Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Oversight visit to Kwazulu-Natal Province, dated 17 February 2015

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Oversight visit to Kwazulu-Natal Province, dated 17 February 2015
 

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, having undertaken an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal Province from 24 – 26 November 2014 reports as follows:

 

1.         INTRODUCTION

 

As per Parliament’s constitutional mandate, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries undertook an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province from 24 – 26 November 2014, to oversee the implementation of the Fetsa Tlala Food Production Initiative including the utilisation of conditional grants such as the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP), which is also used to fund Fetsa Tlala; and Ilima/letsema. The conditional grants are transferred to Provinces annually by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The oversight visit also sought to oversee effective implementation of the Mechanisation Programme and state of readiness for the implementation of the Smallscale Fisheries Policy.

 

  1. Delegation

 

The delegation of the Portfolio Committee composed of Ms MR Semenya, ANC (Chairperson and leader of the delegation); Mr CHM Maxegwana, ANC; Mrs TMA Tongwane, ANC; Mr TRJE Ramokhoase, ANC; Mrs A Steyn, DA; Ms Z Jongbloed, DA and Mr SC Mncwabe, NFP. The Committee was supported by Ms A Kakaza, Committee Secretary; Ms N Mgxashe, Content Advisor; Mr N Ginindza, Committee Researcher (Fisheries); Ms N Qwabe, Committee Researcher (Agriculture) and Ms C Maledu, Acting Committee Assistant.

 

On the 24 November, the delegation was joined in the stakeholder meeting by the following Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development from the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature: Mr T Mthembu (Committee Chairperson), V Hlengwa, Ms T Msane, Mr H Dlamini and ZM Mhlabe. The delegation was supported by K Dlamini, Committee Coordinator and M Mchunu., Senior Researcher. Also present were the local Traditional Leaders representing Umkhanyakude District, namely, Inkosi MI Tembe, Inkosi TM Gumede and Inkosi KP Buthelezi; as well as the Deputy Mayor of uMkhanyakude District Municipality.

 

1.2   Officials in attendance

 

The following were in attendance: National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Dr SF Mkhize, Director Provincial and State Owned Entities (SOEs) Performance Monitoring; Mr Samuel Kgatla, Principal Communication Officer; Ms Noko Manamela, Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst. Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Mrs ST Mathenjwa, Local Manager; Ms B Nxumalo, Extension Officer; Mr PK Khumbulani, Local Manager; Mr M Dladla, Agricultural Advisor; Ms K Mtshali, Agricultural Advisor; Ms DMS Mabaso, Extension Officer; PK Zungu, Mr ZS Khoza, Acting General Manager; Mr IJ Msibi, District Manager; Ms NP Shozi, Deputy Manager; Mr DI Mtshali, Senior Manager: Veterinary Services; Mr S Zondi, Senior Manager: Engineering Services; BN Bodlani, M Mkhize, T van Rooyen, BSG Zono.

 

In the project visits, the delegation was joined by the Project Management, Projects Chairpersons, Councillors from the Local Municipalities and the projects beneficiaries.

 

  1. TERMS OF REFERENCE

 

2.1 Background

 

On 8 July 2014, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Department) was requested by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) to present its Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans and Budget as required by the Public Finance Management Act (Act, No. 1 of 1999). In its presentation, the Department reported planned activities for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period with specific focus on the previously disadvantaged smallholder sector in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. During the deliberations, concerns were raised regarding baseline data for some of the reported targets as well as the impact of the reportedly achieved targets on service delivery.

 

On 29 July 2014, the Department briefed the Committee on its 2013/14 third and fourth quarterly performance and expenditure reports. After the briefing, a unanimous resolution was taken by Committee Members that as September is the beginning of the planting season, the Committee should consider undertaking an oversight visit to some of the provinces during this time to oversee the Department’s implementation of programmes and activities that are associated with the planting process e.g. Fetsa Tlala and Ilima/letsema. Due to changes in the Parliamentary Programme, the Committee was granted permission to undertake the oversight visit from 24 – 26 November 2014.

