Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Annual Report 2009/10; Marine Living Resources Fund Annual Financial Statements 2009/10

Water and Sanitation

14 September 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu, (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs briefed the Committee on the 2009/10 Annual Report of the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for Vote 25. The Department pointed out the achievements and challenges facing the several programmes which the Department ran - Programme 1: Administration and Support, Programme 2: Environmental Quality and Protection (EQP), Programme 3: Marine and Coastal Management, Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation, and Programme 6: Sector Service and International Relations. [Programme 4: Tourism was now a separate Department and Ministry.] Achievements noted included the effective frontline services with 95% of call centre requests being processed as per level standards within 48 hours (Programme 1); the training of 224 officials for the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) training (Programme 2); that all planned relief voyages to Antarctica, Marion and Gough Islands were successfully carried out; that water quality guidelines for recreational use of coastal waters had been revised and pollution estimates of top marine predators had been conducted (Programme 3); that the Limpopo–Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area had been renamed the greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, further improving the interface between cultural, heritage and natural resource management (Programme 5); obtaining a United States (US) $500 million clean technology fund loan; and the creation of a total of 21 138 temporary jobs through environmental projects of the Extended Public Works Programme, although the overall targets for temporary job creation were not achieved (Programme 6). Challenges noted included capacity and resources, and audit of performance information (Programme 1); that work in relation to asbestos could not be undertaken due to capacity issues and challenges with legislation (Programme 2); that the new Marion island base could not be completed as the Department of Public Works had not secured funds on time (Programme 3; that the target to have 40% of elephant management plans in place was not achievable due to the low submission rate by relevant organisations of state (Programme 5); and that the targets for the creation of temporary jobs were not achieved due to budget cuts (Programme 6). The Department presented the expenditure figures for 2009/10. The budget allocation for the six Programmes was R3 510 641 000 in total and expenditure for the year stood at R3 503 338. Departmental expenditure trends from 2004 to 2010 had remained the same at 99.8%. Property Management Expenditure had increased significantly from 2006/7 to 2009/10. Challenges included funding entities deficits and slow own revenue generation; decreasing donor funding; accommodation allocation shortfall; split costs for establishing Tourism and Environmental Affairs Departments; compensation of employees shortfall; and use of goods and services shortfall for the increased mandate of the Department. 

The Marine Living Resources Fund presented a summary of its annual financial statements for 2009/10.  The fund had assets of R516.6 million in total, which included vessels with a carrying value of R382 million. Assets also included confiscated abalone and shark fins. There had been a cash and cash equivalent increase of 8% over the prior year. Cash and cash equivalent currently stood at R85 million. Compliance with the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury Regulations was noted. The total liabilities totalled R59.1 million, a 5.3% decrease over the prior year. These consisted of R10.905 million in deferred income, R14.874 million in donor funds and R33.321 million in trade and other payables. A statement of financial performance and notes to the annual financial statements were given. Details of some fruitless and wasteful expenditure were given. Financial management was described. The Fund's audit committee included four independent non-executive committee members, had held four meetings in 2009/10, and had concurred and accepted the Auditor-General's conclusions on the financial statements and audit report. The Presidential Proclamation promulgated in February 2010 transferring the fisheries function, including management and administration of the MLRF to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had taken effect from 01 April 2010. The Marine and Coastal Management Branch had ceased to exist after 31 March 2010 and the mandate, functions and activities previously performed by the Branch had been split between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs. The Fund was maintaining a sound corporate governance and financial management framework.

African National Congress Members asked about the time frame in which Environmental Impact Assessment applications should be considered; for clarity on what the Department meant by “capacity”; why the Department did not focus on attaining 100% Environmental Impact Assessments; said that people were dying because of asbestos;  enquired into under spending;  and asked about the proposal by the National Treasury to rationalise the transfer to entities by a certain percentage and what the Committee could do to assist in its recommendations in terms of the National Environment Act. African National Congress Members also asked about the budget cut which had affected temporary jobs, about expenditure on the services of consultants, travelling expenses, and employment equity. Another concern was that alien vegetation was killing livestock. A Member said that 10 years hence South Africa would be bereft of grass. The Chairperson said that Members had visited some mines where there was a pollution problem but had discovered that environmental impact assessment was in fact the problem, thus her question was who was responsible for development. The Chairperson also requested the database of all employees working for the Department of Environmental Affairs including employees' academic backgrounds and proof of experience in their fields as any incompetent staff should be suspended.

