Environmental Affairs Strategic Plan & Budget 2010-15, fisheries transfer, abalone update, Copenhagen Conference

Water and Sanitation

08 March 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), at the start of the two day workshop, briefed the Portfolio Committee on its Strategic Plan for 2010 to 2015. The Department outlined the main strategic objectives, and described some of the supporting programmes of the DEA. These included priorities to facilitate a Green Economy strategy, to create jobs, improve Environmental Impact Assessment processes, work closely with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and respond to sector demand for education and skills development by co-operating with the Department of Education, South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and Sector Education and Training Authorities. Investment in the environment would minimise the cost to public health in terms of effective management of air quality and waste. The main challenges related t funding. The restructuring and splitting of the Environmental and Water Affairs functions, and, more recently, the fisheries function across the DEA, and former departments dealing with water and agriculture, had affected expenditure. The baseline allocations to fund the increased DEA mandate operations and its public entities in the past years had been insufficient. Furthermore, personnel baseline funds were now shared across departments. DEA had made a case to National Treasury for funding. It was currently experiencing a shortfall that meant that posts would not be filled, that environmental research capacity was suffering where donor funds were no longer available, and that peak spending needed for capital projects was affecting the position badly. It was unable to deliver and implement systems which would integrate, co-ordinate and increase the knowledge base of the DEA. Although it had not, to date, had qualified audits, it was expecting problems in performance in light of the present insufficient budget.

Members felt that the presentation was perhaps not detailed enough, and called for more details on the donor funding, the reasons why the public entities were still being maintained, if they were running at a loss, and where exactly money was required. They noted that after the restructuring was complete, it would be easier to ask more directed questions. Members noted that there had been slow spending on some programmes despite the call for more funding. The costs of the SA Agulhas vessel were queried. Members asked whether the DEA intended to implement legislation, or merely to pass it. They called for exact details on allocations of budget across the functions, and asked that details of the consultants’ fees should also be presented, as well as how ordinary people benefited from the sector in terms of service delivery. Members also asked how the DEA was addressing black economic empowerment, and employment of the disabled. Questions were asked around environmental management of mining sites, interactions on water pollution, waste management, and skills development.

In the afternoon session the Department briefed the Committee on the process to transfer functions and 622 people from the new Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to the new Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Line functions would be ring-fenced to determine who would move, and who would stay. Due to the limited numbers of skilled people, the challenge was to ensure that both departments retained enough skilled people. The Proclamation was signed by both responsible Ministers. Members remarked that the transfer was acceptable, as long as there was no loss of jobs to individuals. There were questions around the stage that the transfer process had reached, and whether there was agreement between the departments about who would be transferred. Concern was expressed about a possible personnel vacuum, with a lack of funds to fill this vacuum. The Chairperson enquired about the logic behind disengaging Tourism from Environmental Affairs. The Minister replied that reconfiguration had been decided on at Polokwane in 2007, as a means to better implement the principles of the ruling party. The position of Fisheries became problematic during reconfederation. It was resolved that the conservation aspect would remain with Environmental Affairs, whereas the consumption aspect would move to the DAFF.

The Department then gave a briefing on the Abalone situation. Abalone was a slow-growing organism which was threatened by the taking of abalone that was under the prescribed size. Organised crime had become involved in abalone poaching, and various restrictions had to be imposed over the years. In the Eastern Cape, abalone catches were restricted to 7 listed, non-reserved areas.

The Department then briefed the Committee about the Copenhagen Conference on climate change and emission in December 2009. The Minister reported that the conference had nearly collapsed. A political accord was reached, but the developed countries failed to set targets. The accord was not adopted, hence there could be no legal document. The challenge to the process in the future would be to work towards legally binding agreements and legally based outcomes. The central question that informed the process was the sharing of remaining carbon space. There was some confusion at the conference about the imperative of balancing adaptation and mitigation. Finance was problematic, as well as holding countries accountable. Members made remarks on the process, and asked questions about accountability, including the accountability of South Africa. They addressed the image of South Africa in Africa, and its role, given the perceived weakness of the United Nations. The Minister and the Department responded that South Africa was seen as the biggest emitter in Africa, but also as the one country that admitted and addressed the problem. South Africa had well developed disaster management systems, and could set an example towards adaptation. South Africa was more concerned with principles than benefits, and was therefore in a position to provide leadership. The country would host the COP 17 conference, the next but one, and the Department was convinced that breakthrough could be achieved on that occasion. Minister Buyelwa Sonjica expressed confidence in the contribution that Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk could make, in his position as Climate Change Executive Secretary.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Minister had to attend to a special meeting and would be joining later in the afternoon. Some officials and Committee Members would also only arrive later. Later in the meeting the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Hon Buyelwa Sonjica, was welcomed.

