Committee Legacy Report

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

21 May 2024
Chairperson: Ms T Modise (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

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Summarised version of the Legacy Report (awaited presentation)

The Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources, and Energy (National Council of Provinces) convened to consider and adopt its legacy report for the Sixth Parliament covering the work of the Committee from 2019 to 2024 and to highlight areas for the next Parliament to know. The legacy report touched on the vast and complex oversight mandate of the Committee. The report also touched on the challenges experienced by the Committee including the onerous legislative workload, limited timeframes and overstretched Members sitting on multiple committees.

The report was adopted.

As this was the final Committee meeting for the Sixth Parliament, Members shared heartfelt farewell messages.

Meeting report

At 10:00, the Chairperson asked the Committee Secretariat about the number of provinces represented by the Members at the meeting. Upon discovering that the provinces were not adequately represented, she inquired if the meeting could proceed with the presentation while waiting for more Members to join. She then welcomed the Members, noting the busy schedule and acknowledging that some Members might be absent due to election campaigns or other Committee commitments, such as Mr J Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga), who was attending a Judicial Service Commission interview.

The Chairperson said they should proceed with the legacy report and the last item, mentioning that they were not going to adopt it at that time. She requested the secretariat to call some Members to join the meeting. She asked the Content Advisor to summarise the main issues, including reviewing past actions and considering improvements for the next Committee. She highlighted the importance of addressing the issue of bills that came late from the National Assembly and how to handle such matters in the future. She suggested starting the presentation as more Members were expected to join by 10:30.

Committee Legacy Report presentation

Mr Kobus Jooste, Committee Content Advisor, began by indicating his intention to be brief and focus on the key points of the last five years, as instructed by the Chairperson. He aimed to summarise the Committee’s performance statistics over this period and provide a recap for Members who had not been part of the Committee from the beginning.

He explained the development of the Committee's Strategic Plan, which involved oversight of various sectors such as forestry, fisheries, environmental affairs, mineral resources, energy, rural development, land reform, and agriculture. These areas combined national, provincial, and concurrent competencies, creating a complex oversight environment. The Committee focused on preventing abuse, arbitrary behaviour, and illegal conduct by government and public agencies, while emphasising fiscal responsibility, accountability, government policies, and transparency to enhance public trust.

Mr Jooste noted the broad scope of these objectives and the Committee's task of examining the cooperative government and intergovernmental relations within the High-Level Panel context. The reports highlighted the need for compatibility between policy, legislation, and budget across different spheres of government, as well as the necessary trade-offs in planning and resource allocation and the impact on national objectives and citizens' rights. He stressed that the Committee's oversight aimed to address these trade-offs and incompatibilities, which are inevitable.

He mentioned that the Fifth Parliament’s lesson was to reduce the number of oversight themes to improve the achievement of the Committee's priorities, given the limited meeting and oversight opportunities. Despite this reduction in focus areas, the Sixth Parliament's report reflected ongoing challenges due to these constraints.

The identified themes for oversight included farmer support, optimal use of agricultural land, legislative and policy development for a green economy, land reform, the oceans economy from a fisheries and aquaculture perspective, local government competencies, air quality monitoring, waste management, municipal funding models, budget allocation, human capital constraints, biodiversity loss, negative impacts of the mining sector, and the efficacy of the one environmental system. The Committee also focused on intergovernmental relations and cooperative government to implement social and labour plans with municipal independent development plans and address policy, legislation, and regulatory impasses in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

Mr Jooste outlined that, where parliamentary programmes allowed, the Committee remained focused on these issues, although not all could be fully addressed. The presentation would further highlight the challenges faced and the Committee's oversight focus, especially on governance and budget allocation, state programmes and projects, and service delivery.

He identified four main issues from the Fifth Parliament that persisted: the silo mentality of national departments, lack of ring-fencing financial allocations for specific programmes, mandate overlap between departments, and resulting challenges in capacity and oversight.