A Democratic Alliance Member congratulated the Department on its unqualified audit opinion and said that it had done well. He too raised the issue of asbestos and asked for clarification of “capacity problems and challenges with legislation with regards to asbestos” as it was stated in the report. He commented on the training of Environmental Management Inspectors and said that it was important that the Department delineated those who worked on brown issues and those who worked on green issues. Those who worked on brown issues were very few and this needed to be addressed.  He asked the Marine Living Resources Fund whether the auditors specifically looked at the procurement of consultants.  An Inkatha Freedom Party Member congratulated the progression of Isamangaliso Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It had done wonders for the people and the schools in the area. This Member also reported an outcry from people in the rural areas who were drinking from the rivers. Those who dumped waste into those rivers and lakes were not aware that people would use that water. She was really concerned about some of those areas, particularly Durban South and the Free State where diseases were taking their toll on the inhabitants. She asked the Department whether there was any improvement. She asked whether the Marine and Coastal Management was now settled in its new home. A Member of the Congress of the People asked about the nature of the temporary jobs and also the duration thereof. The report showed a total of 79 733 training days, and she asked over what period this was and about the quality and outcome of the training. This Member commented that the expenditure on charter services and lending rights seemed to be high and she feared that since this was only the second quarter report this amount might be higher at the end of the financial year. Was there any way those costs could be managed better such as by finding cheaper charter services? She asked the Marine Living Resources Fund what was done about its disclaimer opinion, and the Department about what action was taken against individuals who were involved in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.


Meeting report

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Briefing on the 2009/10 Annual Report of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for Vote 25
Ms Limpho Makofoko, Acting Chief Director of Business Performance Management, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) introduced the briefing to the Committee on the 2009/10 Annual Report of the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for Vote 25. The briefing document contained an overview firstly of Departmental entities, followed by the Departmental annual report, followed by a summary of the achievements and challenges of the Marine Living Resources Fund. The Departmental public entities were the South African National Parks, the South African Biodiversity Institute, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, the South African Weather Service, the Marine Living Resources Fund, and South African Tourism (slides 3-9). Achievements and challenges under the headings of strategic objectives and key performance areas were listed in tabular form against key performance indicators and targets (slides 10-59).

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Presentation on the 2009/10 Annual Report [of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism]
Ms Makofoko pointed out the achievements and challenges facing the several programmes which the Department ran- Programme 1: Administration and Support, Programme 2: Environmental Quality and Protection (EQP), Programme 3: Marine and Coastal Management, Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation, and Programme 6: Sector Service and International Relations (slide 9). Programme 4: Tourism was now a separate Department and Ministry.

Ms Makofoko said that the achievements in Programme 1 included the effective frontline services with 95% of call centre requests being processed as per level standards within 48 hours; the completion of evaluation bids for the new departmental building project and approval of recommendations; and the accessibility of the website for 95% of the time despite the 10% traffic increase. Some of the challenges of this programme included capacity and resources, and audit of performance information (slides 14-16).

Achievements for programme 2 included training of 224 officials for the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) training. 40 Officials completed an EMI specialised course on pollution and waste crime scene management. Draft National guidelines on designation and operation of EMIs at local authority level were produced. 75% of all new national applications were processed within prescribed timeframes. The priority air quality management plan for Vaal Triangle Air-shed was established and the multi-stakeholder implementation team was appointed. Air pollution permits of top polluters had been reviewed and were being re-issued (slides 17-21).

Some of the challenges for Programme 2 were that work in relation to asbestos could not be undertaken due to capacity issues and challenges with legislation. There was a 90% backlog from the previous year due to capacity problems (slides 22-24).

Achievements for Programme 3 were that all planned relief voyages to Antarctica, Marion and Gough Islands were successfully carried out. Water quality guidelines for recreational use of coastal waters had been revised and pollution estimates of top marine predators had been conducted.

The challenge for this Programme was that the new Marion island base could not be completed as the Department of Public Works (DPW) had not secured funds on time. (slides 25-27).

