Ministerial & Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism briefings: Strategic Plan 2009-2012

Water and Sanitation

08 June 2009
Chairperson: Ms M M Sotyu
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Meeting Summary

Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk reminded the meeting that the Department had been split into a Water and Environment Affairs component and a Tourism component. However, since the budget related to the old entity, this would continue until the new departmental structures and new budgets had been officially established.

A presentation was given by the Department of Tourism and other entities, who highlighted the main points set out in their extensive written reports. The Department of Tourism was concentrating on budgets, re-alignment and restructuring, new and necessary legislation, Government’s priorities, public entities and tourism. Tourism had, in 2008, constituted 8.4% of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP), amounting to R178.6 billion and accounted for over one million jobs. There had been no appreciable downturn in any of these figures. Tourism was still a significant contributor to the country. Statistics were given for visits, achievements and future predictions. The Department was working with the Department of Trade and Industry to promote empowerment. The main pillars of tourism were outlined, and it was stressed that it was also dependent upon environmental, safety, transport and other sectors. The split of fisheries was explained. The staff establishment was also outlined. Some of the transfers consequent upon the new dispensation would involve all arms of government. A brief summary was given of the activities of the public entities in this sector. The budget for 2009 was noted as R3.4 billion.

Members noted that service delivery was not just a catchphrase but a real issue. Several questions were posed around the opportunities presented by the 2010 Soccer World Cup, including the creation of jobs, the real beneficiaries, and the plans after that date. Members also asked for further clarity around the transfers, and expressed some concern that the subsistence fishers might suffer. They urged that attention also be given to roads and the beautificationof the transport highways and gardens. They also requested a breakdown of expenditure on capital development and expenditure on human capital creation.

South African National Parks then highlighted their main objectives and noted the need for sustainability, linked with the total tourism strategy. The main achievements and business plan for this organisation were summarised. It was noted that at present adequate use was being achieved from existing resources although the aim was to further diversify and expand. There were initiatives to try to attract the 2010 World Cup tourists to the outlying National Parks.

The South African National Bio Diversity Institute gave a short presentation noting the key achievements of the creation of job opportunities; and the opening last year of the 9th SANBI park in Nieuwoudtville. SANBI was also important in providing scientific research of a high standard that was useful to the greater community. The SANBI parks should, so far as possible, represent the flora of the country in totality. Efforts were being made to increase the number and diversity of the parks across all provinces, to rehabilitate, and to gather scientific data on climate change and its effects on the flora of South Africa. Further concerns centred around the presence, and spread, of invasive plant species.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority emphasised that its vision and mission was to protect, conserve and present the Wetland Park and its World Heritage values for current and future generations. This was also aimed at delivering benefits to communities living in and adjacent to the Park by facilitating optimal tourism and related development. The main achievements were highlighted. Challenges included establishing a sustainable mechanism to support both the Park and the communities around it, the land claims, co-management and addressing negative public perceptions.

The South African Weather Services (SAWS) was concerned with the protection of life and property, and to this end maintained, extended and improved meteorological service. It provided good and reliable data for the ordinary citizen, the aviation industry, was the long-term custodian of reliable data, and fulfilled South Africa’s obligations under various international agreements. The major challenge lay in training and retaining sufficient skilled scientists drawn from all South Africans.
 
South African Tourism presented a report setting out the high level objectives and targets over the next five years, the “Big 6” strategies, the  budget parameters and allocation of the financial resources to achieve the key objectives and targets. It aimed to make South Africa the destination of worldwide choice, and to firmly establish the brand by 2014.

Members felt that insufficient attention had been paid to Black Economic Empowerment and requested resolution of this issue.

The budget was approved.

Meeting report

Co-Chairperson Ms M Sotyu announced that the previously-combined Departments would present one Strategic Plan and Budget. Although the former Committee had now, under the new dispensation, been separated, and although the Department would in due course also be separated into its new parts, the current budget still made provision for one entity, and it would operate under this budget until the new entities were separately dealt with in the next budget.

