Committee Reports and Business Plan 2006/07: adoption

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 March 2006
COMMITTEE REPORTS AND BUSINESS PLAN 2006/07: ADOPTION

Chairperson:

Ms D Hlengethwa (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs on Budget Vote No 25
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs on Budget Vote No 29
Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs Annual Report 2005

Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs Business Plan 2006/7

SUMMARY
The Committee adopted its Business Plan for 2006/07 with amendments. Committee reports on the 2006/07 Budgets of the Department of Land Affairs and the Department of Agriculture were also adopted. The former report included strong recommendations that the Department of Land Affairs should take immediate measures to ensure the implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act. The Committee adopted its Annual Report for 2005/06 without amendments.

MINUTES
Committee Business Plan 2006/07

The Committee Secretary asked when the best time would be to undertake the already agreed upon visits to Namibia, Chile, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Poland and Venezuela. It was necessary to start preparing for these trips as soon as possible.

Mr T Dlali (ANC) advised that one should take into consideration the climate of these countries. He would rather visit them in their summer than their winter. He suggested that Chile and Brazil be visited in July if the Committee programme allowed.

Mr A Nel (DA) reminded the Committee that the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr Glen Thomas, wanted to visit Brazil and Chile in July to see what these countries had done on land reform. This was probably the most pressing issue. He suggested that June or July would probably be the best time to undertake such a visit.

Mr Dlali asked whether the secretariat would be able report on the preparations for the trip after the coming parliamentary recess period.

The Committee Secretary said that if Members suggested a time, the secretariat would immediately contact the South African embassies in those countries. All information received would be relayed to the Committee.

Mr P Ditshetelo (ACDP) concurred that the secretariat should do the necessary work to expedite the matter and should report within a stipulated period.

The Chairperson agreed that the Committee should receive feedback at its first meeting after the recess.

The Committee adopted its Business Plan for 2006/07 with amendments.

Committee Report on the Department of Land Affairs’ 2006/07 Budget

Mr Dlali requested clarity on the issue of support structures.

The Chairperson explained that a strategy had already been developed but should now be implemented to ensure that people had easy access to support structures.

Mr Nel pointed out that Members had requested that the report should note that awareness of the availability of support structures should be strengthened.

The Chairperson added that support structures such as the Comprehensive agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) should be made more visible.

Mr Dlali requested clarity on the report’s first recommendation relating to the Kwazulu-Natal Ingonyama Trust Board. The Committee Secretary said the Committee recommended that communities should benefit from the privatisation of forests. The Ingonyama Trust Board had made clear that the community would benefit from any privatisation deals.

Mr Nel suggested that due to differences between parties the issues listed under "Recommendations" in the report should rather be called ‘observations’.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) noted that all the points listed under "Recommendations" were phrased as questions. She remembered when Judge Ngwenya, acting Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board had referred to the privatisation of forests and the lack of participation from communities as well as the lack of clarity on whether communities would benefit. She did however not recall the Committee raising what measures should be taken to ensure that privatisation of the forests benefited the affected communities. The Committee needed to make real recommendations about what it and the Government should do to ensure that communities benefited from privatisation.

Ms C Nkuna (ANC) agreed that once the Committee had made observations it should also make clear recommendations.

The Chairperson summed up that the report should clearly indicate that the Committee’s recommendations stemmed from the observations it had made. The observations and the recommendations should be clearly indicated.

Mr Nel said that there would probably always be disagreement among the parties about the recommendations. If the Committee included recommendations that the DA Members, due to their party policy, could not support, DA Members would have to either abstain from voting or vote against the report. He did not think that that was the point of the process. The report should indicate what had been put before the Committee and what Members’ different observations were. The Committee could then formulate its recommendations. He felt that the budget debate was the appropriate platform for making recommendations. If there were common recommendations such as the need for "a better dispensation for land reform", the Committee could agree on that. He felt that at the report stage Members should make recommendations as parties.

Ms Nkuna said that her understanding was that the format used for committee reports was based on the format used by all other parliamentary committees. She found Mr Nel’s suggestion "a bit problematic" and suggested that it be debated.

The Chairperson said that recommendations naturally flowed from observations. Making recommendation were part of the Committee’s monitoring and oversight duties. The Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs would then have to act on these recommendations.

Ms Ntuli added that she was also confused by Mr Nel’s recommendation. She suggested that the recommendations be redrafted to address all Members’ concerns. It should include the need to immediately review the issue of forest privatisation and the impact it had on employment. It should be clear about what the benefits to the community would be. Clarity was also needed on ownership and whether the relevant land was subject to land claims. She wondered how the envisaged privatisation related to the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA) and what role traditional authorities played in the process. The recommendations should also request an immediate and clear plan from the Department about the post-privatisation period.

Mr Dlali added that the report should be consistent in its format.

The Chairperson asked whether Members wanted to add anything to the recommendations Ms Ntuli had suggested?

Mr S Abram (ANC) feared that the Committee might be too hasty in framing recommendations. In order to do justice to the report, the Committee should rather let the Committee Secretary take into account what Members had suggested and then prepare recommendations, which could be adopted at a later meeting.

The Chairperson requested Members to submit their recommendations to the Committee Secretary for inclusion in the report. The deadline for the report had passed a long time ago. She wondered whether the Committee could adopt the report with amendments.

Mr Abram said that one should then change the recommendations along the lines that Ms Ntuli had proposed. He recommended that the extent to which the traditional authorities benefited from the income grant should be clearly quantified and monitored. The difficulties with the implementation of the CLARA had already been alluded to. Perhaps the Committee could recommend that the Ingonyama Trust Board should quantify the challenges they were experiencing with the implementation of CLARA. The Committee could also recommend that the Ingonyama Trust Board should indicate what employment opportunities were created when deals were made with private companies.

Ms M Nkompe-Ngwenya (ANC) commented that the Department had explained that they would need additional capacity to implement the CLARA. She did not approve of the Department’s excuse for their lack of implementation. It appeared as though the Department had already "thrown in the towel" as far as implementation was concerned. The issues addressed by CLARA affected people’s lives. The Committee’s recommendation should force the Department to implement the CLARA.

Ms Ntuli concurred and proposed that the Committee should recommend that the Department speedily look into the implementation of the CLARA. It should develop a programme aimed at implementation. The Committee needed to ensure that traditional authorities and all other role players were involved to guarantee that communities would benefit. From the way the situation looked now, it could take another ten years before the CLARA was fully implemented.

Mr Dlali said, although the situation was linked to the Ingonyama Trust, it overlapped with other areas. He suggested that instead of creating another structure to address the issue, the Committee should recommend the speedy implementation of the CLARA. The Department would then have to decide how they would facilitate this. The Committee had agreed earlier that the Department should report to the Committee on a quarterly basis. Updates on the implementation of CLARA should be part of these reports.

Mr Ditshetelo said that the discussion was going in circles. The Committee was also faced with the fact that the format of the report did not follow the norm as far as the order of observations and recommendations were concerned. He felt that the Committee should inform the Committee Secretary that this was not what they had expected. He agreed with Mr Nel that what Members would like to see reflected in the recommendations related to the stance of their respective parties. Members should list their recommendations and then together with the Committee Secretary compile the Committee’s recommendations.

The Chairperson reminded Members that they were in a Portfolio Committee and were bound by the rules and policies of Parliament. Party rules should not inform decision making since Members were not there to push party agendas. The Committee should make recommendations in line with Government policies and the needs of the people. She again suggested that further recommendations should be made and that the report should be adopted with amendments.

Mr Ditshetelo responded that he had not implied that the Committee should make recommendations as individual parties. Members should submit their recommendations (which would be informed by their party policies) to the Committee Secretary who would then compile one set of recommendations, which the Committee could approve.

Mr Dlali said that because the Committee had already been granted an extension for the submission of the report, the matter should be finalised in this meeting. If there were no strong objections, the report should be adopted with amendments. If there were major problems they could be dealt with in the next session. He moved the adoption of the report with amendments.

The Chairperson asked whether this meant that any proposed changes would automatically be adopted.

Mr Ditshetelo pointed out that the amendments would be done concurrently.

Ms Ntuli said that the recommendations that she had noted earlier should be included in the final recommendations, while the issues in the report at present should remain as observations. In this case, the report could be adopted with amendments that all Members had agreed upon.

The report was adopted with amendments.

Mr Nel said that the Committee was making recommendations, which were directed at the Ingonyama Trust Board when they should be directed to the Department. In future, recommendations related to the CLARA should be directed to the Department.

Committee Report on the Department of Agriculture’s 2006/07 Budget

Mr Dlali moved adoption of the report but requested that in future the Committee Secretary should be consistent in the format he used for the reports, and should take care in his language usage. Next time the Committee would go through the report sentence by sentence and would not grant him the same latitude.

The Committee adopted the report without amendments.

Committee Annual Report 2005
The Committee adopted its Annual Report without amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.



 

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