[Achievements for Programme 4 were not detailed, since Tourism was now a separate Department and Ministry]

Achievements for Programme 5 were that Limpopo–Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) were renamed the greater Mapungubwe TFCA, further improving the interface between cultural, heritage and natural resource management in TFCAs. One of the challenges facing this Programme was the target to have 40% of elephant management plans in place was not achievable due to the low submission rate by relevant organisations of state. Four plans were received from KwaZulu-Natal but these plans did not meet the criteria (slides 29-32).

Ms Makofoko said the achievements of Programme 6 included obtaining a United States (US) $500 million clean technology fund loan. A total of US $18million was secured from multilateral donors in a form of a grant. A total of 21 138 temporary jobs were created through environmental projects of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). 79 733 training days were created, 369 small and medium enterprises (SMMEs) were used, and 186 permanent jobs were created. A challenge for the Programme was that the targets for the creation of temporary jobs were not achieved due to budget cuts (slides 33-37).

Ms Makofoko said that the Annexure had all the remaining details of the report (no slides).

Department of Environmental Affairs. Briefing to the Portfolio Committee on the 2009/10 Annual Report Environmental [Affairs] and Tourism [expenditure]
Ms Esther Makau, Chief Financial Officer, DEA, presented the expenditure figures for 2009/10.

Ms Makau said that the budget allocation for the six above-mentioned programmes was R3 510 641 000 in total and expenditure for the year stood at R3 503 338. Departmental expenditure trends from 2004 to 2010 remained the same at stood at 99.8% leaving a variance of R7 303 (slides 4-5).

Ms Makau explained that Property Management Expenditure had increased significantly from 2006/7 to 2009/10 (slides 9-11).

122% of the 2009 budget had already been spent by December 2009. There was a projected increase in Municipality fees of 25% in 2010. (slide 12).

Ms Makau gave figures for transfers from the Department’s own revenue to public entities (slide 15).

The reasons for the transfers were infrastructure development, financial assistance, ecological restoration & conservation development as well as alien plants control and land consolidation and rehabilitation (slide 16).

Ms Makau gave figures for transfers from the Department to non-profit institutions (slides 20-21).

Ms Makau gave details of challenges, including funding entities deficits and slow own revenue generation; decreasing donor funding; accommodation allocation shortfall; split costs for establishing Tourism and Environmental Affairs Departments; compensation of employees shortfall; and use of goods and services shortfall for the increased mandate of the Department (slide 25). 

Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF). Annual Financial Statements - summary: additional information to the Portfolio Committee (Annexure B)
Mr Saliem Mohammed, Chief Financial Officer, MLRF, presented a summary of the annual financial statements 2009/10 for the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF).

Mr Mohammed said that the MRLF had assets of R516.6million in total, which included vessels with a carrying value of R382 million, and confiscated abalone and shark fins on hand (slide 7).

As to assets, there had been a cash and cash equivalent increase of 8% over the prior year. These currently stood at R85 million. Compliance with Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury Regulations was noted (slide 8).

The total liabilities totalled R59.1 million, a 5.3% decrease over the prior year. These consisted of R10.905 million in deferred income, R14.874 million in donor funds and R33.321 million in trade and other payables (slide 9).

The statement of financial performance was given (slide 10).

Notes to the annual financial statements were given (slide 12).

Mr Mohammed classified fruitless and wasteful expenditure as expenditure that was made in vain and could have been avoided by exercising reasonable care. There was R2 862 interest incurred due to late payment of a supplier. There was also the issue of fraudulent payments from Norway South Africa (NORSA) donor funds of R149 059 reimbursed to the Norwegian Embassy and the police were currently investigating the case (slide 12).

Financial management was described (slide 13). 

Mr Mohammed said that the MLRF audit committee included four independent non-executive committee members. It had formal terms of reference in the audit committee charter. It had held four meetings in 2009/10. It had concurred and accepted the Auditor-General (AG)'s conclusions on the financial statements and audit report (slide 14).

Mr Mohammed gave an update on 2010/11. He said that the Presidential Proclamation promulgated in February 2010 transferring fisheries function, including management and administration of the MLRF to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), had taken effect from 01 April 2010.

The Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) Branch had ceased to exist after 31 March 2010 and the mandate, functions and activities previously performed by MCM had been split between the DAFF and DEA. 

The MLRF was maintaining a sound corporate governance and financial management framework (slide 15).