The Chairperson noted that South Africa National Parks, South Africa Weather Service, and Isimangoliso Wetland Park Authority officials were also in attendance and were all involved in the key functions of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Ideally the public entities would have met with DEA in formulating the strategy plan. The DEA would clarify how it had arrived at the strategy, how each priority was funded and how it would deliver in terms of resources allocated from National Treasury (NT). Each public entity that had its own accounting authority, would present its strategic plans. She then outlined the programme for the two-day workshop.

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA): Strategic plan 2011-2015
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs outlined the Strategic Plan tabled the previous week. She noted that according to Section 24(b) of the Constitution, all South Africans had a right to an environment that was not harmful to their health and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

The condition of South Africa’s environment was deteriorating and South Africa ranked among the world’s 20 biggest greenhouse gas emitters. Areas of concern included water and air pollution, waste management and services, exploited natural resources, water quality and health of aquatic ecosystems, destruction of wetlands, water availability to sustain the natural environment and provision of services such as water purification and carbon sinks, and alien invasive species and reliance on fossil fuels. Coastal development and over-exploitation of natural resources from the ocean and coastal zone threatened the environment, as did ozone depletion and mining activities. Joint Committee meetings, particularly with the DMR, would address the challenge of mining development and long term effects of mining both on the environment and on human health.

Land degradation and soil erosion remained a serious challenge and undermined the productive potential of the land.

Environmental applied research capacity had stagnated over the last 10 years owing to insufficient capacity to innovate and implement cleaner solutions and technologies.

The DEA was guided by the need for sustainable conservation and management of the environment for enjoyment by future generations, as well as land and coastal economic activities.

Ms Ngcaba indicated that the programmes that supported the execution of the Strategy Plan were those of Administration and Support, Environmental Quality and Protection, Oceans and Coastal Management, Climate Change, Biodiversity and Conservation, Sector Services, Environmental Awareness and International Relations.

The DEA’s role in linking medium term strategic framework priorities was to facilitate a Green Economy strategy and create jobs, improve Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes, to work closely with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), and respond to the sector demand for education and skills development by co-operating with the Department of Education, South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). With respect to health, investment in the environment would minimise the cost to public health, through effective management of air quality and waste.

DEA would also ensure compliance with environmental laws and co-operate with the Justice Cluster on environmental crimes to prevent poaching activities.

DEA intervention lent itself to labour intensive work and there was potential for contributing to job creation in Waste and Coastal Management, as well as Open Space Management in municipal areas. Local government functions would be supported to a point where they were themselves able to plan properly for environment and open space management in general.

DEA continued to lead and support the negotiation process to achieve a global environmental regime for climate change and continued to reinforce the Trans-frontier Conservation areas, a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative, to improve infrastructure.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Outcome 10 of the Presidency, which was to protect and enhance the environmental assets and natural resources, was a priority of the DEA. Co-ordination of the National Departments, Provinces and Municipalities which had bearing on this Outcome would be led by the DEA.

Ms Ngcaba set out the strategic objectives of the DEA.

Strategic Objective 1 related to protecting, conserving and enhancing environmental, natural and heritage assets and resources. This would be done by implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations and Bio-prospecting, access and benefit sharing, the National ocean strategy, conserving and mitigating threats to biodiversity (through a regulatory framework, rehabilitation of land and wetlands, expansion of land under conservation, and declaration and management of world heritage sites), and building of a sound scientific base for effective management of natural resources (research programmes).

Strategic Objective 2 was the proactive planning, management and prevention of pollution and environmental degradation. This was done through Environmental Impact Management and Assessments, Environmental Quality Protection legislation, conducting enforcement action, capacity building and legal and information management support services to the Inspectorate, an improved waste management system, and ensuring air and atmospheric quality.

Strategic Objective 3 required the DEA to contribute to sustainable development, livelihoods, Green and inclusive economic growth through facilitation skills development and employment creation. There would be poverty alleviation and job creation programmes of infrastructure projects, environmental education and awareness, and feasibility of a new non-consumptive marine sector.

