December 02, 2020

Briefs that show it all: Is the EFF planning large-scale land invasions?

In a written question to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development the EFF wanted to know the names of the ten largest commercial land owners in each province. It turns out the answer is not White Monopoly Capital.

It appears the owner of some of the country’s biggest farms is our very own government, which owns huge farms in almost every province, including three in the Eastern Cape and another two in the Northern Cape.

The biggest landowner of them all, at least in terms of the size of each farm, is the South African National Roads Agency. SANRAL owns a total of eight of South Africa’s biggest farms.

Isn’t that state-owned land ripe for the picking? Well, it appears land invaders have been rather modest. The recorded total number and extent of state-owned land parcels under the custodianship of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure that have been illegally invaded were in April this year a paltry six properties covering a total of 1 331.6 hectares. That’s down on last year. In the 2018/19 financial years land invaders had taken over eight properties belonging to DPW.

Scopa to visit Kusile and Medupi power stations

Like everyone else in the country, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is worried about Eskom’s performance and this week plans to conduct oversight visits to the Kusile and Medupi power stations and meet with their board members and executive management.

Isn’t it a bit late for parliament to be exercising its oversight duties given that at the last count Eskom had incurred a loss of R2.3 billion, R19.6 billion in irregular expenditure and a debt of R380 billion in 2017/18, all of which poses a real risk to the economy. Still, it’s good to know that parliament is doing something about this crisis.

The Land Claims Court’s case load just keeps on growing

There are currently a total of 349 land claims in court, some of which date back to 1998. Settlements are unlikely to be any time soon – there are only four judges for the Land Claims Court, all of them serving in acting positions.

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development added, in a written response to a question from the DA, that it is difficult to say how long these cases will be in court. The explanation offered is unlikely to make sense to the average litigant: “because a litigant sues the department or Commission based on a decision taken by a Commissioner. Once that decision is reviewed/ set aside or corrected, for example, in acceptance/ gazetting of a claim, such a litigant will then compel referral of the claim to the Land Claims Court under the same case number as the initial case, then there might be other interlocutory applications on the same case requiring a number of various actions or directives to be issued by the judge or bring certain things to be done e.g Research / Mapping or valuation of lease rights.”

If that doesn’t make it all as clear as mud, the Minister suggests that the Department of Justice is “the relevant institution to respond to this question as the Commission does not know the time period a judge requires to fast-tract (sic) the finalisation of the cases. “

This minister is going to need all the help she can get

In Ramaphosa’s new cabinet the Department of Public Works (DPW) had an ‘I” added to the end of its name and found itself responsible for infrastructure as well. Is this the way to revive the flagging construction industry and create jobs? DPWI and government “will act as a catalyst for the private sector and the construction industry to grow and create jobs while transforming the industry,” according to the minister.

To help her along the plan is to introduce “crowd-funding” to bring in money to improve infrastructure in our country. To get the ball rolling, an Infrastructure Investment Fund of R100 billion has been established as a commitment from government. The minister hopes the idea will catch on because “we will need the help of all sectors in society especially the private sector. It is government’s hope that the private sector will come on board.”

This minister is going to need all the help she can get. What used to be merely the Department of Public Works has not only been renamed and assigned responsibility for infrastructure. It is now also in charge of coordinating the Infrastructure Delivery Management System (IDMS), a function previously performed by the National Treasury, as well as the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), previously performed by the former Department of Economic Development.

That’s what happens when your acronym receives an additional letter from the alphabet. Strength to the new DPWI.

Is this legal?

Despite the provisions of the Public Administration Management Act, 2014 (Act No. 11 of 2014), during the period of 1 February 2017 to 31 March 2019 thirty four employees of the Department of Home Affairs were found to be doing business with the state, either as directors or members of a private company, and it looks like they did a lot of business. And the total value of this business – R24 974 921.51.

It’s clearly profitable to be in business with the state, but state employees generally get their income from the state through the work they do as civil servants.



Last modified on Sunday, 25 August 2019 23:41

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