted the performance and catching up in the third and fourth quarters. She asked what the Department meant by mentioning a decline in land administration. She wanted to check if this was semantic or if it meant that there was non-performance. Ms Thlape asked why land administration was zero in both quarters.
She said a concern was raised with invoices and payments because the Department was struggling to adhere to the stipulated timeframe. She recounted that the Committee was promised that digitising the process and involving ICT would improve things, but this was not working. Making service providers aware and publishing awareness was not working. She said that this matter was now the focus of this Department. Ms Thlape asked what it would take for the Department to meet this target. People were struggling with rising costs of living and were now providing services but not being paid on time.
Ms Thlape pointed to the target of acquiring hectares for farm dwellers and labour tenants, and she commented that there was catching up done in the fourth quarter. In as much as the Department had overachieved in all targets, it could not be celebrated. The DALRRD had stated that this sector was time-bound and that, if the land was distributed at a time when planting season had passed, farmers could not do anything. Instead, they had to wait until the next planting season. Even in the case of livestock farmers, there was a waiting period for recapitalisation and assistance from the Department. These farmers had to wait for the next financial year to apply for assistance. Ms Thlape said that this did not work. She suggested that the targets, as indicated, needed to be adhered to. This was because there were implications to not doing so.
On the delays in procurement and delivery of ICT equipment being the reason for the underspending, she said that the Department could not expect delivery if there were delays in procuring. Ms Thlape asked why there were procurement delays in ICT. Was it related to specifications or not knowing what to procure? Delays in delivery due to non-procurement occurred because people would not deliver what had not been procured. She said that this matter spoke to the Department’s capacity.
On the vacancy rate, indicated Ms Thlape said that the projected budget for compensation of employees had not been spent. She said this budget was now under pressure, as it should be, because National Treasury could see it was not being spent.
She said that the Department had capacity issues, and it was not filling vacancies and not spending its budget for compensation on employees. Treasury then sought to cut this budget due to these issues and now the current budget was strained. These matters were interrelated and impacted everything.
On the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR), she said she was thinking about the challenges presented three weeks ago. These issues pertained to red tape, capacity and people not doing their jobs. She asked what the Commission was doing with provinces not meeting targets. If North West and Limpopo were the only two provinces performing during the quarters, what was the CRLR doing about the other provinces?
Mr N Masipa (DA) said that Ms Thlape covered his question on the payment of service providers on time. He asked for answers regarding the delays in filling vacancies.
In terms of Programme Two, he said that his issue pertained to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Mr Masipa said that FMD was present in Mpumalanga. During the Committee’s recent visit, it was established that emerging farmers were based within the FMD zone. There was also concern regarding the issue of vacancies. He asked what the Department was doing to ensure that vacancies related to veterinary services were filled. He asked the Department to provide an action plan for addressing this issue.
In terms of Programme Three, he noted that it was indicated that the Department was doing well with land development support. He said that what was needed was an indication of the impact. He asked if the Department could submit a written brief concerning where they had intervened, success rates, challenges faced and the impact of the Communal Property Associations (CPA). He said it was outlined that the Department was doing extremely well with the CPAs. The Department managed to support all of them.
On programme five and economic trade and marketing, he said he understood that the Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) was now in action. He asked who was assisting the Department with issuing loans. Was it the Land Bank of South Africa? Or was it still intermediaries to a system in terms of market reach? He asked that the Department indicate how much of MAFISA was done on the trade part.
He said he would keep asking this question until there was an indication of how citrus farmers would manage their citrus. Regarding the first quarter and the engagement between the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Director-General, he asked for an update and further inputs from the Department submitted in writing on this issue. This would assist with tracking this matter.
He said that the Committee could perhaps schedule an engagement for more in-depth discussion so there was more of an understanding of what the alternative was for farmers, going forward. He said, at the previous session, he had raised the issue of FMD, which meant farmers faced challenges and were not able to export their meat and animal products to countries such as Botswana.
Mr Masipa said that neighbouring countries such as Botswana still sell livestock to South Africa. Botswana had a similar issue with FMD but was still able to sell to South Africa and was dumping a lot of its winners on this side. He said the challenge was that South African farmers could not sell to neighbouring countries. Botswana had purchased livestock from the United States of America (USA). He asked what was being done to ensure that farmers were protected, as there had been a drop in prices. In his personal experience, the drop in livestock prices was about 30% in Limpopo.
Regarding farmers and the agricultural sector experiencing several challenges, such as loadshedding, he asked if the Director General could perhaps touch on the impact that load shedding has on performance. He said that GDP numbers had been released and the agriculture sector’s performance was terrible despite the Department’s presentation stating that they were doing well.
Regarding the USA reconsidering their position on AGOA, Mr Masipa asked if the Director-General could brief the Committee on the Department's engagements with their USA counterpart on this matter.
Mr Masipa said that he had no questions for the Commission.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) welcomed the presentation from the Department. She noted a recurring trend of not achieving the target of paying invoices within 30 days. Ms Tshwete was concerned about this because it was still recurring despite the Department's promise to improve this. Ms Tshwete asked what the Department was doing to ensure that 100% of the invoices were paid.
Ms Tshwete said that her second issue pertained to the trend of underspending in terms of land reform, administration and restitution. She asked the Department what would be done to address this trend. She said this was because, year after year, there was underspending. Ms Tshwete said there were set targets under administration that were not achieved in both the third and fourth quarters. She asked for an explanation regarding this.
Ms Tshwete said that, under administration, vacancies were not filled, and this affected many sectors. One of these sectors was the veterinary strategy that spoke directly to the FMD issue in Mpumalanga. She asked for an explanation for the delays in the filling of vacancies.
She noted improvements in the fourth quarter regarding the number of hectares acquired for farm dwellers or labourers, but she was concerned that these targets were not achieved, and this was the case in 2021/2022. The targets not being achieved reflected the Department's lack of commitment to securing tenure for people living on these farms.
Furthermore, there was a court judgment which resulted in the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner as an effort to address the pace at which the Department was moving. She said it was in contempt of the court judgment that the court and the Department hoped to achieve what would not be achieved. She asked why this was the case.
She said that the Department reported that one of the issues regarding programme four was that they underspent on stipends to National Rural Youth Service Corps Programme (NARYSEC) beneficiaries. The Department stated that the underspending was due to a policy change. She asked the Department to explain what informed the policy changes. Ms Tshwete said that she was concerned about what was being done to young people. This was the same programme that the Committee questioned and suggested that the training model used needed to be changed because it did not speak to young people in agriculture. She said that the Department responded that changes were being made to the training model but now stipends were not being paid.
She said the Committee also questioned the fact that these young people were being trained and taken to another side programme. This was because they came back unemployable. She asked the Department to explain how they were going to change what they were doing under this programme to ensure its success.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) said there was a presentation on non-financial performance. He said it was unacceptable even under the administration programme that was a report referred to as non-financial because all government programmes were funded. Mr Matiase asked what the DALRRD means by non-financial performance since all government programmes were funded.
On COVID-19, the Department reported that R1.5 million had been spent on goods and services. He asked if a huge Department such as the DALRRD could spend so little over three years because it seemed strange. He asked if the Department could tell the Committee what the funds were spent on.
In terms of Programme Three, Mr Matiase conquered the statements made by Mr Masipa. He said that the capacity of the Department which included its entities. On Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), he said that there were animal-related disease outbreaks from time to time. At one point, the Department considered funding the OBP directly. In light of the vaccination shortages and procurement issues, the Department should consider setting aside a certain amount for OBD. He was aware that it did not look good in terms of CPAs, and said that the Committee was not getting the full picture of whether the challenges asides from the CPAs had been attended to. There seems to be no commitment or programme dedicated to assisting CPAs over and above the capacity building, training and skills due to the lack of land settlement support.