These challenges remained unresolved and continued to impact the Sixth Parliament, thus still being relevant for the Seventh Parliament.

He highlighted that these issues, though they might not influence national planning, significantly affected local and provincial levels, impacting the success of government spending and projects. He intended to show where these challenges manifested in the Committee’s oversight outcomes.

Mr Jooste also noted that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) timetable posed a challenging environment for Select Committees, compounded by the loss of meeting and oversight opportunities during the COVID-19 lockdown. The resumption of normal activities was further hindered by a significant legislative processing load, impacting the Committee's work even into 2023 and 2024.

Mr Jooste further stated that the processing of legislation had begun relatively early in the Sixth Parliament's operational stages. Although legislative processing is a significant responsibility of parliamentary committees, it impacts the strategic planning of the Committee. He explained that it is never possible to leave space open in the Committee's plan for legislation, which necessitates an explanation when the Committee does not achieve all its planned meeting objectives.

He highlighted a slide indicating the Committee's activity, noting that while some ongoing activity might cause slight differences, the overall spread of Committee work remained largely unchanged. Before the Sixth Parliament, the Committee spent roughly half of its meeting opportunities on legislation. Consequently, during strategic planning over five years, the Committee could not leave meeting slots vacant and had to fill them with oversight priorities. This meant that at least half of the Committee's prioritised oversight had to be abandoned due to the legislative processing load.

From the secretariat’s perspective, Mr Jooste saw no real challenge in what the Committee had planned versus what it had achieved, given that 50% of the Committee's time was directed towards legislation. He mentioned that prioritising departments within its oversight remit was part of the Committee’s strategic planning. Therefore, the time lost to Annual Performance Plans (APP) and budgets was not a significant challenge. However, 30% of the Committee's planned activities were administrative tasks, such as updates of Committee programmes and feedback on reports.

In reality, only 30% of the Committee's meeting times could be directed at strategic planning and priority themes. Despite the reduced number of focus areas compared to the Fifth Parliament's plan, the Committee could not perform oversight on all identified priorities. The complexity of some themes led to lessons for the Committee, particularly the need for intergovernmental and departmental cooperation.

Mr Jooste provided an example from the visit to the Crocodile River area, where local government’s poor water management caused pollution affecting Kruger National Park and potentially contravening international agreements. This highlighted how local issues could escalate into provincial challenges. The Committee learned that simple cooperation was insufficient, and more extensive coordination through Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), was needed for better oversight results.

He summarised that despite fewer meeting opportunities, the Committee improved its understanding of several challenges underlying the identified themes. Highlights included:

  • Remedial action policy review and legislative review were required to correct flaws in supporting agricultural cooperatives and communal property associations during agriculture, fishery, and land reform projects. The Committee made significant recommendations, and the Seventh Parliament needs to continue following up on these matters.
  • Local government challenges related to waste management and integrating this competency with green economy initiatives persisted. Financial allocations for proper waste management and disaster response remained problematic. The Committee observed ongoing issues with ESKOM and Sasol pollution, air quality management, and disaster response, necessitating continued focus in the Seventh Parliament.

Mr Jooste further mentioned that the Committee’s strategic planning and oversight efforts revealed important lessons, particularly the need for comprehensive cooperation among departments and entities to tackle complex challenges effectively.

He continued to say the last bullet point on this slide is the challenges observed regarding the second round of land claims, especially those filed by people who lost land before 1913. These claims remain largely unresolved, and, as seen in the Northern Cape, the claimants are often elderly. Each year this policy challenge remains unresolved, more claimants pass away, making this an ongoing challenge for the Seventh Parliament.

In terms of the Western Cape, the small-scale fishery challenge remains significant. The main issue is that the number of fishers allocated rights and the extent of these rights do not meet the needs of the artisanal fishers in the province. Other provinces have similar challenges, but it is particularly pronounced in the Western Cape.

