The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development sat to deliberate on the draft A-List version of the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill.
Whilst the majority of the Members supported the amendments contained in the A-List, the Democratic Alliance opposed the inclusion of clause 31, as it felt that prior notice should be given to landowners before an inspection is conducted by an official from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The party further argued that the Bill could not be carried out if this clause was not removed.
Following the deliberations, the Committee requested both the State Law Advisor and Parliamentary Legal Advisor prepare the final A-List and B version of the Bill for its consideration during its planned sitting next week Tuesday.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone present at the meeting. Thereafter, he asked if the Committee received any apologies.
Ms Albertina Kakaza (Committee Secretary) said that the Committee had received apologies from the Minister, who had accompanied the Presidential Delegation attending the two-day state visit in Qatar, Deputy Minister Zoleka Capa, Ms Tamarin Breedt, and Inkosi Russel Cebekhulu.
The Chairperson said that Members gathered wherein over 11 000 Palestinians have been massacred in the past month, with thousands of others injured and maimed by Israel’s relentless act of collective punishment. This was in violation of the precepts of international law.
The relative peace in South Africa came from an intense struggle against colonialism and the brutal system of Apartheid. It is, therefore, in this awareness and consciousness of where we have come from, that informed our deep disdain for Apartheid, whenever and wherever it appears and raises its ugly head.
After making those brief opening remarks, he outlined that the Committee would continue with its deliberations on the A-List of the PDAL Bill with the assistance of the Parliamentary Legal Advisors (PLA) and State Law Advisor (SLA). In their last meeting, Members resolved to invite the National House of Traditional Leaders to make submissions on the Bill. However, the Committee has yet to receive them.
After the deliberations and adoption of the draft A-List, the PLA would be requested by the Committee to develop the final version and B-List for consideration in the next meeting, he added.
Committee Deliberations on the Draft A-List Version of the DALB
Ms Zingisa Zenani (PLA) took the Committee through the amendments made to each clause of the Bill.
Mr Shaun Van Breda (Senior State Law Advisor) explained that this clause provides for the definition of certain words, terms, and expressions used in the Bill. Previously Members stated that the definition of landowner was too limited and should include the holders of unregistered rights in land. As such, the department proposed a new definition of landowner: A landowner refers to a person or community who holds a right to land registered or unregistered of which such person or community enjoys protection under any law.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee should actually be led through each clause by the PLA and not the SLA. The SLA was only expected to support the PLA where necessary, he added.
Ms Zenani asked if Members agreed to the proposed amendment.
Mr N Masipa (DA) asked if the definition included state and traditionally owned land.
Ms Zenani elaborated that the proposed definition was all-encompassing.
Mr Van Breda mentioned that the Constitution requires legislation to refer to persons and communities that own land, not traditional leaders. However, provision has been made in the Bill for traditional leaders to make inputs on the declaration of agricultural land and listed activities.
Mr Masipa felt that the definition was not inclusive of state-owned and traditional land – he noted that there are instances where land is registered in the deeds under traditional leadership.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) thought that the definition did not include instances where a person owns the land under a legal entity.
Mr N Capa (ANC) asked if the term person in the definition refers to a human being, a group of persons, and entities.
Ms Zenani remarked that the definition was all-encompassing.
Mr Van Breda confirmed that the term person refers to both natural and juristic persons.
Ms Zenani mentioned that one of the complaints relating to clause 11 was that it seemed to only cover food production. As such, the department proposed that it include other agricultural production.
Ms Zenani said that the department accepted the proposal to include other forms of media alongside the government gazette.
Mr Masipa stated that the PLA had not included most of the proposals contained in the oral and written submissions to the Bill, including those relating to clause 15. He suggested that the PLA inform Members which of the clauses had been left out of the A-List version of the Bill.
Ms Mbabama supported Mr Masipa’s suggestion.
The Chairperson outlined that the PLA had taken into account all of the input made to the Bill and effected the necessary changes. He asked what proposed amendment Mr Masipa had for clause 15 of the Bill.
Mr Masipa indicated a proposal was made to make a minor change to the wording of the clause, which the department agreed to.
