Provision of Land & Assistance Amendment Bill [B40-2008]: deliberations; Liquor Products Amendment Bill [B22B-2008]: Rejection of NCOP amendment

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

01 September 2008
Chairperson: Mr R Mohlaloga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee deliberated on the proposed NCOP amendments to the Liquor Products Amendment Bill. The NCOP had proposed that in Clause 2, the wording be changed to provide that, instead of the current situation whereby the Minister would notify Parliament in writing of the appointment of board members, the Minister must consult Parliament before appointing a Board. A Member indicated that this was not unusual for some boards, and was not sure whether distinctions should be made between various boards. Other Members considered that this would be too onerous and would lead to delays. The IFP abstained from voting, but the e majority of the Committee voted against the amendment on the basis that it constituted an unwarranted encroachment on Executive functions by Parliament.

The Committee also deliberated on and adopted the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill [B40-2008], as amended. Prior to voting, the amendments were adjusted to accommodate an omission that had been made by the legal drafter in clause 4 of the Bill. Only one member of the Committee was opposed to the description of “historically disadvantaged persons” in place of “previously disadvantaged persons”.  The Committee voted unanimously in favour of the deletion of the proposed subsection 10(5), set out in clause 4, on the basis that retrospective legislation would be undesirable. It was specifically requested that the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) should report to the Auditor-General concerning all the land and property transactions that had taken place contrary to the provisions of the existing legislation. The Committee, having received a revised copy of the Bill, voted to adopt it.

The Committee specifically asked the Department of Land Affairs to ensure that the necessary capacity was in place in order to implement the Bill, once it was passed. The Director-General of the Department provided assurance to the Committee concerning his Department’s readiness to effectively implement the Bill. The Committee also adopted a resolution to initiate assistance to those affected by the gale force winds and widespread fires in different areas within the Republic, and it was further agreed that that the Committee would visit some of the affected areas in Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal. A resolution for rolling out assistance would also be adopted by the Committee as part of a co-ordinated and holistic disaster management plan to assist the victims of these natural disasters.

Meeting report

Liquor Products Amendment Bill (the Bill): Deliberations on NCOP Amendment
The Committee considered the amendments proposed by the NCOP to the Liquor Products Amendment Bill.

Amendment to clause 2: Insertion of “after consultation with Parliament”
The Chairperson read out the proposed amendment to the Committee and explained that in effect it would require the Minister to consult the National Assembly when appointing a board in terms of the principal Act. Prior to the amendment the situation had been that the Minister was required to notify Parliament in writing of the appointment of board members within a period of 30 days. The NCOP now wanted Parliament to be consulted before the Minister could appoint a board. This Committee was required either to accept or reject the amendment.

Mr N Singh (IFP) submitted that whilst consultation was necessary and had been practised with other boards, he could not understand the ‘soft approach’ adopted by the NCOP. To say “after consultation” did not mean that there would be “concurrent” decisions. If the legislation provided that something be done “in consultation” then there would be concurrence. He did not know whether Parliament wanted a situation where there was concurrence or preferred the ‘soft approach’ suggested by the NCOP.

The Chairperson felt that perhaps a motivation should be given for what appeared to be an interference with the Executive function.

Mr Singh responded that a number of boards had been appointed in consultation with the National Assembly as a matter of regular practice. The Minister had the final say about the appointment, but a list of candidates would be submitted to a Parliamentary Committee for consideration.  It was important therefore for Parliament to have some say as well in a board of this nature.

The Chairperson pointed out that it was not possible to bring in a new amendment. The Committee could only accept or reject the NCOP amendment.

Mr Singh indicated that in that case, he accepted the amendment despite his reservations.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) submitted that the amendment was an encroachment by Parliament on the powers and duties of the Executive. It would give rise to a cumbersome process, considering that such consultation was to take place subject to paragraph (d) of the principal Act. All the processes leading to the appointment of the board would likely be subjected to the requirement for consultation, and this involved a great deal of labour for which Parliament had little time available. He believed that there was no need for this amendment.

Mr S Abram (ANC) also agreed that the amendment would create further bureaucratic problems and should be rejected.

Mr A Nel (DA) also agreed with Mr Dlali and Mr Abram. He felt that it was only important was for Parliament to know what was going on, and this was adequately provided for in the principal Act.

Mr Singh responded that he was not entirely satisfied and would abstain from voting on the clause. He submitted that it was important to establish a principle that would apply in all instances, instead of evaluating certain boards as more important and thus requiring Parliament to be consulted on those boards, whilst others were not seen the same way.

The amendment from the NCOP was put to a vote. The majority of the Committee voted in favour of the rejection of the amendment. Mr Singh abstained from voting. The Chairperson subsequently read out the Committee’s report on the Amendment Bill. The Committee formally adopted its rejection of the proposed amendment.

Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill (the Bill): Deliberations and Adoption
The Committee considered in detail the clauses of the Bill.

Amendments to the Objects of the Act
Mr Nel questioned the inclusion of ‘poverty alleviation’ in the objects of the Act, and cautioned that whilst there was no danger at present, yet in future this could be open to abuse. He asked what would happen if the legislation fell into the wrong hands, since it widened the power of the Minister.

The Chairperson responded that poverty alleviation was a fundamental objective in view of the Constitutional obligation that bound the State to address inequalities that emanated from the legacy of apartheid.

The Committee agreed to the objects of the Act.


Amendment to Section 9 of the principal Act
Mr Nel pointed out an omission in the amendment. The drafter had omitted the part on exemption from payment of transfer or stamp duty. This was conceded to be so, by the Department of Land Affairs drafters, and the Committee agreed to the amendment on the condition that this omission be re-inserted.

Mr Dlali appealed to the DLA to ensure that the version of the Bill that was put before the Committee was free of such errors.

Mr Abram suggested that a final draft that included the corrections should be put before the Committee to enable a vote to take place.

The Chairperson proceeded to put each of the A-version clauses for a vote before the Committee.


Clause 1
The Committee agreed to the amendment

Clause 2
Mr Nel (DA) objected to the substitution of “historically” for “previously” with regard to disadvantaged persons.

Clause 3
The Committee agreed to the amendment.

Clause 4
Mr Singh suggested the insertion of the word ‘for’ before the word capacity in the proposed subsection 1(b) (iii). The Committee agreed that this section should read as follows: The Minister may, from money appropriated by Parliament for the purpose of this Act…(iii) provide financial assistance by way of an advance, subsidy, grant or otherwise to any person for the acquisition, maintenance, planning, development, or improvement of property, and for capacity building, skills development, training and empowerment.  [Underlining to indicate addition]

Parties then reported on their mandates in respect of the proposed subsection (5), which related to the concerns around the possible retrospectivity.

Mr Dlali, speaking on behalf of the ANC, requested the deletion of this proposed subsection.

Mr Singh indicated that the IFP also supported the position that the proposed subsection should be deleted. The IFP also wanted the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) to divulge any illegal transactions or acts that did not comply with the principal Act and to report them to the Auditor-General. The IFP would not support the inclusion of a “retrospective clause”.

The Committee agreed that the proposed subsection (5) be deleted.

Clause 5
Mr Singh asked about the full meaning of the provision that spelt out the Minister’s power to dispose of property, particularly where such property was no longer required for the purposes of the Act.

The State Law Adviser responded that since the Minister could only dispose of the property when it was proved that she or he no longer required for land reform purposes, this would provide a safeguard from abuse.

The Committee agreed to the amendment.

Clause 6, 7 and 8
The Committee agreed to these amendments, which were intended to clean up the Bill, and deal with the short and long title.

The Committee received copies of the corrected Bill

The Motion of Desirability was read out and agreed to.

The Committee, having considered each of the clauses, then adopted the Bill, as amended.

Other comments
Mr Abram reminded the DLA to pay attention to the need for capacity to implement the legislation. It would not be ideal for a situation to arise where the DLA acquired property but had not identified any beneficiaries. There was much that could happen if there were delays in the transition between acquiring property and transferring it to beneficiaries. This would prove to be costly to the State, if property was damaged or abused during this period.


Mr Thozi Gwanya, Director-General, DLA responded by giving the Committee his assurance that every effort would be made to ensure capacity for implementing the legislation. He was grateful for all the contributions that the Department had gained from the constructive criticism of its land reform initiatives. The Department had also benefited from the wisdom of those who possessed the necessary business acumen, and this had provided them with many invaluable insights. The Department expressed the hope that it would continue to learn from those who possessed the requisite skills and knowledge that the Department lacked. A mentorship programme was in place to accelerate skills transfer and ensure capacity building with respect to previously disadvantaged persons. These, and similar initiatives, would continue to be implemented by the Department to facilitate a successful land reform exercise.

Mr Abram also alluded to the extreme weather patterns in the coastal areas and in certain inland areas that had been ravaged by fires. A great deal of damage to livestock and property had resulted. Mr Abram proposed that the Committee should adopt a resolution that would initiate a process of rolling out assistance to affected communities and individuals.

Mr Singh and Mr Nel were also in support of this proposal.

Mr Dlali added that the Committee’s resolution should take into account a co-ordinated and holistic approach that took into consideration the existing structures and processes involved in disaster management, to avoid conflict.

Ms C Nkuna (ANC) suggested that the Committee make an effort to be physically present in some of the areas where this devastation had taken place.

The Committee agreed to draft a resolution and to visit some of the affected areas in Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal.

The meeting was adjourned.

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