Strategic Objective 4 was that the DEA should respond and adapt to climate change impacts through the National Climate Change Response Policy and Biodiversity Climate Change Strategy, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Strategic Objective 5 was to contribute to a better Africa and a better world through a global sustainable development agenda. This included preparation for the hosting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Congress of the Parties (COP) 17 and Kyoto Protocol Conference of the Members of Protocol (CMP) 7, as well as South Africa strategic research presence in Antarctica and the Islands.

Strategic Objectives 6 to 9 were corporate related and required the Department to ensure adequate human capital and good working conditions, enhance efficient service delivery, practice equitable and sound corporate and co-operative governance, and enhance the DEA’s reputation through intergovernmental cooperation and coordination.

The objectives set out in the Strategy Plan were in line with what had been funded by the National Treasury (NT) under the National expenditure allocation.

The DEA’s MTEF baseline increased by only 0.0004% therefore did not have the capacity for implementation of legislation processed through Parliament. DEA had received additional funds for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Incentive Scheme (R65 million), Climate Change Conference preparation for 2011 (R4 million), and Compensation of Employees adjustments (R19 million). Baseline allocations to fund the increased DEA mandate operations and its public entities in the last years had been insufficient. Furthermore, personnel baseline funds were now shared with the Department of Tourism, and with the Department of Agriculture in respect of Fisheries staff. The DEA had a serious challenge in regard to funding. It had submitted requests to NT for funding. It was experiencing a shortfall of 15-20% which meant that posts would not be filled for some time.

Discussion
At this point, Ms A Lovemore (DA) expressed her concern that this presentation was an overview rather than an opportunity for Members to scrutinise the Strategic Plan of the DEA. She also noted that the Committee had only received a copy of the presentation that day.

The Chairperson said that since the Committee had not had time to read the documents, Members would have the opportunity to ask questions on the following morning. She stressed that it was important to receive honest information on finances. When the Committee had met with the National Treasury to discuss Water matters, she had learned that the information given to the Committee by Department of Water Affairs was inaccurate. It was of concern to Parliament that service delivery should be affected due to insufficient funds. Parliament had the power to decide if Departments needed funding, and therefore required accurate information.

Continuation of presentation
Ms Ngcaba summarised that there were challenges with financing of activities of the DEA. Restructuring and splitting of the DEA and the former Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and, more recently, restructuring of the forestry function with the new Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had affected the expenditure of DEA that financial year.

Overspending on the Administration and Support Programme was due to a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project for the new building of the DEA, which required property management consultation, and other expenditures such as IT requirements.
 
Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) also caused peak spending, with the replacement of the SA Agulhas during November or December 2009.

EPWPs were not meeting the expenditure target as the DEA still had to align with the new priorities of the new Department.

Ms Ngcaba offered to present to the Committee in the near future on the valid and strong funding requests to NT. She suggested that it would be useful also to hear from representatives of NT why it had decided not to give the funding to DEA.

DEA Budget 2010/11 to 2014/15
Ms Esther Makau, Chief Financial Officer, DEA, presented on the previous trends of expenditure and the challenges faced by the DEA. Over the past three to four years, DEA had spent 99.9% of the budget and had been forced to limit expenditure. Because of co-implementation of the environmental mandate, the DEA had to identify only the top strategic risks. Furthermore, the shrinking budget and insufficient allocation of the baseline caused an inability of DEA to deliver and implement systems which would integrate, co-ordinate and increase the knowledge base of the DEA.

DEA took in consideration that inflation had affected occupancy and buildings and rentals had grown faster than the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation. Donor funds were decreasing, which meant that a major increase in MTEF allocations for programmes would be required to proceed with any programmes whose lifespans had extended beyond the availability of the donor funding. Co-funding with the programmes with Agriculture or Tourism would also cause inflexible movement of funds.

The Auditor-General (AG) had emphasised performance audits as a priority. When reviewed, DEA could not afford to have a lower MTEF allocation. Requests to NT for DEA mandates included a baseline of R3.4 billion. Adjustment estimates to fund the environmental mandates were R450 million. The actual allocation to the baseline for 2009/10 was R68 million. R34 million was cut, rendering the percentage increase to baseline at below 1%. Where there was an increase in the outer years, it was due to specific projects such as the replacement of the SA Agulhas. EPWP incentives and compensation of employees earmarked for increases. NT had, across the MTEF, cut funding of the public entities SA National Parks (SANPARKS), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and MCM due to the surplus of retained incomes. The impact of the decrease in grants which would slow infrastructure development was compounded by the transfer of funds to Tourism, Fisheries (including Agriculture) as well as employee compensation to Fisheries.