 

2.2 Objectives of the Oversight

 

The purpose of the oversight visit was to oversee:

  • the implementation of the Fetsa Tlala Food Production Initiative that was introduced by the President in 2013 to address immediate household food insecurity;
  • support that is given to smallholder and subsistence producers for enhanced food production at national and household level through programmes such as the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/Letsema;
  • the state of readiness for the implementation of the Smallscale Fisheries Policy, which is aimed at benefiting previously disadvantaged coastal communities some of whom rely mainly on fisheries resources for livelihood;
  • the effectiveness in which the Department’s Mechanisation Programme funds were utilised in KZN and to determine whether the Mechanisation Programme was making a positive difference in the lives of people on the ground – value for money; and
  • progress made on the development of infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, fences, farm buildings, roads, etc.

 

  1. COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

 

3.1 Briefing by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural

      Development

 

In the Stakeholder Meeting that was held on Monday, 24 November 2014, the KZN Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) gave a briefing on the KZN new Policy Shift for Agriculture, Fetsa Tlala, Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Umjindi Enterprise and Makhathini Integrated Master Plan.

 

3.1.1 Provincial new Policy Shift and Fetsa Tlala

 

The Acting Head of Department (HOD), Ms Jabu Majola introduced her team and gave a brief overview of the New Policy Shift for Agriculture that the KZN Province was busy with. She reported that the new Policy highlights for driving agricultural economic development in KZN include:

  • Commodity-based production including agroprocessing and value-addition.
  • Rural development – communal estates.
  • Establishment of Agri-villages – with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR).
  • River valley development – with DRDLR.

 

In terms of Fetsa Tlala, it was reported that the Province planned to put 23 260 hectares (ha) under production for the 2014/15 financial year with an investment of R225 million. It was reported that the Programme in the province is linked to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the Provincial Economic Growth Strategy. For Umkhanyakude District, the Acting HOD reported that 600 ha will be put under production. He also reported that 120 silos of 3.5 tons in size, were given to the province by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in 2013/14. Because of the size of the silos (too small to carry all the farmers’ produce), the Province distributed the silos among 4 districts (30 each), which excluded Umkhanyakude District. In the northern parts of KZN, only Zululand District received silos. The Acting HOD also highlighted that the Province has approximately 300 tractors, which are all under the provincial DARD’s custody as the Province does not distribute tractors to communities but the Department ploughs for communities as and when they need such services. She also mentioned that the Provincial Mechanisation Policy is under review.

 

3.1.2 Umjindi Farming (Pty) Ltd

 

Presentation on Umjindi was made by Mr Zondi. He reported that Umjindi Enterprise is an entity of the KZN Provincial DARD, whose focus is mainly agricultural infrastructure development – irrigation schemes, boreholes, livestock water infrastructure and handling facilities, etc. He mentioned that Umjindi is also responsible for the implementation of the Makhathini Integrated Master Development Plan that was approved in 2008/09 and implemented in 2010; and the revitalisation of the 4 570-hectare Makhathini Irrigation Scheme. He further reported that the Makhathini Integrated Master Development Plan is expected to be finalised by March 2015. He mentioned that Umjindi, which for years was on the verge of collapse, was revived in 2011 with the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Board Members. Mr Zondi also reported that Umjindi is constructing an abattoir near the FMD red line to ensure that infected animals do not have to travel to uninfected areas for slaughter. 

 

3.1.3 Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)

 

Dr Mtshali, the Head of Veterinary Services in the Province, gave a background and an overview of FMD in the Province including the current status and the impending visit by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in December 2014. He indicated that the Province was currently implementing the red line fence and further explained other control measures that were implemented by the Province to control livestock movements between the FMD-infected zone, the high surveillance zone and the FMD-free zones. These measures included use of different coloured ear tags and blood testing as FMD in the area is not cosmetic (i.e. no external symptoms on infected animals). Dr Mtshali also highlighted the high costs of dipping for livestock in the high surveillance zone in particular, as animals need to be tested every two weeks. 

