Hansard: NA: Mini-Plenary 1
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 08 Sep 2023
No summary available.
MINI PLENARY 1 - NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (VIRTUAL) FRIDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2023
PROCEEDINGS OF VIRTUAL MINIPLENARY
Watch video here: NA: Mini-Plenary 1
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto) took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
VIRTUAL SITTING RULES
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. hon members, hon members, before we proceed, I would like to remind you that the virtual mini plenary is deemed to be in the precincts of Parliament and constitutes a meeting of the National Assembly for debating purposes only. In addition to the rules of virtual sittings, the rules of the National Assembly, including the rules of debate apply.
Members enjoy the same powers and privileges that apply in the sitting of the National Assembly. Members should equally note
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CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT ON A PETITION FROM RESIDENTS UKHAHLAMBA LOCAL MUNICIPALITY, KWAZULU-NATAL PROVINCE, CALLING ON THE ASSEMBLY TO INVESTIGATE THE STATE OF ROADS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
Ms R M M LESOMA: Thank you very much, hon Chair and fellow colleagues on the platform and fellow South Africans. Hon House Chair, oversight is a critical part of ensuring infrastructure development and areas of service delivery, including road maintenance and development. The report before the House or the mini plenary today is a petition of people representing various sectors within the Ukhahlamba Local Municipality due to submission of the petition to the portfolio committee and the oversight by the committee. The report covers the specifics in terms of the road damage and the remedial action that is required from the municipality, provincial government, and national Department of Transport. During the oversight, the provincial Department of Transport briefed the committee on the issues and progress to commence with the refurbishment of the roads in the municipalities, while it is pleasing to note that there is any progress in relation to refurbing many of the roads in the district.
However, at the same time there are challenges which must be addressed, as in some parts of the area the road deterioration did not allow for social services or ambulances to assist the community, to access to health services or health care, and even attending funerals tends to be an issue of concern. The community must not be subjected, hon House Chair and colleagues, to such conditions and therefore it is imperative that the road maintenance proactively occurs timeously.
The roads under consideration in this report, hon House Chair, have been acknowledged to be in a poor condition and some of these roads are not public roads, but private roads which are and need to be refurbished as well, as they are critical to tourism and sector in this area. The report, hon House Chair, seeks to make important observations and recommendations. It is imperative that the national Department of Road and Transport as well as provincial Department of Transport, in conjunction with the municipalities, follow up all the observations and recommendations and submit progress reports to the portfolio committee as timeously as expected. We hope by that time in our next engagement with the committee after the adoption of
this report, we would have a good story to tell in terms of the progress.
It cannot be, hon House Chair, that communities have to petition the portfolio committee to receive basic service delivery in terms of basic maintenance of road infrastructure. The municipality must develop the skills, capacity and capability to ensure that there is no deterioration of the road infrastructure, but rather its development. Inclusive economic growth and development as well as job creation depend on the efficiency of the road infrastructure. Therefore, the report has been approved by the portfolio committee and the committee seeks the consideration of the approval of the House through this mini-plenary sitting. That the Report be adopted and accepted by the House. Thank you very much, hon Chair.
Here, we present the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Ukhahlamba Community Petition. I thank you, Chair.
UNIDENTIFIED MEMBER: Chairperson, you are on mute.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): So, thank you very much, hon Lesoma. Thank you, member, for sticking to time and I will do that when you have one minute left, I will switch on
my video so that everybody can see that they have to round up. Thank you very much.
Mr R A Lees: Good morning, Madam Chair, and ...
... ngiyabonga kakhulu ukuthi ngibe khona nani namhlanje. Ngifuna ukuqala ukukubonga ikomidi ngomsebenzi owenzekile. Ngampela, ngampela, umbiko siyaweseka futhi sibheke phambili ukuthi umsebenzi uwenze.
Madam Chair, it’s now 16 months since the Transport Portfolio Committee conducted oversight of the roads visit to Ukhahlamba Municipality and found the roads to be in a shocking state, as evidenced by the committee's report before the Assembly today. It is a reflection of Parliament's inefficiencies and failure to hold the executive to account that this report that was tabled in Parliament on 22 June 2022, 14 months ago, is only today being considered by the Assembly.
It confirms the Zondo Commission’s view that the Parliament of South Africa failed to perform its constitutional mandate during the Zuma state capture period but distressingly
continues to this very day. Despite the passing of so much time, none of the issues identified by the community and seen by the committee have yet been fixed.
There was a flurry of activity on the Oliviershoek, R74 roads soon after the committee visit with the contractor seemingly of limited competence being appointed, who started work on with one wash away that should have taken no more than a few weeks to rebuild, after stuttering along for a few months, the contractor abandoned the site, no doubt having been paid more than the value of work but giving himself a good cash bonus.
Then a second contractor was appointed who also abandoned this site apparently because he had not been paid by the KwaZulu- Natal Transport Department. No further work has been done for the past six months or more, and the R74 remains closed to trucks, and with some parts of the road posing a real danger to motorists’ lives.
The rural roads, mostly the responsibility of the KwaZulu- Natal provincial department, but also some are the responsibility of the local municipality remain a complete nightmare with no real effort having been put into long- lasting repairs. There are tens of thousands of desperately
poor people in the rural areas of Ukhahlamba who are there because it was where the apartheid regime moved people to during the forced removals. The few people who can find work rely on the limited job opportunities, commercial agriculture and the tourist sector that is situated in the very beautiful World Heritage Site, that is the Okhalamba-Drakensberg Mountains.
Both the agricultural and tourism sectors depend on a serviceable road network, and yet the KwaZulu-Natal government has failed and simply doesn't care about the negative economic impact of their road’s ongoing maintenance failures. The committee report contains robust recommendations that must be supported. However, as is inevitably the case, the oversight process becomes an exercise in futility if the recommendations don't get implemented.
We urge the committee to not abandon the people of Ukhahlamba but instead to do a follow-up oversight on the good work that they have already done.
Sihlalo, ngiyabonga kakhulu, ngicela ukuthi siweseke lo mbiko.
Ms L F TITO: Thanks, House Chairperson, the roads are crucial for the functioning of almost every aspect of society. Without roads, there is no economy. This ought to be appreciated fully by the government, and it becomes a sad spectacle when communities have to petition Parliament for the government to deliver services that it is obligated to deliver in terms of the Constitution.
The petition we are dealing with here was submitted by the residents, the tourism, hospitality and associated industry sectors, the taxi, transport and associated industry sectors, and the agriculture and associated industry sectors of the Okhahlamba Municipality.
It is alleged that the conditions of the roads in that municipality area were shocking, that vehicles were getting damaged every day and that it was becoming impossible to deliver health services, education supplies on other basic municipality services.
The condition of the roads continued to deteriorate even after the residents had approached almost all the government departments. Despite the serious nature of these concerns, it has taken Parliament almost three years to deal with this
petition, and it has been over 16 months since the report was tabled. This indicates the complete disregard in which Parliament views concerns raised by ordinary people. We condemn this delay and we condemn the government's failure to resolve problems relating to roads in this municipality and most rural municipalities.
We heard just how incapable the Okhahlamba Municipality is of dealing with the road programmes in that municipality. We heard how the provincial and national governments are hamstrung and unable to resolve these problems. The Okhahlamba Municipality and the provincial department did not even bother to attend the hearings, and the community has resolved to ask the Provincial Department of Transport to report monthly if it will not resolve the problem. The provincial department simply does not care. We are in support of the
We are in support of the recommendations by the committee but more needs to be done to get the provincial department and the municipalities to account for the failures to maintain the roads. We are in support of this report. Thanks, House Chairperson.
Mr K P SITHOLE: Hon Chairperson, the petition from the residents of Okhahlamba Local Municipality to investigate the state of roads in their communities was to be expected due to the overall neglect by the government of the road infrastructure. As Members of Parliament, we should take petitions as a personal indication of the failure of bringing our constituencies’ issues to light.
For years, the degradation of our roads has been a central theme and metaphor for the government's overall performance. This is not only the case in the Okhahlamba Local Municipality but also in larger road networks. Attending to the road network in South Africa is not a first-world problem that we can attend to at a later date. Its maintenance is a matter of urgency as we place heavy reliance on it.