Discussion
A Member asked about the naming of Mapungubwe.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General, DEA, responded that the administrative process was only taken in the last financial year and thus the Department was reporting it as such.

Ms M Mabuza (ANC) said that it was unclear from the presentation about the time frame in which Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) applications should be considered.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General, DEA, responded that the time frames were d prescribed in the regulations. The Department would be willing to give a full briefing on the time frame regulations and what in practice the Department was doing. Most of the EIA applications were dealt with in the provinces; however the Department dealt with applications from national departments, national entities or state owned enterprises. Because of the capacity challenges in some provinces the Department had established a support programme in some of those provinces.

The Chairperson interjected and asked for clarity on what Ms Ngcaba meant by “capacity.”

Ms Ngcaba replied, with regard to asbestos, that mining activities and the EIAs that authorised mines were not handled by the Department. Thus the Department did not have the justification to create that capacity internally until it had effected that amendment. Then the Department would deal with EIAs in accordance with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) legislation and only then could it be held responsible and accountable. The Department had an overall responsibility for the environment in terms of the Constitution but the implementation tool was not with the Department.

The Chairperson wanted to know how Ms Ngcaba measured that and said that the Department was supposed to cooperate with other Departments concerned. However it appeared that there was little communication between them. It was hard to know who was responsible for what. This needed to be brought to the attention of the political heads so that a solution could be found. People on the ground were still suffering because no one wanted to accept responsibility for anything.

Ms Ngcaba replied that it was a political matter. The Department of Mineral Resources was autonomous and approved the licence to mine and the environmental management plan. The Department of Environmental Affairs just gave input and if it did not agree it did not have the power to say anything. Her suggestion was thus for the Chairperson to have an engagement with the relevant Portfolio Committee and express her support in that the amendment made by Parliament to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 (MPRDA) must come into effect.

Mrs Mabuza asked why the Department did not focus on attaining 100% EIAs.

Ms Ngcaba answered that in the Department there was a section that dealt with EIAs, but it had few staff. This section had the task of environmental impact assessments, the administration of the EIAs, as well as compliance. The Department had capacity for only 200 EIAs not 500. The Department still felt that it had made much progress in the previous financial year as it had received more than 500 applications and processed 75% thereof within the set time frame.

Ms Mabuza brought up the issue of asbestos and said that people were dying and that she had personal experience of the dangers of asbestos and would like a full report on why the Department was not speeding up this process.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Department needed to deal with the issue of asbestos in terms of the Asbestos Convention 1986. In the country there were areas where mining activities had resulted in serious environmental problems, for example in Northern Cape, the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The process would then be for the Department to map out those areas, but it had to be repeated that it did not have the internal capacity for remediation and rehabilitation.

Mr Alf Wills, Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation and Resources, DEA, commented on the Asbestos issue. He said that the asbestos regulations had been passed and adopted but the Canadian government had taken South Africa to the World Trade Organisation and challenged those regulation.  Thus the Department was currently involved in international arbitration.

Mr Wills said that the asbestos problem stemmed from a number of sources, mainly unrehabilitated mine dumps of old asbestos mines. The budget allocated to the Department was too tiny to deal with unrehabilitated mines.  It would not even cover one mine.

Mrs Mabuza further enquired into the under spending of R1 million and asked why it was not spent.

Mrs Mabuza posed a question directly to Ms Ngcabaand asked what she was doing about the proposal by the National Treasury to rationalise the transfer to entities by a certain percentage and what the Committee could do to assist in its recommendations in terms of the National Environment Act (NEMA).

Ms Ngcaba replied that the rationalisation and the National Treasury had no relation to the report. It was something that would happen in the future. In the past two or three years, Western Cape Nature was under funded and had not the capacity to deal with conservation or protected areas in the Western Cape. It had asked whether the Department could take Western Cape Nature over to national parks. There was nothing that prohibited the Department to rationalise and put all those areas under one umbrella if it made more sense to do so. The Department had explained this to Treasury which had not understood why the Department had embarked on this programme. When the Department was ready after the study it would present the initial findings to the Committee.

Mr G Morgan (DA) congratulated the Department on its unqualified audit opinion and said that it had done well. He too raised the issue of asbestos and asked for clarification of “capacity problems and challenges with legislation with regards to asbestos” as it was stated in the report.

Mr Morgan said that in the audit report it stated that there were claims against the Department, namely R500 000 by a Mr Johannes Wessels and another amount by an organisation named Sinegugu Skills Development Training. He asked the Department to share the nature of those claims and what intervention was required to ensure that similar claims did not happen against the Department again.

Ms Ngcaba replied that the Department had a defamation case for which it had incurred costs and also it had a training service provider with a claim against the Department; there were issues whether the provider owed money to the Department or whether the Department owed the provider money. The dispute had gone to arbitration and a settlement was reached. These were the figures shown in the report.

Mr Morgan asked for an explanation of the intergovernmental payables outstanding. He said that the amount payable to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as of the end of March was R2.7 million, which did seem high.

Ms Ngcaba replied that when the Department undertook international trips it placed its accommodation requests with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, which would then contact the embassies to make the arrangements and claim back the expenses from the Department. It took quite long to submit the invoices but this was what was reflected in the financial statements.

Ms Ngcaba said that Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) sometimes had problems communicating with their embassies and sometimes claims could take up to five months before the claims came back from DIRCO.

Mr Morgan mentioned that the Department was having an audit on the performance outcome which was a new initiative, which he was appreciative of. He commented on the training of Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) and said that it was important that the Department delineated the EMIs who worked on brown issues and those who worked on green issues. The figures for EMIs had increased each year and the vast majority of EMIs worked on conservations. Those who worked on brown issues were very few and this needed to be addressed.  Also he asked for a report on where the EMIs working on brown and green issues were located.

Ms D Tsotetsi also asked about EMIs.

Ms Ngcaba agreed that the Department had too low a number of EMIs dealing with brown issues, such as the pollution of land or air and waste in terms of the enforcement capacity generally. She said that in  future target setting the Department would need to discuss how it could best make sure that it had an adequate number of EMIs dealing with brown issues. The Department had reported that it had also trained for the first time EMIs who would be designated at local government level because waste management was very much the responsibility of local government - even air quality management.

Mr Morgan asked MLRF, as one of its test cases, whether the auditors specifically looked at the procurement of annex consultants with regards to the assistance to the abalone payout. Did the auditor concern himself with the abalone payouts or did the audit stop at the contract or did he in fact look at all areas?

Ms Ngcaba agreed that the focus was more on the contract and not on the payout of the actual transaction. When the Department appointed consultants or service providers it transferred that risk completely thus there was no point in the AG's examining as far as the payouts, but if there was a case of people who did not benefit from that, the AG would then be required to go into that.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) congratulated the progression of Isamangaliso Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It had done wonders for the people and the schools in the area.



Ms Zikalala picked up the issue of water pollution. She said that there was an outcry from people in the rural areas who were drinking from the rivers. Those who dumped waste into those rivers and lakes were not aware that people would use that water. She said that she was really concerned about some of those areas, particularly Durban South and the Free State where diseases were taking their toll on the inhabitants. She asked the Department whether there was any improvement.

Ms Ngcaba said that it had not forgotten its pollution priorities and said that the annual report showed what it had done in some of these areas. Durban South and Highveld had been prioritised and progress had been made. The ownership of air quality management was with the municipality and the Department had helped the municipality to execute its functions by setting up air quality monitoring stations. The Department would be able to provide a detailed report on the status of Durban South. Compensation for people who had suffered from pollution activities by multinational companies could be obtained but the claims must be accompanied by medical certificates before claimants could be compensated. It became a tricky legal issue. The laws regarding this were very new and they had to be in line with current mining activities but it would be advisable to ensure that the mining companies paid for environmental degradation upfront.

Mr Wills further commented that some successful compensation claims had been made but to a large extent they had come through class action suits not through the Department. One of the most successful ones was the one in London, which was not a South African legal dispute but an international legal action.

Mr Wills said that with regards to Durban South, the international airport had been moved to King Shaka and the opportunity now existed to lift the height of the chimney stacks and a major improvement in air quality in Durban South could be expected.

Ms Zikalala asked whether the Marine and Coastal Management was settled with the DAFF or whether it had found a home of some sort by now.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) pointed out that in the presentation it stated that temporary jobs were created and wanted to know what the nature of these jobs was and also the duration thereof. The report showed a total of 79 733 training days, and she asked over what period this was and about the quality and outcome of the training.