Co-Chairperson Mr D Gumede asked the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, to address the Committee

Minister of Tourism’s briefing
Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk reminded the meeting that the Department had been split into a Water and Environment Affairs component and a Tourism component. This had been done in order to achieve clarity of thinking. The budget, as Ms Sotyu had said, had been drawn up in relation to the old combined entity and, owing to requirements by National Treasury, there would continue to be one budget, although in fact three Ministers, namely of Tourism, of Water and Environmental Affairs and of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,  would be answerable for elements of the old department in future, until the budgetary transfers had been effected.

Departmental Strategic Plan briefing
Co-Chairperson Sotyu noted that she had found reading the White Paper taxing, but said that if Members were experiencing difficulties in interpreting terms and expressions, that Paper did contain many definitions.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General: Department of Tourism, advised that she would be making an overview. She noted that the Department was concentrating on six areas, being budgets, re-alignment and restructuring, new and necessary legislation, Government’s priorities, Public Entities and tourism.

With regard to tourism, she said that in 2008 tourism had constituted 8.4% of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP), amounting to R178.6 billion and accounted for over one million jobs. She was pleased to state that despite the current financial downturn there was, as yet, no appreciable downturn in any of these figures. Tourism, whether from external or foreign sources, or those within the country, was still a significant contributor to GDP and the welfare of the country. In 2007, there had been 9.09 million tourists to South Africa. In 2008, despite the downturn, 9.5 million tourists had visited. In 2008 there were 5667 renewals of tourism gradings, and 1542 new gradings, a 34% increase. Tourist spend amounted to about R9 000 per tourist, with most foreign tourists were in the country for 14 days. Most tourist activity was concentrated on the Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces, although the Department was marketing the other seven provinces. Unfortunately, travel infrastructure of airways and roads did not assist in marketing the Northern Cape Province, which was still viewed by tourists as isolated and inaccessible, highlighting the need for new strategies.

Ms Ngcaba said that there was a need for empowerment but that her Department was waiting upon the Department of Trade and Industry (dti)  for approval of schemes and collaboration.

The main pillars of Tourism were suitable accommodation; the development of adequate skills and service excellence in all product and associated services; adequate product and product information (in which government communication services were valuable); adequate and effective marketing internally and externally. Ease of travel, including availability and safety of transport, safe environment, and ease of visa processing were also important.

Ms Ngcaba addressed the 2010 Soccer World Cup. She postulated that the tourism components related to progress; accommodation; the number and standard of the rooms available; skills and service levels, and the way in which tourists were met and greeted; infrastructure development; marketing and branding. 

She noted that the State of the Environment report also impacted upon tourism. This required detailed and ongoing analysis of the state of rivers, the coastlines, the air, spatial bio diversity and the ongoing degradation of the eco-system. Within this analysis was also the (seemingly unrelated) task of establishing the rainfall patterns accurately, for many tourists wished to experience sunshine and not rain. There were of course Constitutional imperatives relating access to clean air, water and so forth, which again tied in to the question of bio-diversity. There were many linkages that were perhaps not immediately apparent.

Ms Ngcaba moved on to the question of fisheries. There was a multitude of interests and agendas, some of which deliberately ignored the competing and perhaps equal interests of others. Fisheries was to be split; certain aspects would fall in future under the new concentration of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, whilst recreational fishery would remain within the ambit of Tourism. Pelagic fishery would fall within the aspect of job creation. The overriding issue was to ensure the sustainability of the South African fishing resources, thereby maximising sustainable job creation. Marine culture (fish farming) would also move to the Fisheries area, where it logically belonged. This would achieve better sustainability.

Management and skills training were equally important as contributors to sustainable growth. Effective management required not only the technical or academic skills, but also experience and knowledge of humanity, which was neither acquired in a lecture room nor overnight. The development of effective managers required ongoing sustained work both from prospective managers and those entrusted with their training.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Buyisa e-bag campaign would be continued to preserve the bio diversity and reduce unnecessary demand for depleting resources.

She described the current Department as having an establishment of 708 posts. In terms of the current legislation there would remain one budget for all the divergent and diverse sections. It was foreseen that Tourism grading and empowerment, comprising 43 posts, would be a department, and not a sub department of a branch of Tourism.