Mr Matiase said that this Committee must express its displeasure with the lack of improvement. He said Programme Four had two set targets in terms of rural development in the third and fourth quarters. These targets were met, but Mr Matiase said the Department set the bar so low that it was certain to achieve its targets. Due to the low bar that the Department set, its meeting of targets should not be considered to be an achievement.
Mr Matiase said the expenditures for the third and fourth quarters were R304 million and R508 million, respectively. There was no information on what this money was spent on. The only thing mentioned was that the targets were met. He asked what the money was spent on because rural towns and villages were still underdeveloped. He said if there was information on what the funds were spent on, a link could be made with the visible concrete rural development. He said that they were failing to develop rural towns and villages. Villages, especially in the Eastern Cape, remained the same as before 1994. He asked what programme the Department was undertaking to develop rural areas. This was so something could be said about what the Department was doing and delivering on the ground.
Mr S Dlamini (ANC) said that he preferred to listen to the comments that the other Members of the Committee made. He said that he would listen for the Chairperson’s conclusion.
The Chairperson said to Mr Dlamini said the Committee wanted his comments on the presentations. They wanted Mr Dlamini to engage with the presentation.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) commended the Commission’s work in finalising land claims. She noted that there were provinces where targets had not been achieved in terms of the CRLR. She asked what the reason for the non-achievement was and what would be done to ensure these provinces did not fall behind. She expressed concern with the number of delayed claims due to outstanding Office of the Valuator General (OVG) evaluations.
Regarding the DALRRD, she noted that a Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed between the CRLR, Department and the OVG. The SLA pertained to evaluations conducted by the OVG and was signed to assist with these evaluations. She noted that there was a capacity issue at the OVG and asked what the DALRRD was doing to ensure that these challenges were addressed and not impacting acquisition, restitution and land claims.
In terms of the CPAs, she recounted that last year, there was a session on the CPAs and the issues experienced. Mr Breedt said that the progress was commendable but it still was not reflected in terms of achievement. She wanted an update from the DALRRD on whether there would be a rethinking of the CPAs and their implementation. She asked if this had been done, if it had bared fruit, and if there was an improvement with the number, management and progress on CPAs.
Ms Breedt said that she also had questions on payment of invoices, filling of vacancies, FMD facility and continued battle with FMD. In the first few slides, there was mention of 742 extension officer contracts signed out of 2 500. It was also mentioned that 3 566 extension officers were appointed. Ms Breedt asked if the 3 566 extension officers had signed contracts and if the 958 people that had not signed contracts were included in the 3 566 number. She what the Department was doing to ensure that extension officers were employed and had the necessary paperwork so the work could be done.
On NARYSEC, she noted that there was an overachieving of targets focused on students trained. She wanted to know if the 1 000 and something students had access to jobs. This was because it was observed that, although students were trained, they had no access to the job market. Ms Breedt asked if their trained students did have access to the market and how many were employed.
Concerning underspending on programmes, she said that her understanding of underspending was that money was not spent because programmes were not completed. She asked if there was a reason for the chronic underspending and if it was due to vacancies or if no physical projects were done. She feared funds would not be rolled over to the next financial year but directed back to Treasury if not spent.
Mr N Capa (ANC), in terms of the first presentation and its last slide, said the Director-General mentioned talks of continuous engagement. Mr Capa said to the DG that this sounded too polite and euphemistic, and he preferred if it did not just indicate continuous engagement but also that it who would be engaged and that they would be engaged on what to change. He said a timeframe also needs to be added for understanding because continuous engagement could take years.
On expenditure and the reasons the Department listed in the slides, he said what was needed to assist the Committee in a plan for overcoming this issue. This was so that if the Committee needed to do something to assist, it could.
With NARYSEC and the non-payment, his concern was that this programme, in terms of rural development, was fighting two of the three evils, poverty and unemployment. He said this was the reason why the young people joined the programme. However, if the programme does not pay stipends, it negatively affects the candidates. This could deter those who need the programme from participating which would mean the programme would fail to achieve its objective. He also asked about the policy affecting NARYSEC – what its origins were and if it was permanent or subject to change. The policy, if permanent, would continue to negatively impact the DALRRD’s performance and creditability. Young people had begun to trust the Department and the goal of this programme.
Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked if the Department had intervened with the reported avian flu affecting meat and egg production on farms in certain provinces. He also asked if the Department had intervened and what their interventions were, especially regarding the new poultry farmers in the affected areas.
He said that the Committee had touched on the issue of CPAs and the trust. Inkosi Cebekhulu said that his concern was with the trust and its beneficiaries, and how these beneficiaries were left in the cold after the election of trust committees. In some instances, the people on trust committees did not live in these communities and, as a result, did not come back to the communities to hold meetings to address the issue of disbursement of funds to beneficiaries.
He said that the trustees’ treatment of the beneficiaries was not right. He asked who could assist in ensuring the beneficiaries' cries were attended to. He said that there were people in some CPAs that did not care to hold meetings and meet beneficiaries and representatives of the families.
On land claims, Inkosi Cebekhulu said that he wanted clarity on the subdivision of land restored to beneficiaries by officials. He asked why, in some instances, the Commission purchased farms for beneficiaries which officials then subdivided certain portions of for the claimants and left the rest without explanation.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC), on the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, appreciated the number of claims settled and finalised, which exceeded the target set at the end of 2022/2023. She said that, financially, it showed a commitment from the Commission to settle and finalise outstanding claims. Ms Mahlo said, however, that the targets were not achieved in some provinces. She asked for an explanation as to why the targets were not achieved in some provinces. She also wanted an indication of the measures and processes the Department would put in place to fast-track the settling and finalising of land claims in these provinces.
Ms Mahlo said it was also a concern that, despite interventions in previous years to address issues of delays in finalising the OVG’s evaluations, it was still a challenge that resulted in the Commission not meeting targets. Ms Mahlo asked the Department how they assisted the CRLR with finalising land claims that were outstanding in provinces.
Ms Mahlo noted that the matter of untraceable claimants was recurrent. In this regard, she asked the Commission what the interventions were, as this was not clear in the presentations. She asked for the strategies the CRLR was using to trace these untraceable claimants.
Ms Mahlo posed another question to the Commission. Ms Mahlo asked why the settlement of outstanding claims was adopted under the backlog reduction strategy that the Commission presented. She said that, in the Committee’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) targets for the Commission, it was mentioned that the CRLR reported quarterly on their progress in achieving the KUYASA project objective; these were linked to their achievement.
Her concern was the underspending on the budget for households – which was a critical budget. This budget spoke to the Commission’s mandate of settling and finalising land claims. She asked the Commission to explain the underspending in terms of this critical budget.
Ms Mahlo had a problem with a section that provided detailed information that was disregarded by programmes. She said that Programmes one, three and four in the financial periods from 2020 to 2023 showed a consistent occurrence of FMD outbreaks in South Africa. They also showed the disruptive economic consequences of these outbreaks. Ms Mahlo said that it is important that the DALRRD provided proactive actions or evaluated the efficiency of its control measures.
Ms Mahlo's observation concerning the Committee’s oversight trip to Mpumalanga was the issue of high vacancy rates and their negative impact on the broad implementation of the veterinary strategy. She said that this matter needed to be addressed.