DEA had to prioritize R64 million year-on-year to operate vessels for Marine Coastal Management. Most transfers went to public entities. For every R3 billion received by DEA, around R1.5 billion went to public entities, R600 million went to EPWP and DEA’s R700 million was split between user goods and service. This ratio was used to describe funding of infrastructure to the public entities, namely Isimangolisa, SANParks, SANBI and South African Weather Services (SAWS). It excluded MCM.

NT was interested in the ability of a public entity to fund itself fully. However, with the shrinking budget and global recession, the public entities had begun to declare deficits to NT. The DEA was unsure what policy NT would use to assist public entities that showed deficits. The problem of deficits was expected to continue for a long time as they operated on an accrual, not a cash basis.

The DEA would present to the NT on the strategic plan, quarterly reports, its attempts to reduce deficits and efficiency savings of the public entities, and ask for an explanation on the surplus retained by NT and what could be done to assist these entities.

Despite reduction of non-priority programmes and implementation of fixed budget and monetary control, the co-funding, the PPPs, and the increase in all occupancy costs increased exponentially when compared to the MTEF allocations. Although DEA had a trend of unqualified audits in the past years, it expected, in light of its present budget, to encounter problems in performance.

DEA consistently linked performance to strategy plans, the MTEF, operational plans and individual performance plans. Quarterly and annual reports highlighted the challenges and successes of DEA and each year, DEA scrutinised what could be accommodated by the budget.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that she agreed with Ms Lovemore that the presentation was not detailed enough. Programmes had been outlined, but she asked the CFO to identify the areas where the DEA had not allocated funding, and also to explain the figures which showed that donor funding was declining. With regard to the public entities, she asked for the point of having an entity if it was running at a loss. She asked for an explanation on the financial status of the public entities. She was not convinced by unqualified reports after meeting with NT on Water Affairs. She was more interested in hearing exact figures and where exactly money was required, so that the Committee could make decisions before approaching the NT for funding. She commented that it would be easier for the Committee to ask the DEA questions after the restructuring had been done in that Department.

Ms Makau said the DEA was presently waiting on donor funds. Where foreign assistance was coming to finality with funding of projects in MCM and Fisheries, the MTEF would be impacted, especially where projects were incomplete in the outer years. Where expenditure patterns had been increasing exponentially in the current year, for instance, in view of the property price increases, MCM compensation of employees, overtime and sea-going allowances, DEA communicated these problem areas upfront with NT and Department of Public Works, whilst also trying to reprioritise, within the bounds of what was permitted by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The Chairperson said that NT had presented, to the Standing Committee on Appropriations, that the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme had spent R209 million, although it had a budget of R400 million. The slow spending was attributed to the cost of Biodiversity programmes being lower than anticipated. She asked the DEA to explain this. She also asked for an explanation on why the DEA had indicated that it would only reach a spending target of 85% for EPWP. Only R370 million of the R1.2 billion budget had been spent, again due to the cost of the EPWP being lower than expected (due to the split in the DEA). She felt that this information perhaps conflicted with what had just been presented.

Ms Ngcaba said that there was slow spending on EPWP as the funds had been earmarked and could not be used for other operational responsibilities. The pressure areas related to personnel and enforcement, not the EPWP. The funding for Biodiversity, however, could be transferred to entities. It was not all transferred in the first or second quarter, but was phased in to ensuring trading-off with the entities. The DEA presenters were indeed in agreement with the report, but the restructuring process had a major impact, both in terms of defining the priorities for funding and rolling out the EPWP.

The Chairperson said that the Committee required to be clearly informed as to how much funding had not been used, and for which programmes it was earmarked, before going to NT.

Ms Ngcaba said that both programmes mentioned had been highlighted in her presentation and that the CFO would have elaborated on those had she known that this would be required by the Committee.

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) asked if the cost of the SA Agulhas had been included, as he did not see it as an item on the budget. He also asked how long it would take to pay it off, and if it would have an effect on the budget.

Ms Ngcaba said that the R1.3 billion investment had been effected in the current budget but had also been pushed to the outer years.

Mr H Valentine, Director: Antarctica & Islands, DEA, confirmed that as far as the funding for the replacement of the polar ship was concerned, the programme terminated in April 2012, when the final payment would be made and the ship was commissioned.