 

3.2 Site visits

 

During the oversight visit, the delegation visited the following projects (25 and 26 November 2014):

 

3.2.1 Vukuzenzele Cooperative (uMkhanyakude District)

 

The Vukuzenzele Cooperative project is a subsistence farmer cooperative that is located at Jozini Local Municipality within uMkhanyakude District. It is at Isqakatha under the Traditional Leadership of Local Headman Gumede. The project was established in 1995, it has 73 beneficiaries and is 54 hectares in extent (each has approximately 0.7 ha). It is a crop production project that focuses on grain and vegetables, mainly, maize, tomatoes, green pepper, sweet potatoes and some sugar cane. According to the Department, the budget allocation for the project was R344 925.00 for 2014/15 financial year, which was allocated through the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP).

 

On site, the project beneficiaries reported that they receive very little assistance and support from DARD (Provincial Department) and even when they do, the services are not consistent. They said that the services that they occasionally receive were limited to seed packs and tractor ploughing, which is not generally carried out for everybody at the same time. At the time of the visit, only 2 portions (approximately 4 ha) were ploughed as the tractor had to leave the area and plough elsewhere. The Provincial Department reported that Jozini Local Municipality was allocated only 6 tractors for 20 Wards. 

 

Some of the challenges that were reported by beneficiaries were lack of an efficient irrigation system, fencing, mechanisation and inability to secure markets within the District or the Province. While water is available in the area, the beneficiaries reported that the irrigation system was built for rice production some decades ago, a project that never took off as it was not economically viable. They said the waterlogging from the system damages their vegetables and the canal that was put in by the Provincial Department through Umjindi has not improved the situation. The beneficiaries mentioned that the existing irrigation system, besides the damage to vegetables, does not efficiently cover the whole area. In addition, the fence that they had was damaged and never fixed by Umjindi when they were constructing the canal. They said reports and complaints by beneficiaries to DARD and Umjindi regarding the waterlogging and fencing had not yielded any result.

 

The project beneficiaries further reported that without access to bigger markets, they sell their produce to Jozini, which is a small town and to street vendors. In this regard, individuals have to hire their own transport to take their produce to Jozini. Due to lack of infrastructure such as pack houses and storage facilities, the beneficiaries also reported that they had to sometimes sell their produce at low cost to avoid wastage. The project beneficiaries proposed that they be assisted with their own tractor instead of relying on the 6 tractors that are shared among 20 Wards; and for the Department to fix the fence and the irrigation scheme.  

 

3.2.2 Makhathini Cotton Ginnery (uMkhanyakude District)

 

The Makhathini Flats projects in the northern part of the KZN Province is divided into two sectors, the Makhathini Cotton Ginnery and Makhathini Irrigation Scheme. The Managing Director (MD) of Makhathini Cotton Ginnery (Mr Phenias Gumede) gave a brief background and explained the status of the Ginnery as follows: He reported that the Makhathini Cotton Ginnery was established in 1997 in response to the potential that could be offered by genetically modified (GM) crops. In that year, South Africa passed the Genetically Modified Organisms Act (Act No. 15 of 1997), making it the first nation in Africa to legislate the dissemination of GM technology. In 1998, the transnational biotechnology (biotech) company, Monsanto, completed its government-regulated trials on GM seed and made its patented biotech cotton seed. In 2001, a group of farmers were encouraged by Government to invest in cotton and make use of the Makhathini Cotton Ginnery. In 2003, production reportedly increased from 2 774 to 14 600 bales of cotton lint.  