In terms of small-scale farmers confined within the FMD protection zone, she noted that these farmers were experiencing economic hardships due to the restrictions on the movement and sale of livestock. Ms Mahlo said that her opinion on this was that the DALRRD needed to give the Committee a full account of the reasons why small-scale farmers whose livestock was recalled as part of control measures were not compensated by the state.
Ms Mahlo indicated that she was about to board her plane. If there was something else, the Chairperson and the Committee would assist.
Mr Masipa noted that Ms T Mbabama (DA) and Mr H Kruger (DA) had sent an apology that they would not be attending.
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) said that his issue concerned land development support implemented by DALRRD. He commented that credit should be given when due, and the Committee needed to appreciate that the Department achieved its target even if the target was low. Mr Montwedi noted that the DALRRD reached their target for farms supported through the land development support programme, which was important given that the Department failed to achieve this target the previous year.
He asked the Department to share a list of the farms the programme supported, the areas the farms were located, the kind of support provided and the current status of those farms in the last three years. Mr Montwedi said that this list was needed for the Committee’s oversight and would allow the Committee to see the impact of implementing these programmes.
Mr Montwedi noted that the presentation mentioned delays with State Information Technology Agency (SITA) which resulted in the Department not being able to spend money. In terms of business plans, it was known that SITA was slow in regard to their preparation. He said clients who went to SITA directly complained about the timelines and wanted to know if the Department thought their reliance on SITA was setting them up for failure. He also asked if there was an option to prepare your business plan and not wait for SITA.
On the revitalisation of the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme announced in 2014, he recounted that the Minister had checked up on the scheme in Taung two years ago. Mr Montwedi said the Minister made many commitments regarding this scheme. He asked that the Department submit in writing an update on the progress of the scheme and the commitments the Minister made regarding the scheme.
He said that this was important because the irrigation scheme not working affected black farmers who were now not able to work their land. He said that the Department was made up of mostly black people but was failing the irrigation scheme.
He asked the DG to respond to his concern about the irrigation scheme.
On the Commission, he said the Committee should appreciate the number of supported CPAs. With the infinite challenges faced by CPAs, he wanted to know if the Commission still thought CPAS were the best vehicle for communal land ownership.
He said that the improvement in the fourth quarter concerning the number of hectares acquired for farm dwellers was worth noting. He said that it was still a concern that, in the third and fourth quarters, the target was not achieved and was also not achieved in the 2021/2022 financial year. He asked if this was an indication of a lack of commitment from the Department to improve the security of tenure. He also asked what the Department was to do differently to ensure the performance target was reached in the 2023/2024 year.
The Chairperson welcomed the presentations. On the Commission’s acceleration of settlements of old order land claims, the Chairperson appreciated the meeting of targets. He said, however, that the challenge with the old order claims backlog and claims from 2014 remained. The Chairperson said that the focus should be on overseeing the backlog reduction strategy and the establishment of an autonomous CRLR.
The Chairperson said a key issue was the budget allocation and capacity to spend the budget effectively. On the budget matter, he said that the Committee would reflect on it, as there were things it could do to assist. He wanted the Director General of the DALRRD and the Chief Land Claims Commissioner to tell the Committee what they were doing to ensure that National Treasury understood the need for an increase in allocation for land restitution so land claims could be finalised. He said this was because the Commissioner on numerous occasions, decried a lack of funds. The Chairperson asked how they would mobilise and convince National Treasury that more funding was needed.
He said that, although there was an overall achievement of targets, it was concerning that five out of the nine provinces did not meet their targets for the finalisation of land claims. He asked the Commissioner to explain the reason for this outcome. He also asked the Commissioner for an update on the Ramorula Community court judgement. He said it was his understanding that the court rejected the community’s claim based on it being frivolous, as the area was not a community as defined in the Restitution of Land Rights Act.
The Chairperson said his concern was that the court imposed punitive costs against the Commissioner and the Minister. Although he was not privy to the details of the case, it did point to challenges with the research capacity of the Commission. He was concerned that the delays in land claims made communities vulnerable to fraudsters. The Chairperson said that he saw a statement on the Department’s website stating that fraudulent activities targeted land claimants. The Commission seemed to be aware that communities were being subjected to scams such as people claiming they could fast-track land claims. The Chairperson said that this trend needed to be nipped in the bud. He asked what the Commission was doing about this and the extent of this challenge.
The Chairperson invited the DALRRD and Commission to respond to the Committee’s concerns.
The Director-General (DG) thanked the Chairperson and appreciated the Committee’s insightful comments. He said what was important was the guidance the Committee provided. The Department would respond to the guidance provided but would implement and consider it.
The DG said there were six areas to which the DALRRD needed to respond. He requested that the Chairperson allow his colleagues to go through all the responses. He noted that their responses would also be followed with a written submission from the Department. The DG listed the names of the officials who would be responding and which areas their responses would focus on. The DG said he would respond to the issues not covered by his colleagues and to the question about the National Treasury and the budget for land restitution.
Mr Oreokame Choche, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DALRRD, apologised for his connectivity issues and introduced himself. Mr Choche, regarding ICT procurement, noted there were challenges with turnaround times. He said that this was because, in terms of the SITA Act and regulations, certain mandated goods and services had to be procured through SITA. He indicated that there had been an intervention meeting between the Office of the Chief Information Office (OCIO) and SITA account managers. These meetings were between February and March, and three contracts were awarded through SITA’s procurement process. Towards the end of the financial year, there was some movement but such services were likely to be paid during the 2023/2024 year.
Mr Choche responded that, in terms of invoice payments, the DALRRD was making an effort to ensure 100% payment within 30 days. For the financial year, the Department had achieved just below 100% and it intended to improve its invoice payment turnaround time. There was an awareness campaign where pop-up messages were sent on the Department’s internal communication system. These messages were meant to make colleagues aware of their roles regarding assisting Finance with the payment of invoices within 30 days. He said that property rate payments required the property management directorate to first verify the properties before signing the invoices to be paid. He said that the Department had engaged with these directorates in the provinces so that a solution to fast-tracking their process of verification could be found. This was to enable fast payment.
In its action plan, the Department, also emphasised the importance of a central receipt point at both national and provincial offices. This was because one of the challenges that caused delays was that invoices were sometimes not emailed but hand delivered and finance was not aware that the invoice was with the Department.
Mr Choche said that this single receipt point had to be communicated to the suppliers to assist the Department with improving its performance in this regard. He said that the DALRRD also tested the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s (DPWI) system which seemed to work. The DPWI’s system was called Rea a Patala. He said that the DALRRD, together with the OCIO, attended a demonstration of this system earlier in the fourth quarter. The demonstration went well, and the DALRRD anticipated testing out the system before the end of June 2023. If this test went well and the stakeholders were happy, the Department would deem it cost-effective to use the DPWI’s system. Using this system would be at no cost to the DALRRD.
He said that this system was an automated invoice movement system. Once an invoice reached the Department, it would be out on the system. Line function end users will be able to certify the invoice from the office or outside the office through email. He said a response could be made via email, enabling finance to process the payment if the end user agreed that the service was rendered satisfactorily.
Mr Choche said that the Department hoped these interventions would be implemented from the second quarter onwards so that the DALRRD could achieve 100% of its target.
Ms Kgomotso Kgang, Chief Director: Human Resource Management, DALRRD, thanked the Chairperson and greeted everyone in attendance. She responded to the issue of the Department’s capacity and said that there were 7 585 vacancies approved, of which 5 067 had been filled. In terms of Senior Management Service (SMS) capacity, there were 417 approved posts, of which 380 were filled. In terms of the Department, she said there were 1 611 approved posts, of which 1 076 were filled. She said there are also 262 vacant positions at a 19.52% vacancy rate.
