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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
25 October 2005
WALLMANNSTAHL AND THABA TSHWANE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION
Documents handed out:
Draft Committee Report on Inspection Visit to Wallmannstahl
Committee Report on Hearings on Inspection Visit to Wallmannstahl [Available shortly at Committee Reports]
Committee Report on Oversight Visit to Thaba Tshwane
Department of Defence Annual Report: 2004/2005 [available at www.dod.mil.za]
The Committee considered the report on its oversight visit to Wallmannstahl on 24 August 2005 to assess the status of the land claims made by the Wallmannstahl community. Subsequent to this visit, the Committee had invited the Department, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Land Affairs, as well as the claimants to public hearings and produced a second report on the hearings.
Members debated how the Committee should interact with the Cabinet and the Minister if the Department failed to implement the recommendations of the report on the public hearings on the Wallmannstahl visit. The Committee adopted the report on the public hearings with the amendment to the third recommendation that if the land claims process had not been completed by 21 December 2005, the Committee would call in the Minister, the Minister of Public Works, and the Minister of Land Affairs to provide an explanation.
The Committee considered the report on its oversight visit to Thaba Tshwane from 18 to 19 August 2005 to investigate the state of the facilities in military units in that area. The Committee adopted the report without amendments.
Wallmannstahl oversight report
A delegation from the Committee led by Mr S Ntuli (ANC) visited Wallmannstahl on 24 August 2005 to ascertain the status of the land claims made by the Wallmannstahl community. The land claims of the community amounted to 1 628 hectares, while the land claims against the Department amounted to 311 270 hectares.
The land claims of the Wallmannstahl community were in four areas: Buffelsdrift, Wallmannstahl West (‘Avenues’), Wallmannstahl East (‘Jericho’), and Wallmannstahl Central Strip. Although the Department of Land Affairs had handed over Buffelsdrift to the claimants, the Bewarea Hunting Club was using a portion of the area as grazing land. Three portions of land in Wallmannstahl West had been handed over to the community. The Department had agreed to hand over Wallmannstahl East to the claimants, who were waiting for the Department of Land Affairs to remove white squatters from the land before they occupied it.
The Department had not released Wallmannstahl Central Strip (approximately 400 hectares) as it used this strip of land to connect the Joint Support Base Wonderboom with the Piet Joubert military base. The claimants argued that the land claim for this area had been published in the Government Gazette, and that the Department should not fence it in as this would impede their access to the Pienaars River.
The delegation found that the land claims process was being delayed by miscommunication between the Department, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Land Affairs. The delegation recommended that the Department should assess whether it still needed Wallmannstahl Central Strip ‘for strategic purposes’, and that the Department of Land Affairs should address the remaining difficulties with the claims in Buffelsdrift and Wallmannstahl East.
Mr Ntuli explained that the objective of the inspection visit was to find out what was delaying restitution of the land to the Wallmannstahl community. The report on the visit was a fact-finding report. Subsequent to this visit, the Committee had invited the Department, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Land Affairs, and the claimants to public hearings, and produced a second report on the hearings.
Mr Ntuli suggested that the Committee should consider the reports in the sequence in which they were produced, and Dr G Koornhof (ANC) agreed that the report of 6 September on the public hearings should be viewed as a result of the report of 24 August on the inspection visit to Wallmannstahl.
Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) asked what would happen to the white squatters whom the Department of Land Affairs would remove from Wallmannstahl East. This question was not answered.
The Chairperson declared that the Committee would consider the three recommendations of the report on the public hearings on the Wallmannstahl visit. Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) referred to the third recommendation of the report and asked what ‘the executive’ meant. How would the executive intervene if the land claims process in Wallmannstahl did not progress any further? Mr Ntuli replied that ‘the executive’ referred to the Cabinet, and that the Minister was accountable to the Cabinet.
Mr Ndlovu clarified that the Committee could not interact with the Cabinet without the mediation of the Minister. The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee should relate to the Cabinet through the Ministry, and therefore the third recommendation of the report on the public hearings should state clearly that if the Department failed to implement the recommendations of the report, the Committee would take up the matter with the Minister.
