Parliament has called on the agriculture, land reform and rural development department to ensure clear legislative programmes with timeframes by which the department can be held accountable are put in place.
In a statement, the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development pointed out that both the former department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the department of rural development and land reform had difficulties in concluding policy and legislation development processes, such as Communal Land Tenure; Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill, White Paper on Land Policy and Comprehensive Producer Development Support Policy.
According to the committee, the “matter requires urgent attention and resolution”.
The committee also called for an accountability and monitoring and evaluation framework to be put in place to monitor how the Land Bank utilises funds and implements its programmes.
“The Land Bank plays a critical role in supporting government’s transformation objectives. Therefore, there is an urgent need to restore it to a sound financial position so that it can give full effect to its mandate.”
The committee also proposed the suspension or withholding of funds allocated to the Ingonyama Trust for the 2020/21 financial year, “due to there being no clear programmes to deal with the empowerment of youth, women and people with disabilities in the rural communities, in line with the purpose of the Board, which is the management of the Trust for the material wellbeing of traditional communities on the Ingonyama Trust land”.
The committee noted the overall decline in the department’s budget over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period with a budget reduction in key departmental programmes such as Food Security, Land Reform and Restitution, and Rural Development that can undermine service delivery.
“This reduction in the department’s budget impacts on transfers to entities, such as the Agricultural Research Council, which is not adequately funded given its essential role in ensuring up to date agricultural research and innovation.”
The committee recently adopted the Budget Vote Report for the department and its entities.