Mr G Morgan (DA) said that over the five years that he had sat on this Portfolio Committee, a substantial amount of legislation had been passed on the MCM Waste Act, Air Quality Act, and other Acts. This legislation gave responsibility to the National, Provincial and Local Government and was budgeted at the various spheres. He asked how the DEA would plan on implementing future legislation if funding was not available for a number of years, and if the DEA would hold back on various components of legislation or simply let legislation be brought into existence, without implementing it. His concern was that when the public asked why legislation was not being implemented, this carried implications around the credibility of the State. He suggested that, rather than not implementing legislation due to financial constraints, a public statement on what was and was not feasible would better serve the people.

Ms Ngcaba said that the DEA would reach a stage of credibility, but was not quite there yet. In the budget, the DEA had stated clearly which legislation had not been implemented, and the risks had been outlined. In the current fiscal environment, DEA hoped to receive funds at an appropriate time. The NT had assisted with pressing priorities but the DEA had relied on donor support, which was more receptive to capacity building. When developing legislation, the costing process was done together with the NT, and Parliament reflected on the figures for implementation.

Mr Z Luyende, (Alt Azapo) asked the DEA to offer detail on the priorities and allocation of budget to each line function so that the Committee could understand exactly what was required to be spent, where it would be spent and the impact of that spending. The AG’s unqualified reports were not assisting, when there was still no visible outcome for the ordinary person on the street. Lastly, he asked if the Committee really had oversight over the DEA if it was performing oversight on consultants and donor funding.

Ms Ngcaba said that because of reprioritizing there had been shifts in DEA’s budget, which made auditing difficult. The NT had identified and reallocated funds during the adjustment estimates. With the cuts to public entities, targets would not be reached and the DEA would continue to submit requests to the NT. The DEA hoped that the new legal element of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (The Money Bills Act) would enhance the chance of Parliament increasing the budget for the DEA. The AG’s report for the DEA was dealt with separately from the entities. The DEA and all entities had unqualified audits.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) asked why consultants were necessary, when the DEA had employees with expertise. She asked for a breakdown on the high spending on consultants for the 2009/10 financial year.

Ms Ngcaba said that legally, the accounting officers publicly reflected the consultants used, and the cost of consultants on an annual basis. These documents would be brought to the Committee for discussion. Ms Makau would elaborate on skills, supply chains and Memoranda signed with the service providers.

Ms Ndude asked the DEA to enlighten the Committee on as to which non-priority programmes had been removed. She noted that the Committee had the obligation to make sure that people received delivery of programmes that served them properly.

Ms Ngcaba said that the DEA had been through the exercise of delivery to the people and in most instances programmes were modified rather than removed. She had not presented exactly what the DEA had done in this exercise, but documentation was available around the decisions on each programme.

The Chairperson asked for a list of service providers and their profiles and the projects which required the use of consultants. She also asked for written information on how ordinary people benefited from the sector in terms of service delivery.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked for an explanation on overspending. He commented that although the budget had highlighted public entities, the breakdown did not clearly detail how to address the issues of service delivery to people on the ground. He asked if disadvantaged people had been considered in the budget. He also asked how an unqualified statement separated the DEA from the entities, when there may be misappropriation of funds in an entity.

Ms Ngcaba said that detail on high spending could be provided to the Committee. Restructuring had to be implemented to ensure proper functioning of the two departments independently. Infrastructure expenses, particularly IT services, were borne by the DEA and were reflected in the DEA’s budget submission to NT. Part of the funding was given to the DEA but the rest was reprioritised within what was available to the DEA. The DEA did not want to wait on addressing the ageing radar infrastructure of the SA Weather Services and then experience problems down the line. The NT had agreed and allocated funds for the Modernisation Programme.

Mr Skosana asked how the DEA was addressing Black Economic Empowerment, to uplift disadvantaged people.

Ms Ngcaba assured him that DEA worked to achieve targets for employment of disabled people and women.
Mr Skosana asked for clarification on law enforcement on industries.

Ms Ngcaba said that an audit on land-fill sites had been done and interventions, in terms of the broader environmental activity, involved municipal closure and site rehabilitation.  Intervention was not always successful, depending on where funding was allocated and the level of awareness and commitment from municipalities. DEA was interacting with the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs to look at the financing structure for municipalities so that these kinds of activities could operate with a budget line.

Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) asked if the DEA owed money to any municipalities.

Ms Ngcaba said that as far as she knew, no money was owed to municipalities, as DEA was consistent in meeting the 30 day payment targets.

