Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries department officials were sent packing by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday when they arrived with inadequate information.

National Assembly agriculture, forestry, and fisheries committee chairman Lulu Johnson said the committee rejected all the reports the department was supposed to have presented on Tuesday.

The committee was sitting together with provincial committees.

Committee members found there was a lack of crucial information in the reports, he said.

“The officials were ordered to go back and only come back with comprehensive reports which will clearly reflect, among other things, achievements, challenges, and failures of the identified programmes.”

The department and its provincial heads were supposed to brief the committee on the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, MAFISA, Illima-Letsema, Landcare, and other new programmes.

Members of the committee told department officials the reports did not make sense, as they did not correspond with what they had seen during oversight visits.

Furthermore, the reports contained only figures, not information relating to what had been achieved and the problems faced.

Johnson told the officials to take the objectives of the programmes seriously.

“Ensure that you understand and you are driven by the objectives of these programmes. Always know that your mandate includes ensuring that these programmes translate into pushing back the frontiers of poverty.”

Committee members also expressed their unhappiness about the continued absence of both the minister and the director general whenever the department was required to report to the committee.

Another meeting would be convened before the end of June.

This meeting would include the heads of provincial agriculture departments, the national director general, MECs for agriculture, and the national minister and her deputy, Johnson said. - Sapa