The Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform has voiced its dissatisfaction with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for continuing to interact with an illegitimate Executive Committee of the Rama Communal Property Association (CPA) even though its term of office has expired in 2007. Rama community lodged a land claim which was settled in 2002, awarding restoration of land rights on approximately 754,403 hectares acquired at the cost of over R15 million.
The briefing session by the Department followed the Committee’s oversight visit to Rama in November 2014, where members of the Rama CPA accused some of the CPA executive committee members for mismanagement of CPA funds, lack of accountability by some the executive committee, and unwillingness to relinquish power, even after an expiry of their term of office.
The department also reported that the CPA failed to comply with the CPA Act which requires the CPA to submit annual reports to the Director-General. Various interventions, including a mediated process to resolve conflicts within the CPA did not yield desired outcomes. Attempts to resolve the conflicts and impasse at Rama by placing the CPA under judicial administration were further delayed by legal challenges to the process instituted by the CPA Executive Committee against the department.
According to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Ms Phumuzile Ngwenya-Mabila, the Committee took the matters of Rama very seriously because it came face-to-face with the real challenges that confront members of the CPA. The Committee, therefore, could not return from oversight visit and allow report to gather dust without acting upon the requests of the people of Rama.
“The focus and the fundamental purpose of the Committee oversight is to monitor if there is any progress on resolving the difficulties at Rama, and ensure that members of the community benefit for restitution, not individuals who are motivated by self interests and members of the CPAs must take us very serious when we visit their areas because of actions we take after oversight visits,” said Ms Ngwenya-Mabila.
Members of the Committee expressed similar sentiments expressed by the Chairperson pointing to the weakness of the department and its absence in relation to supporting CPAs as provided for by the CPA Act.
Committee recommended the department to ensure that the Rama matter receive the most urgent attention in addressing policy and institutional weaknesses, ensure that all CPA constitutions were aligned to the CPA Amendment Act, most importantly to ensure that a legitimate structure is constituted in line with the CPA Act.
The Portfolio Committee will, on a monthly basis, request status report on Rama CPA matter.
ISSUED BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON, MS PHUMUZILE NGWENYA-MABILA
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Source : Parliament of South Africa