Department of Land Affairs 2008/2009 Strategic Plan and Budget

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

10 March 2008
Chairperson: Mr M Mohlaloga ( ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Land Affairs gave a presentation to the Committee on the 2008/09 Strategy Plan and budget. Key Performance Areas included the development of an implementation plan for an effective settlement and implementation strategy, thereby providing support to land reform beneficiaries. The legislative programme was set out. The Department would in future be permitted to purchase assets and equipment when buying land, and this would capacitate the land reform programme. The Department summarised the programmes for the year. 1 022 posts were awaiting final approval and would be phased in gradually. Land ownership by foreigners was under discussion. The outstanding claims for restitution were noted as standing at 4 891, of which 2 585 had been prioritised for completion in 2008/09. Development of the Land Agrarian Reform Programme was a response to the State of the Nation address. DLA had corresponded with the Department of Justice to provide legal support to victims of Human rights abuses on farms. Implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act would be done to promote social and economic development. The Land Rights Board, in line with the legislation, would be set up by June. There would be an audit of State Land by the end of March. Electronic deeds registration would capacitate the process. A summary of the spending to February 2008 was given. There was a need for higher funding, particularly for land restitution, in order to achieve the redistribution target.

The Committee heard a presentation on the budget from the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies at University of Western Cape.

Members were quite critical of a number of aspects of the presentation. They pointed to several alleged discrepancies in the figures, and commented that many of the same strategies as had been presented last year had simply been re-presented, without proper reporting as to what exactly had been done. They stressed the need for post-settlement support, and suggested that perhaps interventions would be warranted from the Committee. Members sought details of the roll out of Land Use Management, the correct figures for allocation to beneficiaries of land reform, whether agricultural land tax was cost-effective, whether the plans were feasible, and whether these plans had taken into account the real conditions on the ground. Members asked for precise details as to the progress of Willing Buyer, Willing Seller principles, the process of land claims, the reasons for the long delays in investigating matters, the vacancy rate and its impact on the work of the Department, and impoundment issues. The figures for the restitution claims were queried and the Department undertook to provide full details to the Committee within three weeks. The Department was also asked whether it was possible to resuscitate failed projects.

Meeting report

Department of Land Affairs (DLA) Strategic Plan and Budget 2008/09
Mr Thozi Gwanya, Director-General, Department of Land Affairs (DLA), gave a presentation to the Committee on the 2008-2009 strategic plan and budget. He noted that the DLA 2008/09 strategic plan was informed by the State of Nation Address (SONA), and pointed these out on page 3 of his presentation. The Key Performance Areas included the development of an implementation plan for an effective settlement and implementation strategy, thereby providing support to land reform beneficiaries.

The legislative programme included the Land Use Management Bill, which was of high priority to the Department and should be enacted in this year. The Bill was already approved by Cabinet and would be tabled before the Committee during the current year. The Bill contained section 76 considerations. The Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill essentially entailed repealing the Act that created traditional leaders to bring it in line with current legislation addressing traditional leaders. He added that the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill, entailed repealing the Act that had allowed the Department to buy land, but not assets and equipment as desired by the sellers of the land. The Amendment Bill would allow the Department to buy the land and the equipment and assets at the request of the previous owner. It would capacitate the land reform programme by allowing the sellers of land not to be stuck with their equipment and assets after selling their land and would allow the Department to capacitate the new land owners with support in the form of the assets.  The Bill had been published for public comment  and would hopefully be tabled before Cabinet in April or May.

Three bills would be enacted this year - the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill, The Land Use Management Bill and the Provision of Land Assistance Amendment Bill.

The Director General then tabled the programmes for the year (see attached presentation for details). He noted that in relation to Programme 1: Administration there were 1 022 posts that were waiting final approval from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). The National Treasury advised the DLA that the new structure could not be implemented immediately, but would be best done in phases. The DLA therefore followed the recommendations. Implementation of the new structure was complemented by the Graduate programme, which essentially sought to address the skills shortage in the Department and enhance the DLA Human Capital. It would recruit 450 graduates, of whom 150 had already been employed. It was an intensification of the internship programme already in place at the Department

Programme 1 also included the policy on land ownership by foreigners. The inter-Departmental task team was analysing the public views, which appeared to be conflicting. The Estate Agents had rejected foreign ownership of land whereas the general public had taken a more conservative stance suggesting that full ownership not be granted, but instead foreigners should be allowed leases. The leases would provide the government with a means of regulation. These views were taken into consideration in the draft policy proposal.

The memorandum on the proposal for amending Regulation 18, in respect of disclosure, had been referred to the Board for consideration.

The Willing-Buyer Willing-Seller (WBWS) principle was supported by Cabinet, although it wanted the Department to consider the Expropriation Amendment Bill.

The implemented Security Policy was important to ensure the security of the Department’s database.

With regard to Programme 2: Surveys and Mapping, Mr Gwanya indicated that Earth imagery covering the whole country would include the Department establishing provincial offices for spatial planning, which was particularly important for the North West province.

In regard to Programme 4: Restitution, it was explained that there were 4 891 outstanding claims. Of these, 2 585 had been prioritised and targeted for completion in 2008/09. Some were already with the Land Claims Court and involved determining the rightful traditional leaders. These were complex cases, with delays in settlement. He also commented on Settlement Support processes of land claims, with a development aspect facilitated to ensure sustainable development. The settlement implementation support strategy (SISS) included post settlement support to ensure that land allocated would contribute to agricultural development. This had been a paramount issue. Support was to be provided through the assistance of professionals linked to the support provided with MEC’s offices. This had proved to be highly successful in the land distribution programme in the Limpopo province.

In regard to Programme 5: Land and Tenure Reform, Mr Gwanya noted that there had been development of the Land Agrarian Reform Programme (LARP) which was a response to the priority apex of the State of the Nation address. This aimed to achieve the 30% land acquisition target and facilitate the provision of support to land reform beneficiaries. LARP was an important strategic programme for the current year and was being implemented in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture (DOA).

Roll-out of Land Rights Management Facility was a response to the issue of evictions. The DLA had corresponded with the Department of Justice to provide legal support to victims of Human rights abuses on farms.

The implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act (ClaRA) would be done to promote social and economic development. The ClaRA regulations were out for public comment and would be tabled before Cabinet. The establishment of a Land Rights Board, in line with the legislation, in each affected province would be done by June. 

Further achievements under this programme included an audit of the users of state land. It was expected that the audit would indicate that most of the land was not available for allocation. This audit would be available by the end of March.

In regard to Programme 6: Spatial planning and information, Mr Gwanya noted that monitoring of legislation regulation and guidelines for the Land Use Management would be the priority for this year.

Programme 7: Deeds Registration was described as paramount to economic development and would include the registration of Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses. The electronic deeds registration would capacitate the process.

Mr Gwanya commented that the Human Resources Plan indicated in the presentation involved the conventional recruitment strategies and the graduate recruitment programme.

Mr Gwanya then presented a summary of the 2007/08 spending until February 2008. He commented that the Department had spent 90% of the R5,9 billion budget by the end of February 2008. The department had 99,9% budget spending in the previous year, and would like to maintain this. Programme 4 had until now been receiving 70% of the Department’s budget. However, as indicated in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations, this would decrease as claims were settled, and the funding would be channelled to programme 5.

The overall budget stressed the need for significantly higher funding. A summary was given of  the Department’s expenditure in the previous years, which clearly indicated the need for more funding. In particular the restitution programme needed more money, as the cost of land was at an average of R2 944 per hectare and was increasing. The strategic plan’s page 16 (see attached presentation) set out the necessary funding increases that would be required to achieve the 2014  redistribution target of 30%.

Land and Agrarian Studies: University of Western Cape: Financing Land Reform
Dr Ruth Hall from the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, gave a brief presentation on financing Land Reform and the Budget Trends and Priorities for the future.

Discussion
Mr A Nel (DA) commented that there was honesty and objectivity in the meeting through the report provided by Dr Hall. He added that land reform could only be efficient and expedient as long as post-settlement support was provided to the beneficiaries to ensure viable and sustainable production on the land. This was important to avoid failures experienced in the past. He added that the Department had viable policies, as indicated on page 11 and 12 of the 2008-2011 strategic plan document, specifically the LARP and use of strategic partners. He was however concerned about their implementation, considering that the necessary funding was unlikely to be provided, as was indicated in the meetings with the Presidency and National Treasury, as well as the analysis given by Dr Hall. He further aired his concern over the ability of the Department to function under circumstances where politicians would set targets to be achieved yet were not willing to provide the necessary funding. The Committee needed to make interventions to rectify this problem if the 30% reform target was to be achieved.

Mr Nel commented that certain aspects of the Land Use Management Bill were rolled in certain provinces, in particular the North Cape. He asked for more elaboration on the roll out.

Dr Nozizwe Makgalemele, Deputy Director General: Land Planning and Information, DLA, replied that during the 2007 State of the Nation Address, the President indicated that the land use management bill would be piloted in preparation for its enactment and rollout. The Department thus conducted workshops in municipalities on the provisions of the Bill, in particular land management schemes, and  the spatial development framework as a facet of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

Mr Nel commented that it had been stated by the DLA that there was a total of 1,5 million hectares of State land, and that between 700 and 800 thousand hectares had been allocated to beneficiaries of land reform. He thus queried page 11 of the 2008-2011 Strategic Plan document that indicated that only 47 703 hectares of State land was delivered for land reform since 1994.

Mr Nel asked if the report of the investigation on the feasibility of instituting a Progressive Agricultural Land Tax was available, and could be produced for the Committee. He also asked if the Department had taken into consideration the evidence and findings of the report of the Land Tax Commission that Agricultural Land Tax was not a cost effective tax method.

Mr Nel asked to know whether the inclusion of race in regulation 18, which was an emotional issue, did not warrant a debate in parliament since it was going to be part of a permanent Act.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) congratulated Mr Gwanya on his appointment as the Director-General. He aired his concern over the feasibility of the plans presented by the Department, taking into consideration the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and insufficient funding analysis in the strategic plan. He added that it appeared as if the DLA was focusing on numbers in the land reform while ignoring sustainability and maintenance.

Mr S Abrahams (ANC) also commented that there appeared to be inconsistencies in the DLA presentation and strategic plans with regards to the hectares of land needing to be redistributed in order to meet the 30% target by 2014.

Mr Gwanya replied that the scenario planning indicated in the presentation was a reflection of the Departments’ objectivity in terms of the achieving set targets. He added that the scenario planning clearly indicated what would be achieved by 2014 under the current budget and resource allocation. The scenario plans of the MTEF clearly indicated the necessity for more funding to support land acquired and meet the 30% target. A meeting was conducted with National Treasury on necessity of the increased future funding, although an indication was given that such funding would not be provided. Increased involvement of the Department of Agriculture was also very crucial to provide double the amount spent on acquiring land by way of post-settlement support, as well as providing inter-departmental support to ensure the success of the land redistribution programme. He further indicated that it was also difficult to work without targets or projections since the landless civil society had its own expectations. The target of redistributing 30% of white owned agricultural land, stated in the DLA strategic plan, was set by the politicians and had to be achieved. This was independent of the Department’s planning.  The 30% target and the feasibility of achieving the target with the funding allocated would have to be debated at a policy level by the various political leaders. He requested that the Committee assist the Department with this problem, either in terms of revising the targets or providing suggestions to meet the targets. He added that the DLA was continuously meeting with National Treasury to discuss the provision of post settlement support for land allocated.

Mr Dlali referred to the statement that the settlement of outstanding claims had been developed and presented to Cabinet on 26 March 2008 and a decision was awaited. Today’s date was only  11 March 2008. He aired his concern over the settlement of the claims if the department was mismatching the dates, implying a lack of commitment.

Mr Dlali referred to the statement that the WBWS had been completed. He then referred to a letter written to the Chairperson by Mr Gwanya, when he was still Acting DG, on 12 December 2007, indicating the progress made by the DLA on the recommendations of the Land Summit. The attachment to the letter indicated that the President had give a directive in the 2006 SONA that the efficiency of the WBWS principles as a mechanism for land reform had to be reviewed. However the current presentation still indicated that the WBWS was still in development. He commented that there appeared to be a lack of commitment and asked to know if the WBWS programme was going to be completed and implemented.

Mr Gwanya replied that progress had been made since 2005 in the WBWS initiative and more detailed progress reports on the programme would be made available to the Committee.

Mr Dlali asked to know the progress made in the outstanding land claim in Mthatha involving the Kwalindile committee. He added that the land had also been given to the Municipality, which had proceeded with development projects on the 355 hectare piece of land, thereby forcing the Kwalindile committee to go to court to stop the developments.

Mr Gwanya replied that the outstanding land claim involving the Kwalindile committee was before the Court, and that the people had been removed from the mountains to make way for the development of forestry. It was one of the pieces of land to be administered through the Power of the Attorney to the provinces. The Power of Attorney in the Eastern Cape was originally granted to the MEC, who passed it on to the Municipality of Mthatha. This Power of Attorney had conditions, specifically that if the land was to be sold or its ownership was transferred, the transfer had to meet the needs of the land reform programme and must consider if there were people who claimed rights to the land. However the MEC had not considered this condition, and the Mthatha Municipality proceeded with development of a shopping mall. The Kwalandile committee took the case to the Land Claims court as they considered that the land should be transferred to them. The development of the shopping mall had been halted pending the outcome of the case. 

Mr Dlali commented that the Committee visited the North West Province and found some of the land had not been allocated to the rightful owners.

Mr Dlali commented that the DLA appeared to have misconstrued the concept of the developmental state, hence the poor progress made in their initiatives.

Mr Dlali referred to another letter written to the Chairperson on 13 December 2007. He quoted the letter as indicating that a number of farm dwellers and labour tenants had received permanent tenure security, and a new strategy was paying particular attention to farm dwellers as they were the most vulnerable people. However, in August 2006 the DLA had presented a report to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Improvement of the Quality of Life and Status of Women, indicating that the Department planned to have a programme for all vulnerable groups in 2006/07. He added that there was a clear contradiction between the information in the 2006 presentation and the December 2007 letter. This begged the question whether the Department was really making progress in its stated initiatives.

Dr Makgalemele replied that some of the targets from the 2006/07 programme for vulnerable groups were not met. He added that since then a task team had been set up in the office of the DG to focus on the Department’s programmes that assisted vulnerable groups and this had particularly focused on drawing up initiatives to assist unemployed youths and women who wished to be part of the land reform.

Mr Dlali commented that a progress report on surveying and mapping in critical former homeland areas had been received in a previous NCOP meeting, yet Programme 2’s progress report made no mention of the progress since the NCOP meeting.

Dr Makgalemele replied that the DLA had identified gaps in the former homelands in the cadastral map of South Africa. This had been a consequence of previous survey studies that had ignored the former homelands. She added that it had therefore been decided to fill in these gaps in preparation for the Communal Land Rights Act. She added that a Directorate in programme 2 had been set up specifically for this task.

Adv Dirk Du Toit, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, apologised for his late arrival and the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, who was attending other parliament meetings. He commented that the Executive was doing exactly what the Members of Parliament (MPs) were trying to do.

Mr Dlali asked to know how the Department was going to deal with the 24,4% vacancy rate indicated in the presentation. He added that the skills shortage indicated by the vacancy rate had implications on the capacity, and limited the ability of the Department to achieve the initiatives stated in its presentation.

Mr Anton Van Staden, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DLA,  replied that the vacancy rate and the skills shortages were being addressed through the DLA skills development programme that was continuously expanding every year. He added that the 2006/07 Annual Report indicated that the Department had awarded 205 bursaries, which had increased to 250 bursaries in the current year. There were 11 students completing their studies at the Namibian Polytechnic, and surveyor students at the University Of Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Kwazulu-Natal. He added that the DLA was completing a skills audit of internal staff that had been running for the past 18 months. The skills audit would guide the Department’s internal skills development programme that focused on areas critical to the achievement of the Department’s objectives

Mr Abrahams commented that there appeared to be problems in the DLA with regard to key personnel in the DLA, such as the court cases against Commissioners in the Limpopo province. He added that the DG himself had rightfully indicated that the success of all initiatives and programmes was dependent on dedicated and loyal personnel in the Department. He asked to know the Department’s staff turnover rate, the reasons behind staff leaving, and whether there was a retention strategy in the Department.

Mr van Staden replied that the DLA did have a staff retention strategy which had proven to be successful. He added that the staff turnover rate was reported as being approximately 14% in 2005, had dropped to 12, 6% in 2006/07 and 10% in 2008. Exit interviews were also conducted, and had indicated that in 90% of the cases employees left owing to outside offers for promotion and better salaries elsewhere. He added that the focus was on having a staff turnover of just below 10% in the next year, but not one that was too low as this would lead the Department into stagnancy.
 
Mr Dlali and Ms Ntuli (ANC) asked to know the names of the two service providers that were going to assist in farm evictions, as well as the terms of reference used in contracting them.

Mr Shabane replied that the service providers were Thompson and Haysom, and Medishin Transformation Services. He added that the former was a legal panel that was going to be coordinating and managing attorneys’ legal support throughout the country. The latter was a mediation panel that would be training new mediators who would be assisting in intervening in cases of conflict between farmer workers and land owners. This initiative sought to ensure that farm workers would be assisted by highly competent lawyers in court. He added that the Department would provide the terms of reference used in contracting the service providers.

Mr Dlali aired his concern over the reports of white commercial farmers who were impounding peasant farmers’ livestock and selling it, claiming that their land was being overgrazed. This was reported to be particularly prevalent in Kwazulu-Natal.

Mr Shabane replied that the impoundment issue was indeed a concern, although the DLA was not responsible for the legislation used in such cases. The DLA had attorneys who had the prime mandate of assisting individuals whose rights had been infringed in cases of impoundment.

Ms Ntuli commented that the Parliamentary Committees were established as instruments of the NCOP and the NA in terms of their joint rules and legislation. The Committees were meant to facilitate the oversight and monitoring of the Executive and to provide administrative and logistical support. She referred to the DLA strategic plan for 2007/08, that indicated that significant progress had been made in the review of the WBWS policy, the review of the regulation of the conditions under which foreigners could buy land and the alternative model for land acquisition. The 2008/09 strategic plan stated exactly the same information.

Mr Gwanya replied that progress had been made in the WBWS initiative since the 2005 Land Summit resolutions. He indicated that the WBWS was linked to discussions that took place on land tax instruments and property tax instruments with the National Treasury and the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG).  Significant progress had been made. Ten approaches were identified during discussions, on how to proceed with the initiative. The documents were meant to have been circulated, and arrangements would be made to have them provided to the Committee. He also requested the Committee’s inputs and suggestions on the approaches identified in the documents. They needed to be analysed in relation to the Draft Expropriation Amendment Bill.

Ms Ntuli referred to the DLA goals to settle 2 585 complex rural restitution claims in the current year. The Department had indicated in 2007 that there were 5 400 outstanding rural restitution claims. She asked to know how many claims were settled in 2007, so that the Committee could determine necessary interventions.

Mr Gwanya replied that the number of outstanding restitution claims was 5 083 in 2007, although progress had been made in settle some of these. He added that the claims were more complex than had been anticipated, leading to the slow settlement. In certain instances the DLA would have settled on the price for a piece of land but sellers would then complain that the land was more valuable than the initial price settled on. In such instances the DLA would have to find other evaluators to revalue the land. Such issues burdened the settlement of claims. At the end of February 2008 the number of outstanding claims was 4 891, and it had been estimated that two thirds of these could be settled in the next 18 months. The other third of the claims would be difficult to settle due to the reasons stated or because they were already in the Land Claims court.

Ms Ntuli referred to the DLA’s 2007/08 capacity building initiatives in training professional land surveyors, implementing an internship programme, bursary schemes and mentorship programmes to address scarce critical skills. It was of concern that the DLA was still referring to implementing training plans in the 2008/09 strategic plan. She asked when the Department was going to implement the training programmes.
 
Mr Shabane indicated that the reference terms used in the contracting of service providers would be provided to the Committee.

Mr Abrahams commented that it was important for the Committee not just to hear the DLA plans. The Department was judged by what it was able to do and what it was doing.  He added that there appeared to be a re-hashing of past programmes and marketing them under a new guise.

Mr Abrahams commented that there was an individual who wrote to the DLA applying for funding to start up a cattle ranch in June 2005. In July 2005 he received the response that he would be contacted soon to follow up on the application. He received no follow up. He then approached the Committee for assistance. They took the matter to the Department in February 2007. The DLA only began to evaluate the land in December 2007. In January 2008 he was informed that the Department would only be able to provide funding between the range of R20 000 and R100 000, depending on how much he was able to contribute, and that he would have to meet the balance of the cost of the land, which amounted to R4 million. He noted that DLA would present supposedly proactive land acquisition strategies to the Committee, yet it took them 12 months to inform potential beneficiaries what they would receive. This was appalling. The individuals were given false expectations and  could have stopped their proposed project in good time, and pursued other interests, or sought funding elsewhere. These were individuals with lives, not merely numbers or figures. The Department should indicate to the Committee whether it had capacity problems or insufficient staff so the Committee could liaise with the Executive to ensure that the Department was capacitated. He asked to know why the process was not expedited in order to allow the individual to make alternative plans.

Mr Gwanya replied that such projects needed the interdepartmental support from the DLA and the Department of Agriculture (DOA). The DLA was able to provide funding for the acquisition of land, although funding for the equipment necessary to ensure that the project was a success was to be provided by the DOA. This was the case in a pig farming project proposal., where the DOA and DLA approval processes needed to be aligned. This had subsequently led to the DLA approaching the 18 individuals who applied for the project, to inform them of the necessity to have DOA involved to provide the post acquisition support. He added that this was the process that the DLA would prefer in the implementation of LARP and it was therefore embarking on road shows in the various provinces focusing on this alignment, which involved various MECs and Head of Departments (HODs). The DLA also had a Provincial Grants approval Committee and the DOA had the District Approval processes for its Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and other programmes within provinces. The DLA tried, with limited results, to align to these programmes. The DLA was nonetheless determined to have these programmes aligned through the road shows, as well as approach the different departments with programme specifics, in the hope of securing the necessary alignment.

Adv Du Toit replied that the R4 million quoted as being needed for the farm appeared to be a market price. He added that the land appeared to have been overpriced and beyond the production capacity necessary to repay the loan in a reasonable amount of time. This was a problem that was currently being addressed.

Adv Du Toit commented that the legacy of apartheid was beginning to be forgotten. The way South Africa was currently divided needed extraordinary measures for redress. There was need to have both urban and rural development, as apartheid focused on both. He added that the individual government programmes did not have any problems per se, but the problem was the lack of a synergistic relationship between them. He suggested that the MPs enquire how much was kept in the suspense accounts in order to resolve the issue of insufficient funding.

The Chairperson commented that the issue of market mechanism and land tax needed to be addressed from the perspective of a developmental state. The question was whether it was appropriate to use market mechanisms in land reform. This issue needed to be addressed by the Executive at a policy level. The increasing demand for land created by the land reform programme would result in land prices rising.

Adv Du Toit concurred with the Chairperson and commented that there was no way the set targets would be achieved if the same government was partly driving up market prices. He added that the only qualification on the production pricing was that the production should be kept up through support and implementation. The success of the land reform programme hinged on State support for infrastructure to ensure high agricultural production, which was imperative to the South African economy. The question would then shift to the production capacity of the land redistributed rather than the market price for the land. Land evaluation was an arbitrary process if the production capacity of the land was central to the evaluations.

Ms L Ngwenya (ANC) asked to know the length of the leases to be provided to foreigners seeking land and the policy for South African citizens wishing to lease land to foreigners.

Ms Ngwenya commented that the WBWS was problematic considering the current issues on land claims and ownership

Mr Shabane replied that the length of the leases had not yet been determined as the process was still at the referendum stage.

Mr Abrahams asked to know how far the DLA had gone in the establishment of the asset register indicated in the presentation and whether the Department had some draft register they could provide to the Committee.

Mr Abrahams asked if there was a register of all the projects implemented by the Department since 1994, including those that failed and those that were successful, as well as the restitution projects and the current status of ongoing projects.

Mr Gwanya replied that information on specific restitution cases would be made available to the Committee in writing, as well as a complete list of all the LARP projects and other DLA projects. He added that the DLA would also provide the Committee with reflection reports on these programmes and reviews of the LARP projects, Equity projects and the Restitution projects. All these reviews indicated the same issues as indicated by Mr Abrahams. The information would be collated and made available in 3 weeks.

Mr Abrahams commented that the DLA programmes and initiatives appeared to focus on figures, which were abstract, whilst ignoring the actual situation on the ground and trying to determine whether the people who were allocated land were better off then they were before the redistribution. He added that the number of cases the Committee had seen in its oversight visits were abysmal and if they were to be extrapolated painted a very gloomy picture of the entire programmes.
 
Mr Abrahams commended Ms Hall for her objective and clinical assessment of the DLA budget and asked if the envisaged projects  and initiatives, in particular the LARP programme, would take place considering the under funding projected in the MTEF.

Mr Gwanya replied that the projected funding in the MTEF would spread out over the next 3 years, precisely to redress the imbalances.

Mr Abrahams referred to the DLA target to allocate 5 million hectares of land to 10 000 new farmers. He asked whether the DLA target was realisable, considering Dr Hall’s estimate that each 500 hectare parcel would cost approximately R1, 6 million, excluding post settlement support and the current underfunding.

Mr Abrahams suggested that the Department indicate to the Committee the necessary funding to resuscitate failed projects, rather than spend billions of rands on acquiring land that would end up idle, unproductive and not contributing to food security. He gave the example of farms that were acquired for restitution purposes, where there was no synergy between the purchases of the farms and the successful settlement of people allocated the land. Much damage took place during the interim period between the acquisition and allocation of the land due to expropriation of equipment, and it would therefore cost the government millions, if not billions, to get the land productive. He asked whether there was any funding allocated to the resuscitation of failed projects such as the farms acquired for restitution.

Mr Gwanya replied that the Department would respond to the specific restitution cases in writing. He added that failed projects had not been resuscitated. Impact studies had been done but not the costing necessary to revive them.

Mr Abrahams asked if the DLA would achieve the 2014 milestone to distribute 30% of the 84 million hectares of agricultural land owned by white farmers, considering the current status of projects in 2008 and the challenges being faced.

Mr Abrahams commented that there appeared to be inconsistencies in the DLA estimate of the number of hectares that needed to be redistributed in order the reach the 30% target in 2014, as compared with the number of hectares already distributed by the Department since 1994. The strategic plan document indicated that 24,6 million hectares needed to be redistributed to reach the target. Later it was indicated that 24,9 million hectares needed to redistributed to reach the same target. It was further indicated the 4,7 million hectares were redistributed to date in one instance, whilst in other instances 4,3 million and 4,1 million hectares were indicated as having been redistributed. He added that these were unacceptable disparities and asked to know how much had exactly been done to date, and what needed to be done to reach the 2014 target. 

Mr Gwanya replied that the projections made fluctuated according to the number of claims settled in a particular period and the progress being made. He added that it would be necessary to state ‘as at’ in future reports so as to avoid confusion over the current status of initiatives and the progress necessary to achieve set targets.

Mr Gwanya stated that according to the Restitution Act nothing prevented whites, or any other, racial group from claiming land. However, evaluation of the compensation given to them had shown that they were adequately compensated for their land. The cases could not simply be dismissed immediately, although most of them were rejected after going through the necessary processes

The Chairperson commented that the Committee would consider the possibility of meeting with National Treasury to discuss the budget issues indicated in the presentation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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