ATC121029: Report of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs on the oversight visit to Muyexe, Limpopo Province, dated 23 October 2012

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

Report of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs on the oversight visit to Muyexe, Limpopo Province, dated 23 October 2012

Report of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs on the oversight visit to Muyexe, Limpopo Province , dated 23 October 2012

The Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs having conducted oversight in Muyexe, situated in the Greater Giyani Local Municipality, from the 21 – 24 August 2012 reports as follows:

1. Background and Introduction

1.1. The Committee visited the Greater Giyani Lo cal Municipality situated in the Mopani District Municipality in Limpopo .

1.2. The delegation consisted of the following members of Parliament, Ms BP Mabe (Leader of Delegation, ANC), Mr DA Worth (DA), Mr O de Beer (COPE), Mr M Makhubela (COPE) and Parliamentary support staff, Mr AA Bawa (Committee Secretary), Ms D Pillay (Content Adviser), Mr J Jooste (Researcher), and Ms N Mooi (Committee Assistant).

1.3. On the 17 th of August 2009, President Zuma officially launched the Department of

Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DRDLR) Comprehensive Rural

Development Programme (CRDP) in the Limpopo Province .

The Muyexe village was identified as the pilot site to launch the Comprehensive

Rural Development Programme due to the high levels of poverty, unemployment

and under development within the area. The Greater Giyani District is classified

as a rural municipality with the main challenge being access to water and

sanitation .

The area is characterised by a dry and hot climate with

underdevelopment and employment opportunities. Basic services like access to

safe drinking water, sanitation, health services and transport are very limited

( and often unavailable). Since the selection of the site for piloting the

Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy, there has been an increase in

activity and interest from developmental agencies. The Independent

Development Trust (IDT) has been closely involved in several projects within the

Muyexe village, by empowering the marginalised community and providing some

relief to their lives by starting construction projects.

1.4. The Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs therefore thought it

prudent to follow-up on the progress made in implementing the CRDP in Muyexe,

and investigate the issues raised by communities in the area as well as monitor

and evaluate the involvement of the Department of Rural Development and Land

Reform in rolling-out the CRDP in all the pilot sites.

2. Greater Giyani local Municipality (GGLM)

2.1. Background

The Greater Giyani Local Municipality is located in the Mopani District Municipality of Limpopo province. The seat of GGLM is in Giyani. It is the administrative and commercial centre of the Mopani district and also the former capital of Gazankulu.

The Municipality is demarcated into 30 wards and has 60 councillors. The ten traditional authority areas comprise 91 villages. Giyani town is the largest and most densely populated centre, featuring the most employment opportunities as well as the best shopping and recreational facilities. Key sectors of the local economy are manufacturing, trade, catering, government, finance, transport, communications and agriculture. The labour force consists if skilled, semi-skilled and a large percentage of unskilled people.

2. Projects visited at Muyexe Village

During the launch of the programme several projects were show-cased, these included:

v The Nene family house

v Primary and Secondary Schools renovation project

v Muyexe Hospital

v Community Centre

v Macena Community Farm

The CRDP was designed to be a fresh approach to rural development by supporting

rural communities to develop through the optimal use and management of natural resources. The initial goal was to achieve this vision through “a co-ordinated and integrated broad based agrarian transformation as well as the strategic investment in

economic and social infrastructure that will benefit entire rural communities”.

It was widely publicised that the CRDP would be responsible for the generation of sustainable and vibrant rural communities, however recent press reports have

suggested that many projects are far from complete or sustainable. In fact recent media

reports suggest that a community farming project based in Muyexe has been left with an enormous debt burden.

3.1 Project 1 - Primary School renovation project

3.1.1 Overview of project

Before the launch of the CRDP in Muyexe, the Primary school in the area lacked basic facilities such as adequate classrooms, toilet facilities and running water. After the launch of the project, classrooms were renovated and new classes were built along with new toilet facilities. Due to the lack of a constant water supply, the school could not be provided with flush toilets; hence ventilated pit latrines (VIP) were erected. Taps were also installed at the school, giving learners and staff limited access to usable water for consumption and sanitation purposes.

3.1.2 Observation by the delegation

During the visit by the delegation, members interacted with the school principal who confirmed that the new classrooms and ventilated improved pit-latrines (VIP’s) were built. However, the delegation observed that although the classrooms and VIP’s were built, the current condition of the buildings were starting to show signs of neglect as no funds were made available under the CRDP for the maintenance of theses structures. Parents are currently contributing, where possible, for the maintenance of theses structures.

Further discussions with the principal revealed that the school still lacks a library, administration building and a kitchen. The school currently uses a makeshift shack as a kitchen, raising serious health and safety concerns for learners and staff. The school principal further explained that in addition to not having a library, the school has still not received any books, with only the foundation phase receiving limited reading materials.

