South African National Parks (SANParks) briefing on their functions, objectives, targets and challenges 2009/10-2013 and Budget 2009/10

Water and Sanitation

09 March 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

South African National Parks (SANParks) gave a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on its objectives, achievements, targets, budget and challenges. Its estate had grown by nearly 10 000 hectares through the Park Expansion Programme as well as through the Bioregional Landscape Linkage Programmes in Agulhas and privately owned land. Treasury cutbacks had, however, put paid to SANParks’ plans for acquiring further land and implementing many initiatives. The challenges were outlined. There was huge concern over the impact that the Vele Colliery Mining Project would have on the Mapungubwe world heritage site. Rhino and Abalone poaching were a serious problem, and it was clear that much of this was due to organised crime rings. SANParks experienced a revenue growth of 13.3 % due to rate increases and completion of the Expanded Public Works Programme, which had created jobs and allowed for the roads, fences and other non-profit assets to be kept up to standard, as well as producing skilled contractors for the maintenance of the new community-owned companies. 78% of the contracts went to Black Economic Empowerment companies and the rest were joint ventures between Black and White companies. An injection of R150million per year was required for infrastructure maintenance. SANParks programme performance was at 93% of all funding received. Questions from the Members included schools in parks, mining rights, traditional healers, poaching, hunting licences, the future of SANParks, disaster management, the Land Restitution Claim at Kruger Park and the provincial control of rural parks. The Committee noted that it would debate the budget and try to convince Parliament of the need for funds.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) presented its strategic objectives and budget. Its main areas of focus were listed as Green Jobs, Human Capacity, Research, Policy and Monitoring of Biodiversity health. Scientific research was key to contributing to the economy and maintaining SANBI’s influence globally. Together with SANParks, SANBI was co-ordinating models for Integrated Biodiversity Management and was a leader in grassland, fynbos and wetlands management and also worked with the mining and forestry industry to improve management of biomes. SANBI was working with municipalities to insert biodiversity and conservation information into their Integrated Development Plans, thereby reducing the cost of consultants to the municipalities and private sector. SANBI aimed to create Green Jobs through rehabilitation of ecosystems, which was vital for the economy. SANBI’s income had been affected by a decrease in grant allocation and the present global economic situation. Revenue streams were mainly from annual guaranteed Government grants and admission fees. The Committee Members expressed concerns about the marketing of the gardens generally. They commented that, for 2010, there was high reliance on government grants, which might not be sustainable in future. They made suggestions on promoting self-reliance and efficiency, and enquired about Green Jobs, access and economic growth in the rural areas. The Chairperson noted that the Committee had the power to decide if any of the government grants to entities should be lowered.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) presented an overview of its strategic objections and budget. A brief history of the entity was given, and it was stressed that its emphasis lay in creating networks for quality information, collaborative partnerships, use of cutting edge technology and developing and managing skills and resources. Relevant application of science and research was required to plan for future work of SAWS.
Adequate human capital expertise and information technology was crucial for meeting standards required for aviation safety and
SAWS aimed to optimise business integration and organisational effectiveness through Total Quality Management. Most of the total budget expenditure (R124 million) was for employee compensation and human capacity development. Infrastructure had been modernised with automatic weather stations and new radar systems. Two new mobile radars allowed for transport of radars to where they were required. The costs were analysed, and it was noted that government grant revenue accounted for R135 million, with commercial income at R15 million and aviation income at R68 million. A break-even situation was anticipated by year-end. Members of the Committee asked questions on the accuracy of the commercial profit figures, the trend of aviation income for 2011-2013, SAWS role in disaster management relating to flooding in the Eastern Cape, the demographics of the trainees, access to information and an update on the cost recovery plan.

Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority gave a very short and simple presentation, that succinctly summarised the main points. A study had been done that had achieved a turn around in tourism in the park. Strategic principles included job creation, infrastructure investment based on recurring costs, and a return on investment. The focus areas for 2010-11 included redeveloping and upgrading tourism accommodation facilities in the park, infrastructure roll out, equitable access programmes and training on land care. The people and park programmes included initiatives for training, equitable access, and job creation. Some of the challenges were cited, including meaningful delivery against twelve co-management agreements, balancing changing commercial realities with different user groups, and equitable access. Members asked questions about compliance issues, the court orders, the target market, and information on people who were allowed to reap at the Park, the fees they were charged, how many were female, and information on Lake Bangazi.

Indalo Yethu was an establishment that worked with government departments around environmental issues. It trained municipalities and educated people about by-laws. One of its key focus areas was Green jobs. It had greening and cleaning teams, which in turn offered awareness programmes like community mobilisation. Indalo Yethu had employed 500 youth as Green Ambassadors. Every two years it held conferences that aimed, in particular, to create awareness and equip women to do business around environmental issues. It had started Eco Town interventions through education and awareness programmes, some of which were described. Members commended the women empowerment initiatives. Members noted that there was no mention of how the strategic planning was linked to targets, that there was not a budget, and asked how targets were measured. They also asked about the geographical spread.

Buyisa-e-Bag, a Section 21 company, was established after the passing of the legislation around plastic bags, and received funding from government. Its primary objective was to develop entrepreneurs by creating sustainable jobs in recycling, and aimed to make recycling accessible to communities and collectors for collection. It had 24 operational Buy-Back Centres. There were tenders lined up for construction and renovations. It had created jobs in 24 centres, and noted that 80% of the jobs were filled by women. It also offered youth empowerment initiatives. These centres were situated in eight of the nine provinces. Some of their challenges included extending its presence to all provinces, staff retention and corporate governance. The Buy-Back centres had challenges around availability of land, seed funding, legal requirements and electricity costs. The way forward would include expansion into all provinces, more research into recycling industry and forming strategic partnerships with certain organisation like Indalo Yethu. Members noted that they would be visiting the centres in May. There were concerns around some issues, which the Chief Executive Officer said emanated from prior to his taking over and that were revealed by a forensic audit. More discussion was needed on the policy around recycling. Information was sought about the rural areas, and whether Buyisa would be able to achieve more with additional funding.