Ms Kgang said there were also 809 vacant positions with a 12.4% vacancy rate. The Department acknowledged there were delays with filling positions due to challenges the DALRRD was attending to. In terms of interventions planned, the DG advised them to set out a recruitment strategy addressing these challenges that would be presented to the Department.
Ms Kgang said, in terms of filling the position, a key challenge was personal suitability checks. There were interviews conducted and 93 positions to fill. In filling these positions, the Department was stuck at the personal suitability test stage. She said that there was a service provider. From time to time, other departments were assisting the Department with these tests. These tests were mandatory for hiring someone.
Ms Kgang said that, because the executive positions needed to be filled, the Department used other mechanisms to finalise this process. There was a challenge with the unavailability of solution committee members, which affected their ability to fast-track the filling of positions. She said that an SLA was signed that ensured that the process could start once a post was advertised. There was also a contract with the line manager that one certain day that the final positions would run and be finished. Ms Kgang said that the Department was of the view that the recruitment strategy requested by the DG would fast-track the recruitment process.
She then responded to the issue the Committee identified regarding state veterinary vacancies. Seven vacant posts were advertised. There were three shortlisted posts and two where no suitable candidates were found. For one of the three shortlisted posts, interviews would be conducted in June. She said that the Department was head-hunting for two of the posts. The rest were currently being advertised. There was progress being made with this issue.
There was an established partnership with SITA regarding the ICT challenges. She said that there had been good progress made in terms of this partnership. Progress was made with the checkpoint appliances, Wi-Fi equipment and switches ordered through SITA. Progress was also made through this partnership with software data processors, projectors, router systems and switches that modernised the Department’s systems. Ms Kgang also noted that there had been progress in terms of biometric solutions through the partnership with SITA.
Regarding ICT, it had to be said that, although progress was being made, which included purchases being progressed, the frequent meetings with SITA assisted the Department in securing equipment. This was because the equipment could only be procured through SITA. The procurement resulted from the Department being locked in a contract with SITA. Progress was being made, and the Department would ensure this progress was registered with all outstanding matters. She asked Mr Rebaone Phuti, Acting Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DALRRD, to deal with questions about the Department’s interventions and performance.
Mr Phuti responded to the question about the decline in land administration. He said the indicated decline in administration referred to the number of targets achieved. He said that what was achieved in the fourth quarter decreased by two compared to the third quarter. There was a decrease in the achievement rate in the fourth quarter. He responded to the issue of targets for rural development being set too low and said various factors were considered when setting targets. This process was not a thumb-sucking exercise. The Department considered things such as capacity, resources and state of readiness before setting targets. Concerning extension officers, he said that all 3 566 officers had signed contracts, including those mentioned in the annual report. The 742 officers mentioned were just an indication of the progress made during the third quarter.
Mr Phuti said that farmers would receive information on the land development support programme. The DALRRD had this information and supporting documentation. In terms of issues around SITA, he said the Economic Development, Trade and Marketing (EDTM) had identified the business planning issue as an area needing strengthening. Without answering the question of whether farmers were allowed to do business planning on their own, as this was operational to be answered by the branch, EDTM did note that this issue.
On the land tenure targets and whether there was an appetite to achieve these targets, Mr Phuti said that, if one looked at the deviation rates, there was a decline between the third and fourth quarters. In the third quarter, the DALRRD underachieved by close to 2 000 and in the fourth quarter, by close to 400. This was evidence of movement. Mr Phuti said that the reality was that, in the fourth quarter, the collecting and sourcing of documents were challenging because the Department was looking at the closing of the financial year while also collecting information for annual reporting. He said that most of the time, it was found that information available in the fourth quarter was not fully validated at the time. Some of this information was completed whilst the Department was doing its annual reporting, hence the targets for land tenure stating 270 had been achieved all in all.
Mr Nasele Mehlomakulu, DDG: Food Security and Agrarian Reform, DALRRD, said that Mr Phuti had covered both his questions. He greeted everyone in attendance and said that the list of the land development support programme farmers would be made available to the Committee. He said that the Committee had made this request and a written submission on the programme, since 2019, had been made to the Committee. He said that the Department would ensure that a written submission was compiled again on this. Mr Mehlomakulu confirmed that the extension officers mentioned all had existing contracts.
Mr Bongikosi Zulu, Chief Director, DALRRD, on the CPAs details, he said that, beyond what was presented and seen in the APP performance, were contained in the CPA annual report that would be tabled to this Committee and Parliament by September or October. This report was being finalised and would contain more details on the diverse challenges the CPAs faced. He said that there were 1 770 registered CPAs that the Department managed across all provinces. These CPAs had their own dynamics and diverse challenges identified. He said that the Department was in the process of addressing these issues.
Mr Zulu said that the Minister, accompanied by the Deputy Ministers, had conducted oversight visits in each province meeting CPAs. Information was collected from each province as well as their action plans. The issues that were raised during these oversight visits were being worked on. The Department looked at these issues with the Minister, Deputy Ministers and others. Mr Zulu said that the DALRRD was reviewing the CPA policy to address challenges. The Department presented, to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Agriculture and Land Reform, its thoughts on the issues and the areas that needed to be strengthened. This presentation would form part of the review of the policy. This process has started.
He said that the Department had overachieved on APP targets, but this did not resolve all the challenges faced. This was especially true with commercial activities. He said issues were identified concerning CPAs and family claims, and they were noted as something needing to be addressed. Mr Zulu noted that there were disputes between families in CPAs or traditional leadership where CPAs existed under the jurisdiction of traditional leadership. He said that the trusts were managed through the office of the master, which was under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. These trusts were managed in terms of the Communal Property Trust Act.
Mr Zulu said there were 1 477 land reform trusts across South Africa, which were holding land on behalf of communities for redistribution or tenure. He said there were engagements with the Department of Justice and had written a letter on a proposed Bill to the Minister of DALRRD. The Department of Justice wanted all land reform trusts to be transferred to the Department and converted into similar entities under the CPA Act. He said that the DALRRD responded to the letter with their input in terms of the proposed Bill.
Mr Zulu said they were working with the Office of the Master and the Department of Justice to resolve issues. He noted that they did get litigated by trusts when attempting to intervene with issues. This was because trusts did not want them to interfere in some instances. This meant the DALRRD and Office of the Master ended up as facilitators when it concerned disputes between trust members. His colleagues were correct – in the fourth quarter and annual performance, the Department overachieved its target for the acquisition of hectares for farm dwellers by 200 hectares. However, there were still challenges with processes and land owners declining offers from the OVG. In the last year, there were 63 rejected offers but there were still 47 offers which the Department was working on and would hopefully be successful. This was part of their commitment to meet their target of securing long-term tenure for farm dwellers as working on these offers would assist with this.
He said that there are still issues with the settlements for labour tenants. There were still 9 000 outstanding settlements in this regard. He said that the Department was working with the special master on interventions to fast-track the issues of landowners denying the status of labour tenants.
Their only solution was to refer all matters to court, which is what they were currently doing to fast-track these settlements.
Ms Nomtandazo Moyo, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Rural Development, said, in terms of NARYSEC, the policy had been present since the programme’s inception in 2011. There was an amendment affected concerning the policy in March 2022. This amendment is related to adding a pillar in the implementation framework. Before this amendment, there were issues with recruitment and how it was done. It spoke to skills development, which was the training that was done with 17 000 young people since 2011. There was no provision for linking trained young people with jobs or opening their enterprises. The policy was then amended to include a provision to ensure that trainees were linked to jobs. This was to ensure that the programme was not just training the masses. Implementation of the introduced pillar started in the 2022/23 year, with the intake that started on 18 July 2022 and finished on 22 October 2022 at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). It started with the skills programme in November, which was still in progress.
