Land reform department posts ‘dismal’ performance figures, ‘worse’ finances

“Our figures show we have performed dismally. Our finances look even worse.” Senior officials from the department of rural development and land reform admitted this before their quarterly report on the department’s finances was tabled in Parliament yesterday. 

In the first quarter of the financial year the department used R1.6 billion of its R9.3 billion budget. 
Rendani Sadiki, chief financial officer of the department, said only two “departments or functions” used more than half of their budgets. 

The divisions in which the budget has been underspent so far are land reform, rural development, restitution and administration. 

» The land reform division used less than R566 million of its R2.7 billion budget allocated; 
» R328 million was spent on restitution. The department has a budget of R2.2 billion; 
» The department spent R200 000 on rural development. About R1.7 billion was made available; and 
» Only about R250 million of a R1 billion budget allocation was used for administrative functions. 

“Our figures show that we performed dismally. This was due to various factors and problems within the department. There are problems with property tax, but it isn’t our responsibility. The department of public works must pay that. Our property portfolio is huge and we can’t afford all the tax on our properies. We might as well shut shop if we have to pay it,” said Sadiki. 

Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Malcolm Figg questioned the officials about a R370 000 account for damaged rented vehicles. 

Sadiki reacted: “There were accidents in hired vehicles, and the accidents were of such a nature that the cars couldn’t be repaired. We had to pay the service providers.” 

National Freedom Party MP Shaik Emam said bad administration was going to hit the department hard. He referred to 151 vacant posts in the deeds office and 714 vacancies in the department. 

“You can’t have an incident where large amounts of money are budgeted for administrative functions but only [20%] is being used. It is the first quarter of the financial year and you are already performing so badly. What is it going to look like at the end of the financial year?” he said. 

Eugene Southgate, deputy director-general for corporate services, said the vacancies resulted from a decision by the national treasury to cut the department’s budget. 

Ndabakayise Gcwabaza, ANC MP and acting chairperson of the committee, said in his speech: “It is obvious that the department has big problems and it is so early in the year. Get your act together, please.” 

» This article originally included figures that were inaccurate. Following feedback from the department of rural development and land reform, this article was amended on September 11 2015 to reflect the correct figures. Eugene Southgate’s title was also corrected to deputy director-general for corporate services. City Press apologises for the inaccuracies in the original article.

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