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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 March 2007
LAND AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT: STRATEGIC PLAN 2007/08
Chairperson: Ms D Hlengethwa (ANC)
Documents Handed Out:
Strategic Plan Presentation Document of Department of Land Affairs
Strategic Plan March 2007 – Department of Land Affairs (available later on www.land.pwv.gov.za)
Audio recording of the meeting
The Department of Land Affairs (DLA) presented its Strategic Plan for 2007/08 - 2009. The Director General (DG) of Land Affairs briefed the Committee on plans to distribute 20 million hectares (ha) of land between now and 2014. He outlined plans for a new performance management system within the DLA. The DG of Land Affairs elaborated on a new process embarked on by the department to engage people with disabilities. Plans to assist municipalities in terms of spatial planning were discussed, as well as policy proposals to manage evictions. A plan to implement a policy of “right of first refusal” for the state was also discussed.
The discussion centred on the slow nature of land reform up to the present. The 4 million ha of land that had been redistributed had taken more than ten years to achieve. The Committee felt it was very ambitious of the department to set itself the goal of redistributing a further 20 million ha in the stipulated time. Concern was also raised regarding the efficacy and slow implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA).
Mr G Thomas (DG of Land Affairs) explained that; of the 100 million ha of farmland in South Africa, 82 million ha was owned by whites. The aim of the DLA from 1994 was to transfer 24.6 million ha to previously disadvantaged people by the year 2014. Since 1994, 4 million ha had already been transferred, thus the department was left with 20 million ha that it still needed to transfer.
The strategic objectives also included provision of land for people living and working on farms; settlement of outstanding claims by 2008; provision of land for sustainable human settlements and the provision of efficient land use and administration services.
The strategic plan 2007/08 and 2009/10 planned to address administrative issues such as creating an enabling environment for improved service delivery through leadership alignment and appropriate organizational culture and architecture. The development of an efficient information management strategy supported IT would be implemented.
Policy reforms included the CLARA amendment Bill, Land Use Management Act and Amendment Bills on Deeds registration. Other policy issues mentioned was the development of the policies on land acquisition, land tax, land ownership and policy on sustainable human settlements.
The Department of Land Affairs had a new structure, which it was implementing as part of an effort to streamline personnel and skills. The department was aiming for the empowerment of women, children, those living with HIV/AIDS and people with disabilities and had also initiated a dialogue with youth organizations in order to get young people more purposefully involved in its work.
Mr A Nel (DA) stated that every year the Committee was hearing the same thing. During the Minister’s Legotla, a plan was recommended. How much land had the department bought through its strategies? How does the land transferred through public/private partnerships factor into the 30% that has already been transferred? Who was the person that needed tenure security? Was it not the people with PTO (permission to occupy) that needed the security? If so, why could CLARA not give more security to those people with PTOs? Was the investigation by the Public Services Commission finished? If so, what was the outcome of that investigation?
Regarding public/private partnerships for delivery of land Mr Thomas replied that the land reform process was a national process. It was a process that required not only government to drive it. It needed every South African to rally behind the land reform process, and that would include the private sector. One of the problems that the Department of Agriculture had had to deal with was that although it had provided this funding, it was not in full control in terms of what happens at the provinces because of the concurrency of functions. This problem was however being dealt with.
The environment in which the DLA found itself was not unique, but was rather common to all organizations, both in the public and in the private sector; that if you didn’t plan all the time you may not achieve what you want to achieve. There were many schools of thought with respect to this matter. Some said there should be five-year plans, others said that there should be three-year plans, some said plan everyday. It meant that as you implement you had to plan, and as you planned you had to implement.
The question of planning should not be seen as unimportant. That the DLA was before the Committee was because it was there to present a Strategic Plan. The Committee had asked the DLA to plan and that was exactly what the DLA was doing. It could not only end at planning, but there had to be implementation. Later in the year, when DLA reported in its annual report, the Committee would see that DLA had indeed been implementing.
On CLARA, and which persons need their land to be secured on communal land; it was important to read the White Paper on Land Policy, and also to go back to the process of coming up with CLARA, and what informed the process of coming up with the Communal Land Rights Act. One of the major issues in relation to communal land that the DLA wanted to address was the chaotic administration of land in communal areas. PTOs are not a guarantee of secure tenure, something more than a PTO is needed, and CLARA was addressing that. All the people who stay in communal areas need their tenure rights and their land rights to be secured. Mr Thomas was not the competent person to deal with the question of the Public Service Commission investigation in the DLA. The person who could deal with that was the Minister.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked what exactly the strategic plan was, to fast track the reallocation of land. If in a time of ten to thirteen years, the department could only distribute 4million ha of land, how was it going to achieve the “miracle” of distributing a further 20million ha in the next few years? How had the department arrived at the figure of 60 000 individuals with regards to transfer of land? With regards to the skills development framework outlined in the strategic plan document; why would it take so long to develop those skills? In this regard, by 2010 only seven provinces would have been attended to; what about the other two provinces? The mentioning of Batho Pele in the strategic plan document was worrying because Batho Pele was not new. Has it not been implemented in all this time since Cabinet approved it? Could the amendment of CLARA and the Bill be unpacked? The point regarding Labour Claims needed clarification. This was a cause for great concern. Regarding evictions, if the DG does not have data, where did those who presented data last year get that data from?
Mr E Lucas (IFP) also expressed concern about the time that it had taken to get to 4 million ha. There needed to be more urgency. What were the problems preventing faster progress? Agricultural learning should be encouraged in schools. What was the role of municipalities regarding these matters?