Not only should our concern be about the safety of people who use the roads, but the fact that roads in South Africa are a vital link between our economy and the livelihoods of our citizens. With the absence of sufficient supporting transport infrastructure, our country is fully dependent on the roads to transport people to work, hospitals, police stations, homes etc. As seen during the oversight visit to the Okhahlamba area, many businesses are adversely affected by the poor
quality of the roads. There are very few portions of the road that exist. The roads in this area have massive sinkholes that stretch over two lanes which force oncoming vehicles onto the wrong side of the road.
Even when undertaking such dangerous ventures, the edges of the roads are falling away by the cliff side increasing the risks on the vehicles. As the IFP, we do support the report of the portfolio committee. Thank you very much, Hon Chair.
Mr P MEY: Chairperson, I am not going to make use of my video.
Suid-Afrika is oppervlakgewys groot en uitgestrek en daarom is padvervoer so belangrik, om elke stad en dorp te verbind en te bedien. Tydens ons oorsig besoek aan KwaZulu-Natal was dit skokkend om waar te neem in watter swak toestand sekere paaie is. Dit begin in die Vrystaat, Harrismith, en spoel oor na KwaZulu-Natal.
Die paaie om en in die omgewing van Okhahlamba Plaaslike Munisipaliteit, is in ’n skokkende toestand en veroorsaak groot skade aan motorvoertuie en die ekonomie. Die onveilige paaie is al vir jare in die vervalle toestand en alhoewel dit
deurentyd aan die plaaslike munisipaliteit, provinsie en nasionale Departement van Vervoer gerapporteer is, is daar niks aan gedoen nie.
slaggate neem maande, voordat dit herstel word en geen onderhoud word gedoen nie. Die kontrakteurs beskik nie oor die nodige kennis en vaardighede, om die slaggate behoorlik te herstel nie.
Normale onderhoud is nie genoegsaam om die vervalle paaie te herstel nie. Die hoofbron van inkomste om die gebied van Bergville is landbou en toerisme. Goeie paaie is dus noodsaaklik. Bergville is ’n klein dorpie, maar is die toegangsroete na die Noordelike Drakensberg, wat jaarliks deur halfmiljoen toeriste besoek word. Dis ’n baie groot getal en daarom is dit so belangrik vir toerisme. Daar is dus ’n verpligting op die ANC-regering om toerisme te bevorder en werk te verskaf.
Die R74 is die hoofroete vanaf Harrismith in die Vrystaat deur Bergville en Winterton na die N3 en Ladysmith. Op sekere dele van die pad is slegs een baan wat gebruik kan word en geen behoorlike waarskuwingstekens is teenwoordig nie.
Die R74 was vervalle vanaf 2010 tot 2014, nadat ’n kontrakteur vooruit betaal is en met die fondse verdwyn het. Die R74 was vir drie jaar gesluit.
Tydens die komitee se besoek is ons deur verskeie organisasies toegespreek, onder andere, landbou, die gasvryheidbedryf, inwoners, plaaswerkers en die taxi-bedryf. Almal was dit eens dat die paaie onmiddellik herstel moet word, anders is werkloosheid aan die orde van die dag. Sekere gastehuise ontvang glad nie meer besoekers, as gevolg van die swak paaie nie. Die melkboere is deur die melkindustrie meegedeel dat hulle nie meer die melk vanaf die plase kan vervoer nie, aangesien die toestand van die paaie so swak is, dat hulle melktrokke vasval.
Indien die regering ernstig is om die ekonomie te laat groei en werk te skep is ingryping in die gebied uiters noodsaaklik. Gemeenskappe op hul eie kan nie die paaie herstel nie. Die regering het ’n verpligting en moet eiebelang en korrupsie staak, om ons vervoerstelsel weer te herstel. Baie dankie.
Mr S M JAFTA: Thank you, Chair. Chair, the Portfolio Committee on Transport inspection-in-loco in Kwazulu-Natal, as well as its recommendations relate to a petition that the committee
received from a desperate group in that province, who complained about the state of roads in Bergville, for instance, where former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka hails from.
The region is said to be engulfed by abnormal rainfall. The absence of watertight drainage system has affected the structure of the roads in the region. The R600 Road, stretching from Winterton to Champaigns Castle Hotel was said to be under rehabilitation. As we understand the process, the contractor has been appointed in this regard.
Having assessed the petition referred to the committee, it recommended the following, amongst others: That the national Department of Transport, as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport Report to the committee monthly from the date of adoption of the Report by the House on progress to fix the roads indicated in the petition; that the department Reports to the committee when and which provincial roads are handed over to SA National Road Agency Limited, Sanral, including, but not limited, to the date of the transfer, the length of the road transfer and when projects will start to repair the roads.
Hon Chair, while these recommendations are commendable, as they are likely to improve the quality of roads in the province, it would have been ideal to recommend an ad hoc committee to monitor this process and we have clear timelines. We also wish to record before this House, hon Chair, that a desperate group in Matatiele will soon table its petition before this Parliament, on the poor state of roads in Matatiele.
This process will entail, amongst others, the committee and the department commissioning a forensic Report on how funds allocated for the upgrading and maintenance of roads in Matatiele Local Municipalities are utilised. We support this Report, hon Chairperson. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much, hon Jafta. Before I call on the ANC, I just want to reconfirm that we have no speaker from the UDM, the ATM, the GOOD and the PAC. No response! Proceed, hon Ramadwa, to close the debate.
Mr L E McDONALD: House Chair, it will be hon Mc Donald that will be filling there.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Proceed hon. Yes! [Interjections.]
Mr L E McDONALD: Thank you. Good morning, Chair. [Interjections.] Petitions from communities requiring service delivery is an important part of our democracy. It also enables Members of Parliament to engage in oversight to ensure that communities receive social delivery in the form of road infrastructure. Transport infrastructure is a critical part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. It is a key driver which enables economic growth as it ensures that communities have access to markets and social services.
Growth infrastructure enables job creation, as it enables different economic sectors, such as agriculture and tourism to thrive. It is imperative that municipalities and provincial governments ensure that there is no deterioration of roads, as routine maintenance prevents the more costly exercise of rebuilding the roads. Moreover, the deterioration of municipal and provincial roads can result in damage to cars, and it is the safety hazard. It can cause accidents which result in fatalities.
Therefore, it is important that municipalities and provincial governments develop the capacity for both road maintenance and road development. The neglect of road maintenance increases the cost of the refurbishing of roads, and this has a negative impact on the budget for road maintenance and development, as it increases the cost thereof.
The Report by the provincial department of transport clearly indicates that there is a plan for the refurbishment of the roads in the area, which includes private roads that are critical to the tourism and hospitality sectors. The ANC is expecting that the rehabilitation of the road infrastructure in the Ukhahlamba area will lead to greater economic activity, especially in the agriculture and tourism industries.
Increased economic activity will enable job creation in the area. Therefore, the committee will expect an update on the progress with regard to the road rehabilitation.
It is imperative that the provincial department of transport and the municipality communicate with stakeholders and the community on its plans for rehabilitation of the roads, and that it does not necessitate a petition while there are plans in place for rehabilitation of both public and private roads.
The Report makes an important recommendation on the necessity for the provincial department to provide the committee within formation regarding the transfer of roads to Sanral.
It further requests information for the department on the construction of the roads and the relevant details of when the roads are for construction and by whom. The committee further seeks to understand all the petitions and all complaints received from communities in the area. These roads, for the past five to eight years. Reports are also expected on the Provincial Maintenance Grant, as it is expected that all these funds are utilised for road maintenance. Law enforcement needs to stop heavy trucks from utilising the R6 Road as per the road signage. The portfolio committee has approved the Report for submission to the House. The ANC supports the Report and seeks the consideration of the House, and the approval of the Report. Thank you, House Chair.
Debate was concluded.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much for availing yourselves. Thank you, hon members. As you are here. hon member, remember that time has not been given for other orders, but my understanding is that we proceed on all the
business of this Mini Plenary 1, with the Third Order, which we shall now proceed on. It is the consideration of a Standing Committee on Finance on Oversight visit to Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa. Let me just quickly allow the presenter to come in. [Interjections.] It is hon Alexander ... [Inaudible.] [Interjections.]