Ms Moyo said there were records that all trainees from the time of the pass-out had received the stipend. These records could be made available. She said that the reason stated for underspending was incorrect was not the non-payment of stipends. There were monthly records of the two types of stipends the trainees received. The first stipend was R1 320, and it was received monthly immediately after the pass-out. Once the trainees started going to TVET Colleges, a R2 180 stipend for accommodation was received.
She reiterated that these records could be made available. Ms Moyo noted that there was a delay in the third quarter, but this was the South African Army. The Department started in July and therefore could not receive monthly invoices. There were no invoices for July, August, September, October, November, December and January. The Army was not able to generate monthly invoices and invoices were therefore received in March. She said that finance did not journal in March but in April, when they were consolidating the annual financial statement.
The policy was also amended because previously young people at finished grade 12 were eligible. The Department decided to reduce this requirement to grade nine as not everyone has the opportunity to do grade 12. Another amendment pertained to upskilling trainees who wanted to strengthen their skills. She said that it was also because there were also trainees who had been trained in 2011, 2012 and 2013 who were still unemployed and who the Department wanted to retain to meet opportunities in the sector. Ms Moyo said that they could make the policy available to the Committee.
On trainees being linked to jobs: it was not present in the initial policy the Department was only looking at this now. This was because had raised this issue on numerous occasions. She said that the DALRRD had reached on the students trained since 2011 to ask them to complete a survey on their phones on whether they were employed or running businesses. This was so that, if there were unemployed students, the Department could upskill them and link them to jobs. She said the Department struggled to ensure all students were employed because this depended on both the public and private sectors participating. There has been improvement in this regard, and the Department could share the current intake that started on 08 May. This intake would have their pass out on 14 July, and almost 98 had been linked to jobs even before finishing. She said this was their second opportunity to implement the revised policy and the student training aligning with the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan. Ms Moyo said that some young people still wanted to do construction or ICT was allowed to do so. However, they wanted to ensure the majority of young people were a direct or indirect contribution to the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan.
On the failing rural towns and villages, Ms Moyo said that there were challenges. The Department had done its assessment working with the Provincial Shared Services Centres. The Department also engaged with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) which had a revitalisation strategy. The Department was working with COGTA on an action plan and had also roped in the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) in terms of their Economic Development Zones. The plan was to ensure that one plan within the District Development Model could assist with the 44 districts, rural areas and eight metros. The DALRRD also developed an integrated rural development strategy which the Minister signed in March. This strategy consisted of a framework and directive to all different provincial departments responsible for rural development. This development is coordinated from national, down to provincial and municipal levels, working with the private sector. This strategy could also be made available to the Committee.
Ms Moyo said that the number of students reached depended on the budget. The NARYSEC budget in 2021 was R220 million but was reduced by 45% in 2022/2023 and reduced further in 2023/2024.
On the issue of funding raised, the Director-General said there was specific reference to the completion of old order claims. He wanted to indicate three variables at play. These variables were the number of claims, resources, and the time it would take – which was determined by resources.
The DG said that Project Kuyasa presented a strategy to deal with the issues around the claims. He said what was left was something to be presented to the National Treasury as part of the Department’s bid for 2024/2025. The Department needed to reflect the timelines in terms of the resources that were needed over three years, two-year periods and four-year periods.
The DG said that it was clear from engagements over the last two years with the Commission that it had done well with ensuring the budget was spent and also settled a sizeable settlement of land claims.
He said that the Department was working with the Commission to ensure that this year's targets were importantly dealt with. The DG said that there are a lot of competing demands on the budget at the moment. This was because the Government’s budget was constricted. The Department would strive to ensure that the fund to assist in terms of timelines was available.
The Department’s financial planning and the impact thereof on vacancies was the chicken and egg story because of not spending. Alternatively, over the last three years, the DALRRD has realised that this year would not be a good year in terms of compensation of employees. It was highlighted in terms of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) cycle. The Department was ensuring that the outer years where there was a brighter outlook issue, were dealt with decisively.
On national performance, an issue that needed to be raised was the need for agreed-to-stretch targets around the organisation.
However, it was also important to look at targets and the available budget. The DG said that, in dealing with issues in rural areas, the Minister, in her intervention during the Budget Vote, indicated that the revitalisation of rural areas was in the works. This indication was not just born out of engagement, but the National Agricultural Marketing Council had done a study. This study stated that rural spaces, including state land, redistributed land and communal areas, could yield R159 billion with a R5 billion investment. This was also part of the stretched targets.
On the question on the Valhaarts Irrigation Scheme, he said that it was something done at a provincial level. As a Department, they were willing to come and update the Committee on progress. He said that Mr Montwedi’s frustration with these issues was palpable, and asked him to share them so they could be ventilated with the DG’s colleagues at a provincial level.
On the biosecurity issues, he said that it was the new currency of the world. Non-tariff barriers were being used. South Africa was not the only country; this was happening all over.
The DG said that the next level was around geopolitics that was not assisting the process of negotiation the Department was undertaking. He said that this was a political issue that needed to be looked at. Relating to the engagements with the European Union, the DG said that engagements continued, as indicated in the last meeting they had Department with the Committee. Through the DTIC, government was setting up a group that would look at this matter for resolution through the WTO resolution dispute mechanism.
The DG said, relating to FMD: scholars had recorded the impact of FMD in South Africa regarding economic or opportunity costs. He said that it was important for South Africa to recoup. He said that this week the Department would be engaging with Saudi Arabia. This engagement would pertain to compliance and the exporting of red meat to Saudi Arabia. The Department was also expecting a visit from China in July regarding South Africa’s red meat value chain and resuming engagements on exporting beef to China. The Department was also looking into codifying its current work with FMD. He said there had been no new outbreaks, and the Department was working on a system to ensure the regaining of some of the country’s status. He did not want to be loud because the work needed was still huge. There still needed to be a submission of scientific papers and arguments, which still needed to be done and finalised before the World Organisation on Animal Health could be approached.
The last question was on African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). He noted popular media discussion on AGOA and its impact on agriculture. He said that, from the Department’s side, there were items communities were getting in the US market tariff free like citrus. He said that the Department’s engagements with the US were at a technical level. And in terms of this, the Department could be expansive. The expansive nature would be with the products that the US wanted to share with South Africa and the products South Africa wanted to share with the US. He said there was no guarantee though that South Africa would be participating in AGOA, as this would be determined at a political level. He said that the Department would ensure engagements were happening at a technical level. This issue would be included in the Department’s written responses to the Committee.
Commission on Restitution on Land Rights
Mr Francois Beukman, Deputy Chief Land Claims Commissioner, thanked the Committee Members for their support of the core business of the Commission. He said there were specific concerns with the report that the Committee raised, which his colleagues would deal with.
On the backlogs in certain provinces, especially big provinces, he said that the targets were not met in terms of the big provinces. He said the targets were missed by five, six or three. This was not acceptable, and the Committee’s concerns were valid. He said the problem was that the process to conclude a land claim in section 6 of the Act was 11 steps. He said that, from the Commission’s side, these four issues would be addressed in the coming months.
There was close management of implementation because the standing operating procedures were improved, and provinces needed to adhere to this. Provinces that were struggling with the 11 steps perhaps needed to get the necessary support. Mr Beukman said that the research of complex cases, especially in rural areas where there were competing claims or disputes, needed attention and proactive management. The head office would monitor this closely. He said that what was important was planning and ensuring that per quarter the necessary steps were done as per the Act. He also said that there would be ensuring of the early warning systems in place to provide support.