Mr Jooste highlighted that a major challenge for the country—and indeed an international challenge—is reaching the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Financial and practical limitations mean that achieving these targets will require sacrifices, such as electricity shortages. South Africa faces the dual challenge of dealing with ageing infrastructure while attempting to transition to lower carbon energy sources, which are not being developed fast enough to meet the country's energy demands. Consequently, it is currently impossible to avoid loadshedding without relying on traditional energy infrastructure, which the NDCs aim to phase out. This challenge will likely persist throughout the seventh administration and remain a significant focus for the Committee.

To summarise, Mr Jooste highlighted the following challenges for the incoming seventh administration:

  • The primary role of the Committee in processing legislation is never adequately included during strategic planning, reducing the oversight achievements based on the strategic plan rather than the Committee’s actual capabilities.
  • The themed oversight strategy works but is often influenced by national departments and entities outside the Committee’s mandate, making it difficult to conclude oversight on these themes without involving other committees or government entities.
  • Complex themes require more time to address than simpler oversight targets, necessitating careful prioritisation in the Seventh Parliament. The Committee must decide whether to reduce the number of themes to focus on complex challenges or address a broader range of simpler issues.
  • It was never anticipated that 50% of the Committee’s time would be dedicated to legislation. The Seventh Parliament should expect a similar scenario and fine-tune its focus to optimise Committee activities, balancing oversight and legislative processing.

Other highlighted challenges include:

  • The current functioning of the NCOP results in a large portfolio for the select committees, with Members overstretched due to work in multiple committees. The number of entities within the Committee’s mandate exceeds the annual number of meeting opportunities, limiting the Committee's ability to oversee all entities adequately.
  • Emerging issues not anticipated during strategic planning often need immediate attention, causing planned oversight items to fall away due to limited time slots.

Unfinished business from the Sixth Parliament, to be passed on to the Seventh Parliament, includes:

  • Social, environmental, and economic impacts of illegal mining, derelict and ownerless mines, and acid mine drainage.
  • Causes, impacts, and potential resolution of mining expansion into prime agricultural land, watershed areas, and sensitive ecological zones, especially along the Western Cape coast.
  • Identifying resource requirements and a realistic timeline for finalising all outstanding land claims, particularly those unresolved from the first round.
  • The role of environmental legislation in managing commercially important biological resources, especially fisheries and environmental management.

The Committee managed to complete all legislation before it, but the legislative processing process in Parliament has room for improvement. Key lessons include:

  • Clearer insight into the legislative load might have helped prioritise issues more effectively, although it would not have changed the meeting slots required for bill processing.
  • All bills were processed with public input, but timelines were often not ideal, affecting the value of public consultation.
  • The truncated timelines for processing Section 76 bills in the NCOP diminish the public consultation process. Proposed amendments often lack support from enough provinces, not due to their merit, but due to insufficient time for inter-provincial consultation.

In conclusion, the Committee must balance legislative responsibilities with effective oversight, considering both complex and simpler issues, and manage its time and resources strategically to optimise its activities. This approach could enhance the Committee's effectiveness in addressing the multifaceted challenges it faces.

(see attached)

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked Mr Jooste for presenting the Legacy Report, welcomed it, and opened the floor to Members for discussion or any additions they might have. She invited Members to discuss the report.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC, Gauteng) expressed her gratitude to the Chairperson and Mr Jooste for the presentation. She mentioned that she had no questions and accepted the report on her side.

The Chairperson acknowledged the response and noted that no further hands were raised. She proceeded to address the adoption of the report, reflecting on the work done over the five years and the tasks that remained unfinished due to the reasons previously raised. She asked the Members if they were ready to adopt the report.

Ms Beebee moved to adopt the report, and Ms Ngwenya seconded the motion.

Committee Minutes

Minutes dated 14 May 2024

The Chairperson asked the Members to consider the minutes from the previous week's meeting for adoption. She invited Members to rectify any sentence construction errors, address any omissions, or suggest subtractions before adopting the minutes. She then thanked everyone and opened the floor for any comments.

