Agribee Framework: Department briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 August 2004
AGRIBEE FRAMEWORK: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

This is an edited version of a report produced by kind courtesy of Contact Trust: www.contacttrust.org.za


Chairperson: Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Draft AgriBEE Framework Department Director-General's PowerPoint Presentation

SUMMARY
The Department Director-General presented on the draft Agricultural Black Economic Empowerment (AgriBEE) Framework. He reported that extensive consultation had taken place with groups such as Agri SA, the Department of Trade and Industry, and certain industries. The Committee expressed concerns that payment was often mentorship was often was concerned that He asked Members if they were in support of holding their own consultation process in parallel with the Department's efforts She asked the Committee to avoid parallel consultation and the waste of duplicated resources. The Chairperson said the Committee would have to review its programme to see when hearings on the framework could be held. no consultation with youth, women, rural residents and people with disabilities


MINUTES
Director-General (D-G) Bongiwe Njobe presented the Agricultural Black Economic Empowerment (AgriBEE) Framework to the Committee (please see attached document). The presentation provided the background context and overview of the draft Framework, and the challenges facing the Department in the process going forward and with ultimate implementation.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked the Department if broad consultation had taken place in coming up with the framework document.

The D-G said that extensive consultation had taken place with groups such as Agri SA. In consultation with Department of Trade and Industry, certain industries had been targeted for consultation. A reference group had compiled a document upon which the Minister had based the framework.

Mr A Nel (DA) said it was unclear whether industry had seen the draft framework or whether the document has been 'sprung onto them'.

The D-G said the responsibility of the Department was to put together a document subjected to public discussion. The Framework was a 'wish list' subject to public discussion.

Mr L Green (ACDP) asked how they could ensure that existing commercial farmers bought into this programme and did not become demoralised. He questioned who would take care of the financial responsibilities of projects such as mentoring.

The D-G said in eight years on the job, she had realised that people were not opposed to transformation. To ensure that people were not demoralised, it was essential that information was shared and that communication continued.

The D-G explained that in some circles, mentorship was seen as paid consultation. It was necessary to reach a point where mentors were willing to offer their services for free.

Mr S Abram (ANC) said no one would oppose the objectives of the AGRIBEE. One could not determine percentages in agriculture because production levels varied.

Mr P Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) was pleased that the Department would liaise with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). He said the DTI had concluded that some deals were done haphazardly and so just benefited the rich. He asked the Department how they would deal with ensuring that the rich did not overwhelm the process of land distribution.

Mrs B Ntuli (ANC) asked how the Framework would ensure that people entering into partnerships were informed. She questioned how they would ensure that enterprises were not just window-dressing. She also enquired how the Department had arrived at the figure of 10% of South African companies investing in the continent.

The D-G said it was vital to promote engagement and integrity in partnerships. This was an area around which they could liaise with the DTI. When it came to procurement, the Department would propose a process of good conduct. South African companies had to deal with stringent conditions in other African countries and that the 10% was a subject of discussion.

Mr Dlali (ANC) noted that in some sections of the Framework, timeframes and targets had not been set. He asked the Department how they were planning to achieve their goals and restore the dignity of black people particularly.

The D-G said that in terms of targets, they had to do a balancing act with what was achievable. They needed to look at the equilibrium in the sectors with complex standards. The process of putting targets on the table had provoked a new kind of discussion.

Mr T Ramphela (ANC) commented that the Framework was an insult to the rural poor, especially women and black farmers. It was clear that there had been no consultation with youth, women, rural residents and people with disabilities. Black people had been disempowered and deskilled over a long period. A 5-year strategy would be insufficient time to address problems created over 100 years. Financial constraints should not control their thoughts - they may be tempered by finances, but not controlled. They needed to ensure that farmworkers' views on empowerment were incorporated.

The Chairperson said he would ensure that black people benefitted. He asked Members if they were in support of holding their own consultation process in parallel with the Department's efforts.

The D-G said the Department had agreed to engage proactively and constructively to ensure that farmworkers were empowered. Their approach was genuine as evidenced by their targets for literacy to ensure that workers were better taken care of.

The D-G said she was happy that the framework document had triggered debate. The criticisms would be fed into the process. She asked the Committee to avoid parallel consultation and the waste of duplicated resources. The Chairperson said the Committee would have to review its programme to see when hearings on the framework could be held.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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