 

The ginnery was closed down at the end of 2007 due to liquidation, which was finalised by the end of 2009. Approximately 2 500 farmers were affected by the closure, which happened during harvest time; and their cotton was transported to Loskop Cotton Ginnery in Limpopo. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Forestry (DAFF) assisted farmers for two seasons in transporting their cotton to Limpopo. In 2010, DAFF purchased the ginnery for R30 million for the farmers. Although the ginnery is farmer-driven, the number of farmers utilising it have since declined to approximately 600 farmers as most were severely affected by the liquidation. In 2012, DAFF further committed R20 million to refurbish the gin and fix vandalised equipment - 3 out of 5 gin stands were refurbished. It was reported that farmers started operating the ginnery in 2012/13 and the ginnery currently employs 18 permanent employees and 47-59 seasonal employees.

 

It was reported that approximately 2-3% of cotton is grown under the adjacent Makhathini Flats Irrigation Scheme, the rest is grown as dryland cotton. The ginnery also buys cotton from Mpumalanga Province. The Provincial Department was providing some mechanisation assistance for the 2014/15 financial year but no assistance with production inputs. The MD reported that as the ginnery needs to increase its production to ensure its sustainability, a five-year plan has been developed that will assist the ginnery to sustain itself. The implementation of the plan will need approximately R280 million.  

 

3.2.3 Makhathini Irrigation Scheme (uMkhanyakude District)

 

The Makhathini Irrigation projects are located in the Makhathini Flats area in Jozini Local Municipality within uMkhanyakude District. The sub-schemes under the Makhathini Irrigation Scheme that are supported by the Department are Indumo A, Indumo B, Indumo C, Khwehle and Nondabuya. The farmers use the Irrigation Scheme for planting of vegetables, maize, potatoes, beans and cotton, which assist them in growing crops in all seasons. The Scheme plays a very important role in job creation as there is high unemployment rate in the area, employing about 145 permanent employees and 360 temporary employees. There are five cooperatives that operate in Makhathini Irrigation Scheme who also engaged with the delegation, namely:

 

            Zamukuphila Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative

 

The cooperative has 38 beneficiaries operating in 123 hectares of land under irrigation.  Their main challenges were access to market for their fruit and vegetables as the market at Makhathini is mainly for cotton; and assistance with fixing their centre pivot that was destroyed by wind and another one that was vandalised. The beneficiaries indicated that they have reported the matter of the pivots to Mjindi but no response and assistance has been received.

 

            Mjindi Women’s Secondary Cooperative

 

The Secondary cooperative (coop) has 15 primary coops (30 beneficiaries) that are operating in 130 hectares of land under irrigation. They are operating on a lease from the DRDLR. The coop get assistance from the Cotton Ginnery, Government has assisted them with fencing and their main challenge is access to market.

 

            Makhathini Nursery (Agricultural) Cooperative

 

The cooperative was part of the Ginnery that was liquidated and later bought by DAFF in 2010.  The coop was started in August 2010 and has 20 beneficiaries that operates in 250 hectares of land under irrigation. One of the main challenges is also access to markets and lack of agrologistics – they mentioned that the area is approximately 35 km from the railway line. The beneficiaries highlighted that farmers in the Makhathini Irrigation Scheme have been asking for an agroprocessing plant and advanced mechanisation technology from the Department (through Mjindi) but to no avail.

 

            Jozini Value-adding Centre

 

The beneficiaries’ report was in contrast to what was earlier reported by one of the Provincial Department’s officials who claimed that the Value-adding Centre was fully operational. However, when Members of the delegation requested access to the facility, they were told that the person who keeps the keys was unavailable. The beneficiaries reported that the Centre was built by COGTA but is not yet operational as it is incomplete. It is supposed to be used by 18 coops who all plant vegetables on land that was supplied by COGTA. The coops supply the Departments of Education and Health with vegetables. The beneficiaries indicated that the Provincial Department assisted them with 4 tractors and agricultural starter packs. However, they would like Government to assist them by completing the Value-adding Centre and transportation of their products.

 

            Sugar Cane Producers Association

 

The Association constitutes 14 coops. Its main challenge is that they do not have their own sugar mill; and transport to where sugar mills are is very costly. Sometimes due to long distances to sugar mills, some of the sugar cane loses value, which further result in loss of revenue for farmers. Another challenge that was reported by the Association was access to markets and lack of storage facilities.

As access to markets and transportation was a general major challenge across all coops, it was reported that the Provincial Department’s Agricultural Economics Section was in the process of negotiating with different relevant institutions to secure markets for the Cooperatives as well as assisting with transportation.

 

3.2.4 Site Visit to uMhlabuyalingana Abattoir

 

The Committee delegation also visited the planned abattoir that is located in uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality, adjacent to the FMD red line fence and approximately 45 km away from Makhathini Flats. The delegation was informed that the abattoir is 20% (still a foundation) under construction and should be finished by March 2016. It was reported that the construction is being done in two phases, the first one being the construction phase and the second one being the facilities or equipment installation. Two contractors were appointed to carry out the different phases.

 

3.2.5 Foot-and-mouth Disease (FMD) Red Line Fence

 

On the way to Gobindlala Commercial Production in uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality, the delegation also visited the FMD red line fence.  The delegation was informed that the fence is still under construction and the Provincial Department reported that the construction will be finalised by March 2015.

 

Members of the Committee delegation raised a concern that in the previous presentation by DAFF (national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) it was reported that the fence will be finalised before the OIE evaluation visit on 5 December 2014. Of concern to the Members was whether the finalisation of the fence would not affect the South African FMD-free status during the OIE evaluation. The Province responded that their understanding of the process was that the visit by the OIE was based on compliance and commitment not necessarily on the finalisation of the process.

 

3.2.6 Gobindlala/Biva/Senzokuhle Project (uMkhanyakude District)

 

In a project list that was submitted to the Committee by the Department, the project was listed as Gobindlala commercial maize production with 50 beneficiaries under communal land; operating on 100 hectares and was allocated approximately R689 000 for the 2014/15 financial year. However, on engagement with the delegation, the project beneficiaries indicated that the project is Senzokuhle, also called Biva and was initiated in 1998; and Gobindlala is a sub-project of Senzokuhle/Biva.  The project is located at kwaMashabane Traditional Council in uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality. The extent of the project is 415 hectares with 140 beneficiaries, 40 of whom are involved in the Gobindlala vegetable project mainly for subsistence. It was reported that Gobindlala project is allocated 14 hectares but operates on approximately 5 hectares of land.

 

Senzokuhle Project produces maize, dry beans, jugo beans, cow peas, cassava, sweet potato, groundnuts and cotton. Maize production is mainly for subsistence but when there is surplus, it is sold. Cotton is grown for commercial purposes and is sold at Makhathini Cotton Ginnery. The Department assists the project with technical services (extension), mechanisation (tractor ploughing) and sometimes with agricultural seed packs.

 

The beneficiaries indicated that of the 415 total hectares, they were utilising approximately 35 – 40 hectares as they have no fencing to keep animals away. The beneficiaries indicated that they would like to expand the area under production and emphasised the need for assistance with fencing to keep livestock away from fields and water for irrigation as they currently produce on dry land. 

 

3.2.7 Kosi Bay Fishing Communities (uMkhanyakude District)

 

Members of the fishing communities acknowledged the assistance that they receive from Masifundise/Coastal Links regarding information through Workshops on their rights, fishing laws, policies and how to subsist from fisheries resources in a sustainable manner. They indicated that Masifundise/Coastal Links is a non-profit organisation that does not get Government funding but assist coastal fishing communities with advice and technical assistance. In KZN, Coastal Links has five branches, namely, Umkhanyakude, Ugu, Uthungulu, Ethekwini Metro and Ilembe.

 

It was reported that the Kosi Bay Fishing Communities under Coastal Links comprise of 11 fishing communities i.e. KwaDapha, KwaGeorge, KwaMvutshane, Mabibi, Malangeni, Mzambane, Mnyayisa, Mpukane, Mqobela, Nkovukeni and Novunya that are engaged in smallscale fishing. The Kosi Bay Fishing Communities project through Coastal Links, employs a total of eight seven (87) people as Catch Data Monitors from the Kosi Bay Fishing Communities, consisting of sixty six (66) males and twenty one (21) females. The project also employs two (2) environmental officers who service the Kosi Bay communities as well as other north region communities with technical assistance.

 

The community members reported that they were all originally from the Kosi Bay coast (born and bred) and were forcibly removed from the area during the apartheid government’s forced removals in the 1980’s; and moved further inland away from the coast.  However, because the only source of livelihood that they know is fishing, they still make use of Kosi Lake where they have family kraals that were allocated by their Traditional Leaders when they lived in the area. As most of the people in the area are unemployed, the little that they get from fishing kraals assist for subsistence but is not enough to sustain families.

 

They mentioned that since the area was proclaimed a heritage site, the former Natal Parks Board, now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife denied the communities access to the area and particularly to the ocean, claiming they have no permits. The community indicated that there are media and television crews and tourist groups that pay substantial fees to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for access to the area and to take videos of the fishing kraals but the communities who own those fishing kraals do not derive any benefit from such revenue. The community members also highlighted their suffering since the removal from the area including continuing oppressive rules from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) through iSimangaliso Wetland Park and arrests by the provincial Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

 

The community members reported that they have lodged a claim around 1997against their ancestral land along the coast but have never received a response or any assistance from the DRDLR (formerly the Department of Land Affairs) regarding their claim since then. The community members also reported that in the area there used to be Primary and Secondary Schools, a clinic, a police station, and a Methodist Church Mission, which were all moved to Manguzi (nearby town). As a result, their children had to attend school some distances away. 

 

The community members mentioned that they had hoped that the new Smallscale Fisheries (SSF) Policy of DAFF will assist them in getting access to ocean fishing, which is currently the domain of a selected few.  However, they were no longer hopeful as it has come to their attention that DAFF is contracting service providers to implement the SSF Policy in coastal provinces. Unfortunately in KZN, that service provider is Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which is currently abusing its powers and mistreating community members.

The community members indicated that there is no positive working relationship with Ezemvelo Wildlife and/or iSimangaliso Wetland Park and urged the Portfolio Committee through DAFF, to address the challenge with immediate effect.

 

The community indicated that they understand that it may be impossible to be restored to the land of their birth. However, they believe that they should be compensated for their loss, benefit from revenue that Ezemvelo Wildlife generates through gate fees and access for video making into the area, and also be given access to the ocean in order for them to make a living.  The community members also indicated that they understand that fisheries resources are not infinite, therefore, they would appreciate other economic development ventures that will benefit the communities and create job opportunities.  

 

3.2.8 Nkundusi Fishing Communities (uThungulu District)

 

The Nkundusi Fishing Communities are part of the Central Region of Masifundise/Coastal Links. The Nkundusi Fishing Communities project under Coastal Links comprises 300 beneficiaries and is located on Ward 9 of Mtubatuba Local Municipality under the Traditional Leadership of Inkosi Mkhwanazi. The area is close to Lake St Lucia. The community members mentioned that they were historically fishing as traditional fishers until they joined Masifundise/Coastal Links in 2010/11. They reported that they were also forcefully removed and their homes bulldozed in some of their areas; currently have no fishing rights to these areas and are expected to pay to access the areas, which are now part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park that is a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

 

The community reported that they had lodged a land claim in September 1996 and never received a response but told by Ezemvelo officials that they will never get their land back. The members of the community also mentioned that there is a company called Siyaqhubeka that is operating forestry plantations on some of their land and has claimed that it is renting the land from DAFF. The community members further reported that some of them whose homes were bulldozed were later given offers of R10 000 each by DAFF as a once-off rental not compensation. Some community members rejected the offer as they expected a response regarding their restitution claim. The community highlighted that they were never even consulted before the areas that they used to fish from, for subsistence, were proclaimed as protected areas, which are now under iSimangaliso Heritage Site. The communities raised their concerns with DAFF but were told that there was nothing that DAFF can do as the final agreement was reached between DAFF and DEA.

