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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
22 May 2007
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AFFAIRS STRATEGIC PLAN 2007/08 BRIEFING
Chairperson: Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North West)
Documents handed out:
Department of Land Affairs Strategic presentation
Table of 2006/07 Spending until February 2007
The Department of Land Affairs presented the Department’s plans and objectives for the current financial year and provided results from the Department’s past projects as well as the department expenditure breakdown from the past financial year. The Department aimed to create and maintain a sustainable land dispensation that resulted in social and economic development through enhanced land rights for all. It was committed to poverty alleviation, interventions to accelerate land redistribution, land based integrated planning, enhanced access to land by farm dwellers and developing capacity-building models and programme for land reform beneficiaries. Redistribution of land was still a major priority. Tenure of security for farm dwellers was receiving attention, and skills development programmes for vulnerable groups were being enhanced. 20 million hectares of land still needed to be distributed to meet the 2014 targets. The budget was R3.7 billion in the last year, with expenditure to February 2007 having reached R3.2 billion. The allocation for 2007/08 was R5.67 billion, with 58% being targeted for restitution and 30% to land reform. The allocations per programme were detailed and comparative figures shown.
Members raised questions on under spending, the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principles and workshops, the land tax, the targets for redistribution, the Department’s efforts to curb eviction of farm workers, whether the budget was sufficient to meet the settlement of all outstanding land claims by 2008, and the use of roll overs from the previous financial years. The targets for delivery of land were queried and elaboration sought on the special vehicle, development programmes, the relationship with municipalities and other entities, and the Skills Development programme. Further questions related to water and mineral rights on redistributed land, registration of land, foreign land ownership, and the State’s ability to influence market prices
Department of Land Affairs (DLA) Strategic Plan Briefing
Mr Mdudusi Shabane, Deputy Director General, Department of Land Affairs (DLA), noted that the Department aimed to be a global leader in the creation and maintenance of a sustainable land dispensation that resulted in social and economic development for South Africa. This would involve providing enhanced land rights to all. The particular aims and objectives for the current year included a commitment to poverty alleviation, interventions to accelerate land redistribution, land based integrated planning, enhanced access to land by farm dwellers and developing capacity-building models and programme for land reform beneficiaries. Redistribution of land was still a major priority, and it was intended that 30% of white-owned agricultural land would be redistributed by 2014 for sustainable agricultural development, that tenure security would be enhanced, and that all outstanding land claims be settled by 2008. State Land management must support development, there would be a skills development framework for land and agrarian reform and development programmes for women, children, those with disabilities, those with HIV/Aids and older persons. A knowledge management strategy, IT and communications would support these goals, together with appropriate monitoring and evaluation, policy guidelines to support the objectives, strategies for risk and compliance management and safety and security measures. Current legislation needed to be reviewed and amended to facilitate these processes.
Mr Shabane noted that the targets required that 24.6 million hectares of agricultural land should have been delivered by 2014, and 20 million hectares remained still to be delivered.
The administration, survey and mapping, cadastral survey management, land and tenure reform, spatial planning and deeds registration programmes were outlined, with their specific interventions being tabled and discussed. The Department was encouraging participation from all the relevant departments at the national, provincial and municipal level.
The details of spending over the seven programmes was presented, showing a total budget of R3.7 billion, with expenditure to February 2007 having reached R3.2 billion, or 87% of budget. The allocation for 2007/08 was R5.67 billion, with 58% being targeted for restitution and 30% to land reform. The allocations per programme were detailed and comparative figures shown.
Mr L Van Rooyen (ANC, Free State) commended the Department for the improvements in the financial statements but stated that under spending was a worrying factor. He asked whether the Department had capacity to spend, and, if not, what it had planned to change in solving the under spending problem.
Mr Shabane responded that the under spending referred to the financial year 2005/06 and that the Department had efficiently spent its budgets in the 2006/07 financial year. He further mentioned that the spending patterns for the next financial year attested to the changes being implemented to curb problems of under spending and also indicated that the Department was confident of spending its entire budget allocations.
Ms B Dlulane (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked for clarity on ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ workshops and whether all stakeholders were represented at these workshops.
Mr Shabane made it clear that the workshops were internal, so that only internal stakeholders were represented thus far.
Ms Dlulane also expressed her support for the land tax issue and asked for more elaboration on it, as she was not present when the issue was tabled.
Mr Shabane mentioned that Section 25 of the Constitution was broadly framed and thus allowed the Department to be quite creative with respect to implementation of the land redistribution programme. Since 1994 the Department had been implementing the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ mechanism, which had resulted in land prices being at the mercy of market forces, which had effectively meant increased land prices. He also mentioned that this called for the State to intervene in stabilising land prices as well as in ensuring that people fully utilised all their land. Land tax was one such measure of intervention that the State could use.
Mr Thozi Gwanya, Land Claims Commissioner added that the Department’s efforts had been targeted at land owners and the high prices they were charging. He said that the Department had given a time frame of six months for negotiations, and if these failed then the Department would proceed with expropriation of the land.
The Chairperson asked who was being specifically targeted by the redistribution of white owned land.
Mr Shabane stated that the 30% referred to prime agricultural land with high potential that was currently owned by white people. He said this was the land that was to be redistributed to black people.
The Chairperson mentioned his concerns that farm workers were still being evicted, especially in North West, and wanted to know what steps were being taken to curb this abuse of rights.
Mr Shabane replied that the Department was working with other institutions such as the Legal Aid Board and the Rural Legal Trust to set up a land rights management facility, hopefully by September 2007, to police and regulate evictions of farm dwellers on an ongoing basis. He also mentioned that the Department wanted to target two farm dwellers and provide them with long term security of tenure security through proactive land acquisition, which was proving a measure to curb evictions. The Department had done a review of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, had identified some loop holes and would be dealing with them.