Ms R M M LESOMA: Hon House Chairperson, my hand is up.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Let me check if a hand is up. Okay! Hon Lesoma!
Ms R M M LESOMA: Thank you very much, hon House Chair. May we assist; The next Report is for Transport as well. Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Oh, they gave me ... Oh no, I went to the Third order. I am sorry for that. Thank you for helping me.
Mbhuduma, nawe bewufuna ukungena?
Nom T B MABHENA: Iye injalo mma. Ngicabanga bona seyilungisiwe.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Okay, seyilungile ke!
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT ON PUBLIC PROTECTOR REPORT NO 37 OF 2018-19 ON A SYSTEMIC INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGATIONS OF ILLEGAL CONVERSION OF GOODS- CARRYING TOYOTA QUANTUM PANEL VANS INTO PASSENGER-CARRYING MINIBUS TAXIS TO TRANSPORT MEMBERS OF PUBLIC FOR REWARD AND MATTERS RELATED THERETO
Ms R M M LESOMA: Hon House Chairperson, colleagues and fellow South Africans, the Portfolio Committee on Transport is tabling to this House which is the mini-plenary in this instance, for consideration and approval for processes for the National Assembly to approve and adopt the report of the Public Protector number 37 on a systemic investigation into allegations of illegal conversion of goods-carrying Toyota quantum panel vans into passenger-carrying minibus taxis to transport members of the public for reward. This is an import investigation with critical recommendations as it deals with passengers in the public transport on public roads.
Hon House Chairperson, the report and the investigation was very thorough. The practice of illegal conversions has to stop as these vehicles have been in accidents with many fatalities. Road safety, hon House Chairperson, standard is not a debatable subject as it is based on the preservation of people’s lives and safety on the road. This must be governed by legislation and regulations.
The social compact of stakeholders is necessary to ensure that this unsafe practice of illegal converting of panel vans to transport members of the public for rewards as taxis must stop. The Taxi Recapitalisation Programme extended to the scraping of the illegal converted vehicles is an important way in which the scrapping of these vehicles can occur and for the legally operating taxis which are based on operating standards for vehicles to operate in the public transport sphere.
Hon House Chairperson, for those who are defiant to operate outside the law and regulations then those vehicles should be impounded as per the National Land Transport Act, which is the only Act which allows for the impoundment of vehicles. The taxi industry must operate within the law and prescribed rules of the road or face the legal consequences thereof. The law must be enforced, but not in the draconian manner as was
during the time of apartheid era, but through consensus with social partners such as taxi industry it should be enforced to the T. The law must be enforced to the T.
It is imperative that all stakeholders report back to the committee on progress made on eradicating the illegally converted vehicles from the public roads or transport sector.
Hon House Chairperson, we must say that there are also those vehicles that transport mostly in the other areas; bakkies that tend to be transporting members of the public for rewards as well. Those ones fall under the same category.
The portfolio committee has approved the report, hon House Chairperson and it is hereby tabled for consideration and approval by this process by this mini-plenary House. I thank you, hon House Chairperson.
Nom T B MABHENA: Ngiyathokoza Sihlalo.
The subject of this debate has been is a result of effective opposition. The official opposition has shown time and time
again that we are a party that deeply care about the lives of all South Africans. We are indeed a government in waiting.
House Chairperson, it was the DA that flagged the Public Protector’s Report on illegally converted panel vans and slammed the brakes on the ANC and their rushed attempts to rubberstamp this report without proper consideration. It was us, the DA a government in waiting, under the president, the hon Steenhuisen in 2024who pushed for the establishment for the subcommittee within the Portfolio on Transport ON 4 September 2020. This request was granted by the committee as it is difficult to argue against evidenced-based decision making and logic. The DA requested further investigation into this matter. Today, we stand here, proudly having achieved exactly that.
What persuaded us as the DA to trigger and successfully push for the establishment of a subcommittee to further investigate this matter with three critical issues: Firstly, being the general disregard for the safety of passengers, secondly, the continuing exploitation of minibus taxi owners who are knowingly purchased these illegally converted pane vans and thirdly, there were many ambulances in South Africa that were illegally converted while transporting patients.
House Chairperson, due to the DA’s insistence on further investigation into this matter, we uncovered what the Public Protector’s Report has missed some illegally converted panel vans were operating as ambulances. This practice potentially place the lives of already sick individuals in much greater danger. In the event of an accident involving these illegally converted panel vans, there are often no survivors because these vehicles do not comply with the basic minimum standards.
The fact of the matter is that illegally converted taxis and ambulances pose a deadly risk to all South Africans who find themselves in these vehicles.
On 7 October 2019, my colleague Dr Chris Hunsinger wrote an open letter to the Daily Maverick and raised the alarms stating and I quote:
This matter of national concern that taxi recapitalisation scheme is being abused to justify fake taxis and illegal ambulances which have led to the death of innocent people deceived by a brand name with the high international safety standard.
We were not surprised because the Public Protector’s Report solely focussed on the taxi industry and ignored sectors where illegally converted panel vans are in use such as tourism, agriculture and construction just to name a few.
Once again, it was the DA that raised another alarm on 1 October 2019, when we called on the then ANC chief twittist and poor excuse of a Minister, Mbalula to take action against the illegally converted taxis and ambulances. We had learned that 70 new Ford Ranger vehicles have been blocked by a road worthy testing station in Durban KwaZulu-Natal. These pickup trucks were allegedly converted to passenger carrying vehicles in a similar fashion to panel vans that are unlawfully converted into taxis to operate on the country’s roads.
House Chairperson, the Public Protector took a full seven years to complete the investigation, during which time illegal conversion continued and increased dramatically, including ambulances and other type of vehicles numbering in the thousands of each category.
However, the Public Protector’s Report ignored and stuck to the original number of 2 300 illegally converted minibus taxis as if these were the only ones. Furthermore, it completely
disregarded other types of conversions as mentioned before. The estimated number of illegally converted taxis from panel vans exceeds 10 000. The number of ambulances sold to most of the nine provincial Health Departments is estimated at 3 000 in total. To this day, no formal action has been taken by this ANC-led government to address these illegally converted ambulances that are considered to be unsafe and dangerous.
In conclusion House Chairperson, as a self-respecting opposition, we are disheartened by the final report of the portfolio committee on the illegal conversions. We believe that a great injustice has been done by covering the transformation of most carrying Toyota Quantum panel vans into passenger carrying minibuses to transport members of the public under unacceptable conditions, including lack of effective control exploitation of the unsophisticated taxi industry, profiting significantly, and wilful participation in exploitation deception through a well-known brand name resulting in death, injuries, amputations, loss of income and putting law-abiding road users at risk. It is our strong belief that addressing these challenges and ensuring safety should be a top priority. House Chairperson, the DA will support this report, but with the above mentioned concerns that we have placed in this report.
USIHLALO WENDLU (Kkz M G Boroto): Bayede!
Wena uzazi khulu zama-panel vans, ngombana ubuya la zigcwele khona.
EFF, do you have a member?
Mrs N J NOLUTSHUNGU: Yes we do, Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Mama Nolutshungu, you may proceed.
Mrs N J NOLUTSHUNGU: Hon House Chairperson, the Public Protector published the report in 2019 about the illegal conversion of the Toyota Quantum panel vans into minibus taxis. This complaint was lad as far back as 2012 to the Office of the Public Protector. This House must condemn the delay it took for the report to be published.
Equally we must condemn the length of the time it took the committee to consider the report. The report amongst other things found that the department failed to take effective and efficient steps to ensure the safety of commuters using the Toyota Quantum panel vans that have been illegally converted to minibus taxis for transport. It failed to protect taxi owners from the consequences of purchasing Toyota Quantum panel vans that have been illegally converted into minibus taxis is substantiated. It found that generally, there was government failure across the board to protect citizens who were subjected to these risks emanating from the conversions. These failures included failures by the SA Bureau of Standards, SABS.
Despite recommendations made by the report, the Minister, SABS and all other affected entities have not done a thing to ensure that the situation is improved. As a result, many of our people are still at risk because there is no regulatory mechanism to ensuring that these vans are taken out of our roads and that they are no longer permitted to carry passengers.
