Department of Land Affairs Budget briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 May 2001
LAND AFFAIRS BUDGET BRIEFING FOR 2001/3

Document handed out
:
Department of Land Affairs Budget: Vote 27
PowerPoint Presentation
Land Affairs Strategic Plan

Chairperson: P Holomisa

SUMMARY
The Department of Land Affairs outlined its strategic plans and how it intends to finance them.
The Department's Director General made the presentation and committee members were allowed to ask questions to identify gaps within the budget and its intended plans. The budget found favour with the Committee beside concerns about the slow pace of land restitution.

MINUTES
Dr G Mayende, Director General, made the presentation outlining the strategic plans for 2001/3 and the accompanying budget. For more details see the attached documents: Vote 27 Land Affairs, the Strategic Plan of the department of land affairs and the Presentation document.

Discussion
Mr Holomisa (ANC) asked whether the 669 000 hectares of land in the presentation document was the only amount of land owned by government available for disposal.

Dr Mayende confirmed that for the moment, 669 000 hectares is the amount of land for disposal but the process of disposing of state owned land is still continuing.

Mr. Gininda (ANC) asked if Dr Mayende could provide a provincial break down of this amount of state owned land to reveal the amount available per province.

Dr Mayende replied that this would be possible by committee request and these figures could be accessed from the Department during the following week.

Dr Baloyi (IFP) asked what the developmental state of this land is. Does it have the necessary farming infrastructure?

Dr Mayende replied that the land consists of farms with farming infrastructure.

Mr Holomisa (ANC) asked whether the R16 000 grant to farmers still exists.

Dr Mayende said that the grant still exists but the Department has come up with a new grant system which is administered by Khula Finance [http://www.khula.org.za]. According to Dr Mayende this grant is self-sustainable and it allows farmers to obtain loans that are more than R16 000 to acquire land as well as working capital. This grant is targeted at vulnerable groups such as farm workers and labor tenants.

Mr Bhengu (ANC) asked how far the department is with the tenure reforms.

Dr Mayende admitted that not much has been achieved by the Department regarding tenure reforms. He said the Department will hold a conference where scholars and experts from Africa and other countries will share their experience and expertise with regard to tenure reforms.

Mr Bhengu (ANC) asked what the role of the Provincial MECs for Land Affairs is in the process of disposing of state-owned land.

Dr Mayende replied that the Department deals with technical tasks such as the collection of relevant information and the MECs will have a political role in this matter.

Mr. Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked how the department ensures that all loans are repaid on time.

Dr Mayende replied that the department will ensure that loans are given to those who have proved that they have the capacity to repay these loans. There are legal methods available to the department to repossess all projects that have failed. These will be given to those who can manage them successfully.

Mr Gininda (ANC) asked what the department's response is to the new forced removals on farms which are affecting farm workers and labor tenants.

Dr Mayende replied that the department will attend to this matter through the Labor Tenants Act (1996) and Extension of Security of Tenure Act (1997) which are meant to secure and protect the rights of farm workers and labor tenants and to create programmes that are aimed to resettle these groups. The Department of Safety and Security also looks at this matter.

Ms Dudley (ACDP) asked how people could obtain more information on the Land Redistribution and Agricultural Development (ALRAD) programme.

Dr Mayende said that people can get assistance from the Department's district, regional and national offices. Such people could also be shown how to construct business plans.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) asked how land going is to be distributed to vulnerable groups such as the poor, farm workers and labor tenants.

Dr Mayende replied that the department will have resettlement projects through the Land Redistribution and Agricultural Development (ALRAD) programme. These projects would be a mixture of Agric - villages and small co-operatives to accommodate those who cannot constitute an agric - village because of their numbers.

Mr Gininda (ANC) asked how people are to deal with the situation where they visit the Department's offices and are told that the staff is not capable or empowered to help them.

Dr Mayende admitted that this often happen with new programmes, but the department is trying by all means to avoid such situations.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) advised the department to be careful in handling the matter of agric-villages to avoid legal complications, especially if these agric-villages are built on people's properties.

Dr Mayende said that they are going to look at that as soon as possible.

Dr Mayende noted that they have cut down on budget for personnel. They are also cutting down on the budget for judicial matters and will focus on administrative measures to ensure land delivery as the Land Restitution programme was often delayed by judicial processes.

Mr. Holomisa (ANC) asked whether the department is still short of skilled human resources.

Dr Mayende agreed and said that they are trying to solve this problem by having the entire department's staff trained in project management skills.

Mr Holomisa (ANC) asked if the department still gets donor aid from other countries. Which countries are donors and what is the amount received from donations?

Dr Mayende said that they did but warned that these donors are threatening to cut their donation to South Africa. This is because they believe that South Africa is rich compared to other Third World countries. They have received R6 million from the Danish government to ensure that land redistribution does not cause environmental problems. They also received donations from Belgium and UK. The total amount received from donations is approximately R14 million. Donor funds are always restricted for certain purposes only. For example, the UK donation is restricted to work done in the Eastern Cape and Northern Province.

Mr. Gininda asked if the department employed consultants who were previous disadvantaged people.

Dr Mayende said that they are doing that slowly as in line with procurement policy, but he also warned that they are not prepared to compromise on quality.

Mr Botha (DP) asked when does the department deal with the shrinking budget that is always allocated to land reform.

Dr Mayende replied that the department is aware of this problem. However they need to set a track record in terms of delivery before they can ask for their budget to be doubled by Parliament.

Mr Mapalala (ANC) asked whether it is true that many employees resign from the department. What programmes does the department have to equip and develop those who lack skills or who are less empowered to avoid dumping them.

Dr Mayende admitted that it true that many people are resigning from the department and that this is as the result of a poor approach to dealing with human resources. According to him many people resign due to uncertainty about their future because they were employed on short contracts of one or two years maximum. They are now making contracts longer. They are also having training programmes according to their new human resource strategic plan.

Mr Mapalala (ANC) asked what the causes for the instability in the department's delivery pace are, especially when dealing with restitution cases.

Dr Mayende replied that there are many causes for the instability in the delivery pace - there is much leave taking during Easter and school holidays and December is a short month. Another cause is funds not being available for some projects due to budget shortages.

The meeting was adjourned.

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