Mr Mokgoro asked what the approach of the DEA was with regard to the historical damage to the land around Kimberley, where mine dumps and large open holes caused people to suffer, and also hindered the city’s expansion.

Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Director: Environmental Impact Assessment, DEA, said that the issues around environmental management of mining were not limited to Kimberley. Mining was the one sector that was not managed through Environmental Management legislation, and it fell outside the National Environmental Management Acts (NEMA) relating to air quality, waste management, and biodiversity. This resulted from existing mandates that were written specifically into the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA). Air quality and waste associated with mining was regulated through the MHSA, and general environmental issues like closure of mines and site rehabilitation was regulated through MPRDA.

She added that sometimes the Mining Portfolio Committee was also responsible for protection of the resources on which the mining industry was dependent. The DEA was a commenting authority only, and did not have a say over issues such as mining performance or rehabilitation. It could only provide input toward the mining processes according to the MPRDA.

Since 2008, the two systems - MPRDA and NEMA - had been phased together, through certain sections being moved across the two pieces of legislation. The Ministry responsible for the environment would be responsible for setting up policies, standards, legislation in respect of environmental matters. Although the MPRDA and NEMA were amended, the former was not yet in effect. The two responsible Departments had established a Mining Implementation Programme, but the delay in bringing MPRDA into effect was hugely frustrating the process.

Ms Lovemore asked how the DEA was interacting with the Department of Water in regard to water pollution. She asked how DEA would manage sustainable job creation, as she felt that spending money on litter picking was not necessarily sustainable waste management, which was one of DEA’s core functions.

Ms Ngcaba said that there were fundamental issues, but that DEA was engaging with Department of Water Affairs and led the sector. A co-ordinating mechanism was defined in terms of the Service Delivery Forum. The two had started aligning functions for enforcement legislation on waste management and ground water contamination studies. DEA was assisting with the backlog of water license permits.

The DEA had a Mintek Sector Skills Plan which co-ordinated issues of capacity skills in the Provinces. DEA had a shortage of experienced skills. Information on gaps in skills both locally and provincially would be provided to the Committee.

Ms Qikani asked if the 20% personnel retained in MCM was sufficient for the DEA’s implementation of the Integrated Coastal Management Act (ICMA).

Ms Ngcaba agreed that 20% personnel was not sufficient to implement the ICMA but the split took into account what would make the Fishery Functions work, based on its historical function. DEA would rather request funding from the NT for the redefined activities going forward.

Briefing on transfer of Fisheries function and on Proclamation of 29 January 2010.
Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director General, DEA, noted that the Proclamation in respect of the transfer of functions from the DEA to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) had been signed by both Ministers and the Deputy President on 29 January 2010. It set out the process for transferring functions, and said that the transfer would take effect on 1 April 2010. 662 people would be moved over to the DAFF. Line functions would be ring-fenced to determine who moved and who stayed. A broad Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Guide would be used for the process. There were challenges around the limited numbers of skilled people, and how to ensure that sufficient skilled people were placed at both departments. The change management and labour relations still had to be attended to, as well as IT system integration.

Mr Abader took the Committee through legislation related to the environment and fisheries, which had a bearing on the Proclamation and the transfer. He said that the most important was the Sea-Shore Act of 1935 (to be repealed by the Integrated Coastal Management Act). It was an environmental Act which focused primarily on non-living resources and the protection and management of the seashore.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked what preparations were in place for the transfer. It seemed to her that there was still confusion. She opined that the transfer was acceptable, as long as no-one lost his or her job.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) said that she could as yet not see what stage the transfer process had reached. She asked whether the DEA’s views on who should take what had been accommodated, and asked for further details of what precisely was happening. She urged that the Committee must be strong in insisting that the Minister of Environmental Affairs to retain powers related to conservation and the environment.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) said that he welcomed the Proclamation. He was convinced that the Committee would have no problems with it. The similarities between the DEA and the DAFF were confusing. He asked about issues that reflected on functions, as set out in page 2 of the document.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General, DEA, replied that the split had been done according to a formula. Mr Abader had indicated how that had been arrived at.

Dr Z Luyenge (ANC) agreed that the transfer was in order, as long as no-one was left out in the cold. He enquired if there had been an audit of steps the DEA had to take to effect the transfer. The Department could find itself with a personnel vacuum, with lack of funds to fill it, if it was not careful. He asked if agreement had been reached between the DEA and DAFF about who would be released and who would be retained. All transfers had to be justified. Steps had to be taken to prevent administrative chaos. He had expected joint process workshops.