Mr Beukman said that in terms of the Ramorula case: the Chairperson was right and raised important questions. From the Commission’s perspective, it raised the question of research and legal advice. He said this case was from 2007 and enrolled in the land claim court in 2010. The judgment was handed on 31 May. The Commission’s legal counsel was studying the report, and the Commission would give a response to the Committee on this. If there were issues in the case, there were rectification steps.
Mr Sunjay Singh (Chief Director: Restitution Management Support, Commission on Restitution of Land Rights) greeted everyone in attendance and apologised for the absence of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner who had an operation. On the underperforming provinces, he said that the issue was the Commission’s structure.
He said that the Commission to deal with these provinces with outstanding claims divided the bigger and smaller provinces. The interventions would be according to the steps stated by Mr Beukman. Mr Singh responded to the subdivisions of farms after an award. He said that the subdividing usually occurred after the award was done. He said he was confused as to why subdivision was happening after this, and this was perhaps a matter of the fundamentals of the case.
Mr Singh said, in terms of untraceable claimants: the Department wrote letters and advertised in local newspapers. There were also appointments regarding a service provider that tracked these claimants. He said the last resort was the gazetting of those claims to indicate the claimants had 21 days to respond. If there were no responses, it was referred to the courts. This indicated that the claimants were untraceable and needed to be taken off the list. He indicated that the Commission's legal team was engaging with the State Attorney’s Office on a method to approach the court.
Regarding the issue of funding that the DG spoke about, Mr Singh said that it was clear that it was a double-edged sword in terms of the new planning cycle and how it related to the backlog strategy. This was because if additional household funding was needed concerning the settlement of claims, it required resources in the form of warm bodies because just money would not work. He said that the Commission would see how to mitigate this issue with National Treasury in the upcoming new planning cycle.
Regarding the CPAs being the best vehicle for land ownership, he said there would be a report on this released on this. There had been fraudulent claimants, and the Commission referred them to law enforcement agencies per the Commission’s policy.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and Commission for their responses.
Agricultural Research Council – Feedback on Q3 and Q4 Performance (FY2022/2023)
Dr Joyene Isaacs, Chairperson, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Dr Litha Magingxa , Chief Executive Officer, ARC, and Mr Abdul Carim, Chief Executive Officer, ARC, proceeded with the ARC’s presentation.
Quarter Three and Quarter Four Highlights
- ARC Inter Campus Research Conference
- First detection of alfalfa mosaic virus on cannabis in South Africa
- Tortoise beetle successfully controls invasive Mexican sunflower
- The TELA Maize Project
- Enhancement of facilitation skills at Mpumalanga
- Potato enterprise development in North West
- Equipping officials for climate change response
- Think SADC – e-learning programme
- Agricultural development support for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique
- The launch of “Transforming food systems and agriculture” (TSARA) and 1st AGM
- Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Forum (AERAP)
- The 2022 ARC National Beef Performers Awards
- 2022 ARC National Master Dairyman Awards
- Mitigating against the impacts of load shedding.
Quarter Three Performance Information
- Targets met = 24 (53%)
- Targets not met = 21 (47%)
Quarter three targets met:
- Outcome one = one
- Outcome two = four
- Outcome three = four
- Outcome four = ten
- Outcome five = four
- Outcome six = one
Quarter three targets not met:
- Outcome one = five
- Outcome two = four
- Outcome three = two
- Outcome four = six
- Outcome five = four
- Outcome six = zero
Quarter Four Performance Information
Quarter four targets met:
- Outcome one = four
- Outcome two = six
- Outcome three = seven
- Outcome four = twelve
- Outcome five = eight
Quarter four targets not met:
- Outcome one = two
- Outcome two = two
- Outcome three = one
- Outcome four = four
- Outcome five = one
ARC Financial Results FY2022/23
- External income was 34% below budget (R177 547 000)
- Other income 48% was above budget (R39 557 000)
- There was delayed spending on operating costs of 27% (R174 862 000)
- There over expenditure of 2% on personnel costs (R18 809 000)
- Cash reserves/ position R1.2bn
- Current Assets exceed current liabilities (R941m)
- Solvency and liquidity assessment satisfactory.
- Operational PG in line with the allocation letter.
- External income: 34% below YTD budget. Shortfall of R178m. 21% increase compared to prior year.
- Top six expenses account for R994m, six percent below YTD budget and six percent above the prior year.
Income Received in Advance
The income received in advance balance was R208 million.
- Cash and cash equivalents as at 31 March 2023 was R1.2 billion; 69% of which is invested at the CPD (which includes funds ring-fenced for the FMD Vaccine Production Facility Project).
Audit Improvement Plan – Qualification (Plan is Developed for Approval 15 September)
- Property, plant and equipment: physical verification for existence and completeness and land ownership;
- Irregular expenditure: accuracy of the irregular expenditure amount and consequence management;
- Contingent liabilities: scope limitation for estimates.
FMD Status Update (Process)
- The ARC undertook to develop a process for the production of FMD vaccines for use in Southern Africa.
- These efforts have culminated in establishment of technical expertise and infrastructure to consistently produce FMD antigens at 20-litre scale using suspension production technologies. This is sufficient to produce 20 000 doses.
- The FMD vaccine was registered on 20 May 2022, as a stock remedy under Act 36 of 1947. The registration certificate is valid for/renewable after three years.
- The ARC will be able to use the vaccine as part of DALRRD’s FMD prevention programme. DALRRD requested the ARC to provide FMD vaccines to be deployed on farms or feedlots affected by the current outbreaks of FMD in Free State, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng.
- The ARC has completed the formulation of 20 000 doses of pentavalent FMD vaccines using the stockpiled antigen for supply to the Department to be deployed at its discretion.
- Due to the recurrent FMD outbreaks in the country and the rest of the SADC region, the ARC increased production from the current 20-litre to 200-litre scale. Permission was granted to proceed with the procurement of the necessary infrastructure to produce the vaccine at 200-litre scale, which will be sufficient to produce 200 000 doses per annum.
FMD Status Update (Facility)
- A dedicated project manager to oversee the construction phase of the project has been appointed.
- Progress has been recorded against various building preparatory measures like management of land rights including necessary zoning, environmental, infrastructural/external services, legal requirements in relation to such land rights (Obtaining the title deed, Surveyor-General diagram, municipal account approval, etc.)
- The process of appointing the necessary service providers to design various aspects of the project (Process Engineer, Architectural Designer, Mechanical Engineers, and Quantity Surveyors) has been finalised. As a result, Phase One has been concluded and quantities are now being finalised.
- This built environment team will assist in finalising the building plans and oversee various stages of the FMD factory construction.
- The ARC has also initiated bilateral collaboration with the CSIR on advisory services and bringing existing norms and standards of the clinical and diagnostic building on leading technologies within the industry.
[See attached for the detailed presentation]
Briefing by the Ingonyama Trust Board: 2022/2023 Quarter Three-Four Performance and Expenditure
Mr Vela Mngwengwe, CEO, Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), and Mr Siyamdumisa Vilakazi, CFO, ITB, proceed with the ITB’s presentation.
- % of external audits management action plan implemented: target = 100%, and achieved = 0%
- % of internal audits management action plan implemented: target = 100%, and achieved = N/A
- Unqualified external audit opinion: target = N/A and achieved = N/A
- Stakeholder engagement strategy approved: target = draft stakeholder engagement strategy, and achieved = draft stakeholder engagement strategy.