Most of the proposed legislation arose out of the current Presidential Proclamations and would require amending legislation, especially in the tourism area. There was the danger of conflict of interests and unintended consequences, and care was needed. Because the changes also envisaged new tasks from existing employees, there would need to be consultation with employees and trade unions. All of this was under way, and work was being seen against the 3 July deadline of new budgets.

Many of the envisaged transfers would be undertaken by Provincial or Local Government. The preservation of the bio diverse areas and solid waste Management and Coastal Zone management were to be undertaken in a spirit of economically-and environmentally-friendly friendship, for the benefit of all South Africans, no matter how diverse they might be in their interests.

Tourism was intended to grow, and thereby grow jobs. It was viewed as the driving wheel of the economy. However, it must be borne in mind that Tourism had an impact upon the environment and so Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] processes should be regulated to become more efficient and speedy. Individual developers and the country could not afford undue delay.

Ms Ngcaba said that the whole process involved education of the South African populace to have a regard for many factors, aside from their own particular interests, such as an appreciation of the wider threats to the country, the continent and the world environments. For instance, it must be appreciated that the poaching of perlemoen in coastal areas did not offer the immediate benefit or a few rand, but the destruction of a whole species- and this was happening everywhere.

Ms Ngcaba then spoke of the public entities under her Department.

She noted that new South African National Parks (SANParks) were  being established so that every province had at least one. Some were being extended. All were being managed to comply with sustainability; being the financial sustainability of the park and sustainability of the bio diversity which such park would represent.

South African National Botanic Gardens (SANBI) was also establishing new botanical gardens, at least one in every province, and the same approach of extension and sustainability applied. Both SANParks and SANBI were working in conjunction with the local communities and the Department of National Heritage, with the intention of achieving harmonious development of resources and developing tourism. A challenge remained with some short-sighted communities or leaders with their individual agendas, and land claims remained a threat to the parks and gardens. This could be overcome by educating local communities to appreciate the long-term benefits of tourism and the concomitant job creation or openings for entrepreneurial activities.

South African Weather Services (SAWS) played an important role in providing long, medium and short term warnings of climatic events and extreme conditions Additionally the metrological data available for analysis provided opportunities to validate and verify allegations of climate change. 

Marine Living Resources (MLR) was concerned with scientific study of fish migration in order to ascertain any patterns. Currently there were many anecdotal accounts but little solid scientific evidence. SAWS, through study of weather patterns, also had a role to play. The results would be important to jobs in the fishing industry, recreational fishing, and commercial byproducts of both.

In summary, Ms Ngcaba said that all efforts in tourism were aimed at making South Africa the destination of choice for both internal and foreign travellers. The Grading Council offered important support. The vision and values were important, and so were supporting services of good administration, acceptable environmental conditions and marine and coastal management. A budget of R3.4 billion was set for 2009/10.

Discussion
Co-Chairperson Sotyu stated that service delivery was not a buzzword, but a real issue, and ultimately the question was what the citizen on the ground was getting in return for the payment of taxes, direct or direct, by way of service delivery. She suggested that departmental officials should not aim too high or be too optimistic in their planning; it was more acceptable to achieve 100% of a 50% budget, than to achieve 50% of a 100% budget.

Ms M Njobe (COPE) was concerned that the Minister was not present during the questions. She noted that, in relation to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, there was reference to  4 000 jobs created. She asked how the beneficiaries were selected and identified, and was worried that they may not have been drawn from the outlying rural areas,  where the greatest need for jobs existed, but from urban areas.

Ms Ngcaba said that the opportunities for tourism and its associated or subsidiary activities to contribute to the country’s GDP were constrained only by the limits of imagination. She noted that her presentation had given a broad sweep rather than details, which would come at a later time. She further responded that the 4 000 employees had been selected in co-operation with the Local Organising Committee, based upon local knowledge. Most of them did come from the urban areas as it was the fact that these areas were where the games and training would take place. However, given the great deal of internal migration in South Africa, it was quite conceivable that formerly-rural persons might in fact be benefiting from employment opportunities at both the World and the Confederation Cup events.

Ms Njobe said that there had been much said about the advances of the proposed separation of the departments into other entities, but wondered whether any consideration had been given to the disadvantages and the impact upon the employees and their career prospects.

Mr G Morgan (DA) also expressed concern about the proposed transfers, and sought clarity on them. He expressed concern that the subsistence fishers were being squeezed out, with dire consequences to themselves and their families, giving rise to social problems. He asked why mariculture was being moved. He thought that the departments were being transferred without due thought, which might create problems, especially that of conflicts across ministries. 

Ms Ngcaba explained that South Africa was setting the pace in the creation and disposal of government departments, based upon best practice management studies from local and international business schools. There would be a Ministerial discourse on the practical implementation. Sustainability was the prime factor. Every one, within and on the peripheries must participate freely and willingly. She said that Mr Holomisa’s suggestions would be taken up and investigated further. There were a number of cross-cutting issues, especially with regard to the budget for Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs, and this was already the subject of discussion among the officials. The exact position would be clearer after August.

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) said that there was a focus on 2010, yet the state of the roads that had to carry many foreign tourists left much to be desired. He stated that he was not only addressing the road surfaces, but the beautification of the road verges with planting, to create good impressions and photographs. He cited in particular roads between the airports and stadia and between major centres. He noted that some of the current plants were invasive species. He also asked what would happen after 2010.

Co-Chairperson Sotyu expanded further on Mr Holomisa’s points by saying that Bloemfontein had the reputation for being “The city of roses”. When last there, she noticed not one rose, but only dusty and dry veld, not even green grass.
 
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) stated that there seemed to be a great deal of confusion about who would reap the commercial benefits from the World Cup; whether it would be foreigners, or South Africans. She asked for comment upon that issue.

Co-Chairperson Sotyu agreed that there did appear to be confusion, even among government departments, but she was confident that the situation would be clarified. The national government departments were liasing with the Provincial government departments, but the Municipalities, which were at the coal face, were in their own comfort zone all of their own. There was much to be done and it could not be done overnight.

Ms Ngcaba advised that while the one accounting officer was responsible, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, all the departments that were nominally under the control of that accounting officer must report to him or her, and this situation would remain until the separate departments were officially established under responsible accounting officers. The separation was work in progress.

In relation to local government she explained that only 4% of the budget was allocated to them, and this did not encourage capacity building or service delivery from above. However, the municipalities did have their own budgets and in theory should be devoting portions of these to tourism and association activities, but were currently not taking advantage of their opportunities. There were some developments with the provincial departments, and this would be taken up with the MECs.

Mr D Gumede stated that the prime need was job creation. He asked for a breakdown of expenditure on capital development and expenditure on human capital creation.

Ms Zikalala asked about the quality and purification of water. 

SANParks presentation
Mr David Mabunda, Chief Executive Officer: SANParks noted that SANParks had a long history – of at least 83 years. The various national parks (Parks) were not one geophysical or economic system, but endeavoured to cover the full diversity of South Africa, so that the National Parks would be a showcase to South Africans and the world. All Parks and associated endeavours were undertaken with the aim and object of achieving sustainability. This required implementation of a strategy associated with Tourism. There must be not only construction and development, but an affordable entry fee and sufficient facilities. In order to achieve this it was necessary to do some re-building. The business plan, which was included in the documents, embraced all such factors which may be summarised as human capital development, both of the users of the facilities and the staff employed in all the park facilities.

The aim was to provide value for money together with sustainability of the Parks. At the moment the Parks did not fully illustrate the bio diversity of the country, although they did represent the bio diversity of their own particular areas. Full representation of all the bio diversity of the country would require additional and extended Parks. Within the constraints of the present economy, it was felt that the maximum use was currently being achieved from existing resources. There were concerns that far too many of the expected onslaught of tourists attracted by the 2010 World Cup may only visit to the urban centres hosting the matches, and not the county’s other attractions. In order to address this, three areas of the Kruger National Park had been identified as the destination for tourists’ short excursions from Gauteng, but obviously the tourists could only be enticed, not forced, to undertake these visits. There would be some problems in monitoring the success of this endeavour, but this was work in progress.

The key question for SANParks and the whole country was what would be the progress after 2010.

Discussion
Mr Gumede asked whether there was any available information about the main targets of SANparks in their operations, and whether there had been consideration given to establishing, and maintaining, a scorecard to determine the validity of the envisaged programmes, and their successes in the short, medium and long terms.

South African National Bio Diversity Institute (SANBI) presentation
Dr Tanya Abrahamse, Chief Executive Officer, South African National Bio Diversity Institute gave a short presentation that merely highlighted aspects of the documentation circulated. She noted that the key milestones, to her mind, were the creation, in conjunction with sister-organisations, of job opportunities; and the opening last year of the 9th SANBI park in Nieuwoudtville. She noted that SANBI did not operate  in isolation but in conjunction with other entities in the field of tourism. She said that other objectives of SANBI related to producing scientific research of a high standard that was useful to the greater community. The SANBI parks should, so far as possible, represent the flora of the country in totality. She warned that it was not possible, scientifically, to have representations of the entire national flora in each and all of the parks but that all the parks taken together should have a good representation of the national flora.

She pointed out that the Western Cape Province currently possessed three parks, while other provinces, such as Limpopo, which had a very interesting and peculiar flora, did not have a park or only had small areas devoted to representing that area’s peculiar flora, not the flora of the whole province.

Associated with the preservation of the flora representations were the necessary rehabilitation measures to repair the ravages of time and the deficiencies of nature. The aim and intention ultimately was to have a representative footprint of all South African flora.

Dr Abrahamse noted that an area of concern, but one in which there was as yet insufficient reliable scientific data, was that of climate change and its effect upon South Africa and its flora. Already there was visible deterioration, but whether this was to be long term, or merely short or medium term, could not yet be fully and comprehensively ascertained scientifically. Further concerns centred around the presence, and spread, of invasive plant species.

She stated that SANBI was held in high regard among its peers as a world leader in the combating and eradication of invasive foreign plant species

iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority presentation
Mr Andrew Zaloumis, Chief Executive Officer, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (formerly the St Lucia Wetland Park and World Heritage Site) then addressed the Committee, noting that his written report had also been made available to the Committee. He emphasised that the vision and mission of iSimangaliso (meaning “miracle”) was to protect, conserve and present the Wetland Park and its World Heritage values for current and future generations, in line with the standards laid down by UNESCO and the World Heritage Act. This was also aimed at delivering benefits to communities living in and adjacent to the Park by facilitating optimal tourism and related development. iSimangaliso was situated in the northern areas of Kwazulu Natal, adjacent to the coast. The Park was now malaria free and the adjacent areas of Swaziland and Mozambique were also increasingly malaria free. The Park was easily accessed from all the major tourism routes, and there were tourism feeder routes and good internal roadways in the park. Major activities were concerned with the erection of satisfactory park fencing and the conservation of the internal areas by the removal of internal fences, unnecessary internal roads, the building of satisfactory internal roadways, accommodation, bomas with sufficient infrastructure such as jetties, animal watching hides, picnic sites, and tourism roads. There was a concerted campaign to establish a brand.

One of the challenges had been to establish the correct and sustainable mechanism to support the Park and the approximately 620 000 members of the communities living adjacent to the Park, to consolidate eco systems and clear-cut ecological areas. The Park had faced many claims in terms of the Land Restitution Act, but 76% of these had now been settled satisfactorily. As the benefits of the settlements were being observed by the communities, it was becoming increasingly easier to persuade the communities to buy. Co-management of the areas claimed was a huge challenge, especially as communities would over time either appoint new leaders, or allow new leaders to emerge.

He stated that the Park had created approximately 3 500 temporary jobs but was aiming for 4 000 temporary jobs in 2010. The number of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises was increasing from 48 to 110, all of which were active in craft production and working in association with the system.

Another major challenge was beneficiation of and associated with the Park. Thus far there had been a name change, completion of a brand manual, an increase in Park revenue from R200 000 to R8 million and an increase in the numbers of visitors to the Park. In 2008 one key performance target had been infrastructure development and land rehabilitation, which had led to 5 457 temporary jobs and expenditure of R46.2 million. There had also been training and capacity building, with 92 learners in tourism training, and land claimant and community workshops and leadership training programmes. Five land-claims co-management agreements were signed and 5 000 people engaged in grass harvesting. One priority still to be implemented was mariculture, and its associated access to the Indian Ocean.

The main obstacle was the public perception of the Park, which could only be effectively countered by education of all stakeholders. This would be achieved through capacity building, extended equitable access programme, training in land care and land utilisation and the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure and achieving unqualified audits.

Discussion
Mr Gumede stated that in future he would like to see full compliance of all aspects.

South African Weather Services (SAWS)
Dr Linda Makuleni, Chief Executive Officer, South African Weather Services (SAWS) expanded upon her written report and emphasised that SAWS had been dependent upon scientists for its human capital since 1880, when the predecessor to SAWS had been established. It had 40 students and was very active with internships both in townships and the parks.

SAWS was concerned with the protection of life and property and in order to effectively achieve this goal its task was to maintain, extend and improve the quality of meteorological service for the benefit of all South Africans, to provide the public with good commercial services and to ensure the ongoing collection, maintenance and updating of meteorological data over South Africa and the surrounding oceans, for use by current and future generations. It would be the long-term custodian of reliable national climatic records. As the national weather service, it fulfilled the obligations of South Africa under the Convention of the World Meteorological Organisation. As the Aviation Meteorological Authority, it fulfilled South Africa’s obligations under the Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It undertook weather forecasting for aviation safety.

All of this required academic, followed by further in-service and ongoing training of the scientists employed. An obvious challenges was attracting previously disadvantaged people to the SAWS. It had therefore worked on developing employment opportunities, an employee wellness programme, and safety for the future, and use of the human capital and infrastructure to its full potential was always a challenge. 

The budget would be presented at another meeting.

South African Tourism (SATOUR) presentation
A representative of South African Tourism presented a report setting out the high level objectives and targets over the next five years, the “Big 6” strategies, the  budget parameters and allocation of the financial resources to achieve the key objectives and targets.

It was noted that during 2010/2011, it was anticipated that there would be an 11.9% increase in arrivals, with an average tourist spend of R8 800.00. The air market anticipated a 10% modal shift and in land markets there was an expected increase by a one night stay. It was anticipated that there would also be increases in seasonality and provincial visits. In 2008 all targets had been exceed.

SATOUR aimed to make South Africa the destination of worldwide choice, and, in order to do so, to firmly establish the brand by 2014. The planning encompassed a pre World Cup 2010 period, a World Cup 2010 period, and a post World Cup 2010 period. In the pre-2010 period 300 foreign journalist were brought to the country for the South African experience and their reactions were evaluated. In 2009 Diski was introduced as a build up to 2010, which should reach several million people. The brand could be improved if the average person on the street would welcome tourists; preferably in the tourists’ own language, and so the marketing of South Africa always had room for improvement, not only through training of the SATOUR staff, but also through buy-in of the citizens.

The South African Grading Council was firmly established but care must be exercised to ensure that the grading inspectors acted in conformity with accepted standards, so that any one making use of a particular grade in any province would be assured of equivalent standards in any other province. The benchmark was a world-class one. The tourist should receive a totally acceptable package in the whole experience.

Discussion
Mr Gumede expressed concern that Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) had not received sufficient attention and he wished to hear more about compliance with Section 12 of the BEE Act, and ownership of the facilities. The private sector must be sensitised to the fact that ownership of the industry, including the facilities, was to reflect the aims and objects of the BEE programme. BEE covered both historically and previously disadvantaged people.

Concluding remarks
Ms Ngcaba stated that a review in a further fifteen years would make interesting reading and present a clearer picture of the changes. The Labour Laws had a vast impact upon what the Departments and agencies could do with their staff, and the role of the trade unions was also not be underestimated. There was a need to promote mastery of other international languages across the world.

Co-Chairperson Gumede called for the adoption of the budget, which was approved.

The meeting was adjourned.

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