Ms Zenani clarified that the proposal made in relation to clause 15 had been considered and deferred to the proposed amendment in clause 20, which deals with the consideration of applications by the competent authority.
Ms Zenani said that the PLA noted the proposal for the inclusion of timelines in relation to the consideration of applications for agro-ecosystem authorisation in clause 15. However, the PLA believed that these amendments could be included in clause 20 given that it dealt with the consideration of applications also referred to in clause 15.
Ms Zenani highlighted that a minor amendment was made to this clause which focused on the inclusion of: someone who has been disqualified from serving as a director of a company in terms of Section 69 of the Companies Act.
Ms Zenani indicated that an amendment was made to subsection (1)(a), which now read as: Subject to the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, information on the owner and land user and where such landowner or land user is a natural person, the nationality and gender of such landowner or land user.
Mr Masipa asked if the amendment related to subparagraph (ii)(g) of the clause.
Ms Zenani confirmed that it did.
Mr Van Breda also confirmed that this amendment related to subparagraph (ii)(g).
Ms Zenani explained that there was a minor change to the wording of the clause.
Ms Zenani mentioned that a minor amendment was made to the clause.
Mr Masipa asked if the Members could ask the PLA why certain proposed amendments were excluded from the A-List.
The Chairperson requested that the content advisors speak on any proposed amendments left out of the Bill.
Ms Nokuzola Mgxashe (Committee Content Advisor) highlighted that proposed amendments to clauses 17, 20, 21, 22, 27, and 31 from oral and written submissions were not included in A-List.
Ms Zenani explained that these proposed amendments were left out after deliberations between the PLA and SLA.
Mr Van Breda explained that the amendments included in the A-List emanated from the Committee’s clause-by-clause deliberations on the Bill.
Mr Masipa posed four questions. One, he asked if the A-List included the proposal for clause 31 to provide for an inspector to require a warrant when entering upon or proceeding onto privately-owned land.
Two, he asked if the state could be responsible for and be the policeman of its own land.
Three, he asked what the purpose was behind ownership profiling, which is provided for in clause 31, when the deeds registry provided records of who owned land, and where. He wondered if this would not be creating additional redtape.
Four, he asked whether the provision of equitability in land ownership was necessary. If not, he proposed that it be removed from the Bill.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) indicated that the majority of Members questioned the reasoning behind the proposed amendment of clause 31 (3)(a) which would require the department to provide notice before conducting an inspection, as this would give landowners time to cover up any irregularities taking place on their farms. Considering this, Members proposed that the inspectors only be required to inform the relevant departments of their decision to carry out an inspection on a particular farm.
Ms Zenani confirmed that the Committee rejected the inclusion of inspectors to need to provide notice before entering any agricultural at any reasonable time to ascertain if there are any issues.
Mr Van Breda confirmed that the Committee did indeed reject this inclusion.
In response to the question on search and seizure in clause 31, he pointed out that the clause was in accordance with the Constitution and relevant Constitutional Judgements – these include Mistry versus the Interim National Medical and Dental Council of South Africa, Gardner versus the Minister of Finance and the South African Revenue Services Commission, as well as Estate Agency Affairs Board versus Auction Alliance.
Warrantless search and seizures are permissible in certain instances, he continued. The Constitutional Court (CC) has held that when legislation authorised warrantless inspections provision must be made for a constitutionally adequate substitute to ensure certainty in the conduct of the inspections.
The court further held that the legislation must also provide for a manner of conducting searches that accords with common decency and one which was not more intrusive than was necessary. Nevertheless, a warrant is required when it comes to a private dwelling, which the Bill takes into account, he said.
He asked for the Committee to refer its questions on equitability and ownership profiles to the department as those were policy matters.
Mr Masipa indicated that the DA did not support the inclusion of clause 31 as it had been drafted, as it felt that prior notice should be given to landowners before an inspection.
In its current form, he did not believe that the Bill could be carried out fully, he added.
The Chairperson requested both the PLA and SLA develop the final A-List and B version of the Bill for the Committee’s consideration in its next meeting the following Tuesday.
He asked if there were any announcements.
Ms Kakaza mentioned that the Committee would sit to deliberate on the Deeds Registry Amendment Bill this Friday.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister Skwatsha for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.