Meeting report

South African National Parks (SANParks) Strategic Plan 2010-13 and Budget 2010-11 Presentation
Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive Officer, South African National Parks (SANParks) presented a summary of the extensive divisional business plans of SANParks. Each of the 22 National Parks had their own management plan and for the purpose of the meeting, it was necessary to offer a high level view only of the budget, conservation, tourism, finance, Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) and support services of SANParks.

The beauty of SANParks, in essence, described who South Africans were, what they were about and what their values were in terms of appreciation of their environment. The parks were uniquely South African and were national symbols.

The mandate of SANParks was to conserve, protect and control National Park assets, subject to funding sanctioned by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The mission of SANParks was to develop and manage a system of National Parks that represented the biodiversity, landscapes, and associated heritage assets of South Africa for the sustainable use and benefit of all.

SANParks aimed to ensure effective transformation both within SANParks and the broader society and economy through the implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) as espoused by the sector Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) scorecard. The core business of SANParks was conservation, law enforcement, scientific research and wild life management. Communities benefited through the building of constituencies and jobs creation. Ecotourism was used as a vehicle to fund the conservation system. Of the 22 National Parks, Addo, Tsitsikama, Kgalagadi, Kruger National Park and Table Mountain generated a surplus. All others ran at a loss, although did still gain the profit of biodiversity. SANParks did not manage parks in order to make profit. They were a microcosm of values toward the environment. Corporate governance by SANParks was a multi-diverse institution which constantly experienced conflict between development and preservation.

SANParks ranked third in the world with regard to Biodiversity. They were not the only conservation entity in South Africa. Of the 7.9 million hectares (ha) of estate, nearly 4 million ha was under SANParks control. The remainder was managed by other agencies. The estate totalled 3.2% of the total surface of SA.

Dr Mabunda described the objectives of SANParks. SANParks continually aimed to improve and grow the conservation estate. The estate had grown by nearly 10 000 ha through the Park Expansion Programme as well as through the Bioregional Landscape Linkage Programmes in Agulhas and privately owned land. In 2010-2013 special emphasis was on expanding land for Succulent Karoo Biome and Nama Karoo Biome. However, National Treasury cutbacks had put an end to SANParks plans for acquiring land and implementing these initiatives. Registration of property was done in the Deeds Office and took extended time for processing and therefore was not confined to a financial year. Through clearing and rehabilitation of acquired land an enormous amount of jobs could be created. SANParks was now financially hamstrung in that respect.

The Kruger, and Addo to a lesser extent, had never in their history had so many large mammals. Kruger had over 44 000 buffalos, 12 000 to 14 000 rhinos, and the same number or more of elephants. The problem with the large amount of mammals was the vegetative impact. Each elephant, for example, required 120 litres of water per day and 300 kg of forage per day.

Restoration of degraded environment was important, particularly in neighbouring community areas. He pointed out that it was necessary, when restoring within borders, also to take account of what was happening in catchment areas. The rivers emanated from these areas and reports on crocodile deaths highlighted the problem of river pollution. The Oliphants River Gorge and most rivers were in a state of concern. A River Restoration Programme was monitoring programmes and investing in internal and external scientists.

Vegetation monitoring and broader information scanning were ongoing programmes and were important for making decisions. Clearing of invasive plants was currently being managed and developments within 50 km from the parks were being monitored. There was huge concern over the Vele Colliery Mining Project, in terms of the impact it would have on the Mapungubwe world heritage site, which was only 7 km from the colliery.

There were 258 registered research projects initiated in the past year, of which 74.4% were relevant to SANParks key issues. Researchers were recruited from within SANParks, as well as from research institutions from around the country. The Water Commission, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Council for Geology, and many other Institutes were involved. SANParks was not in a position to employ all the scientists who were required for research. SANParks led the way and strove to be a scientific research authority, as applied research was very important in terms of science management interaction and decision making.

SANParks provided ranger programmes and environmental education (which 142 000 students attended last year) and projects through which communities could harvest sustainable products such as thatch, timber, flowers, and even Mopani worms.

SANParks had been given permission from the Minister to co-ordinate all law enforcement activities throughout the country. Rhino and Abalone poaching were a serious problem. However, since 2008, law enforcement and monitoring was dealing with organised crime. On the previous Monday night the law enforcement team arrested a Kenyan rhino horn dealer and a Chinese buyer and more arrests were expected soon. Foot soldiers, as well as dealers who operated from plush offices in high places, were being sought. SANParks was in the process of enlisting the services of the army reserve and also ex-veterans who were not absorbed into the army reserve.

Although SANParks experienced a revenue growth of 13.3 %, the recession had caused fewer visitors to Table Mountain. The revenue growth was due to rate increases and completion of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), where on-line booking of units had become accessible.

SANParks was probably the only conservation agency in the world that was generating 85% of its operational revenue from tourism. An opportunity for generating revenue was the building of ‘rest camps’ such as the Malelani Hotel which provided services to guests. A proactive customer services approach was paramount to SANParks service delivery. SANParks hotel rates were designed to be affordable, as SANParks was a heritage system and not a business.

With the prevailing recession conditions, SANParks was able to save R30 million due to cuts in fuel, excessive use of vehicles, business travels, use of consultants, and many other costs. Each manager and official employed was qualified, and consultants were only required when the skill was not available in SANParks.

Unqualified audit reports of SANParks referred not only to finances but to performance measured against all set objectives throughout the sector. Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) procurement accounted for 70% of all contracts. Technology was an important strategic enabling initiative for connecting the Human Resources (HR), finance, customer surveys and for creating awareness in conservation.

The benefits of EPWP were that they had created jobs and kept the roads, fences and other non-profit assets up to standard. 78% of the contracts went to BEE companies and the rest were joint ventures between Black and White companies. Skills acquisition from EPWP Construction Programmes had produced skilled contractors for maintenance of the new community owned companies. An injection of R150million per year was required for infrastructure maintenance. SANParks programme performance was at 93% of all funding received.

Mr Themba Mabilane, Chief Financial Officer, SANParks said that SANParks had submitted a break-even budget as required by the PFMA. Revenue from conservation fees included entrance fees into the park and income from the Wild Card programme. Concession fees included income from the Business Development Programme. Retail gross profit included fuel station and shops and tourism activities inside parks.

Revenue would increase to 12.6% the following year, mainly due to rate increases. Government support was received in the form of operational and road grants. The Knysna areas received funding from the Department of Forestry. The total income of 10% was above the current Consumer Price Index. HR represented 55% of total expenditure. Other expenditure costs included maintenance costs, depreciation and operational costs.
Additional revenue was from income from investment, achieved through efficient daily cash management, capital grants relating to land acquisition and sales of fauna and flora.

Discussion
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked for an explanation on how schools in the Kruger National Park operated.

Dr Mabunda said that there was a primary school in Skakuza and an Environmental Education Centre next to Phabeni Gate. The school curriculum was managed by the Department of Education. SANParks simply provided the buildings. Children who were beyond primary school education levels attended schools in neighbouring towns, and transport was provided by SANParks. SANParks also sponsored schools where they experienced a shortfall.
 
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked for clarity on the threat that New-Order Mining Rights had on SANParks’ core business. He asked what active steps SANParks was taking to oppose mining applications where appropriate.

Dr Mabunda said that the mining licences were issued by the Department of Minerals. The two Ministers had to resolve this matter. SANParks had publicly raised issues around Vele Colliery water rights, and use of water and waster flowing from the Colliery. Vele Colliery had not yet applied for water rights. The pollution environment impact of dust from mining activity was of concern. Information on the Vele Colliery did not adequately address the concerns. Civil society organisations such as The Endangered Wildlife Trusts, Peace Parks Foundations and others which had been part of the process had instructed the Legal Resources Centre to lead the initiative in a court case. They hoped that thee developers would be forced to address all the concerns raised. In the meantime, SANParks was preparing on how to manage the scenario if the mining went ahead.

Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked how law enforcement dealt with traditional healers who required medicinal plants which were available in the SANParks.

Dr Mabunda said that traditional healers had an arrangement with existing management, where a Sustainable Use Policy permitted harvesting in the parks. In Kruger, nurseries had been created for that purpose and seeds and cultivars were provided to traditional healers. Road-kill animal bones were made available to traditional healers for the purpose of healing. The healers had contributed to SANParks’ indigenous knowledge of plants.

Mr Mathebe asked if the 78% BEE contracts were to companies that existed in those particular expansion areas.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) asked if the MK veterans, who were used to police poaching, formed a pool of labour from which government drew. She asked if there was a process for employing people who were fit for process, rather than simply targeting MK veterans directly.

Dr Mabunda said that SANParks had presented its needs to the army reserve system. The enforcement officers would be recruited from many army formations from the army reserve systems, and not the MK veterans alone. However, funding for this initiative was still required

Ms H Ndude (COPE) asked for further information on BEE, such as the geographical spread, the number of BEE companies, gender composition, number of persons, age, people with disabilities, the number of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), and Broad-based black economic employment (BBBEE) in order to fully understand who was benefiting.

Dr Mabunda replied that this detailed information was readily available from SANParks and would be distributed to the Committee.

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) asked for an explanation of the policy dealing with the control of hunting in privately owned game reserves in and around SANParks. He suspected that, after removing fences bordering SANParks, those who had licenses would be free to hunt. He understood that hunting was a challenge facing SANParks, and had expected to hear about it in the presentation as it had appeared in the media.

Dr Mabunda said that privately-owned reserves sharing borders with National Parks had been in existence for 25 years, particularly around Kruger. The policy at the time did not provide for the kinds of checks and balances that the Member was requesting. It simply allowed removal of fences and movements of animals across boundaries. Some of the lodges, such as Timbavati and Balule in the North, had hunting permits issued by Limpopo Provincial Government. There had been a public outcry and a court case ruled in the favour of the hunting lodges, due to lack of information at the time. However, since National assets were involved, the view of SANParks was that this was a matter of national concern, and that the Committee should institute a process to amend legislation to prohibit hunting where contractual parks were linked to a National Park.

Mr Holomisa asked how SANParks viewed the future of its National Parks.

Dr Mabunda said the luxury of acquiring parks through land grabbing and eviction by proclamation no longer pertained. The processes that established the present National Parks would not be repeated in the present democratic dispensation. In future, national parks had to do with survival of the various land users, and had to address growth. With the budget that SANParks had, it would not be able to purchase the land it had hoped to purchase. New parks would no doubt include a town, a hotspot between the towns, residential area, squatter camp and farm, all linked through landscape connectivity, in order to save the treasured biodiversity of the parks.

Existing parks faced the challenge of ensuring that the public saw benefits to accessing the park. SANParks wished to ensure that a sense of appreciation and environmental romanticism was exuded into the community. To achieve this, money, support and public education programmes were required to succeed, but this was in a society where a large majority of people in the past had been excluded from wildlife romanticism. Financially, SANParks needed to continue to identify relevant projects that would generate revenue.

Mr Holomisa asked if SANParks had agreements with other countries where animals could be relocated for a specific period if the SANParks were hit by severe drought.

Dr Mabunda said that since the 1960s, all the Parks Boards were involved in sending black and white rhino and other animals to zoos and other suitable parts of the country where there had been drought. There was also a breeding programme for buffalo, so that if disaster struck, the whole country would not be affected. Animals would be brought back into the system when necessary. SANParks had recently been confronted about the 145 South African rhinos on a rhino horn harvesting farm in China, and was presently in consultation regarding that issue.

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) asked for an update on the progress of the Land Restitution Claim ongoing at Kruger Park.

Dr Mabunda said that SANParks was told by the Chief Land Claims Commissioner at the last meeting that Cabinet had reached a settlement on 3 December 2008 and had decided on ‘Options’ which meant that there would be no restoration of titles and that communities had to benefit optimally from the Kruger National Parks. However, the rest of the National Parks would be dealt in the normal restitution process.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked how SANParks assisted with operational visibility where parks which were located in the rural areas were controlled by the Province.

Dr Mabunda said that rural parks were controlled by provinces because these parks were a concurrent function of provinces, but that there were ongoing relationships which were not regulatory with the ‘sister’ conservation agencies. SANParks was working with provinces in various ways to address shortfalls. The problem with provincial parks was that they did not generate much income and most of their budget was spent on salaries.

The Chairperson commended Dr Mabunda on his presentation and said that since SANParks was a leader in a sector which dealt with issues of lives, the Committee would debate the budget and try to convince Parliament of the need for funds.

The Chairperson asked if there were women on the SANParks Board.

The CEO replied that indeed there were women on the Board, but only the two representatives had attended in order to curtail travel costs.

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Presentation
Dr Tanya Abrahamse, Chief Executive Officer, South African National Biodiversity Institute, said that with the change from the Botanical Institute to the Biodiversity Institute, the mandate of SANBI had expanded enormously. SANBI moved from operations and conservation of estate management to research, knowledge management, policy advice, around both botany and biodiversity in general, and was now working not only in species science work, but also in more complex work such as the ecosystem and human management of biomes.

SANBI’s vision was to bring biodiversity richness to all South Africans.  SANBI managed the nine National Botanical Gardens as a ‘window’ to SA biodiversity for tourism, education and leisure. It had particular focus on creating Green Jobs and Working for Wetlands programme to create Green jobs, which were award-winning programmes. Fynbos, Grasslands, Succulent Karoo and Thicket Programmes were programmes which were run by SANBI.

SANBI led the development of the National Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy which was very important for sustainability of the Biodiversity Sector, including management of National Parks. SANBI hoped to be strategically positioned to harness South Africa’s biodiversity capacity and be recognised as the first port of call for knowledge, information and policy advice.

SANBI would put in place structures, networks, and leadership for scientific research on biodiversity, climate change and bio-adaptation, to be implemented and reviewed when appropriate. It was developing a policy and monitoring framework to fulfil its Strategy and Action Plan. Monitoring of biodiversity health and loss was an obligatory function of SANBI, according to the Act, and had already been implemented on the Redlands and on threatened ecosystems and species. Its work on ecosystems was of world class standard. Scientific research was key to contributing to the economy and maintaining SANBI’s influence on the globe.

SANBI had an array of cross-sectoral biodiversity work at biome and ecosystem level and, together with SANParks, was co-ordinating models for integrated biodiversity management. SANBI led grassland, fynbos and wetlands work and also worked with the mining and forestry industry to improve management of biomes. SANBI was working with municipalities to insert biodiversity and conservation into their Integrated Development Programmes (IDPs) so that information on biodiversity was available to the public arena, thereby reducing the cost of consultants to the municipalities and private sector.

SANBI wanted to strengthen revenue generating activities such as concerts in the nine botanical gardens, whilst not detracting from its role to the public. Important climate change work was being performed at the Hantam Botanical Garden and this was attracting interest from tourists.

SANBI had partners in the non governmental organisation (NGO) sector and universities and also engaged with citizens who contributed to effective implementation of SANBI’s strategy. Ecosystem work could not be performed unless it was understood at a species level. The Managed Network and Human Capital Development by SANBI sought to offer education and upliftment to everyone through understanding of biodiversity. SANBI’s mandate was to manage its legacy of science research by encouraging people on all levels to understand biodiversity.

SANBI aimed to create Green Jobs through rehabilitation of ecosystems, which was vital for the economy. SANBI was excited about the transformation within the Institute and renewal of agreements with Unions.

Dr Moehetsi Khoalhi, Chief Financial Officer, SANBI said that as at the third quarter of the financial year, the revenue streams were mainly from annual guaranteed Government grants and admission fees at entrance to the gardens. Total income was still behind target, at R296 million against a budget of R326 million. According to the final budget presented to the Audit Committee, an income of R21 million still had to be generated in the last quarter of the financial year to meet the budget.

On presentation of SANBI’s Consolidated Performance to the Board, two income statements were submitted. One was for specific projects outside of MTEF operations and the other was for normal SANBI operations. Unspent project funds were rolled over to other projects.

Total spending was R263 million, with a total budget of R316 million. SANBI started the year with a deficit of R16 million from the previous year and, in the middle of the financial year, embarked on stringent cost cutting measures. Cash projections predicted that SANBI would end the year with ‘positive committed funds’, as opposed to a ‘surplus’.

SANBI’s income had been affected by a decrease in grant allocation and the present global economic situation. The latter had caused a decrease in visitors to the gardens.

Discussion
Ms Lovemore mentioned that there were a number of private conservancies across the country. She asked if SANBI shared its scientific information with them to promote development.

Dr Abrahamse said that SANParks worked more closely with Private Conservancies than SANBI. SANBI worked with municipalities in assisting them in creating gardens and green belts for climate change refugees.

Ms Lovemore said that SANParks had the advantage of the inclusion of animals as an attraction for visitors. She asked what SANBI did to attract visitors to experience the flora and fauna of the gardens, as Cape Town did by serving the public with summer concerts each Sunday night in Kirstenbosch.

Dr Abrahamse said that part of the transformation of SANBI was to create a green setting in the urban areas for people to enjoy entertainment. However there were small reasons for major setbacks in attracting visitors, such as negotiating with the neighbours of gardens who were opposed to loud music. Quiet music tended not to attract large crowds.

Ms Lovemore asked if people with disabilities had the pleasure of enjoying all the gardens.

Dr Abrahamse replied that all gardens had access for people with disabilities. SANBI also had an education programme for design of gardens for people and gardeners with disabilities. She invited members to visit the education and outreach programmes, which promoted knowledge on biodiversity.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked if people in the rural areas had participated in the research on climate change and biodiversity, and how they were benefiting, as she believed that they were being affected by climate change the most.

Ms Ndude asked for information on the research conducted and policy on improving the gardens for 2010. Municipalities could not be blamed for lack of improvement, such as in Mtatha, when SANBI was promoting its benefits of research.

Dr Abrahamse said that SANBI was responsible for national communications and policy on climate change, invasive and threatened species, the Red Data list, Genetically Modified Organisms, planning legislation and re-assessment of the environment.

Ms Zikalala asked where exactly ‘Greening The Nation’ was to be found. She commented that the gardens needed to be marketed both locally and internationally to attract tourism to gardens, such as Hantam Botanical Garden. She asked how SANBI had marketed the gardens to visitors during the upcoming 2010 World Cup.

Dr Abrahamse
said that SANBI hoped to develop Hantam Botanical Garden, the bulb capital of the world, into a centre for climate change. Nieuwoudtville was a small poor Karoo town and the gardens had succeeded in attracting international visitors and scientists to newly established Bed & Breakfasts establishments. However, it was a seasonal attraction and therefore tourists would not be visiting throughout the year.

SANBI was engaging with provincial and national tourist authorities to ensure that all the gardens were listed with the tour guides of the country. SANBI had been approached by the 2010 Committee to list a flower for the Bafana Bafana soccer team. Scientists were working on identifying the flower which would bring the team luck.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked what SANBI was doing to ‘green’ the rural areas and how SANBI marketed the gardens to make them accessible to everyone outside the cities. He also asked SANBI to elaborate on programmes which promoted economic growth for rural development. He was aware of the relationship between SANBI and the unions, but said that improvements for the public in the rural areas were not clear.

Dr Abrahamse said that SANBI had succeeded in engaging with the 35 branches of the botanical society to be more representative of the people of South Africa. The society had formerly not transformed nor been inclusive and exciting enough to attract the majority of people in the country. SANBI had an agreement with the Botanical Society whereby SANBI would improve access to the gardens and receive 10% of their membership income in future, as part of extracting maximum value from assets.

Dr Abrahamse said that in regard to Green Jobs and Greening the Nation, over the years there had been many parallel programmes, and SANBI was working together with the Department of Environment and Tourism to create ‘one page’ on what Green Jobs were. Greening The Nation had won a national prize the previous year. Working for Wetlands was a local programme in the rural areas, which was also an award winning programme. Working for water was also an important programme, but was not a SANBI programme.
SANBI had strong evidence that Greening The Nation had worked. The challenge was to create sustainable short and long term Green Jobs. The aim was to have mobile service providers who would improve wetland health for SANParks around the country and be paid by municipalities for long term conservation. There was huge potential for Green Jobs in Agriculture Development, which had been forgotten until climate change had become an issue. These jobs included low tillage and ploughing, maintaining conservation and biodiversity within farming areas, pollination for biological control purposes and expanding extension services of agriculture, for which the farmers would pay. This would be a challenge for the future. She added that SANBI engaged with farmers and the Department of Science and Technology on plant medicine.

Mr Holomisa asked how biodiversity progress was addressing poverty. In 1994 or 1995, a document was presented by private individuals called ‘20/20 Concerns’. He suggested that a review of the document by those on planning levels for Rural Development would assist in addressing the concerns raised in the present meeting.

Ms Lovemore asked how SANBI was involved with parks at a municipal level. Some parks were no longer maintained, such as Settlers Park in Nelson Mandela Bay, where there had been a number of fatal muggings over the past few years and lack of staff for maintenance. She was concerned that on the 2010 website of SANBI, Settlers Park had still been promoted as an idyllic setting for picnics.

Dr Abrahamse said that SANBI was part of a network to promote indigenous plants in municipal gardens. These municipal gardens were not part of the nine botanical gardens of SANBI. Part of SANBI’s role in municipalities’ Integrated Development Programmes was to help them recognise the importance of reserve and greenbelt areas in municipal areas. SANBI worked with local government to instil the value of having municipal gardens from a climate, leisure and pleasure perspective.

Ms Ndude commented that National Treasury had stated that that public entities could become self reliant. With the global economic downturn, she expected SANBI to present to the Committee creative ideas for turnaround in their responsibility to ensuring self reliance rather than to rely on grants.

Ms Lovemore was concerned that the Government grants represented far too high a percentage of SANBI’s income. She asked how SANBI would increase the number of visitors to the gardens to sustain the grants in the long term. Her concern was not so much that the Government grant was too much in monetary terms, but rather how sustainable reliance on such a grant would be, given the societal priorities of South Africans. The Committee understood that there were instances of funding for the public good, such as the police service for safety of citizens, but Botanical Gardens were not necessarily a priority for Government. A survey would reveal that people in South Africa prioritised housing, water, electricity, freedom from crime and other social needs before the Botanic Gardens.

Dr Abrahamse said that scientific evidence-based work on sustainability and resource was crucial for not extracting from nature over and above its ability to survive. This could only be funded by the State and not the private sector.

Ms Khoalhi said, in regard to dependence on government grants, that SANBI had realised that there were some assets that it could promote. It had registered a project with National Treasury’s Public Private Partnership Unit, to do a feasibility study throughout the gardens on how to concession restaurants and structure these contracts to generate more income. This was an ongoing initiative which involved legal advisors.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had the power to decide if the Government grant to SANBI or any institution was too high

South African Weather Service (SAWS) Presentation
Dr Linda Makuleni, Chief Executive Officer, South African Weather Service, quipped that she had received numerous requests on the weather forecast. She noted that SABC and the phone number 082 162 or 083 1230500 were reliable sources of information. Information was also available on SMS, at a cost to the user.

South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to establish a national weather service 150 years ago. In the early 1900s the Weather Bureau worked closely with the air force and, in 1949, was transferred to the Department of Transport to provide information for aviation. In 1977, the first computer for numerical predication was installed. During that time, South Africa was separated from the international world. In 1994, the Government resumed full membership in the World Meteorological Organisation, an agency of the United Nations. In 2001, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) was established under the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. During this period, Government and the now-named Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) funded upgrading of facilities, skills and transformation in terms of capacity.

SAWS was an authoritative voice and legitimate provider of meteorological, climatological and related services for South Africa and the African continent and its vision was to contribute to sustainable development in both.

SAWS’s emphasis was on networks for receipt of quality information, collaborative partnerships, use of cutting edge technology and developing and managing talent and optimal use of limited resources. Relevant application of science and research was required to plan for future work of SAWS.

A responsibility of SAWS was to monitor the quality of aeronautical equipment. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirement was that by 2010 all the weather services in Africa were expected to have a Quality Management System in place. SAWS planned to have International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditation by the end of the financial year.

SAWS continually analysed the needs of its clients. Adequate human capital expertise and information technology was crucial for meeting standards required for aviation safety.
SAWS aimed to optimise business integration and organisational effectiveness through Total Quality Management.

South Africa depended on SAWS for training of meteorologists, climatologists and atmospheric scientists. SAWS was involved in Teacher Development Programmes where teachers were trained to interpret information from the weather station.

Corporate Social Investment Programmes provided jobs and food safety for the rural land and agrarian communities and enabled weather knowledge to be shared.

SAWS would attend to information packaging and research applications, to be used for decision making and risk management in other sectors. It had realised a need to collaborate with the Departments of Health and Agriculture to develop models for addressing issues around weather dependent diseases such as cholera, malaria and livestock diseases. SAWS was currently working on a project with DEAT to monitor air quality which was especially important to the large number of South Africans who suffered from respiratory diseases related to TB and HIV infection. In addition, Joint Specific Forums were important to address agricultural issues, atmospheric water and other issues, and were intended to be implemented within the following three years.

Tshwane Metro Rail Police had approached SAWS to develop an integrated warning system for bad weather, being aware that increases in crime took place during bad weather. This helped with deployment of security.

The SAWS was pursuing African advancement and enhancement of international co-operation. It served on the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and a number of technical commissions.

In 2007, SAWS established the Meteorological Association of SA (MASA) to assist in mobilising funds for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in terms of capacity building and infrastructure development. The Finnish Government had donated funds for development of MASA.

The SAWS was starting to address research for long term predictability of weather and climate change. Lack of funding prevented implementation of a number of programmes. Funding had been allocated for work with the Disaster Management Centre and for training of forecasters and researchers in hydrology, for predicting disasters such as flash floods. WMO, SAWS and five SADC regions were engaging in a successful Severe Weather Project where forecasters shared information between countries. Global Atmospheric Watch was a SAWS programme which monitored trace gases.

Regulated income came from aviation tariffs and commercial (non-regulatory) income, which was from the sale of SAWS products. Automatic weather stations were manufactured and sold to SADC regions. Access to information, such as through the SMS service, was another avenue for income generation. The revenue from Government grants was R135 million, commercial income was R15 million and aviation income was R68 million.

Most of the expenditure (R124 million) was for employee compensation and human capacity development. Infrastructure was spread throughout the country and had been modernised with automatic weather stations and new radar systems. Two new mobile radars allowed for transport of radars to where they were required. Depreciation and Amortisation accounted for R18 million and administrative and operating costs were R77 million. Thus SAWS envisaged a break-even budget by the end of the financial year.

The trend for predicting turn-around in terms of fund requirement and resource management showed an increase in non-regulatory commercial income. SAWS was waiting for Aviation promulgation for the current year. There was an increase in employee cost but this was due to development of the organisation.

Discussion
Mr Morgan said that he was concerned about the degree to which commercialisation was not happening and doubted that commercialisation targets had been met since 2001. He asked if the profits listed in the presentation were in fact genuine profits. With regards to the Commercialisation Project in Australia, for instance, he was informed by staff at SAWS that the expenses for that were not paid out of the income from the project but by the SAWS Operational Maintenance Budget, which was a Government grant which inflated the commercial profit. He asked SAWS to comment on his statement and to defend the figures given on the Commercial Operational Project.

Dr Makuleni stated that SAWS had a cost recovery plan that it was using. Some of its commercialisation had shown some growth – for instance her slides showed that SAWS was providing services to Eskom and Transnet, which amounted to almost R2 million each. SAWS also tried to generate income by selling weather stations to other countries like Namibia and Swaziland, and through SMS weather information. SAWS intake training centre had trained more than 250 people.

In the case of Australia, SAWS had three aircraft that were used for weather reports, but these did not generate any income.

Ms Ndude asked for detail on the number and demographics of the trainees taken in at the training centres and the programmes which had resulted in social upliftment.

Dr Makuleni responded that there were bursaries,
for example the Clarkbury project in Mthatha. In the Northern Cape SAWS had worked with the University of Pretoria. There was a school in Venda that used fog to generate water. SAWS also went to Thembisa and delivered food parcels. The bursary scheme targeted students from Johannesburg. SAWS also held career days, and was inviting schools to head office, using news papers and universities.

Mr Mnikeli Ndabambi Senior Manager Forecasting SAWS also added that all departments that are dealing with disaster management were represented on the bursary scheme.

Mr Skosana asked for an update on the cost recovery plan for the R1 million fraud committed by an official. This had been requested by the Committee the previous year.

Dr Makuleni responded that SAWS had followed procedure in regard to this matter, and the
person that was responsible for the R1.4 million fraud had been to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration after this procedure.

Mr D Worth (Free State, NCOP) asked why aviation income of the budget (2010-2013) showed a rise in 2011/2012 and then a decline in 2012/1013.

Mr Ndabambi explained that small aircrafts were not using flying visuals. Many were taking chances, assuming that they knew the surroundings, and many ended up crashing. He noted that SAWS could only recommend to pilots whether or not they should fly, given the weather conditions, but could not prevent them from doing so.

Ms Lovemore said that floods which struck the Nelson Mandela Metro had increased in intensity over time. A SAWS member had apparently warned the local authority that the more ground was paved, the more run off and flooding there would be. He had received absolutely no response from Disaster Management and sadly the latest flood resulted in more deaths from flooding. This would not have occurred had the local municipality taken the requisite action. Disaster Management appeared to be the weak link in the chain. Since SAWS was the first link in cooperative governance, she asked how SAWS would ensure that there were no weak links and how best to save lives.

Mr Mathebe asked a question on dissemination of information to rural areas.

Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority Presentation
Mr Andrew Zaloumis, Chief Executive Officer, Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, gave a very short and simple presentation. This, however, did explain the important elements such as the expenditure and revenue trends. The vision and mission statement of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (Isamangaliso) 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, and to deliver benefits to communities living in and adjacent to the park by facilitating optimal tourism and related development.

Isamangaliso had done a study that had resulted in a turn around in tourism in the park. Some of the strategic principles were people and park priority areas, developing to conserve and empower people, infrastructure investment based on recurring costs, obtaining a return on investment, contributing to the effectiveness of park management, and making a contribution to tourism and empowerment.

The focus areas for 2010/2011 were redeveloping and upgrading tourism accommodation facilities in the park, infrastructure roll out, equitable access programmes and training initiatives, such as discounted access to schoolchildren, and providing support materials in schools. Isamangaliso had people and park programmes, including land claims trust capacity, and were building and implementing co-management agreements. They also focused on maintaining track records of qualified audits. Lastly they focused on training that included land care, infrastructure and tourism.

Some of the challenges were listed. Isamangaliso must obtain meaningful delivery against 12 co-management agreements. There was a complex legal and institutional environment in which it operated. The fluid nature of the tourism environment, and the need to balance changing commercial realities with different user groups and equitable access were further challenges.

The people and parks programmes contributed to training, equitable access, job creation, economic development programmes, promotion of culture, co-management and natural resources.

Discussion
Mr Morgan wanted clarity on Isamangaliso compliance.

Mr Zaloumis stated that Isamangaliso had obtained four court orders against illegal developers and two illegal developments that had to be destroyed. He also explained that the compliance was about education and legal commercial development.

Ms Lovemore wanted clarity on the target market.

Mr Zaloumis explained that Isamangaliso had reached its Black Economic Empowerment targets. Originally, the target market in the international arena was 20%, but this had now grown to 30%. The domestic market had grown; there were now ten restaurants, up from the original three, and there was a different range of accommodation now in St Lucia.

Ms Zikalala wanted to know if there are any lakes in that area, and asked for information on Lake Bangazi. She also asked if the people who were reaping were charged any fees, and asked how many of them were female reapers.

Mr Zaloumis explained that people who reaped the Ingcame were charged R2 to R5 per day. 95% of them were women. They were allowed to reap on the second week of Isimangaliso harvest time. The lake attracted a lot of traditional healers and religious organisations like Shembe, as it was known for miracles during the reign of King Shaka. It had about two hundred crocodiles.

The Chairperson apologised for the limited time she was able to allow for engagement, in view of severe time constraints, but said that Members would engage on all that had been contained in the Isimangaliso submission.

Indalo Yethu Strategic Presentation
Ms June Joseph Langa, Chief Executive Officer, Indalo Yethu, explained that Indalo Yethu was an entity that dealt with various environmental issues. It was working with some governmental departments. It had green programmes such as interventions in water, energy, waste and population. Its key initiatives were around education and awareness. Indalo Yethu trained municipalities and educated people about by-laws; for example what the meaning of “a sustainable municipality” was. Some of the key focus areas lay with Green jobs. The youth were being trained as budding energy auditors, and 500 youth were being employed as Green Ambassadors.

Indalo Yethu had a “greening and cleaning team” which ran awareness programmes, like community mobilisation on radios. Every two years it would hold environmental workshops that equipped and supported women on development of the project business plan. It drew up a Green Legacy Report, which measured the carbon footprint for South Africa, particularly as the host of the Soccer World Cup. Education awareness was one of the Eco-Town activities that were done at Ngangelizwe Township in Mthatha, where a Green sculpture had been made. Indalo Yethu had started Eco Town interventions through education and awareness programmes like setting out different bins in towns for collection of different waste.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Ms Langa for her simple, but excellent presentation. There were only two questions asked, in view of shortage of time.

Ms Lovemore stated that the presentation sounded good, but there were no mention of strategic planning, linked to the actual targets, and no budget was attached to the presentation documents.

Ms Lovemore asked how Indalo Yethu measured its targets.

Ms Langa explained that detailed actual targets were contained in the blue files that were given to all those who attended the workshop. She would also compile a further detailed report for the Committee Members.

Ms Zikalala quoted the statement:  “If you empower a woman, you empower a nation” and praised Indalo Yethu on its presentation. She asked if it had been introduced in other Provinces, as she had only heard reference to the Eastern Cape.

Ms Langa assured Ms Zikalala that Indalo Yethu was already operating in seven Provinces, including Eastern Cape. In the Northern Cape, the chosen town was Kuruman and in Gauteng it was focusing on the Pretoria townships of Kgarankuwa.

Buyisa-e-Bag Presentation
Mr Shirleigh Strydom, Chief Executive Officer, Buyisa-e-Bag (Buyisa) said that this was a Section 21 company, which was established after Parliament passed the legislation regarding plastic bags. It was funded by government and was part of the plastic bag initiative. The vision of Buyisa was to contribute towards long term sustainability by ensuring an environment that was free from all recyclable waste, because such waste was recycled. The board had two women as members. Its primary objective was to develop entrepreneurs by creating sustainable jobs.

Buyiso had Buy-Back Centres whose aim was to make recycling accessible to communities and to collectors, for collection and recycling of used packaging materials, namely used plastic and beverage cans, paper and glass. There were 24 operational Buy-Back Centres (BBCs) in the country, of which eight were built by Buyisa-e-Bag and they supported the rest. 80% of the employees were women. The primary objectives of these centres was to ensure a clean and healthy environment by addressing the cause of litter, developing entrepreneurs by creating sustainable jobs, and ensuring sustainability of centres through direct involvement of communities, local municipalities, provincial and national government.

The legal and administrative requirements of these BBCs were that they had to undertake market research on recycling, identify dedicated local entrepreneurs or co-operatives, secure suitable land, and attend to re-zoning, permit and building plan approvals. They created and secured effective partnerships between all role-players. The BBCs’ expected outcomes included reduced risk to the population, the creation of permanent and informal jobs, and recovery of 30 to 50 tonnes of waste per month in each centre. The sources of these recyclable materials were public places like shopping malls and taxi ranks.

The mandate of Buyisa was to create jobs, alleviate poverty and entrepreneur development, reduce waste sent to landfill sites, and co-operative development. It had seven tenders lined up for construction, and four existing tender renovations. It was waiting for the necessary documentation for board approval. It had youth empowerment initiatives from six BBCs, of which three were out for tender and one was waiting for necessary documentation. These centres were in eight of the nine provinces.

Some of the challenges included establishing a presence in provinces, staff retention, co-operation from local government, and corporate governance. Other challenges for the BBCs were the availability of land, obtaining seed funding, Environmental Impact Assessments, fluctuation of product prices and electricity costs. The way forward was seen as expansion into all provinces, more research into the recycling industry and forming strategic partnerships with certain organisations, such as Indalo Yethu, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Economic Development.

Discussion
The Chairperson noted that she had done some research on the organization. However, she was not pleased with what she had found, as there were some irregularities. The Committee would be visiting some centres during May. She explained that the passing of the plastic bag legislation was not intended to enrich anyone. She wanted clarity on infrastructure, as it was not mentioned in the presentation

Ms Lovemore stated that she was looking forward in working with Buyisa-e-Bag but she was not convinced as to whether this was a right model to be used for recycling. She noted that, for example, the presentation spoke of traveling to small towns to introduce the project, but also mentioned that transport was the greatest cost. A way had to be found that balanced these costs and results.

Mr Strydom explained that it was only parliamentary debate that could decide on the correct model of recycling.

Ms Manganye wanted to know if rural areas would be visited when Buyisa-e-Bag was promoting the project.

Mr Strydom explained that at that moment Buyisa could not visit rural areas as it was still facing transportation challenges.

Mr Mathebe asked Mr Strydom to give a break down of the money that Buyisa-e-Bag received from the Government.

Mr Strydom explained that Buyisa had used R24 million, but he did not have the break down with him.

Mr Morgan said that everyone should be benefiting from the project, and asked why this was not happening. He wondered if, with more funding, Buyisa could do more.

Mr Strydom stated that no attention was paid to the strategic vision of expanding until he became the CEO in September 2009. He also explained that there was a recommendation that auditing should be done. When it was done, irregularities were pointed out by the forensic auditors and there were still some investigations ongoing.

The Chairperson thanked the delegations’ representatives on their excellent presentations. She asked that they should also refer to the State of the Nation imperatives.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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