Ms Ngcaba responded that DPSA principles would guide which staff would be retained. Individuals would be given a chance to confirm whether they wanted to move or stay. Options had to be open to them. There had to be opportunities to look also at vacancies in other departments, to see which individuals might have the skills to fill them.

The Chairperson wondered why Environmental Affairs had to be separated from Tourism at that stage. Settlement had to be reached with the DAFF, who as yet did not agree on everything.

Hon Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, responded as to what had informed the reconfiguration of government. The ruling party had already resolved at Polokwane, in 2007, that there would be reconfiguration. The guiding principles of the ruling party were not being implemented satisfactorily, and it was thought that reconfiguration could help. It was envisaged that once the new departments were established, the Directors General would discuss modalities, and come with proposals. The initial intention had been that matters pertaining to the Environment would remain the same, but there was much discussion around the position of Fisheries. Eventually a distinction was drawn between consumption and conservation, concerning fisheries. The conservation aspect would resort under Environmental Affairs, whereas consumption would be the DAFF’s new portfolio for fisheries.

She continued that both parties had signed the Proclamation. The details as to what went where were indeed in place. The Minister had avoided speaking to the media about challenges. There had been a meeting with the other Minister involved, about the movement of staff. The Ministry had had a first meeting to address staff about their concerns. New dates were being pursued. There had been a delegation from the unions with some serious concerns. Her Ministry would not deal with issues alone, without the knowledge of the other Minister. Commitments would be made in the presence of all concerned. There were allegations from both sides that officials were undermining the process. The two Ministers had to co-operate.

Mr G Morgan (DA) asked if the Marine Living Resources Act (MRLA) had to be amended to reflect the new Ministerial functions.

Ms Ngcaba replied that the Proclamation affected sections of the Act. For the transfer, however, no amendments were needed. The Proclamation was a legal document. The Minister of Agriculture could carry out MRLA functions.

Mr Morgan insisted that there had to be legislative oversight.

Mr Abader responded that if DAFF was willing to do that, it would be sufficient. Only the Minister could deal with the content of the Act. The Proclamation was a legal document.

Departmental briefing on Abalone
Mr Andre Share, Chief Director, Marine Resource Management, DEA, told the Committee that abalone poaching was widespread. More than 60% of abalone taken was undersized. This had a serious impact on the continuation of the species. There had been a diving ban imposed since 2008. He noted that organised crime had become involved. Fisheries were closed to protect abalone. In the Eastern Cape, 90% of abalone taken was below legal size. Catches were restricted to seven non-reserved areas. Those areas were listed.

Copenhagen Conference Briefing
Minister Buyelwa Sonjica briefed the Committee on the Copenhagen Conference on climate change, in December 2009. She said that there had been the expectation from this Conference of a two-track outcome, in regard to protocols beyond 2012. The imperatives of climate change and development had to be balanced.

The Conference had nearly collapsed. The presidents of the Basic Countries, namely South Africa, China, Brazil and India, had to deal with an unprecedented process. A political accord was eventually reached, but the developed countries did not have targets. There was confusion about the principle that adaptation and mitigation had to be in balance. The political accord was not adopted, so there was no legal document. Upgrading this accord to a legal document could provide a good basis for a legally binding outcome.

The process would go to Bonn in May, and to Mexico at the end of the year. If the process in Mexico failed, the process would come to South Africa. It was a complex issue. The Basic Countries had issued a statement expressing disappointment, but there was a basis to build on.

Mr Alfred Wills, Deputy Director General: International Co-operation, DEA, confirmed that in regard to the regime beyond 2012, ambitions for Copenhagen had been high. The aim was to establish a new binding equity and common responsibilities. It was viewed as imperative that the developed countries take on targets. Developing country actions had to be recognised. International adaptation and mitigation capacity had to be fostered. It had to be established how climate change response measures would impact on different countries.

The developed countries wanted to “kill” the Kyoto Protocol. The central issue turned out to be how to share remaining carbon space. A global goal had to be set. There was disagreement on the address of adaptation and response measures. It was a complex process.

The Danish President convened 28 heads of state for an accord. Those were viewed as not being an inclusive group, and mistrust ensued. The question remained whether the Kyoto Protocol would continue beyond 2012.

The Copenhagen Accord included the agreement that developed countries could make pledges. Means had to be found to record developing country access.