 

It was was reported that while community members are not given fishing permits, when they fish at sea, just to make a living, they get assaulted and even killed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officials. When such cases were reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS), little progress has been made in prosecuting the responsible Ezemvelo officials. The Committee was told there were isolated cases where certain people won cases against Ezemvelo because they could afford to pay for a lawyer. However, for most people in the community, who are unemployed, there’s never any progress with their reported cases. Another challenge that the community constantly experiences is damage that is caused by hippopotamuses (hippos) to their fields, property and sometimes livestock. The community was concerned that they cannot even kill the hippos as they are protected by law but they do not get compensated for their lost livelihoods (fields and livestock) and properties. 

 

Community members mentioned that they have repeatedly reported their plight and challenges to DAFF but to no avail; and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is never interested in engaging with them. It was further reported that in March 2014, out of desperation, the community members were part of a march led by Masifundise/Coastal Links to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife offices to raise their concerns with the harassment they endure from the agency officials.  

 

The community indicated that they would appreciate Government intervention regarding the continuing harassment by Ezemvelo KZN Wildilfe, addressing the restrictive DEA laws that prevents them from eking out a living from coastal resources and provision of fencing to prevent the damage that is caused by hippos on their properties. The community members further highlighted that Government need to recognise that not all fishing communities use the same methods. While at Kosi Bay they use kraals and traps, at Nkundusi they used nets and therefore, need at least 150 m line permits instead of 30 m to be able to make a living.  The community members further requested Government assistance in the economic development of the area from coastal resources and the development of the potential for agritourism and salt development.

 

  1. COMMITTEE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

 

The Portfolio Committee, having interacted with KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the projects management teams including the beneficiaries of the different projects, concluded as follows:

 

  • No progress was made by the Provincial Department on Fetsa Tlala and there was no accountability for the funding that has been allocated to some of the projects for Fetsa Tlala for the 2014/15 financial year.

 

  • The Mechanisation Programme is implemented haphazardly and inconsistently. While the Province reported that Jozini had only 6 tractors for 20 Wards, one of the cooperatives operating under Makhathini Irrigation Scheme indicated that they received 4 tractors from the Department, whilst there were other projects such as Vukuzenzele that needed a tractor.  Where mechanisation services mostly through tractor ploughing, were provided to the visited projects, this was done a few days before and/or on the day of the Parliamentary visit.

 

  • Most of what was reported on written reports and presented was not visible on the ground. While Makhathini Irrigation Scheme was reported by DAFF in Parliament as fully operational, only one project, which is supported by a GM maize seed company was seen and it was noted that the refurbishment of some of the canals was fairly new. Also under Makhathini Irrigation Scheme, had it not been engagements with cooperative members, the delegation would have not known that the Jozini Value-adding Centre that was built by COGTA was incomplete and not yet operational. In addition, contrary to previous reporting, the FMD red line fence was recently constructed and was far from being finished.

 

  • Contrary to what was reported including the budgets that were reportedly allocated for the 2014/15 financial year specifically to Vukuzenzele and Gobindlala/Biva/Senzokuhle Projects, there is little or no support that is given by the Department to the farmers at the two projects. The Department’s written report on Gobindlala was the opposite of what the project beneficiaries reported during engagements with the delegation.  

 

  • For almost all the projects that were visited, market information and access to markets, transport costs and lack of storage facilities are still the greatest challenges that threaten the sustainability of the projects.

 

  • Lack of coordination of activities and collaboration between different departments including the different spheres of Government was still a concern to the delegation.

 

  • No assistance has been provided or attention given to the plight of the coastal and fishing communities of Kosi Bay and Nkundusi (near St Lucia) who were forcefully removed from their ancestral land and thereafter denied fishing access to those areas from which they derived a livelihood. The Committee noted with concern that DAFF has not responded to numerous reports and pleas for assistance from the communities, and the DRDLR never responded to their land claims.

 

  • In addition, although DAFF knew that the Committee would also be visiting fishing communities during the oversight to KZN, there was no official representing DAFF’s Fisheries Management Branch that accompanied the delegation to respond to queries.

 

  • Given the challenges that were reported by almost all the project beneficiaries, which were mostly related to issues that have been consistently raised by the Committee, the delegation was not happy with the obvious and persistent lack of physical project monitoring by DAFF, which transfers funds to provinces for the development of smallscale producers. The projects that were visited showed minimal or no Departmental support and little or no impact has been made to change the lives of the people involved.

 

  • As DAFF has not been giving attention and/or consulting with the fishing communities in the areas visited, the implementation of the SSF Policy may be a challenge as the communities are not in good terms with DAFF’s choice of implementing agency in the province, i.e. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which has been reportedly harassing the communities that it is supposed to assist. What communities know about the SSF Policy, they have been briefed on and workshoped by Masifundise/Coastal Links, not the Department.

 

  • The Committee further agreed that a joint meeting should be arranged between the Portfolio Committees on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Rural Development and Land Reform and Environmental Affairs to discuss all the challenges that were raised by the fishing communities during the oversight visit. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee should also brief the Chairpersons of other Portfolio Committees (Rural Development and Land Reform and Environmental Affairs) on the challenges prior to the joint meeting.

 

5.         RECOMMENDATIONS

 

The Committee made the following recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries:

 

  • To strengthen collaboration between DAFF, the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Local Traditional Leaders and the Local Municipalities to ensure the successful implementation of the Fetsa Tlala programme in KZN province. In this regard, DAFF must submit to the Committee the reportedly existing Plan for the coordination of activities between the Department, provinces and its entities within two months of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly. 

 

  • To liaise with the Minister of Environmental Affairs regarding environmental laws and regulations that prevent fishing communities from deriving livelihoods from the coast and also restrict their economic development from coastal resources, including wildlife such as hippos from iSimangaliso Wetland Park that damage their properties. Report back to the Committee within two months of the adoption of this report by the National Assembly.

 

  • The Minister to ensure that DAFF submit to Parliament a reviewed monitoring and evaluation (M & E) Plan for conditional grants including an organogram of M & E personnel, their allocation to provinces and monitoring schedule within one month of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly. 

 

  • To ensure that DAFF engages with the fishing communities of Kosi Bay and Nkundusi to address all their challenges as has been raised in this report and with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife regarding assault and harassment of fishing communities in the two areas. DAFF should report back to the Committee within one month of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly.  

 

  • To liaise with the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform to ensure that the land claims that were lodged by the Kosi Bay and Nkundusi fishing communities during the first restitution phase are followed up and addressed as a matter of urgency. Report back to the Committee within one month of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly. 

 

  • To ensure that DAFF further engages all KZN fishing communities regarding the implementation of the Smallscale Fisheries Policy, while ensuring that fishing rights allocation to these communities is fast-tracked.

 

  • DAFF should ensure that the KZN Provincial DARD conducts a feasibility study on the provision of an irrigation scheme to the Senzokuhle and other related projects that need irrigation to be more productive.

 

  • DAFF should ensure that the Provincial DARD effectively implements and provides assistance with market access for the Fetsa Tlala projects in the province and also ensures market access for other agricultural projects. A plan in this regard should be submitted to the Committee within three months of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly.

 

Report to be considered.   

 

Documents

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