AgriBEE Status: presentation by the Department of Land Affairs

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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 AUGUST 2006
AgriBEE STATUS: PRESENTATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AFFAIRS

Acting Chairperson:
Adv S Holomisa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Status of AgriBEE (printed PowerPoint slides)
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE)
Briefing by Commission on Restitution of Land Rights
NEPAD Conference Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs

SUMMARY
The Department of Land Affairs began its presentation on the status of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE) The Committee knew very little about it, and so the process for its approval and publication was briefly outlined.
Several members expressed concern that the Committee had neither been consulted nor had been involved in the development of the charter. In addition they were concerned that the amendments that had been made by the Minister had not been presented to the Committee. The Department undertook to return to the Minister and discuss this issue further before reporting back to the Committee.

The NEPAD Conference Report of the Porfolio Committee was tabled but would stand over for adoption at a later meeting.

MINUTES
AgriBEE Presentation by Department of Land Affairs, and interactive discussion with Committee
Mr Rudolph Abercrombie (Director General, Department of Land Affairs (DLA)) reported that the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE Charter) had already been presented to the Minister and that she had made some amendments.

The Acting Chairperson asked Mr Abercrombie why the amendments were not included in the current presentation.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) agreed with the Acting Chairperson and asked what exactly was expected of the committee regarding the Charter.

The Acting Chairperson emphasised that the Committee had very little knowledge of the Charter as a result of poor communication from the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) as well as Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

Mr Abercrombie replied that he was simply responding a request by the committee to report on the status of the charter, which would inform the committee what had taken place. He explained that after the Committee had approved the Charter, it would need to be approved by the Minister, then sent to dti, and then published in the Government Gazette.

Mr J Bici (UDM) felt that the Committee had been excluded from the development of the Charter. He commented that improved teamwork was necessary for this policy to be instituted.

The Acting Chairperson believed that both the Committee and the Minister needed to be involved in development of the Charter.

Mr Abercrombie responded to the committee concerns by stating that he would return to the Minister and seek advice, before reporting back again to the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson stressed that he should convey that the Committee’s voices and views had not been heard and that they must be taken into consideration.

A member mentioned that feedback was received from INDABA participants.

The Acting Chairperson argued that INDABA participants’ views could not be more important than the committee’s inputs.

The member disagreed with the Acting Chairperson. He felt that there was a wide consultation process, and the point of the presentation was to inform the committee precisely on that process. The Charter would have been drawn in accordance with He continued by explaining that the charter would be in accordance with the intent of DLA and dti. The Charter would be fully publicized at the end of the process by dti. However, phase 2 of the process would involve the drawing of codes of good practice, and these codes would still need to be presented to the committee.

He added that this Charter would include the criteria for different enterprises, such as small and medium sized. He mentioned that dti had, a short while ago, held a workshop to better align dti with relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the new Minister felt confident about the process and was ready to share her views. It seemed that DLA still had not received the dti’s codes of good practice.

The Acting Chairperson wished to hear more on the content of the charter.

The member stipulated that the AgriBEE Charter had been refined and that the Charter articulated the link of enterprises and agriculture. The goal of the Charter was to provide the necessary guidelines for all parties regarding land affairs.

The Acting Chairperson commented that this was not quite what he had meant by the request.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked what was expected of the committee regarding the document. She asked if it was to be perceived as merely informative, and asked about the timing of the document. It was not clear whether the document emanated from dti or DLA, and she would prefer that the Committee was given a chance to read the document in depth before being asked to discuss it.

Mr Abercrombie stated that he could not answer the question and he wondered whether he should have handed out the document in the first place.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there was a lack of communication in regard to this document. He wanted to know at what stage the Committee would normally become involved in the policy process.

Mr Dlali made reference to specific parts of the document, which he felt illustrated that the Committee had been excluded from the decision making process, although members of provincial and local government were involved. He insisted that the document must return to the Committee at a later stage for endorsement or amendment, and that it must be owned by the Committee. He felt that if it was a DLA document, the dti should simply view it as an independent charter.