The Minister added that she had great confidence in Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, in his capacity as Climate Change Executive Secretary.

South Africa would be hosting a conference for the Basic Countries in preparation for Bonn at the end of May. Ministers from Brazil, India, China and South Africa would attend. The Committee was welcome to observe the event.

She continued that finding a legally binding agreement was the toughest part. She had been to see the Queen of England, with a proposal that all parties be legally bound. If such an agreement would not erode the space of developing countries, it could be a positive development. Holding countries accountable was a problem, as it had to be decided who would tell one country that it had transgressed, and how a penalty could be arrived at and enforced.

Discussion
Mr Morgan referred to accountability. He asked how South Africa would be held to account, and in what way would the South African government be held accountable. When it came to “SA Deviation from Business as Usual” – targets, as set out on page 5, he wondered if legislators would be able to hold government to account. He asked if climate legislation for South Africa would be Executive-driven In Britain, this was delegated to technical experts. The process had to be monitored. There had to be a legally binding outcome. Provision of finance, based on needs, would be a complex process. He was concerned that if he as legislator would want to hold Parliament to account, he would be told that other countries had not performed their obligations.

The Minister replied that governments could be held accountable through the International Parliamentary Union. Resolutions had to be adopted at that level. There were bound to be challenges. She posed the question how, for example, a dictatorship would be monitored. The IPU had to assist. A White Paper was being developed about climate legislation. It was an open process. The kind of legislation needed had to be determined. The question was how to monitor the compliance of sectors, and there was a need to decide if a sector, such as transport, would have a set target.

The Minister continued that the matter of finance would be debated within the UN system. She could foresee that not everyone would agree about using the World Bank. There would be mechanisms to determine who qualified for money. There was agreement that funding should be biased in favour of the least developed states.

Dr Luyenge asked about the South African image among developing countries. South Africa had higher emission levels than any other African country. He asked what role was seen for South Africa that the developed countries could recognise. He also asked for the Minister’s impressions gained from Copenhagen, concerning adaptation and mitigation.

The Minister responded that South Africa was seen to be above the developing countries. South Africa was fighting for a principle, and was not really concerned about benefits. The South African image in the eyes of the rest of Africa was boosted by good relations with those countries. In South Africa, disaster management was well developed. Adaptation had to be the outcome. The Nairobi declaration stated the African position.

Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) said that she agreed about a legally binding outcome. She pointed out that the United Nations (UN) was weak, and that South Africa could play a role to augment this, through being creative and pro-active. South Africa could take the lead by, for instance, drafting preambles for the conferences yet to come.

The Minister agreed that the UN was weak. She sincerely hoped that Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk could be in a position to make a contribution there. South Africa would be hosting COP 17, which would provide leverage for local people. COP 15 had failed because of a flawed process and a weak UN system.

A Committee member asked if there was clarity about how much South Africa contributed to emission.

The Minister replied that the facts were indeed known. South Africa was among the 20 highest polluters world-wide. In Africa, South Africa was viewed as a big emitter, but also was acknowledged to be the only country in Africa to admit and address the issues.

Mr Wills added that it was impossible to predict what would happen in Mexico. The one thing that was known was that the United States (US) was not ready. It was having problems with its Health Bill. If the US could not agree, it would be hard to get the European Union committed. The same applied to China. The best that could be expected from Mexico was probably a framework agreement.

Mr Wills was convinced that the breakthroughs would eventually occur in South Africa, at COP 17. The White Paper would be regulatory. New fiscal systems would have to be built. A choice would have to be made between one Climate Act or several sectoral Acts and regulations, and those choices would probably be debated in Parliament.

With regard to finance issues, Mr Wills noted that a political agreement had been reached in Copenhagen. The scale of finance requirements had been established. A new international fund was in the making, but there was still not agreement about where the R100 billion would come from, possibly from the private sector.

In regard to South Africa’s contribution to emission, he noted that the country emitted all six greenhouse gases. Africa was responsible for 2.4% of global emission, and South Africa was responsible for 1.1% of that, or just under 50% of African emission.

A DEA delegate noted that a draft Green Paper would be produced between now and midyear. Key stakeholders would be consulted, and the draft Green Paper would be taken to Cabinet.

Mr Peter Lukey, Chief Director: Air Quality Management, DEA, referred to mitigation challenges. South Africa emitted 450 million tons of greenhouse gas annually. 78% of that was from energy sources. Mining, transport and industrial processes contributed, as did emissions from waste.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

 

Share this page: