Land Use Management Bill [B27-2008]: deliberations on proposed amendments

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

05 August 2008
Chairperson: Mr M Mohlaloga
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Meeting Summary

The meeting focused on the way in which the amendments proposed during the public submissions would be incorporated into the Bill. The Department had introduced a Preamble, since there had been proposals that the Bill should be contextualised. The Department highlighted the proposed amendments by reading through the document titled “Proposed Amendments: Land Use Management Bill” after which a brief discussion followed.

Members wanted to know to whom the National Land Use Commission was accountable. There were also questions regarding public consultation in the development of norms and standards. Members asked about the application of the Single Public Service Bill to the conduct of the Land Use Committee Members. There was concern about the proposed appointment of technical advisors, as Members were worried that this would allow for the extensive use of consultants (which was costly to the State). There was also a question on the effect of the re-determination of municipal boundaries on the land use schemes.

Meeting report

The Chair said that the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) would present on 12 August. The Committee was hoping that the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) would make their presentation on the same day.

Mr Tozi Gwanya (Director-General: Department of Land Affairs) said that the Department had informed the Committee of their responses to public submissions at the previous day’s meeting. The present meeting would focus on how the proposed amendments would actually be incorporated into the Bill.

Mr Gwanya said that the introduction of a preamble was in response to comments that there was a need to contextualize the Bill, state what areas it covered and explain the need for the Bill. Although it appeared as if there were numerous amendments proposed by the public, it was important to note that many presenters raised very similar proposals.

Mr Sunday Ogunronbi (Director: Land Planning and Property Law: Department of Land Affairs) referred to the document titled: “Proposed Amendments- Land Use Management Bill [B27-2008), emphasizing that it was not an official document, but merely highlighted the Department’s proposed amendments. He said that the Preamble restated the nature of the problem. It stated that the competence would be split among all the spheres of Government. In accordance with the Constitution all spheres of Government would work together. There were different laws dealing with the issue of land use management resulting in a very disjointed approach. In order to deal with the fragmented, incoherent and constraining regulatory framework and realize the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the law should maintain essential national standards and economic unity, and establish minimum standards for land use planning, land development and land use management. The Preamble provided that all spheres of government and all organs of state must co-operate with, consult and support one another.

Mr Ogunronbi highlighted the Department’s proposed amendments by reading pages 3 to 11 of the document titled “: “Proposed Amendments- Land Use Management Bill [B27-2008)”.

Discussion
Ms M Ngwenya (ANC) referred to the insertion of subclause (3) in clause 66. She wanted clarity on the Department’s proposal that the DG would be the accounting officer responsible for the National Land Use Commission.

The Chair pointed out this provision was consistent with those in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked if the DG would then account to Parliament on behalf of the Commission.

Mr Ogunronbi said that this was the case.

The Chair asked if there would be public consultation in developing the norms and standards referred to on page 8 of the Bill.

Mr Ogunronbi said that the norms and standards would be published for comment by virtue of being part of the regulations.

The Chair asked if the proposed amendment to Clause 9 (2) on page 9 of the Bill was well-written or if the wording could be improved upon.

Mr Ogunronbi said that it had come to the Department’s attention that there was another clause in the Bill dealing with this issue. Thus, it was very likely that this clause would be removed altogether.

The Chair referred to the issue regarding the conduct of the Municipal Land Use Committee members in Clause 15. He asked if this clause was necessary or if the provisions of the Single Public Service Bill would apply.

Mr Ogunronbi agreed that the provisions of the Single Public Service Bill were relevant to this clause and apologized that the Department had failed to consider this piece of legislation. He undertook to do so.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) said that the way in which the term of office of Committee Members was expressed in the proposed amendment to Clause 14, was inconsistent with any other legislation.

Mr Ogunronbi said that the Department could retain the drafting in the tabled Bill. He said that the Department would be guided by the Committee on that matter.

Ms Ntuli referred to the reference to technical advisors in Clause 9(2). She asked if these were in effect consultants (on whom the Department spent large amounts of money).

Mr Ogunronbi explained that in area of land use applications, various subjects arose which often required the expertise of consultants (for example regarding the issue of environmental impact). This clause enabled the Department to ensure that experts could be brought in on an ad-hoc basis without becoming members of the Committee. The technical advisors were not typical consultants performing work which Government employees were paid to do, but failed to.

Ms Ntuli asked what would happen if there was an overlap of schemes once boundaries were redetermined in terms of the Municipal Structures Act.

Mr Ogunronbi explained that there could be many schemes within one municipality. There needed to be alignment to ensure that the schemes were in line with changes made to municipal boundaries.

Ms Ngwenya said that that there was an instance where developers paid a Tribal chief to obtain land for the purpose of developing a mall. This allowed them to by-pass the proper procedures.

Mr Gwanya said that this type of occurrence highlighted the need for this piece of legislation.

The Chair asked if Clauses 39, 44, 55(4) and 78(4) should not specify the requirement for consultation with the Department of Agriculture since these issues directly affected that Department.

Mr Ogunronbi explained that Clause 39 called for public submissions regarding the application to change land use, form or function. During the process leading to change of use, form or function, the relevant sectors are consulted. This would include the Department of Agriculture.

Mr Dlali requested the Department to circulate the Bill amongst Members once it had been cleaned up.

Mr Gwanya agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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