Budget: briefing by Department

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LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 March 1998
BUDGET: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT

The following were the main points which emerged from the presentation:
(1) During 1997, there was increased budget expenditure in the Land Affairs Department, meaning that 70% of the R661,1 39,000 allocated budget was spent. In thee previous year the Department had only spent 35% of its allocated budget. This means that the Department is improving its capacity and is now able to utilize more of its budget.

(2) The Land Reform program has taken off. During 1997, the Department delivered as much land to families as the previous three years combined. it was stressed that these numbers signify that the capacity of the Department to implement policy is steadily increasing

(3) Land Reform represents .35% of the national budget for 1998/99, totalling R549,000,000.

(4) Charts were included which detailed the number of personnel, their specific tasks, and their racial and gender classification. The charts showed that the numbers of whites are decreasing and the numbers of blacks are increasing in the Department of Land Affairs. The term "Black" is used to mean African, Coloured and Indian. In January 1995, the percentage of blacks working in the Department of Land Affairs was 26% and the percentage of whites was 74%. In February 1998, the percentage of blacks had increased to 47% and the percentage of whites had decreased to 53%. But it was warned that the Department must be wary of the "cappuccino problem," which means that there are a few blacks at the very top of the organization, then whites, and then mostly blacks at the lower levels of the Department.

(5) An update on the Land Redistribution Program was presented. This program is a facet of the Department's Land Reform Program and aims to provide the poor with access to and for residential and productive use in order to improve their livelihoods. The pace and quality of land redistribution has improved over the past year because of certain policies, such as the elaboration of policy on municipal commonages, which helps municipalities that wish to convert common land into land used by poor residents. In 1997, land redistribution improved in terms of number of projects completed, and households and hectares transferred. By the end of 1997, 150 projects had been designated, and 12,126 households and 95,260 hectares had been transferred.

(6) There was an update on the Extension of Security of Tenure Act. A national implementation strategy has been adopted which has the following six objectives: information and training, monitoring and policy/implementation review, making the legal system work, finding solutions and implementing on/off site developments, cooperative governance and partnerships, and systems and procedures.

(7) There was an update on land restitution. Progress has been slow because the problem is complex. To date, 22 cases have been resolved. An additional problem which was discussed is the relation between restitution and development. Is it enough to simply return land to individuals who were dispossessed of it during Apartheid, or must the government also provide money for the development of the land? This issue is currently being discussed.

(8) There was an update on the inventory of public lands. The land available for redistribution is 1,203,419 hectares. Although there is lots of unoccupied land in South Africa, not a lot of it is available for redistribution because it is either military land, game reserves, or former homelands.

At the conclusion of the presentation there were a few questions directed at point (4). It was asked if the classification "black" could be broken down to specify what percentage of personnel was African, Coloured, and Indian. Related to this issue, someone asked if by reducing the number of whites employed in the Department, did this result in increased expenditure for the Department, because of costly severance packages for retired white employees.

There were also questions about point (8) regarding what land is available for redistribution.

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