Land and Tenure Management
- Number of land tenure rights approved by the Board: target = 200, and achieved = seven
- Number of quarterly updates of the Immovable Asset register: target = one, and achieved = one
- Number of Traditional Councils exposed to capacity building: target = eight, and achieved = seven
- Number of human settlement plans approved by the Board: target = two, and achieved = zero
Quarter Three Financial Report
Ingonyama Trust Board:
- Revenue = 10 618
- Expenditure = 8 055
- Surplus/Deficit = 2 563
- Revenue = 14 760
- Expenditure = 14 629
- Surplus/Deficit = 131 (The surplus is mainly due to the realised appreciation in equity investments.)
Quarter Four Non-Financial Report
- % of external audits management action plan implemented: target = 100%, and achieved = 42%
- % of internal audits management action plan implemented: target = 100%, and achieved = 0%
- Unqualified external audit opinion: target = N/A, and achieved = N/A
- Stakeholder engagement strategy approved: target = stakeholder engagement strategy approved, and achieved = N/L.
Land and Tenure Management
- Number of land tenure rights approved by the Board: target = 200, and achieved = zero
- Number of quarterly updates of the Immovable Asset register: target = one, and achieved = one
- Number of Traditional Councils exposed to capacity building: target = four, and achieved = seven
- Number of human settlement plans approved by the Board: target = one, and achieved = zero
Quarter Four Financial Report
Ingonyama Trust Board
- Revenue = 8 418
- Expenditure = 7 573
- Surplus/Deficit = 845
- Revenue = 18 623
- Expenditure = 8 940
- Surplus/Deficit = 9 683
[See attached for the detailed presentation]
Ms Thlape welcomed and appreciated both presentations, including the ARC’s participation. She also indicated that she followed the ARC on Twitter. She wanted to focus on the performance information in their presentation. Ms Thlape said that, despite the progress made and the indicated 79% improvement, when looking at the table with the ARC’s five targets, all of them had not been met across all quarters. She noted the third-quarter target figures and said that there was a huge difference, considering where the ARC was coming from. However, even if the ARC tried its best, it was not enough; more could be done. Despite the numbers, progress, stakeholder participation, international platforms and private partnerships, the Committee held the ARC accountable using the targets the entity had set for itself.
Ms Thlape appreciated that the ARC indicated satisfaction regarding the financials and liquidity. She said that the Committee was concerned about this entity. Regarding the financials, she wanted a reason for the two-per cent over-expenditure on personnel costs. She also wanted to know why there was a delay in spending on operating costs. Ms Thlape also wanted to know the reason for the -34% variance concerning external income.
Regarding the ITB, Ms Thlape noted that it was indicated that the organisation was in trouble and in distress. She recommended that the Committee focus on the mitigation plans presented to the Committee. This was because most of the reasons for the non-achievement of key targets were due to the Board not being able to convene during the period. Ms Thlape asked if the Board had now started convening so that the Committee Members could understand where they were and could focus on mitigation plans in their follow-ups.
She said that internal auditing was important. The ITB’s plan indicated the procurement of internal audit services in the first quarter. She asked what the progress with this was, because it was important. The Committee was waiting for the Board to convince them that these matters would be addressed. She said that the Board in place needed to be given the benefit of the doubt. She wanted to ensure the Board would convene and be held accountable concerning the mitigation plans.
Mr Masipa thanked the ARC and ITB for their presentations. His question was for the ARC and was concerned with the concept of One Health. He said that there was a Cholera outbreak, a communicable disease. One Health focused on ensuring interaction between animal health, human health and the environment. He asked if the ARC had any input regarding One Health and if the organisation had participated in forums and platforms concerned with zoonotic diseases. Mr Masipa wanted to know the ARC’s role in researching and sharing information on zoonotic diseases with people and farmers. He said this was because there was little communication about these diseases, especially in rural areas. Awareness was needed so that people were protected from these diseases.
Regarding the ITB, he thanked the new Board for their work. Mr Masipa liked the spirit of the new Board and said that it seemed as though the Board wanted to work with the Committee. He looked forward to working with the new Board.
On the ARC’s audit improvement plan and their property portfolio, Ms Tshwete said that the Committee was informed that the ARC was still locating or verifying their assets between the organisation and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI). Ms Tshwete asked for an update regarding this.
Ms Tshwete agreed with Ms Thlape regarding the needed focus on mitigation plans concerning the ITB. She noted that the ITB mentioned that there was no board. Therefore, the Board could not meet. She asked for a timeframe from the ITB in this regard. She said that the Board needs to present the mitigation plan to the Committee by the end of September. This was so that there could be some improvement on the matter.
Mr Dlamini said that his comment pertained to the ITB’s presentation. He said that he had listened to the presentation carefully and wanted to encourage the Board to work on the governance issues faced by the organisation. He also said the ITB needed to treat the issue of land with care, and this needed to be seen by the people. The work of ITB needed to be respected by the people.
Nkosi Cebekhulu said that he had no comments or questions.
Mr Capa thanked the ITB and ARC for their presentations. He had one question for the ARC which pertained to the virus detected in cannabis. He asked if the virus would affect indigenous cannabis cultivars or cultivars that had been around for centuries.
The Chairperson said he did not have many questions pertaining to the presentations. He wanted to ascertain whether the Board had convened for its first meeting or where would that first meeting would take place. He said this needed to be ascertained because the Committee could not wait indefinitely to engage with ITB thoroughly. The Committee wanted to understand the ITB’s challenges and plans for the future.
Responses from the ARC and ITB
Dr Isaacs said that the CEO of the ARC would respond to the questions.
The CEO of the ARC thanked the Committee, and noted that he was joined by his colleagues who would assist with responding to the Committee’s concerns. He said that Ms Thlape’s concern about ARC’s inadequate performance was noted. The ARC was being implored to improve its performance. He touched on some of the challenges the ARC faced. The issues the ARC faced pertained to third parties; some of their targets required third-party interactions to be achieved.
Dr Magingxa requested that his colleagues Dr Nthabiseng Motete, Dr Andrew Magadlela and Mr Carim respond to the Committee’s concerns.
Dr Motete responded to the issue of performance information and said that she acknowledged the reasons for the variance that the CEO had presented. As management, they had committed specific corrective measures to address the shortcomings regarding performance. With outstanding cultivars that needed to be registered, certain analysis from the plant development unit was needed. The analysis took longer than expected, and the end of the year arrived before the results were received. The ARC believed that, in this current financial year, they would be able to report on progress which would be positive.
Dr Motete said there was underperformance in areas and technical reports where the ARC projected services to be rendered in the sector. At times, these projections did not match due to demand for specific services, and also, in certain areas, the number of field days and some of the field trails that the ARC had undertaken. The organisation was committed to specific corrective measures that could be shared with the Committee in writing for monitoring purposes. She said that the DALRRD was also monitoring the ARC regarding these issues.
Regarding concern with the alfalfa mosaic virus and cannabis, Dr Motete said that the virus was also known as lucerne mosaic virus or potato calico virus. She said the virus did affect other commercial crops. Regarding indigenous crops, the ARC was monitoring the virus, as they regularly worked with African leafy vegetables. She said that nothing had been picked up yet, but if something was detected, the regulator would be notified and it would be reported accordingly. The virus was affecting certain commercial crops, and there were protocols for treatment. However, this was just a survey to ensure the ARC supported the promising emerging cannabis sector with the necessary technical tools. The ARC was being proactive.
In terms of water quality, Dr Motete said that the ARC had indicated that the mandate concerning water quality was that of the Department of Water and Sanitation. However, because the ARC was a science council that had a research mandate concerned with soil, water and climate and as a natural resource base in South Africa, the ARC had accredited laboratories for water quality analysis. The ARC undertook a lot of work to support the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure there were solutions to water pollution. Regarding the Agriculture Sector and other areas, the ARC would negotiate an arrangement to utilise their resources. She said that the issue of how to negotiate to provide support was still a work in progress. Finding a way to compensate the ARC for some of this work was needed. Dr Motete said that, as concerned citizens, the ARC would try to show that they contributed to some of the solutions that could be found.
Dr Andrew Magadlela, General Manager: Animal Production, dealt with areas where the ARC had not delivered. He said that one of the main areas where the ARC had not delivered was the livestock improvement schemes. Farmers were struggling to pay the money needed to participate in the schemes. Dr Magadlela said that when farmers struggled to make ends meet, they reduced the amount of money spent on services such as those provided by the ARC. When farmers were not spending on these services as expected, this affected the number of technical reports the ARC produced. This was because the technical reports mostly approached farmers participating in the schemes. He reiterated it was a difficult time for farmers to purchase the services associated with the schemes, although the ARC was sure that there would good return on investment for those who participated. He said that it was not easy to convince farmers to participate.
Dr Magadlela said that the ARC was pulling out all the stops to ensure an increase in participation numbers, which would result in a concomitant increase in technical reports. He said that the ARC had also promised to conduct a vaccine trial which was going to happen. He said their vaccine trial preparation was in the last stages and the ARC was getting the requisite permits. The vaccine trial would take place, and this was a promise.
Adv. Linda Zama, ITB Board Member, thanked the Committee Members for their indulgence and understanding, given that the ITB had not been in a great position. She said that the good thing was that the reality of any organisation could be changed when in the right hands. Adv. Zama said that this was why it was important to have a realistic mitigation strategy. The ITB had already started with this and had two meetings already. She said this was good news, and the ITB had stated that under no circumstances were they going to delay the three-day board meeting in the bush. The Board was going to have where they would sink their teeth in the work that needed to be done. This meeting would happen from 21 June to 23 June 2023.
She said that the ITB was encouraged and grateful for the privilege to serve. It is true that the organisation has to sail on choppy waters. And even if there are headwinds, the ITB wanted to assure the Committee it was up for the task. Adv. Zama said that the Board would be working closely with the CEO and CFO of the Trust. The CEO and CFO had been pillars of strength during a difficult period.
Adv. Zama said that the ITB invited the Committee to engage with them robustly because they wanted to be a flagship entity in their portfolio.
Mr Mngwengwe thanked the Chairperson and responded to the question on the procurement of an internal audit. He said that the organisation had gone through a process culminating in a broad decision. This was because the previous Board had made the appointment of service providers. There was then a period with no board. Unfortunately, because of prescribed timelines, the process needed to be started from scratch, and this was what they were busy with now.
The Chairperson thanked the DALRRD and the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights for their presentations. Other entities would be invited to present perhaps after the constituency period, which would be from 19 June until 03 September.
The Chairperson made a few announcements in terms of the Committee’s programme. He said that their oversight in terms of public hearings was approved for 30 June until 16 July. He said the Committee would be in Limpopo from 30 June until 02 July. From 07 July to 09 July, the Committee would be in Mpumalanga. From 14 July to 16 July, the Committee would be in the North West. He asked the Committee to engage with the Committee Secretariat for all the logistical arrangements.
The Chairperson also announced that the Committee would leave for Brazil this weekend. The Committee would be undertaking a study tour in Brazil. He listed the Members of the Committee that would be going to Brazil, and asked them to ensure they had all their necessary travel documents on hand. He noted that the Committee Secretary would accompany them on this trip.
The Chairperson said that the issue of adopting minutes from previous meetings would be deferred.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agricultural, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill [B1 - 2021] (National Assembly – proposed Section 76), 06 June 2023
The Chairperson read through the report.
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (the Portfolio Committee) having considered the Animals Protection Amendment Bill [B1-2021] (Private Member’s Bill) as introduced in the National Assembly (NA) (proposed – Section 76), the explanatory summary of the Bill and prior notice of its introduction published in the Government Gazette No.43702 of 11 September 2020 referred to it, reports on the Bill as follows:
The Animals Protection Amendment Bill [B1 – 2021] (the Bill) was introduced in the National Assembly and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on 27 January 2021.
Objectives of the Bill
The Bill seeks to:
- amend the Animals Protection Act, 2962 (Act No. 71 of 1962) as to assert a definition for “cosmetic”;
- provide for a new offence related to the testing of a cosmetic, or part of or ingredient of a cosmetic, on an animal; and
- provide for matters connected therewith.
Consideration of the Animals Protection Amendment Bill [B1 – 2021]
In considering the Amendment Bill, the Portfolio Committee invited the Member who introduced the Bill for a briefing on 21 February 2023. This was followed by a briefing by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on the Private Member’s Amendment Bill on 24 February 2023 and further input by DALRRD on 16 May 2023. Following the inputs from the DALRRD on 16 May 2023, the Committee resolved to further invite the Department of Health and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to make policy inputs on the Bill. The latter two Departments made presentations to the Committee on 06 June 2023.
Motion of Desirability and Committee Decision
The Portfolio Committee, having invited the Member who introduced the Bill, and following inputs made by the relevant Departments whose legislation or policies may be impacted by the Amendment Bill once passed into law, deliberated on the content of the Bill and then voted on the motion of desirability (MOD) of the Bill.
The Members of the Committee voted for the desirability of the Bill. Four Members found the Bill undesirable, and Members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) abstained from voting. The motion of desirability (MOD) of the Animals Protection Amendment Bill [B1 -2021] was thus rejected through a majority vote.
On rejecting the motion of desirability (MOD), it was highlighted that there is no need for the Bill. Some of the submissions were in support of the Bill, but some of the Departments that gave inputs highlighted that there is no testing of cosmetics on animals that are taking place in South Africa. Committee Members were of the view that the Bill narrowly focuses on testing of cosmetics on animals within the borders of the Republic of South Africa, without taking into consideration the impact of imported cosmetics or ingredients that are used in cosmetics as it was reported that 90% of ingredients used in the manufacturing of cosmetics in the country are imported. It was mentioned that, in a resource-constrained country such as South Africa, the objects of the Bill may not provide a significant benefit to the country but a negative impact on employment in the local cosmetics industry and its development and international trade.
Further, in light of the numerous issues, including advances in animal welfare that have been highlighted through some of the submissions on the Bill, the need for a holistic approach to animal welfare instead of piece meal amendments to an outdated piece of legislation was emphasised, including the development of a comprehensive Animal Welfare Bill that will address all aspects of animal welfare, while the Minister can develop regulations under Section 10 of the Animals Protection Act, Act No 71 of 1962 to address the testing of cosmetics on animals while comprehensive legislation is being developed.
The Chairperson asked for a motion of adoption concerning the report.
Ms Thlape moved to adopt the report, and Ms Tshwete seconded the motion. The Report on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill was duly adopted.
The Chairperson reiterated that the minutes would be deferred for another time. He said this was because the Committee needed to rush to the House for a sitting. He asked those who would be joining the sitting online to do so on time. He asked the Members of the Committee in Cape Town to be safe in the cold and wet weather.
He thanked the Committee Members for their participation and robust engagement. He wished them a good week and said they needed to dress warmly in this cold winter.
The meeting was adjourned.
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