Mr Thomas replied that the DLA was also asking what strategy it needed to employ to fast-track land reform. The DLA has made some proposals and they were on their way to the Committee. The policy reforms that the DG of Land Affairs were also aimed at speeding up land reform. The 60 000 individuals spoken about in the Strategic Plan was estimation and not an exact figure. DLA worked on the basis that when speaking about 82 million ha that was owned by whites; it was speaking about 40 000 to 45 000 farmers. This was taken as a benchmark. Batho Pele was not new, and DLA has been implementing Batho Pele. The Strategic Plan deals with a Batho Pele revitalization strategy, meaning that in the implementation of Batho Pele, the DLA has come across certain challenges and the revitalization strategy merely deals with those challenges so that DLA becomes more effective in regards to Batho Pele. The data that the DLA has on farm evictions was inadequate. It was not that there was no data.
Mr A Van Niekerk (DA) asked; to what extent could the department look after sustainable agricultural development? To what extent did the department have the capacity to do this? What is the capacity of the department regarding the provision of a skills development framework for land and agrarian reform for all relevant stakeholders? To what extent did an integration of systems between Housing, Water Affairs and Land Affairs exist already? Would the Land Tax be additional to the Municipal Tax? Would it be Value based? What was meant by the intervention to halt post 1994 settlement growth patterns?
Mr Thomas stated that it was not the mandate of the DLA to provide agricultural support services. It was the mandate of the Department of Agriculture, at both national and provincial levels, to provide agricultural support services. It was however in the interest of the DLA to see that when people were provided with agricultural land, they were in a position to use that land for their subsistence, as well as to explore economic opportunities once the land had been provided to them. It was for this reason that the DLA had taken it upon itself to establish a monitoring and evaluation framework, to look at whether or not, after people had received land, their quality of life had improved. The DLA had developed certain indicators in this regard.
While it was not in the mandate of the DLA to provide agricultural support services, the DLA did employ people such as agricultural economists, who were able to advise on certain aspects in relation to sustainability. It was unfortunate that the DG of Agriculture was part of the proceedings, because he would have been better able to answer the questions around sustainability. When the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development Sub-Program of the redistribution program, was designed, one of the main objectives was to ensure that issues of sustainability of land reform projects, were dealt with.
Mr J Bici (UDP) stated that settlers needed to be protected against evictions. Yet owners also needed to be protected. Why was the department only starting with the empowerment of the disabled and the youth now? What had the department been doing with regards to these groups, up until this point? Regarding the 4million ha of land that had been delivered, is there a way of monitoring the new owners of the land, regarding their progress and whether or not they are producing? How much state was owned by the state, and for how long had the state owned this land? Was the department in contact with the chiefs regarding these matters? Did not some of these interventions infringe on the authority of the chiefs? Were the 60 000 individuals emerging farmers or commercial farmers?
Mr Thomas stated that over the years the DLA had been conducting quality of life surveys which were done on a two yearly basis. The DLA was expecting a report soon on one of those surveys. Before people were settled on the land, and it was transferred to them, there was a whole process that took place, which included the development of business plans if people were going to be getting farmland. What was this land going to be used for? If they were going into farming; what would the yield be? What income would be derived from those farming operations? It was the Department of Agriculture, particularly at the provincial level who worked together with the DLA in terms of that, because they were the experts.
Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked why were programs for the disabled and for the youth only beginning now. With the lack of capacity and skills shortages that is cited in the strategic plan, could the targets be reached? Why were policy guidelines to amplify core objectives only being produced now? Was there a way of developing scarce skills? What had the department been doing to close the skills gap?
Ms C Choane (Chief Financial Officer, DLA) stated that the data that had been captured in the document was the deliverables. For the disabled, the DLA would come up with guidelines to ensure that the programs are the result of a consultative process. These programs should be informed by the needs on the ground regarding the disabled. The DLA had to embark on a process where it consulted with organized forums of disabled people. A similar process is being embarked on to deal with the youth. The DLA was going to come up with a needs-based training program. DLA needed to go out and do a needs-analysis. DLA was busy with the two provinces that did not appear on the document, and they would be included in future. The DLA has done significant work on Batho Pele. The issue of capacity constraints was common throughout government. The DLA had embarked on a multi-pronged approach to deal with capacity.
Mr P Ditshetelo (UDP) asked whether the department was ready to meet the timeframes as they were stipulated. Were there any challenges with the expropriation system?
The DLA does want to “gijima” (Gejima?). This was the clarion call of the Land Summit; that there should be a partnership to fast-track land and agrarian reform. The DLA had started the process of Pro-Active Land Acquisition.
Mr M Ngema (NADECO) sympathized with the situation of the department. It did not matter how unpalatable the issues were; it was important that they were dealt with. Government had compromised the right of people to receive land that was taken from them. The department had to deliver on its programs of land reform. If CLARA was not moving in KZN, which was really a pilot project for it, how would people in other provinces be pacified, who looked on this legislation with hope?
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) asked why it had not been uppermost in the department’s mind that the problem was not the evictions but rather finding land for these people. How far had other departments shown a willingness to work with the DLA on the issue of redistribution? What progress has been made regarding the issue of land ownership by foreigners?
Ms B Thompson (ANC) asked what the DLA’s relationship was with the Land Bank.
Adv Holomisa suggested that the rest of the answers should be submitted to the Committee in written format, because of time-constraints.
Mr Dlali asked for the answers to be handed in within two weeks.
The meeting was adjourned
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