Ms Ngwenya moved to adopt the report. Ms Beebee and Ms I Ntsube (ANC, Free State) both seconded the motion.

The minutes were duly adopted.

Farewell Messages

The Chairperson announced that it was the final meeting of the Committee and invited Members from different political parties to share their farewell messages.

Freedom Front Plus

Mr A De Bruyn (FF+, Free State) expressed gratitude on behalf of his party, reflecting on his three-year tenure. He noted that the Committee had handled each meeting and each other in a professional manner, developing mutual respect among colleagues. He wished everyone good luck for the upcoming elections and hoped they would return as colleagues in the same Committee.

Economic Freedom Fighters

Mr M Magwala (EFF, Western Cape) took the opportunity to greet everyone and acknowledge the Chairperson’s leadership since his joining the Council a year and two months ago. He thanked the Chairperson for leading the Committee with dignity and appreciated the cooperation from department officials, ministers, and deputy ministers. He also thanked the Select Committee staff for their support and assistance. He noted the robust yet conclusive debates and expressed hope that the challenges discussed would be addressed in the Seventh Parliament. He concluded by thanking everyone for the learning experience and meaningful participation, expressing gratitude to the Chairperson, Ms Modise.

The Chairperson appreciated the kind words shared by Mr Magwala, mentioning that she became emotional. She asked for Ms C Visser (DA, North West) but she was unable to unmute and then she moved to the ANC.

The Whip/ African National Congress

Ms Beebee expressed her sadness at parting ways, thanking the Chairperson for her patient and dedicated leadership. She appreciated the cooperation from Members of the opposition parties and ANC, highlighting that despite scheduling conflicts, Members ensured their attendance and contributed to successful meetings. She also thanked the staff officials for their guidance and support, especially for the new Members. Ms Beebee concluded by wishing everyone good luck in their future endeavours and expressed her gratitude to the Chairperson and the Committee for their dedication and support.

The Chairperson

The Chairperson expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Committee Members and staff, acknowledging their dedication and hard work. She began by addressing the Committee staff, emphasising the invaluable support from the secretary of her office. She appreciated the secretary's proactive approach, guiding her without making noise, and being available at all times, even during late-night calls. She thanked Mr Jooste for his dual role as the content advisor and acting secretary, particularly during the researcher's absence. She acknowledged his extra efforts in assisting the Committee, summarising reports, and accompanying her to provincial briefings.

The Chairperson then turned her appreciation towards the Committee Secretariat whom she regarded as a brother. She recalled their close working relationship over the past five years, highlighting his unwavering commitment despite personal challenges. She recounted times when he continued working from a hospital bed and during the difficult period of losing his partner. She noted that the Committee Secretary was more than just a committee secretary; he was part of her family, always ready to support the Committee through thick and thin. The Chairperson thanked everyone for their contributions and support, expressing hope that all staff would continue their dedication to the Committee.

She reminisced about the initial days when they did not know each other and highlighted how they had grown to work together harmoniously. She specifically thanked the staff for their invaluable assistance, appreciating their efforts in ensuring the Committee's smooth functioning, even during challenging times.

The Chairperson also expressed her gratitude to various Committee Members for their contributions, mentioning the consistency and support during oversight visits, the intelligence and professionalism of some Members, and the robust participation and dedication of others despite challenges. She acknowledged the prioritisation of provincial interests and the active participation of Members who joined later. She appreciated the consistent attendance and dedication of Members, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and praised the willingness to take over and effectively run the Committee when necessary.

She encouraged all Members to learn from their mistakes and focus on the positive impact they made. She apologised for any hurtful words or actions that might have occurred under pressure and urged everyone to forgive and move forward. She emphasised the importance of the relationships formed and the collective achievements of the Committee.

In closing, the Chairperson acknowledged a message from the Democratic Alliance representative, Ms C Visser (DA, North West), expressing appreciation and well wishes to all. She officially ended the meeting, thanking everyone once again for their support and contributions.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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