Ms Ntuli commented that the document referred specifically to phase two is mentioned, and she was disappointed and concerned that the Committee had not even seen the codes for the first phase.

The Acting Chairperson agreed that ownership must be taken by the Committee and the full document must first be tabled before this Committee, and before Parliament.

Mr Abercrombie said that dti would make the charter publicly available after the Minister had agreed that the Charter could proceed, and it would thereafter be referred to Parliament. DLA was still awaiting the codes of dti, which articulated the minimum guidelines that enterprises had to adhere to. However, he pointed out that this was a working process and that phases one and two were mere improvements upon the same codes of good practice by the dti themselves.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there was a need for a presentation on the BBBEE Act itself, so that the Committee could understand its full import and properly apply its mind to the direction in which AgriBEE was moving.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) commented that the one positive aspect was that at least the Committee had been alerted to the Charter and could still insist that the matter be properly dealt with.

Mr Dlali again expressed concern that the Committee had been ignored, and the importance of its work ignored. .

The Acting Chairperson agreed that the Charter must be placed before the Committee, as it was crucial to ensure that it could fulfil its oversight and monitoring function in parliament. 

Mr A Nel (DA) agreed and asked also for a statement of policy.

Ms Ntuli questioned the policy making process, in particular asking whether it was correct that the Minister should first make amendments before the Charter had been brought to the Committee.

Mr Abercrombie said that this issue must be taken up with the Minister and dti. He mentioned two occasions where the DLA had spoken about informing the committee, so it was clearly not their intention to ignore the Committee. He hoped to return at the end of August to present the views of the minister regarding the charter.

The Acting Chairperson stressed that it would be important to have the Minister present at the meeting when the policy and Charter would be presented.

NEPAD Conference Report
The Acting Chairperson stated that the report circulated contained details of the NEPAD Conference on Championing Agricultural Successes for Africa’s Future, held from 15 to 18 May 2006. Since not all members had managed to read it, and since some who attended the previous meeting were not present at this one, it would not yet be discussed.

The meeting was adjourned.



 
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 AUGUST 2006
AgriBEE STATUS: PRESENTATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AFFAIRS

Acting Chairperson:
Adv S Holomisa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Status of AgriBEE (printed PowerPoint slides)
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE)
Briefing by Commission on Restitution of Land Rights
NEPAD Conference Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs

SUMMARY
The Department of Land Affairs began its presentation on the status of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE) The Committee knew very little about it, and so the process for its approval and publication was briefly outlined.
Several members expressed concern that the Committee had neither been consulted nor had been involved in the development of the charter. In addition they were concerned that the amendments that had been made by the Minister had not been presented to the Committee. The Department undertook to return to the Minister and discuss this issue further before reporting back to the Committee.

The NEPAD Conference Report of the Porfolio Committee was tabled but would stand over for adoption at a later meeting.

MINUTES
AgriBEE Presentation by Department of Land Affairs, and interactive discussion with Committee
Mr Rudolph Abercrombie (Director General, Department of Land Affairs (DLA)) reported that the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE Charter) had already been presented to the Minister and that she had made some amendments.

The Acting Chairperson asked Mr Abercrombie why the amendments were not included in the current presentation.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) agreed with the Acting Chairperson and asked what exactly was expected of the committee regarding the Charter.

The Acting Chairperson emphasised that the Committee had very little knowledge of the Charter as a result of poor communication from the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) as well as Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

Mr Abercrombie replied that he was simply responding a request by the committee to report on the status of the charter, which would inform the committee what had taken place. He explained that after the Committee had approved the Charter, it would need to be approved by the Minister, then sent to dti, and then published in the Government Gazette.

Mr J Bici (UDM) felt that the Committee had been excluded from the development of the Charter. He commented that improved teamwork was necessary for this policy to be instituted.

The Acting Chairperson believed that both the Committee and the Minister needed to be involved in development of the Charter.

Mr Abercrombie responded to the committee concerns by stating that he would return to the Minister and seek advice, before reporting back again to the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson stressed that he should convey that the Committee’s voices and views had not been heard and that they must be taken into consideration.

A member mentioned that feedback was received from INDABA participants.

The Acting Chairperson argued that INDABA participants’ views could not be more important than the committee’s inputs.

The member disagreed with the Acting Chairperson. He felt that there was a wide consultation process, and the point of the presentation was to inform the committee precisely on that process. The Charter would have been drawn in accordance with He continued by explaining that the charter would be in accordance with the intent of DLA and dti. The Charter would be fully publicized at the end of the process by dti. However, phase 2 of the process would involve the drawing of codes of good practice, and these codes would still need to be presented to the committee.

He added that this Charter would include the criteria for different enterprises, such as small and medium sized. He mentioned that dti had, a short while ago, held a workshop to better align dti with relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the new Minister felt confident about the process and was ready to share her views. It seemed that DLA still had not received the dti’s codes of good practice.

The Acting Chairperson wished to hear more on the content of the charter.

The member stipulated that the AgriBEE Charter had been refined and that the Charter articulated the link of enterprises and agriculture. The goal of the Charter was to provide the necessary guidelines for all parties regarding land affairs.

The Acting Chairperson commented that this was not quite what he had meant by the request.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked what was expected of the committee regarding the document. She asked if it was to be perceived as merely informative, and asked about the timing of the document. It was not clear whether the document emanated from dti or DLA, and she would prefer that the Committee was given a chance to read the document in depth before being asked to discuss it.

Mr Abercrombie stated that he could not answer the question and he wondered whether he should have handed out the document in the first place.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there was a lack of communication in regard to this document. He wanted to know at what stage the Committee would normally become involved in the policy process.

Mr Dlali made reference to specific parts of the document, which he felt illustrated that the Committee had been excluded from the decision making process, although members of provincial and local government were involved. He insisted that the document must return to the Committee at a later stage for endorsement or amendment, and that it must be owned by the Committee. He felt that if it was a DLA document, the dti should simply view it as an independent charter.

Ms Ntuli commented that the document referred specifically to phase two is mentioned, and she was disappointed and concerned that the Committee had not even seen the codes for the first phase.

The Acting Chairperson agreed that ownership must be taken by the Committee and the full document must first be tabled before this Committee, and before Parliament.

Mr Abercrombie said that dti would make the charter publicly available after the Minister had agreed that the Charter could proceed, and it would thereafter be referred to Parliament. DLA was still awaiting the codes of dti, which articulated the minimum guidelines that enterprises had to adhere to. However, he pointed out that this was a working process and that phases one and two were mere improvements upon the same codes of good practice by the dti themselves.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there was a need for a presentation on the BBBEE Act itself, so that the Committee could understand its full import and properly apply its mind to the direction in which AgriBEE was moving.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) commented that the one positive aspect was that at least the Committee had been alerted to the Charter and could still insist that the matter be properly dealt with.

Mr Dlali again expressed concern that the Committee had been ignored, and the importance of its work ignored. .

The Acting Chairperson agreed that the Charter must be placed before the Committee, as it was crucial to ensure that it could fulfil its oversight and monitoring function in parliament. 

Mr A Nel (DA) agreed and asked also for a statement of policy.

Ms Ntuli questioned the policy making process, in particular asking whether it was correct that the Minister should first make amendments before the Charter had been brought to the Committee.

Mr Abercrombie said that this issue must be taken up with the Minister and dti. He mentioned two occasions where the DLA had spoken about informing the committee, so it was clearly not their intention to ignore the Committee. He hoped to return at the end of August to present the views of the minister regarding the charter.

The Acting Chairperson stressed that it would be important to have the Minister present at the meeting when the policy and Charter would be presented.

NEPAD Conference Report
The Acting Chairperson stated that the report circulated contained details of the NEPAD Conference on Championing Agricultural Successes for Africa’s Future, held from 15 to 18 May 2006. Since not all members had managed to read it, and since some who attended the previous meeting were not present at this one, it would not yet be discussed.

The meeting was adjourned.


 
 

 

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