Agriculture and Land Affairs Portfolio Committee
23 August 2006
AgriBEE Status: Presentation by the Department of Land Affairs

http://www.pmg.org.za/viewminute.php?id=8121

AgriBEE Status: Adv S Holomisa (ANC)

Summary

The Department of Land Affairs began its presentation on the status of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE). The committee knew very little about it, and so the process for its approval and publication was briefly outlined.

Several members expressed concern that the committee had neither been consulted nor had been involved in the development of the charter. In addition, they were concerned that the amendments that had been made by the minister had not been presented to the committee. The department undertook to return to the minister and discuss this issue further before reporting back to the committee.

The NEPAD Conference Report of the Porfolio Committee was tabled, but would stand over for adoption at a later meeting.

Minutes

AgriBEE presentation by Department of Land Affairs, and interactive discussion with committee.

Mr Rudolph Abercrombie (Director-General, Department of Land Affairs (DLA)) reported that the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Transformation Charter for Agriculture (AgriBEE Charter) had already been presented to the minister and that she had made some amendments.

The acting chairperson asked Mr Abercrombie why the amendments were not included in the current presentation.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) agreed with the acting chairperson and asked what exactly was expected of the committee regarding the charter.

The acting chairperson emphasised that the committee had very little knowledge of the charter as a result of poor communication from the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) as well as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Mr Abercrombie replied that he was simply responding to a request by the committee to report on the status of the charter, which would inform the committee on what had taken place. He explained that after the committee approved the charter, it had to be approved by the minister, then sent to the DTI, and then published in the Government Gazette.

Mr J Bici (UDM) felt that the committee had been excluded from the development of the charter. He commented that improved teamwork was necessary for this policy to be instituted.

The acting chairperson believed that both the committee and the minister needed to be involved in the development of the charter.

Mr Abercrombie responded to the concerns of the committee by stating that he would return to the minister and seek advice, before reporting back to the committee.

The acting chairperson stressed that he should convey the fact that the committee’s voices and views had not been heard and that they must be taken into consideration.

A member mentioned that feedback was received from INDABA participants.

The acting chairperson argued that INDABA participants’ views could not be more important than the committee’s inputs.

The member disagreed with the acting chairperson. He felt that there was a wide consultation process, and the point of the presentation was to inform the committee precisely on that process. The charter would have been drafted accordingly. He continued by explaining that the charter would be in accordance with the intent of the DLA and the DTI. The charter would be fully publicised by the DTI at the end of the process. However, phase 2 of the process would involve the drafting of codes of good practice, and these codes would still need to be presented to the committee.

He added that this charter would include the criteria for different enterprises, such as small and medium enterprises. He mentioned that the DTI held a workshop a while ago to better align the DTI with relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the new minister felt confident about the process and was ready to share her views. It seemed that the DLA still had not received the DTI’s codes of good practice.

The acting chairperson wished to hear more about the content of the charter.

The member stipulated that the AgriBEE Charter had been refined and that the charter articulated the link between enterprises and agriculture. The goal of the charter was to provide the necessary guidelines for all parties regarding land affairs.

The acting chairperson commented that this was not quite what he meant by the request.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked what was expected of the committee regarding the document. She asked if it was to be perceived as merely informative, and asked about the timing of the document. It was not clear whether the document emanated from the DTI or DLA, and she would prefer that the committee was given an opportunity to read the document in depth before being asked to discuss it.

Mr Abercrombie stated that he could not answer the question and he wondered whether he should have handed out the document in the first place.

The acting chairperson commented that there was a lack of communication in regard to this document. He wanted to know at what stage the committee would normally become involved in the policy process.

Mr Dlali made reference to specific parts of the document, which he felt illustrated the fact that the committee had been excluded from the decision-making process, although members of provincial and local government were involved. He insisted that the document must be returned to the committee at a later stage for endorsement or amendment, and that it must be owned by the committee. He felt that if it was a DLA document, the DTI should simply view it as an independent charter.

Ms Ntuli commented that the document referred specifically to phase two as mentioned, and she was disappointed and concerned that the committee had not even seen the codes for the first phase.

The acting chairperson agreed that ownership must be taken by the committee and the full document must first be tabled before this committee, and before parliament.

Mr Abercrombie said that the DTI would make the charter publicly available after the minister agreed that the charter could proceed, and it would thereafter be referred to parliament. The DLA was still awaiting the codes from the DTI, which articulated the minimum guidelines enterprises have to adhere to. However, he pointed out that this was a working process and that phases one and two were mere improvements of the same codes of good practice by the DTI themselves.

The acting chairperson commented that there was a need for a presentation on the BBBEE Act itself, so that the committee could understand its full import and properly apply its mind to the direction in which AgriBEE was moving.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) commented that at least one positive aspect was that the committee had been alerted to the charter and could still insist that the matter be dealt with properly.

Mr Dlali again expressed concern that the committee had been ignored, and that the importance of its work was ignored.

The acting chairperson agreed that the charter must be placed before the committee, as it was crucial to ensure that it fulfil its oversight and monitoring function in parliament.

Mr A Nel (DA) agreed and also asked for a statement of the policy.

Ms Ntuli questioned the policy-making process, in particular whether it was right that the minister should make amendments before the charter had been brought before the committee.

Mr Abercrombie said that this issue must be taken up with the minister and the DTI. He mentioned two occasions where the DLA had spoken about informing the committee, so it was clearly not their intention to ignore the committee. He hoped to return at the end of August to present the views of the minister regarding the charter.

The acting chairperson stressed that it was important to have the minister present at the meeting when the policy and charter would be presented.

NEPAD Conference Report The acting chairperson stated that the circulated report contained details of the NEPAD Conference on Championing Agricultural Successes for Africa’s Future, which was held from 15 to 18 May 2006. Since not all members had time to read it, and since some members who attended the previous meeting were not present at this meeting, it would be discussed at a later stage.


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