We are in support of this report and urge the department to ensure that commuters are never subjected to risks such as these again. Thank you, House Chairperson.
Mr K P SITHOLE: Hon House Chairperson, the lack of standards within the taxi industry has opened up an area of ambiguity when it comes to what is expected of owners and drivers versus what laws are being applied to them. The lack of clarity in terms of regulations allows for some to abuse and derogate the name and operational norms of taxis in South Africa.
The case of illegally converted taxis is the case in point. It is not all taxi owners and businesses that deceitfully co- operate to bring about unsafe vehicles, but of course, there will be those opportunists who do. The report by the public protector clearly highlights these shortcomings. The fact that this matter has reference to the early 2000s, where it came to light, that panel vans intended for the delivery of goods were illegally converted for passenger usage.
Since then, the National Regulator of Compulsory Standards and the South African Bureau of Standards, have failed to implement sufficient compulsory standards and tests respectively, to prevent unsafe modified taxis from entering
our streets. This has placed all South Africans at the mercy of chance and God. These vehicles are a danger not only to the passengers but other road users, as they have not been tested to the same criteria that other vehicles have been, thus providing far inferior protection to their occupants.
It is the duty of the state to impose regulations that set the standards by which manufacturers must conform in accordance with the safety requirements of the state.
If the government really cares about the millions of commuters who will unknowingly use these dangerous vehicles tomorrow for work and school, changes must be made now and not later. We must have stakeholder engagements with the taxi industry, the manufacturers, schools, regulators, legislators, etc. The IFP supports this report. Thank you very much.
Mnr P MEY: Agb Voorsitter, in Suid-Afrika is daar ongeveer 800 000 ongelukke per jaar. Dis ongeveer 2 200 per dag. Die “panel van”, soos hy algemeen beken staan, was ontwerp om goedere te vervoer en nie passasiers nie. In 2005 is honderde Toyota Quantum “panel vans” onwettig na taxi’s en ambulanse
omgeskakel, wat nie aan die nodige veiligheidstandaarde vir vervoer van passasiers voldoen nie.
Meer as 15 jaar na die Departement van Vervoer bewus geword het van onwettige omskakeling van “panel vans” vir die vervoer van passasiers is ’n finale besluit geneem, om die gevaarlike voertuie van die paaie te verwyder.
Die Openbare Beskermer het in 2019 bevind dat onwettige omskakeling van “panel vans” na taxi’s baie onveilig is en aanleiding gee tot dodelike ongelukke, wat regoor die land plaasvind.
Die groot rede waarom dit so onveilig beskou word, is omrede die sitplekke direk aan die vloer van die taxi’s geheg is, in plaas van die onderstel van die voertuig. Die vensters is ook aan die bakwerk van die voertuig aangebring, wat dit nog onveiliger maak.
’n Finale besluit is geneem om die onwettige voertuie van die paaie te verwyder. Die onwettige taxi’s moes vrywillig geskrap word voor Februarie 2023 en ’n toelaag is aangebied vir die eienaar. Indien dit nie voor 2023 geskied nie, sal die onwettige voertuie geskut word.
Die hele proses moet deur die Taxi herkapataliserings-program geskied. Eienaars is R141 000 per taxi aangebied om die voertuig te skrap. ’n Totaal van 1 226 voertuie is geidentifiseer en 588 is teen Oktober 2022 van ons paaie verwyder. ’n Totaal van 638 is nog uitstaande. Redes wat aangevoer word is die swak ekonomiese toestande en dat eienaars nie afstand wil doen nie, omdat hulle bang is dat hulle hul permitte vir roetes sal verloor. Dankie.
Mr S M JAFTA: Hon Chair, commuter safety in South Africa is poorly underreviewed. The illegal conversion of goods carrying Toyota Quantum Panel vans into passenger carrying mini bus taxis to transport to transport members, as of the public, became a subject of investigation by the Public Protector in 2018, years after the practice mushroomed.
Its findings were referred to the Department of Transport and Portfolio Committee on Transport, amongst others, for auctioning. Among its recommendations, the report instructed the Minister of Transport to take urgent and appropriate steps to, amongst others, ensure the department has an extensive updated record on a number of vehicles that have been retrofitted, as part of the identified 2 353 vehicles and reconcile a database of vehicles that were originally admin
marked at the current value of those vehicles, so as to consider the number of vehicles that will be due for scrapping. And such vehicles should, with the consent of its owners, be duly scrapped and the owners should be offered scrapping allowances, to enable them to acquire roadworthy and authorised vehicles.
The committee has endorsed these recommendations, including its own directive that the department ought to investigate allegations of other types of illegally converted vehicles, other than minibus taxi vehicles and submit a report on the number of these vehicles registered on the eNatis system to the committee within one month of adoption of this report.
Given the state of road safety in South Africa, the adopted report, if adopted by the House, must immediately be forwarded to all relevant stakeholders, including the South African National Taxi Council, Santaco, and Toyota South Africa.
Another notable recommendation we fully support is the injunction that the taxi industry must work with the department on improving the uptake of the ... It is indeed all hands on deck. We support the report. Thank you.
Mr L E McDONALD: House Chair, the Portfolio Committee on Transport is tabling to the House for consideration and approval, the report of the Public Protector no 37 on systematic investigation into allegations of illegal conversion of goods-carrying Toyota Quantum Panel vans into passenger-carrying minibus taxis, to transport members of the public for reward. This was a thorough investigation, which delved into the legislative and technical matters related to illegal conversion of panel vans for the public transport.
The ANC supports the report, its findings and recommendations. The chair has correctly spoken to the issues of public safety in ensuring the reduction of fatalities involving taxis on public roads. There are too many fatalities on our roads and this must stop. The conversion of these vehicles does not comply with the requisite specifications and safety standards, as that which is built by the manufacturer for the transport of people. The people-centred, caring ANC government will never allow for the illegal conversion of vehicles, which is a safety hazard resulting in injuries of people, while being transported on public roads.
On the basis of the report, the Department of Transport has instituted a revised taxi recapitalisation plan to incentivise
the taxi industry not to go route of illegal conversions of quantum panel vans, and to ensure the premises of safety of passengers first and foremost. Therefore, the department has embarked on a programme to ensure that these vehicles are scrapped and that the owners are able, through the recapitalisation funding, to purchase new vehicles from the manufacturer’s fit for purpose of safety transporting people. Moreover, the department is also ensuring that, with the scrapping of such illegally converted vehicles programme, the owners of the new vehicles are also properly licensed to operate on public transportation sectors, as per the National Land Transportation Act.
The subcommittee and the Public Protector sought to review the legislation related to the conversion of vehicles, to ensure that any gaps in the legislation, which allows for the illegal conversion and then registration of the vehicles on the eNatis system must be prevented. The integrity of the standards is based on best international practice and must be upheld, as it’s currently voluntary, and this may be legislated, if the practice of illegal conversion is not eradicated through the combined effort of the stakeholders.
The integrity of the eNatis system must be upheld and such vehicles must not be allowed to register on our system. The scrapping of illegal converted vehicles or the impounding of such vehicles is critical to eliminate such a practice. The eradication of illegal conversions of vehicles utilised for public transportation requires a social compact of stakeholders for the success and sustainability.
The committee is also of the view that further engagements with the department may be required to assess the full extent to which the problem has been resolved and to propose any further remedial steps that should be taken to close any gaps in the legislation and regulations, which does not allow conversions of vehicles for public transport of people.
Stakeholders may also need to report to the portfolio committee on progress made, since the release of the Public Protector’s findings. The ANC supports the subcommittee’s report and submits the report to the House for its consideration and approval.
And, Chairperson, on a final note, Go, Bokke! It’s their game, this weekend. So, we support the Bokke! Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you, hon McDonalds and thank you to the SABC for resolving the problem of us seeing that. Let us even remember that we call this Bokke Friday. So, t-shirts must be sourced. Thank you for reminding us, on that lighter note.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE — OVERSIGHT VISIT TO LAND AND AGRICULTURAL BANK OF SOUTH AFRICA (LAND BANK)
Ms W R ALEXANDER: Chair, the Land Bank was virtually bankrupt since the early 2000 due to poor governance and poor decisions. Despite this critical mistake continue to be made and the Land Bank ... [Interjections.]
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Chairperson, can I get a clarity?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes!
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: It is Joe Maswanganyi here.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I can see you, “baba” [sir].
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Who introduces the report? Is it the chairperson of the committee or it is a member of the opposition?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): From the documents that I have, I have been given hon Alexander. Even on the paper it is hon Alexander. The seven minutes that the ANC has, is on the last speaker. I don’t know why it happened this way. But that is what I have. I thought maybe there was something. If you give me just a minute, I can switch off my mic and try to find out because I really also don’t understand how it came about.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Please! It is unprecedented. The reports are presented by chairpersons.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yeah, it is unprecedented, and it is true. On the guide that I have it says, hon Alexande, on the paper and the speakers’ list also say that. Let me just find out from Mike from Table staff.
Mike, just call me quickly.
Mr E M BUTHELEZI: They cannot sabotage the chair.
Mr K P SITHOLE: Shenge!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Mike says he will come back to me quickly. Probably, he is also checking. I have thought it was your agreement from the committee. That’s why I decided to go with what I was given.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: [Laughter.] We cannot outsource power, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): [Laughter.]
Mr E M BUTHELEZI: We are led by the chair of the committee.
Mr K P SITHOLE: Shenge! Shenge!
Mr E M BUTHELEZI: You are our leader.
Mr B A RADEBE: I cannot agree more with the hon Maswanganyi. This is a committee report, and he is the one who must introduce it, and not the opposition.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yeah! And I don’t understand.
Mr E M BUTHELEZI: One and the only one!
Mr I S SEITHLOLO: We are practicing for 2024.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: [Laughter.] Oh, you are warming up! You will warm-up until you get injured while you are on the touch line.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): [Phone rings.] Let me call!
Mr I S SEITHLOLO: Chair, he will warm-up until he grows impatient.
Mr E M BUTHELEZI: He has failed even before then.
Mr B A RADEBE: Long live the Deputy President.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Amandla, Bungane.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, I am told that it is ... Let me go the ha. Hon Radebe!
Mr B A RADEBE: No, I have already made my comment. The chairperson of the committee must introduce the report. Thank you, Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Radebe, I am told that when the ANC submitted, they only put the last speaker. Now, I am going to ask the hon Nkomo to come in. Hon Nkomo, just take us out of the misery, please. I don’t want to be blamed.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: I am here in my capacity as the chairperson, and not only as ANC. Nkomo is not the chairperson. Previous reports were led by the chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No, I am not saying anything about that. I am asking because she has seven minutes on her email. I am coming to you, “baba” [sir]. I just want to get it because you are not ... I understand it very well. Hon Nkomo, you are still good, so I am going to divide the minutes between you and the chairperson. As it has been happening the chairperson get four minutes and the hon Nkomo will get three minutes. So, let us start it correctly. I think it was an oversight by the ANC when they send the names. They only indicated hon Z Nkomo. We will look into that. Thank you for
raising this issue, baba Maswanganyi. I would like you to proceed and take your four minutes. Table staff assist me. We are giving the chairperson four minutes to introduce the report and the three minutes will be used at the end. Mam Alexander, I am very sorry. I thought it was your decision from the committee. It is not me, but it the papers in front of me. Thank you very much, chairperson to be here and rectified this mistake. Hon Maswanganyi, this is your opportunity now.
Tat A H M PAPO: Ndza khensa, Mutshamaxitulu.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: The Standing Committee on Finance undertook a visit to the Land Bank on 21 April 2022, to play its oversight role. The purpose was to get an update on the status of the annual report, corporate plan, highlighting the challenges and steps being taken to redress the issues that were raised with the bank before. This is a very important bank. It is a bank owned by government and was established as a development bank in 1912. It provides financial services and products to commercial farming.
Without going into details, let me say that as a committee we have made observations and make recommendations. The board must expedite the implementation of the stabilisation plan. the board must manage the debt challenge, finalise liability solutions and focus on lending money to the agricultural secor. The bank should reconsider outsourcing its primary responsibilities to intermediaries as this exposes them to risk. Instead, the bank must insource this kind of responsibilities. The bank must audit the audit action plans. The bank should implement transformation programme. The historically disadvantages, that is, blacks, youth, women and people living with disabilities should be given priority by this bank.
Also, in this regard the bank needs some blended financing which will be favourable to emerging farmers. The bank must play a leading role in the financing and support of small- scale farmers and it must fill all critical positions. The board should attend to labour issues raised by the union because the employer-employee relationship is very critical. This is a very important bank in the agricultural sector. We cannot afford to see this bank being crimpled.
Let me commend the current board and the executive because we don’t always have to blame people even when they are making efforts for the good work that they are doing to turn the bank around. We will continue as the Standing Committee on Finance to play a critical oversight role on the land Bank and other financial institutions owned by government and those who are privately owned. We don’t only play oversight on government finance institutions, but we also play oversight role generally on all financial institutions in the country. We commend the board and the executive for what they are doing to turn the bank around. I move that this report be considered by this mini-plenary and be adopted by the National Assembly plenary.
Ndza khensa, Mutshamaxitulu.
Mrs W R ALEXANDER: House Chairperson, I am glad that it is my turn now. The Land Bank has virtually been bankrupted since the early 2000s due to poor governance and bad decision- making. Despite this, critical mistakes continue to be made. We saw the Land Bank had R1,7 billion in reserves in 1997, which has been built up over many years due to the
government’s capital endorsements, annual appropriations and retained earnings. Today, that would be worth R6,5 billion.
A variety of reasons have led to the loss, which include irregular expenditure, poor credit decisions and lending activities outside the bank’s mandate. Consequently, the bank no longer provides agricultural services to the agricultural sector. It has compromised the success of the land reform beneficiaries, aspiring young commercial farmers, the agricultural sector growth, the agricultural sector as well as food security. The Land Bank’s funding model is the first mistake that needs to be fixed.
An institution that costs too much to fund cannot be considered the developmental financial institute. It needs to restructure its funding sources to lower its capital cost. As of 2010, the bank’s main source of funding has been the money markets, which mature within one year. The cost of this funding is high. Farmers cannot start businesses if interest rates are higher than prime lending rates. In addition, the bank has changed its interest policy. Farmers were always charged on simple interest; however, it’s now being calculated on compound interest. As a result, interest is estimated monthly rather than annually.
Besides these mistakes, others have been made. Among them are capital reserves were depleted by lending to nonagricultural activities, transactions in nontraditional ways, such as structured financing. The number of offices in the country as well as the number of field staff to assist clients has been reduced and poor credit controls resulting in massive loss of the bank, due to the use of intermediaries to manage short- term production loans.
The bank’s balance sheet should consist of a mix of funding to ensure appropriate funding costs to enable sustainable development finance. It has to be mentioned that Treasury has failed to play effective oversight over the Land Bank. It can be further said that this is true for institutions that are failing or have failed. Lack of oversight that has led to a lack of transparency and accountability in the Land Bank’s operations.
The introduction of systemic risks has become prevalent in the Land Bank’s activities. This has led to the decrease in public trust and the confidence in this institution. As a result, the Land Bank has become unsustainable and unable to meet its financial obligation. We feel it in our pockets every day in South Africa as our economy is simply not growing. The
Treasury could assist with some relief to South Africans by cutting fuel costs or introducing zero-rated essential grocery items.
The Treasury has overestimated the country’s economic growth leading us into unfunded budgets. In the coming months we are going to see these budgetary reductions in many critical areas. This will be a difficult time for many citizens, especially in essential services will become scarce. Unfunded
... [Inaudible] ... can create an unstable financial burden on local and national governments. This will have a negative impact on economic growth, which will ultimately lead to the budget cuts for essential services.
It is critical that government finds ways to manage their budgets more effectively to ensure that essential services will continue to be provided. As the Land Bank has not met its requirements of its rescue package, it is important that the government find another model to help the Land Bank. Treasury must take steps to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. This could include better regulations and improved oversight of the financial institute. One such example could be that the Land Bank becomes a micro lender for up-and-coming farmers.
The overall objective of the scheme would be to support small, medium and micro-sized enterprises, SMMEs, facilitating flow of credits into the farming sector. The scheme would provide credit linked to capital subsidiaries to ensure SMMEs would have access to technology to improve their productivity. It could also provide assistance to technological upgrades to modernise existing small farmers, turning that into a viable business. In this current state, the DA cannot support this report. Thank you, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you Madam Alexander. From your contribution we can hear that you were not supposed to introduce because you are coming u with the debate not the introduction. Thank you very much for your understanding and the confusion caused earlier. EFF.
Mr M MANYI: Good morning, Chairperson and the House. Chairperson, the EFF supports the report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding the oversight visit to the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa. We support this report because as a committee we agreed on two primary issues which are clearly articulated within the report after engagement with the management and the board of the Land Bank. The first point we agreed on as a committee is that the loan
book of the Land Bank doesn’t reflect the demographics of South Africa. Despite that the bank is claiming to be playing a transformative role.
The majority of the Land Bank loan beneficiaries are predominantly Caucasian farmers who reaped the benefits during apartheid. On the other hand, African farmers by African I include coloureds as well, so called coloureds largely remain sidelined. Moreover, women and youth combined make less than 17% of the total loan book. This is disturbing, and we should deal with this as a matter of urgency. If we don’t, Land Bank will continue to struggle with his transformation mandate. In his current state, it won’t dismantle the lingering remnants of apartheid, nor will it enhance the agricultural land ownership amongst the African people. As Africans we continue to be spectators in the agricultural value chain, the status quo is indefensible and mass change.
This leads to our second point of agreement. Presently, Parliament lacks the means to allocate annual appropriations to the Land Bank that would accentuate its transformative potential apologies. There is an urgent need to amend the law, transforming the Land Bank into a developmental finance institution. This revamped entity should then focus on
offering agricultural finance and grants especially to African farmers. In this new capacity the Land Bank should reduce its dependency on capital markets. Implementing such changes would not only empower the Land Bank to champion transformation but will also address underlying systemic challenges. These include liquidity concerns, instability in senior roles, dwindling staff morale, stagnant salaries and ongoing union disputes.
In conclusion Chairperson, it seems that the National Treasury might be intentionally undermining the Land Bank’s turnaround strategy. If this continues, we might soon hear arguments against the very necessity of the Land Bank. Lastly Chair, I must just indicate that, the reason I use Caucasian and African is because for me a white person or a white, white looks like this page, this is white, and black looks like this. I have never seen anybody that looks anything like this. So, for me, it is Caucasians and Africans. Thank you Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you hon Manyi. Thank you very much. We now proceed to Inkosi Buthelezi.
Ndabezitha! Is Inkosi Buthelezi here on the platform? Mh, mh, mh I don’t see IFP on my participants’ list. Anyone?
Mr K P SITHOLE: Hon Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes, hon Sithole.
Mr K P SITHOLE: Can you please pass because I am trying to check the Inkosi because he was online.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Okay, okay. I hope that I will find members because my speaker’s list for the next speakers for the other parties is empty. But hon Sithole we give this minute to try and check. As I proceed, ACDP, none.
UDM, none. ATM, none. GOOD, none. AIC, hon Jafta uphumile? [went out?] COPE, PAC. Yoh! This is not good members.
Mr M NYONTSHO: Chair, PAC is here but not talking.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Okay. So, you don’t even support or disagree?
Mr M NYONTSHO: I support Chair. I support Chair. But don’t force me to support ... [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No, I said support or disagree with the report. It is okay.
Mr M NYONTSHO: No, I agree Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. Are you okay now hon Sithole? I can’t see hon Buthelezi coming in here. Do you have ... Do you have ...
An HON MEMBER: Hon Chair, he is coming in now. He was kicked out. I spoke to him; he is coming in now.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I will allow it because we don’t have members to speak. And as we wait for him, this hon members the on the speakers list we don’t have parties.
You know, listening to this debates that are going on, this mainly have to do with our constituents. It just confirms to me what we got yesterday from programming that members don’t attend oversights. This is a proof that they can’t speak on something that they don’t know and they are not here. But that matter of parties that don’t actually go on these oversights is in the Office of the Speaker. And at the same time, they confirm, but they end up not going. So, there is a process that will unfold. I was just bringing that because it pains me. These issues that you are raising here, all parties that are raising issues here, these issues are very important to Parliament and to our constituents.
Are you okay now? Is Inkosi here? I see Liezl. Liezl are you taking over? Van der Merwe, I see you have logged in, I don’t see Inkosi.
Ngizomeqa manje, isikhathi asingivumeli ukuthi ngidlale ngaso. He-e! Akekho.
Liezl please respond to me. I see you name here.
Abasekho bonke-ke manje.
They have all gone. Hon Nkomo, please close the debate.
Angisaboni noyedwa manje.
I saw Van der Merwe, now she is gone.
Ubaba uSithole naye angisamutholi.
Can we proceed now to the last speaker which is hon Nkomo. You have three minutes.
Ms Z NKOMO: House Chair, and greetings to all hon members on the platform. House Chair, historically, the Land and Agriculture Bank was set up in its mandate pre-1994 to provide support to the development of white agribusiness and build it. Post 1994, its orientation changed and instead of conducting itself as a development bank, providing financial support to black emerging farmers, which at the time is in the first five years of democracy was a critical policy of the ANC. The bank reorientated itself into one of the commercial lenders, going against grains of government policy intentions. This forced black emerging farmers away from the bank into the arms of other financial institutions who were less interested in the agricultural business. Once the bank shifted away from the from the philosophical and policy mandate of what it used to be, problems started. The fact that Treasury has had to financially support the bank for it to pay off its creditors when it slipped into a debt default position in April 2020 points to poor management and financial decision-making and a
perpetual liquidity challenge since then. This meant that the bank has not been supporting clients’ funding needs and no loans disbursed since the event of default.
At the time of our visit two years later, the bank was still in a default position. A June 2020 R3 billion equity injection by Treasury provided the bank with some liquidity to provide financial support to those that they had contractually already committed to support and to pay the interest on its debt to creditors. This was followed in 2021 budget by the recapitalization of the Land Bank of R7 billion equity. Poor decision-making like agreeing to most of the loan book being managed by intermediaries are the reasons for this situation. Positively, this has now been largely insourced and managed internally. In essence, the funding structure of the Land Bank has been a fundamental challenge. There has been a dependency on commercial funding sources from the capital market at borrowing rates that are relatively more expensive than the repo rate. The Land Bank cannot fully commence with its development and transformation initiatives if it is not cured from the default and a financially sustainable business model. In this context, the R7 billion equity from Treasury had conditions attached to it to achieve the turnaround.
We have argued as the ANC that what is meant to be a development bank cannot have borrowings that are not suitable to a development finance institution. The bank is meant to close the finance market gap and provide finance to developing farmers at affordable rates. Fortunately, and largely because of the intervention of the Treasury, there have been no further calls by lenders to settle debts. Positively, this has enabled the bank to service its interest payments and reduce its debt by 28%, which is R11,4 billion as at April 2022.
As the ANC we strongly believe that a relative proportion of the problems at the banks have been the outsourced service level agreements. We welcome that some have been cancelled or not renewed and the bank insourced to those who work at the bank. The bank should not outsource its primary activities to intermediaries. The funding models of the Land Bank must be reviewed to ensure its sustainability. The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Provision of Rural Financial Services Report of 1996 must be brought back so that the development and transformation mandate of the Land Bank is restored to assist emerging black farmers and those who are in agribusiness. The ANC supports this report. Thank you, House Chair.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: Hon House Chair!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: I got disconnected from the system. So, I am trying to check if I could use this opportunity to debate. I think I am online again and if I may be permitted?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I am going to use my discretion considering that the ANC has already spoken ... [Interjections.]
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: Oh, I see.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): ... I am not allowed to give you permission, but I am going to take a different route and use my discretion and allow you, hon Buthelezi. Pardon me members. Thank you.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: Thank you very much, House Chair. Can I proceed now?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: Most state-owned enterprises, SOEs, in our country are not functioning optimally and failing on their mandate and are heavily reliant on government bailouts to stay afloat and this poses a threat to our fiscus.
Land Bank is not an exception as it faces similar challenges related to liquidity and defaulting on debt commitments.
During our visit, it became clear that one of the casualties of the challenges faced by the bank is the funding model itself which needs to be reviewed. The current funding model was designed to cater to farmers who are well-established and self-sufficient, which excludes small-scale commercial farmers and in particular, the black majority people who are poor. For the Land Bank to be able to assist the poorest and most vulnerable farmers to finance land, acquire equipment, improve assets, and obtain production credit, the funding model needs to be reviewed accordingly.
A further challenge that became evident in the case of the Land Bank like most SOEs is the fact that outsourcing critical services is hampering internal capacity. The situation of the Land Bank outsourcing the management of its own land book to UNIGRO, who proceeded to withheld critical information required by the bank, is an example of how critical the need
for internal capacity development is. Failing to address the internal capacity across government departments and across SOEs, will cause departments to be held at ransom by third- party service providers.
One glimmer of hope that came to light during the oversight was the dedication of Land Bank employees to their work. As much as the bank is facing threatening challenges which resulted in employees not being sure of their future. The commitment of the employees to their work was lauded. For several years, the workers of the Land Bank did not receive increases, yet they remained dedicated to their work and committed to turning the entity around.
Whilst the IFP notes the government interventions to inject financial assistance, however that is not enough. This financial assistance needs to be accompanied by structural changes as no amount of money can solve these challenges of the bank if the same structural hinderances remain in place. The IFP accepts the report, House Chair. Thank you very much for your kindness.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT ON OVERSIGHT VISIT TO MPUMALANGA PROVINCE FROM 29 TO 31 MARCH
Mr Z M D MANDELA: Hon Chair, good morning, molweni, dumelang. Perhaps I should start with emphasising what you alluded to earlier, as oversight visits are an important part in our parliamentary democracy and gives expression not only to the legal requirements for oversight and compliance, but also to active citizenry as prescribed by the Constitution of the Republic. In doing so, we give further expression to multiparty oversight delegations working in concert for shared goals and objectives in terms of oversight visits again ensuring compliance, but also ensuring that the mandate entrusted to the administration or the relevant departments, including budget, translate into service delivery and the improvement in the quality of life of our people and specifically the targeted beneficiaries of specific government programmes and projects.
This oversight by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to Mpumalanga province on 29 to
31 March, 2023 was no exception. We have spoken at length of the challenges faced by various sectors of the economy as a
result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we have seen the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, Pesi, at work. We have witnessed first-hand the efforts to revive the economy slowly starting to bear fruit in some areas and exponential growth in other areas. We are all in agreement that increasing unemployment remains a colossal challenge, but that the agricultural sector is one of those sectors that holds immense potential for massive job creation, poverty alleviation, food security and wealth creation. This is why our task of oversight is so vital and critical.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, as led by Minister Thoko Didiza, received
R1 billion in order to assist and provide relief to distressed farmers affected by COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been challenges that have been reported by some farmers in assessing and redeeming some of the Pesi vouchers. Our task through this oversight was to obtain insight into the implementation and impact of the Pesi on the agriculture sector in Mpumalanga.
In addition, our oversight into the development of agricultural infrastructure that will enable market access for emerging farmers by visiting farmer production support units
is vital in ensuring that not only the emerging farming sector is reached, but the quality of support is sufficient to take them to the next level in their endeavours. South Africa has a massive potential to develop its meat export markets and the resultant impact on our economy can be game changing for the entire economy. It is therefore critical that interventions to improve surveillance and control of foot-and-mouth diseases, which is a negative impact on the animal production and their products, must be taken up with seriousness. These are some of the issues I thought I should touch on and highlight by way of introductory remarks on this Budget Vote. Thank you, hon Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much for the report, Ndabezitha.
I was taught it’s Kruger. But if it’s Kruger, it’s fine. Proceed, hon Kruger.
Mr H C C KRÜGER: Yes, it could be Kruger; it could be Kruger or it could be Paul, it could be anything. But thank you, Chair, good morning colleagues, my apologies for my camera which is not on, I have network challenges. Agriculture has
always been the foundation of the South African economy. The sector provides food, employment opportunities and economic stability across the board. In the face of the economic stagnation and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the President announced the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, also known as Pesi. Although agriculture sector was exempt from COVID-19 restrictions, it faced severe disruptions to productions and marketing, which impacted small-scale farmers disproportionately.
In response to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development leverage, Pesi, to provide input vouchers to subsistence farmers so as to assist them back into production. In February 2023, it was reported that the government was planning to add another 250 000 small-scale farmers to the Pesi programme, even though some successful applicants from the 2022 Pesi roll-out were still waiting for their vouchers.
Die rompslomp, gepaardgaande met die aansoek van koopbewys was van so ’n aard dat menige kleinskaalboere nie die moed of onvermoë gehad het om aansoek te doen nie. Ehlanzeni Distrik, in die omgewing van Mbombela in Mpumalanga se aandeel van R46 miljoen, was dat 4 000 bestaansboere veronderstel om
koopbewyse te ontvang. Dit was duidelik gedurende hierdie oorsig dat die ontvangers van die koopbewyse geen benul gehad het van die bedrae waarvan die departement gepraat het nie.
Wat ook onrusbarend blyk te wees, is dat die sogenaamde hulp wat aan die kleinboere verleen is, nie gematerialiseer het in boerderybedrywighede nie.
My kollegas, wat nie gesien het dat die grond die week voor die dag van die oorsigbesoek eers omgeploeg is nie, moet verseker herbesin oor hul vermoë om te onderskei tussen die werklikheid en oëverblindinge.
The DA is concerned ...
Mr H G APRIL: Voorsitter, kan ek asseblief ’n orde lig?
Die HUISVOORSITTER (Me M G Boroto): Ek dink ons het die orde. Ek weet nie waaroor ... Wat ...
Mr H G APRIL: Chairperson, please.
Mnr H G APRIL: Die vertaling.
Die HUISVOORSITTER (Me M G Boroto): Watter taal? Ons het Engels hier en jy praat Afrikaans. Jy moet asseblief nie tyd mors nie. Die agb lid ... [Tussenwerpsels.]
Mnr H G APRIL: Ek sal my hand neersit.
Mr H C C KRÜGER: The DA is concerned when taking the history of the ANC government funding programmes in South Africa into account, which are infamously littered with allegations of corruption and mismanaged the pipes. The Pesi package has been subject to similar issues which have led to a large scale misallocations of resources and the lack of accountability.
Therefore, the DA will constantly monitor the recommendations of this report with no fear and favour. While the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package in agriculture has the potential to bring about positive change, it is essential to acknowledge and address the potential force of an ANC government. To ensure the success of such initiatives, we must prioritise transfer transparency, fairness, accountability and carefully monitor to mitigate this risk.
A balanced approach that combines short term relief with long- term vision for the agricultural sector is crucial in achieving sustainable growth and prosperity for all South Africa. It will take a moon short effort to rescue our small scale and subsistence farmers.
Daar sal geen nuwe dagbreek vir Suid-Afrikaners wees, voordat die son finaal vir die ANC in die weste sak nie.
But the one beacon of light is the DA. So, we need to stand with the DA, go out and register to vote DA. And in 2024 the DA will lead a new government that will stand for every South African. We will restore the shine back into food security and together we will rescue the ambitions of every South African who has the will and potential to be a farmer - big or small, formal or informal, mega of subsistence, everybody! Together we can rescue agriculture in South Africa. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you, hon Krüger. The next speaker is Inkosi Cebekhulu. Ndabezitha!
Mr Z MAJOZI: House Chair, I’ll be standing in for Inkosi.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. Proceed, MaMajozi.
Mr Z MAJOZI: Thank you, House Chairperson. Mpumalanga is one of the South Africa’s most productive and important agriculture ...
Mr M MANYI: On a point of order, Chair.
USIHLALO WENDLU (Nk M G Boroto): Ngiyaxolisa, mama uZondi ngenze iphutha. Ngeqile lapha ngoba akunagama.
The EFF? I am sorry, whoever is calling for order I believe you are going to tell me that. I am sorry, hon Manyi.
Mr M MANYI: Chairperson, in fact, I noted that hon Kruger has got the white shirt on, which does not look like him.
Chairperson, this oversight visit was as a result of the devastation brought to the agricultural industry by the COVID-
19 pandemic, specifically, this was to assess the impact of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative on developing farmers. The pandemic together with drought unleashed untold
suffering on the agricultural industry. We found that in Mpumalanga the department supported farmers from three municipal districts. About 4 233 subsistence farmers were supported at Ehlanzeni District Municipality, about 1 940 in Gert Sibande and about 2 960 in Nkangala. The total value vouchers issued among the three districts was about
This is grossly inadequate to comprehensively deal with the challenges faced by emerging farmers. The government has always provided more support to caucasian established farmers than to emerging African farmers. As a result, many African farmers - and I must remind people - when I say African farmers I include the so-called Coloureds, as a result many African farmers continue operating from hand to mouth because of lack of government support. This is very embarrassing.
There has been an almost systemic erosion of the capacity of the state to provide extension services to emerging farmers. The same problem persists for land reform beneficiaries.
There is no pre-settlement planning and no post settlement support for these farmers. This is tantamount to setting up African farmers to fail and this is all on the government. The recommendations of this Report should just be the normal
functions of the department. The department ought to have a mechanism for monitoring the effectiveness of its programmes and not rely on parliamentary oversight to do so. So, for us there is absolutely no reason to accept this Report. Thank you.
Ms Z MAJOZI: Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most productive and important agricultural regions and as a result plays a key role in the export profile of the country. It is therefore, disappointing to learn that despite having received more than R1 billion towards assisting and providing relief of distressed farmers who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development continuously fails to deliver on its national mandate to facilitating comprehensive rural development which our people have been depended on.
Our people find their roots in land. It is for this reason that we cannot deny the role that is played by this sector in the livelihoods of the people of Mpumalanga. Although efforts have been made to address some challenges faced by the small- scale farmers of the province, the road ahead of us is quite lengthy with no end to sight, for example, the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative beneficiaries were not awarded
the same voucher amount which makes it an impossible task to stimulate employment creation as per the aim of the programme. All of these speaks to how the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, DALRRD, criteria are not consistently followed which has probably been caused by the lack of intergovernmental collaboration and stakeholder consultation and engagement when planning to implement infrastructure projects in provinces and avoid and prevent conflicts.
We are calling on the department to revisit its criteria for the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, PESI, beneficiaries and adopt an approach that offers sensitivity to the needs of subsistence and smallhold farmers without adopting a blanket approach. There is a dire need for the department to develop a work co-ordinated farmer training and skills development programme which speaks to this need. It is an undeniable fact that the access of farming is directly reliant on good weather and the February floods in Nkomazi Local Municipality has damaged access and influenced roads which had a dire impact on farming in this area.
The department needs to routinely conduct repair work and replacement of irrigation system for farmers particularly
those affected by the February floods in Nkomazi Local Municipality. Progress from beneficiaries of the department programmes needs to be tracked quarterly and not only when parliamentary oversights are to be conducted as has become the norm with most government programmes. Chairperson, the IFP supports the Report. Thank you.
Ms T BREEDT: House Chairperson, what this oversight visit to Mpumalanga to ... [Inaudible.] ... surveillance and control zones prove was that we still have a very long road ahead of us in agriculture. Criteria for the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, PESI, funding and the received funds were greatly inconsistent. The beneficiaries that show potential to be more than just subsistence farmers did not receive support that aligns to this potential shown. As with a multitude of other departmental programmes, there was also a lack of extension officers. Extension officers were ill-informed and not present during the oversight and apparently that was not a new occurrence.
The many challenges faced with regards to the redemption of vouchers; the distance that need to be travelled to redeem vouchers, the monitoring of these vouchers, the intermediaries used, etc, was highlighted by beneficiaries and proves the
chaos that is facing. Moving to farmer production support unit
Ek wens ek kon sê dat ons verbaas was met dit wat ons gevind of nie gevind het, maar ek was ongelukkig nie. In sekere gevalle het die departement die komitee selfs ’n rat voor die oë probeer draai, deur implemente die week daarvoor te laat aflaai, om die indruk te wek dat daar iets gebeur het.
Gelukkig was die begunstigdes teenwoordig en het hul die aksies van die departement bevestig. Dit is lagwekkend om te dink dat die departement dink ons sal nie kan onderskei tussen ’n gebruikte implement en ’n nuwe, ongebruikte een nie.
Verder is die gemeenskap, wat die eenheid moet gebruik, nie gekonsulteer oor die werklike behoefte van die gemeenskap om die eenheid suksesvol te bedryf nie.
Inligting ontvang was ook halfgebak en onvolledig. Antwoorde kon nie op sekere vrae gegee word nie en in die geheel was die ervaring by FPSUs uiters teleurstellend. Ons kan nie verwag dat kleinskaal- en bestaansboere ooit iets meer gaan weet, as dit die standaard van hulp is nie.
With regards to ... [Inaudible.] ... our observations were mixed. There was a shortage of vets and veterinary services. Those that they are spread, it should be noted that the province is trying to address the shortage by any means possible. This then also creates a shortage of information and the necessary education for community living in foot-and-mouth disease, FMD, control zones. Also, communication of outbreaks needs to be sped up. What is further worrying is the budgetary constraints and the slow pace at which redline fencing is being replaced. It is however welcomed that the issues faced were not hid from the committee.
Die departement se onvermoë om daadwerklike oplossings vir probleme daar te stel, aksies te implementeer en aktiwiteite te monitor is duidelik. Wat ook duidelik is, is dat ons landbousektor beter as die ANC verdien. Ek dank u.
Mr M NYONTSHO: The PAC support the Report, Chair. Thank you very much.
Ms M M E THLAPE: Chairperson, I hope I have got a better spot. I have been in and out.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I saw you.
Ms M M E THLAPE: Let me greet the colleagues on this platform. As the ANC we support the committee Report and the recommendations. Hon members, we must appreciate the brilliant structures that has been established to facilitate the improvement and accessibility of small farmers to markets in the name of farmers’ production support units, the FPSUs.
In Mpumalanga, Huntington FPSU has challenges of market access, water and land for expansion and we appreciate the interventions that have been put in place. The Malelane/Nkomati Sugarcane FPSU has been supported with mechanisation and production inputs to the value of
R43 232 000 600 million This is over and above the ongoing rehabilitation of their irrigation infrastructure.
Hon members, we are of the view that Mpumalanga, more than other provinces, needs a focused plan on improvement of biosecurity and specialised comprehensive veterinary services to curb the scourge of foot-and-mouth disease that affects the international trade. We are also of the view that the committee must strengthen its oversight on the implementation of Presidential Economic Stimulus Initiative programme, that
is your PESI. Despite these challenges, as the ANC we are pleased to the responses provided by the department and not only responses but the interventions that have been rolled-out in Mpumalanga province.
Lastly, we emphasise as a way forward that we need collaboration between government and the private sector especially in Mpumalanga and in those former production support units. Also, it is important to allow for all stakeholder participation as an anchor for rural development. I thank you, Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, before I close this mini plenary session, I just want to really reiterate and say what Inkosi Mandela said concerning the oversight is very important. Even though we might say, thank you, because our time was cut short. However, we are not here to cut short our time but we have to serve our constituents as hon Inkosi Mandela really went to town to try and explain.
So, I just want to really show my dissatisfaction in the participation in these mini plenaries. We expect parties to be part of this because we went very far to make sure that we have these mini plenaries so that we can alleviate the work
that is being done in the main plenary when we go and adopt. Hon members, having said that, please, let us reconsider our ways. We are here for our constituents and the issues that were raised in all these debates are really important to our constituents right out there.
We appreciate every recommendation that has been made by parties so that we are able to report back to the mini plenary in terms of the voting on it or the adoption thereof of the reports that we got. Thank you very much, hon members, this concludes the debate and the business of this virtual mini plenary. You may join other plenaries maybe they are not done because there are members there that are participating. This mini plenary is adjourned. Thank you.
The mini-plenary session rose at 11:51.