3.1.3 Recommendations

The delegation recommended that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, being the lead implementing agent, be informed of the situation so that they may raise these concerns with the other departments and resolve the matter as soon as possible.

3.2 Project 2 - Macena Women’s Garden Co-operative

3.2.1 Overview of project

The Macena Women’s Garden is a 15 ha community farm of 15 ha farmed by a group of 36 women and is a part of the original Muyexe CRDP project launched in 2009. The project was initially designed to produce organic vegetables for the local Spar Supermarket in Giyani, but ran into trouble early on in its existence. A lack of infrastructure, support (from the Department of Agriculture) and expertise (in the form of training and extension officer support) resulted in crop failures and the inability to use the entire farm productively. During the official launch of the CRDP projects in August 2009, plans were also announced to improve the farm through infrastructure development.

A pack house, storage facility and shade net nursery were to be added to the project. According to the Annual Performance Plan (2011/2012) of the DRDLR, their budget would reach R9.4 billion by 2012/13, with the largest portion of the budget allocated to CRDP projects. It is also clear from its Strategic Overview that through the Rural Development Programme (Programme 3), the DRDLR is responsible for the initiation, facilitation, co-ordination and implementation of the CRDP and should therefore be held accountable for the Macena Women’s Garden project.

3.2.2 Observation by the delegation

During the visit and after interacting with project members, the delegation was of the opinion that the project, was in disarray. Project members claimed to have made forty thousand rand in the past few months from the harvesting of tomatoes, yet upon interactions and site inspection the delegation discovered that most of the crops were not harvested and/or was diseased or damaged. The damage was as a direct result of lack of watering, high nitrates in the water, lack of storage facilities, lack of transport to market, suitable markets and the use of pesticides.

Members also learnt that the initial agreement, when the project was first established , to supply SPAR chain stores with tomatoes did not materialise as the chain stores requested organic produce which the project could not provide as they were using pesticides. The delegation further enquired as to what happened to the pack house which was supposed to have been built for purposes of storing and packing produce harvested, as money was allocated for its construction. They were shown the old office block and no pack house was seen.

Of major concern to the delegation was the loan of R 1.3 million rand taken from Old Mutual in the name of the project. Nobody could explain to the delegation how Dr Mannier, appointed himself as project manager, acquired a loan of R 1.3 million rand and paid himself a monthly salary of R 90 000 without any intervention from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), when both departments claim to be actively involved in the project. The delegation further uncovered that the project members are currently not paying the loan. The members further requested if the land was used as collateral for the loan.

The delegation concluded that because the project members were divided into two factions, being advised by outside parties, therefore any information received from project members should be reviewed and interpreted with caution. The delegation further

concluded that the biggest challenge of the project is the proper expertise and advice on extension services and production and most importantly someone that is able to get them to work as a unit.

3.2.3 Recommendations

Despite being told that the matter surrounding Dr Mannier is under investigation by both the DRDLR and DAFF, the delegation insisted on receiving a written explanation from both departments as to how Dr Mannier came into the picture in the first place, who was his contact person and in which department does this contact person work.

The delegation refused to accept the onsite explanation from both departments that Dr Mannier approached the project on his own without their knowledge . The members all agreed with the fact that someone made Dr Mannier aware of the project, therefore bearing full knowledge of his existence and intentions.

A full report must be provided by the DRDLR and DAFF on this issue. The Department of Water Affairs must also be brought in together with the Mopani District Municipality to address the water issues in the area.

3.3 Project 3 – Muyexe Water Treatment Facility

3.3.1 Overview of project

At the launch of the CRDP in Muyexe, certain infrastructure development commitments were made, such as the building of a water treatment facility. This project was to have been underwritten by the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), with the project being extended to Gonono and Dingamazi.

The need for a water treatment facility which will be supplied with water thorough boreholes was prioritised due to the presence of high nitrates in the underground water, affecting everyone, especially young and unborn children

Because Muyexe is a drought stricken area, heavily reliant on rainfall, the water treatment facility was an interim measure to supply residents with drinkable water and for the establishment and sustainability of agricultural farming in the area. The water treatment facility would later be used to treat water piped from a nearby dam, a project which is still under construction.

3.3.2 Observation by the delegation

After concluding an onsite inspection of the facility, members was satisfied that infrastructure development commitments of the CRDP project were fulfilled. However, the delegation was not satisfied with the fact that the facility has not been operational for the past six months due to the lack of chemicals and electricity to run the plant. The delegation discovered while on inspection of the site that chemicals were delivered the day before the delegation arrived, but could not be used as there was no electricity to run the machinery at the water treatment facility.

Members were informed by the DWA officials present that funds were made available via the District Municipality for chemicals, electricity and general maintenance of the facility. The delegation concluded that as a result of no action of the municipality and the DWA to provide these basic services, the residents of Muyexe village had to rely on borehole water that contain high levels of nitrate which was harmful to them, especially young and infant children.

3.3.3 Recommendations

The leader of delegation, Ms BP Mabe contacted Eskom personally, who assured her that someone would be dispatched to the area to remedy the problem. Ms Mabe requested officials from the DWA, district and the local to meet with the Eskom official and resolving the matter of chemicals and electricity bill.

Progress reports should be forwarded to the Committee, as the Committee intends to have another follow up visit.

3.4 Project 4 – Nene family house

3.4.1 Overview of project

The original Nene home was a traditional hut and after an exceptionally harsh storm in January 2008 the house was destroyed leaving the family vulnerable, with a further tragedy of the death of the father in February of the same year. The 11 occupants were destitute and appealed to the government officials for assistance. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform together with the Independent Development Trust IDT then committed to building a six-bedroom house for the family.

The house is a brick-house with an adjoining vegetable garden and proposed orchard to ensure that the household has access to food and becomes sustainable.

3.4.2 Observation by the delegation

The delegation could not inspect the structure erected as no one was home, but could confirm that a brick structure was built as stated in the previous report. The delegation could however find no evidence of a vegetable garden or orchard on the property and was informed by from the DAFF and the municipality that all attempts to crow crops failed due to the unavailability of water and the high levels of nitrates in the borehole water.

3.4.3 Recommendations

The delegation requested officials from the DWA to provide the Committee with a written explanation why water was not being provided to the area when funds were allocated for bulk water infrastructure in the region. The members wanted clarity on how much funds have thus far been made available for bulk water infrastructure, when these funds were made available and to whom funds were transferred to. A follow-up to the area and the Mopani District Municipality will be made to assess the full extent of the water provision and water maintenance for the region.

3.5 Project 5 – Muyexe Hospital

3.5.1 Overview of project

The old visitors centre was to have been upgraded to replace the mobile hospital that visited the village once a month. The proposed plans for a new hospital included staff quarters so that the clinic/hospital can be accessible 24 hours a day by the community. The Department of Health dedicated one permanent nursing sister to service the clinic.

Currently the newly renovated building has several consulting rooms and the clinic is relatively well stocked for consultations. No antiretroviral are currently dispensed at the clinic / hospital.

3.5.2 Observations by the delegation

Upon conclusion of its visit to the Muyexe hospital the delegation reports that the old visitors centre is still being used as a clinic. Construction of the new hospital building only started in February 2012, with construction being interrupted as a result of no water for construction purposes and the contractor abandoning the project. A new contractor was appointed in July 2012.

After interacting further with staff present at the clinic it was ascertained that the clinic does have a dedicated nursing sister and that the doctor visits the area every fortnight. What the delegation found disturbing was that the clinic had run out of basic medicines and that the next delivery was only due in approximately seven days time.

No antiretroviral are being dispensed at the clinic/hospital as it is not accredited and regarded as to small for a distribution centre. .

3.5.3 Recommendations

The delegation requested officials from the local municipality and the DRDLR to provide an explanation as to why the previous contractor abandoned the project and why delivery of medical supplies is so slow.

3.6 Project 6 – Muyexe Community Centre

3.6.1 Overview of project

The Muyexe Community Centre was built with the project contributing to employment in the village. Both men and women were employed and each household was represented by one member, so that the benefits of employment can be equitable.

The proposed computer facility for the village was supposed to be located in the same building, providing services such as virtual learning portal for school learners and teachers. Other government service centers were also supposed to be housed in this building.

3.6.2 Observations by the delegation

The delegation confirmed that the community centre was built and that the computer facility mentioned in the previous report was housed in an adjacent building to the community centre. The delegation could not ascertain whether or not other government service centres were housed within the community centre. Although it seemed that SASSA uses the building during the social grant payment days.

Members of the delegation raised the issue of whether or not the VIP pit latrines at the community centre and schools visited were installed / erected according to specification. The reason for the enquiry was that none of the latrines at the sites visited had aeration pipes which were required to assist with the chemical disintegration of waste in the pits.

3.7 De – Briefing Session with stakeholders

The following main issues were raised during the interaction with the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Water Affairs (DWA).

3.7.1 Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform provided a brief on the progress made in the Muyexe CRDP pilot project. The Department raised the following challenges and constraints that inhibit their ability to perform their mandate:

  • The lack of water to ensure that the food gardens are initiated
  • The poor water quality which is high in nitrates and other compounds
  • The “consultant” of the women’s farming project that has secured the large loan from Old Mutual
  • The area is drought stricken and has been for the past few years and this has inhibited the implementation of the CRDP
  • The complex land claim on the Kruger National Park is a big constraint.
  • Lack of proper co-ordination of the programme is inhibiting the success of the project.

During the discussion the Committee raised the following issues:

  1. The Department to provide a report on the “consultant” that managed to secure the loan from Old Mutual.
  2. The support provided to the projects at Muyexe, especially the funding and support to the Macena Women’s Group and the 300 food gardens in Muyexe.
  3. The projects that are highlighted by the Department have they been included in the Spatial Development Frameworks (SDF’s) and the Integrated Development Plan (IDP’s) of the District and the Local Municipalities ?
  4. What has been the communication on the projects to the stakeholders involved? Specifically the local and district Councillors of the municipalities?
  5. What feasibility options for the projects have been investigated, eg. Since water is limited, has game farming been investigated and if so, how will diseases transmission be managed?

Response by the Department:

The Department together with the Independent Development Co-operation (IDC) and the Development Bank are busy with a 5 year plan and they will be back in 4-5 weeks time with a plan for the area.

With regards to communication with stakeholders of the CRDP the council of stakeholders should be revived so that communication can start again.

A costed plan for the Mopani District CRDP sites will be done. Enterprise development and economic development are restricted due to the lack of water. But catalytic projects should focus on veld management, livestock and game farming.

For the farmers group, there was a tomato paste project that was initiated, by the Department of Agriculture. But the factory was running at a loss and there was no market for the produce. The proposed contract with Spar did not materialise and therefore the project had no market. The Department has allocated 16 youth, from the NARYSEC (National Rural Youth Service Corps) project to assist the women in the Macena Project.

3.7.2 Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The Department provided input into the issue of the Macena Women’s Farmers project. Since inception the Department of Agriculture provided extension support services to the project. The Department said that they did not know who was responsible for bringing in Mr Manjera, who was the consultant that advised the group to take the loan from Old Mutual. The Department denied any knowledge of the consultant or the agreement he had with the farmers group.

The Department noted that their extension support and advice provided to the project and the Department of Rural Development on the feasibility of the project was not taken. The lack of water was a limitation in the production of the vegetables and this was not taken into account during the planning of the project.

3.7.3 Department of Water Affairs

The Department presented a report on the status of the Middle Letaba Dam and the Intervention projects- Nandoni to Giyani pipeline. Accordingly to the report presented, the pipeline consists of a 51 km (610 mm diameter) steel pipeline from a proposed raw water pump station in the Nandoni Dam to the Nsami Dam water treatment works. The project was managed by the Mopani District with funding from the Department of Water Affairs. The Mopani District appointed a consulting engineer for the design and the supervision and a contractor as appointed to construct the pipeline, but the construction was halted sue to a legal intervention and no construction has been done since 2011.

According to the investigation conducted by the Department of Water Affairs, the layout and design path of the pipeline was not clear, especially around Nsami Dam and there was insufficient documentation provided to support the contract specifications and design. Furthermore the quality of the work was poor and not according to the specifications for a pipeline of that magnitude.

The second issue raised is the reverse osmosis water treatment plant at Muyexe. The Development Bank of South Africa provided the advance funding to the Mopani District to build the plant. An amount of R44 million was further provided by the Department of Water Affairs for maintenance (paying the electricity and buying the chemicals). There is no electricity and the plant is not functional and the water is not been provided to the community at Muyexe.

The Department also provided a report on the status of ground water for the area, and of the 22 boreholes, only four are operational, two are not equipped, one is dry, 11 have high nitrate content and four needs to be repaired. The total yield for the four operational boreholes is 5.62 l/s of water. According to the report presented the current water treatment plant is insufficient for the borehole capacity and there is a recommendation to upgrade the facility.

The pipeline is incomplete and the water treatment plant is not functional, so the people at Muyexe are only reliant on rain water. The Committee members were appalled by the lack of water service provision and water quality for the area of Muyexe and surrounds and

3.8 Concluding remarks and Recommendations by Committee

  • The Committee will undertake a follow-up visit to Muyexe to further investigate the water pipeline and the involvement of the Mopani District Municipality and the Department of Water Affairs in the lack of water service delivery in the fourth term.
  • The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to hold a co-ordination and planning session with the Councilors if the District and the Local Municipalities on the status of the projects in the Muyexe area.
  • The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to provide a complete report on the loan that was procured for the Macena Woman’s Project.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to provide a report on the extension support; provided to the agricultural projects in the district.
  • The Department of Water Affairs and the Mopani District Municipality to provide a report on the water treatment plant and maintenance of the facility.

Report to be considered


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