The Chairperson enquired whether the budget was sufficient to meet the settlement of all outstanding land claims by 2008.
Mr Shabane said the Department was intending to increase its budgets through the mid-term budget review to iron out backlogs resulting from previous under spending.
Dr Nozizwe Makgalemele, DDG, Land Planning and Information, DLA, reiterated that the Department had reached a high target in the past financial year by spending 99.98% of the allocated budget.
Mr L Van Rooyen enquired what had happened to the roll-overs from the previous financial years.
Mr Gwanya replied that the Department had been spending between 96% and 98% of allocated budgets over the past five years, except for the last financial year where there was about R900 million of under spent funds, largely attributed to the Land Redistribution Programme, which resulted from delayed transfer of funds due to verification processes. He said that the funds could not be paid to communities because at that point in time the communities had no legal entities to represent them. He lastly mentioned that these funds were not included in the settlements.
Ms Dlulane wanted to know how far the Department was on its target of delivering 2.8 million hectares of land per year.
Mr Shabane stated that the Department had already delivered around four million hectares and admitted that the pace on delivery was slow. The Department was looking into ways to remedy the situation.
Ms Dlulane requested elaboration on the issue of the special vehicle.
Mr Shabane stated that there was a considerable amount of agricultural land available on the open market and the Department was investigating ways of trying to ensure that the Department could be given preference in making offers on the land. The special purpose vehicle was an additional delivery platform that streamlined most of the Department’s projects. He said it would assist the Department in accelerating the land delivery process.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the Department was effecting development programmes for the empowerment of women, children, people with disabilities and those living with HIV/ AIDS.
Mr Shabane replied that these were vulnerable groups that had not received as much focus from the Department in the past, and therefore the Department was investigating what channels it could use to ensure these groups were afforded the necessary attention now.
Mr Van Staden added that the Department had a team whose purpose was to engage with the different groups, including youth and gender groups, to find out ways in which the Department could provide services to them.
The Chairperson enquired about the relationship the Department had with municipalities, since he had heard that municipalities were beset with problems.
Mr Shabane responded that all government departments were required to come up with a master plan to support municipalities especially those 136 municipalities that were classed as poor. The Department provided municipalities with special planning and information and also participated in the integrated development planning processes through the Area Based Development Programme.
Ms M Oliphant (ANC, Kwazulu Natal) wondered whether the Skills Development Programme covered all beneficiaries since most of them were under utilising the land.
Mr Shabane stated that the Department had realised that the development mandates given by the land legislation could empower the Department to take action against people who acquired land but then did not develop it and that action was underway on these issues.
Mr Anton Van Staden, Acting CD; Human Capital, DLA, added that the Skills Development Programme was a joint venture between the Department of Land Affairs and Department of Agriculture and the two departments were not acting independently of each other. The idea behind this programme was to provide services not only to specific beneficiaries that received benefits at a particular time, but rather to all who stood to benefit in a broader sense from the programme.
Ms Oliphant also requested clarification on the relationships with the Department of Water Affairs and Department of Minerals and Energy because some beneficiaries of the land distribution programme had received land without any proper water supply. She also said some of the land given to beneficiaries had mineral deposits, and that beneficiaries were not consulted in regard to exploration of the minerals.
Mr Shabane responded that the DLA was working together with the Department of Agriculture to align their processes to ensure the smooth and synchronised implementation of projects from both departments.
Mr Gwanya added that the DLA had working relations with the Department of Water Affairs and that the problem of provision of water supply rights had arisen because of previous ways of billing water costs. In respect of mining, the State had been given mineral rights over any redistributed land by virtue of the Minerals Act, but it was possible for application to be made to the State for licences.
The Chairperson wanted to know whether all the land in South Africa was registered and if not what steps were being taken to do so.
Dr Makgalemele responded that some of the land in the country had been allocated to the communities as communal land, for the use and benefit by particular communities. She said that there were efforts being made under the Communal Land and Rights Act to survey the land and register it in the name of the benefiting communities.
Mr Shabane added that the Department, with the assistance of surveyors, was working on a project to complete the asset register of state land. Most of the land that was not registered was regarded as public land.
The Chairperson wanted to know where the Department stood on the policy on land ownership by foreigners.
Mr Shabane reported that the panel on foreign land ownership set up by the previous Minister had completed its report and the Department was still awaiting the results of the report.
The Chairperson asked how much land had been expropriated already.
Mr Shabane said that emphasis had recently been put on expropriation because the Department had not previously used expropriation to implement land delivery, preferring rather to focus on the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ mechanism. He mentioned that there was need for expropriation legislation to guide the process as it was not easy to employ.
The Chairperson asked what influence the Department had on the issue of market prices and the market for land.
Mr Gwanya replied that the markets were established under capitalist reforms that discouraged the involvement of the State. He said that prices were set or determined by market forces. He however admitted to the fact that it was the Department’s wish that the State be able to exercise direct influence on land prices, as the State was the main buyer of land in the market.
Mr Van Rooyen asked for clarity on the relationship between the Department and AgriSA as well as the Transvaal Agricultural Union.
Mr Shabane stated that there was a healthy relationship between the Department and AgriSA. He said AgriSA had even offered to help in the land reform and redistribution and at present both institutions were ready to enter into an agreement to work together and assist each other in these programmes.
Ms Oliphant wanted to know how the poor were classified in terms of providing them with benefits due.
This question was not specifically answered.
The meeting was adjourned.
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