Mr Sayedali-Shah claimed that the third recommendation of the report on the public hearings was phrased as an instruction rather than as a recommendation. He suggested that it should state that the Committee was monitoring the progress of the land claims, but should not include a ‘warning’ to the Department of the process that would be followed if it did not implement the report’s recommendations.
The Chairperson stated that the recommendations of the report should make clear to the Minister the course of action the Committee would take if the land claims process were not expedited. Once the report had been tabled in Parliament, the Committee would be able to follow up on the implementation of its recommendations.
Mr T Dodovu (ANC) proposed that the third recommendation of the public hearings report should state that the Committee would monitor the progress of the land claim, and if the process had not been completed by 21 December, the Minister would be called into the Committee to explain this. Mr Ndlovu supported Mr Dodovu’s proposed amendment, but suggested that if the claim were not completed by 21 December, the Minister and the Minister of Land Affairs should debate the matter in the National Assembly. The Chairperson said that the Committee possessed the authority to summon the Minister to a meeting and this was the preferable course of action.
Mr Dodovu suggested that if the Committee were to call the Minister to a meeting, the Minister of Public Works should also be summoned. Dr Koornhof pointed out that three Ministries (Defence, Land Affairs, and Public Works) had created the Land Management Forum, and therefore the Committee should summon all three Ministries if the recommendations of the report were not implemented. The Committee accepted this qualification to Mr Dodovu’s amendment to recommendation three.
Mr Sayedali-Shah proposed that the Committee should not state in recommendation three of the report on the public hearings the course of action it would take if the Department did not implement the report’s recommendations. However, if the Department failed to carry out these recommendations, the Committee should bring this to the attention of the Speaker. The Chairperson did not accept Mr Sayedali-Shah’s proposal as the Committee was seeking ‘an amicable solution’ to the land claims in co-operation with the Minister.
The Committee adopted the report with the amendment to recommendation three proposed by Mr Dodovu.
Thaba Tshwane oversight report
A delegation from the Committee led by Mr Ntuli and Dr Koornhof visited military units in the Thaba Tshwane area from 18 to 19 August 2005 to investigate the state of their facilities. The following military units were visited:
- The SA Military Health Services’ Training Formation
- 1 Military Hospital
- Special Forces School
- Joint Support Base Garrison
- Defence Intelligence Headquarters
- SA National Defence College
- SA National War College
- SA Air Force College
- SA Air Force Gymnasium
The delegation found that the nurses’ accommodation at the SA Military Health Services’ Formation was in a very poor condition; 1 Military Hospital was showing signs of structural and mechanical neglect; and the new location for the Military Intelligence Headquarters had not been decided. The SA National Defence Force living quarters were in such poor condition that foreign learners were accommodated in private guesthouses.
The Department of Public Works was responsible for the maintenance and repair of Department facilities when the cost exceeded R5000, and the Department was responsible for maintenance and repair costs below R5000. However, at one of the units visited, the Department of Public Works had raised this threshold to R20 000 without informing the Department.
The delegation recommended that the Department of Public Works and the Department should move away from a reactive maintenance programme, and should jointly develop a ‘preventative maintenance programme’. The Department of Public Works should also increase the maintenance threshold of R5000, and inform the Department of the increase officially. As many Department facilities no longer conformed to the minimum requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Department, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Labour should co-ordinate efforts to improve this situation.
Dr Koornhof explained that at the end of the oversight visit the delegation had visited the Defence Industry, and a separate report would cover this visit. He suggested that recommendation eight of the report (‘The Defence Intelligence Headquarters should relocate to Radcliff, for geographical, technical and financial reasons’) was an instruction and should be re-drafted as a recommendation.
Mr Sayedali-Shah and Mr Ndlovu supported Dr Koornhof’s proposal and Mr Ndlovu also suggested that the name of the location (Radcliff) should be withdrawn as the report was in the public domain. Mr Ntuli pointed out that the recommendation to relocate the Defence Intelligence Headquarters was defined as a recommendation by the report.
The Committee adopted the report without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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