Ms Ngcaba explained that the type of jobs varied from waste, conservation, greening and open space management and alien vegetation control. The Department targeted women, the youth and the disabled and would be prepared to show the statistics thereof. For women it was 50% and the Department met targets for youth and disabled, however the Department could have managed to get more. There was a minimum of two days per worker to be trained on the skill of cutting a tree or planting but other life skills could also be taught and there was a schedule of the training received. If a person worked for two years, he or she had two days per month for training. He or she could group it and participate in learnerships.

Ms Ndude, with reference to the detailed current expenditure report, commented that the expenditure on charter services and lending rights seemed to be high and she feared that since this was only the second quarter report this amount might be higher at the end of the financial year. Was there any way those cost could be managed better such as finding cheaper charter services?

Ms Ngcaba explained that charter services were more for the lending rights costs for the last financial year.

She pointed out that what the Department was reporting on was of last year and not the report of a quarter. The Department had presented the same report in June when the Committee contacted the Department, even though the Department was still busy with the audit. Now the Auditor-General had completed the audit and that information and the financial information had been added to the report which the Department now presented.
Ms Makau said that those were specialised charter services where the helicopters were chartered to accompany the SA Agulhas to the Marion Islands in Antarctica.

Ms Ndude asked the MRLF what was done about its disclaimer opinion.

On the issue of the disclaimer, Ms Ngcaba explained that that was for the 2005/06 financial year and not the last financial year. The MLRF had a turnaround strategy to make sure that the MLRF was put in a better place in terms of its liquidity and the report itself reflects that the MLRF was making progress.

Ms Ndude asked what action was taken against individuals who were involved in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Department had taken action and there was currently an investigation.

Mr S Huang (ANC) said that according to the report 21 000 temporary jobs were created by the EPWP but that their challenge was that target for the creation in permanent and temporary jobs was not met because of a budget cut. He wanted to know how much the budget cut was and what was the reason for concern in this regard. According to the report there were only 186 permanent jobs but the Department already had 21 000 temporary jobs. He further stated that the training days were over 79 733 and that he would like some clarity.

Ms Ngcaba explained that the temporary jobs programme took the unemployed and exposed them to the work environment, thus creating experience to get into the labour market. The programme did not necessarily focus on permanent jobs. In terms of the budget cut there was an amount of R32 million which the Department received from Treasury.

Mr Huang pointed out that over R147 million was spent on consultant services and asked for more details.

Ms Ngcaba said that the analysis on use of consultant services could be found in the report.

Mr Huang asked for a breakdown of the R72 million which was spent on travelling. He said that the report did not state the dates on which the Department travelled, the purpose for travelling and how many conferences the Department attended. He said that a detailed report would make it easier to assess which of the Department's travels were unnecessary and how to cut down on them.

Mr Wills commented that the vast majority of the Department's travels had to do with negotiating multi-lateral environmental agreements. 17 of those trips were for scientific and capacity building meetings, where staff was exposed to national best practices to science and capacity building. The remaining meetings were preparatory meetings for multi-lateral environmental agreement negotiations or bilateral negotiation meetings with various countries such as Cuba, Nigeria and Europe where the Department supported joint bilateral commissions and the Minister’s engagements on those. The vast majority of the meetings had to do with the Department's legal obligations.

Ms Tsoletsi said that according to the report officials were trained and asked for more information on the cost of training and the mechanisms in place to monitor if people were coping with this training and whether it has impact on the objectives of the Department.

Ms Tsoletsi said that, as per the report, the air quality management plan for Vaal Triangle Air-shed had been established and the multi-stakeholder implementation team had been appointed. She asked who those stakeholders were and where they were situated.

Ms Tsoletsi pointed out that air pollution permits of top polluters were being reviewed and wanted to know which industries that pollution came from and what the findings were. There was legislation in place that put penalties in place if people did not comply. This had impacted on people’s health in areas where this was most prevalent and asked what measures were taken to ensure people’s safety.

Ms Tsoletsi said that one of the problems highlighted in the report was the challenge of capacity in clearing of the backlog of complaints, research inspections, notices and directives from the previous year. She wanted to know what the plan forward was in dealing with this problem.

Ms Tsoletsi asked for a breakdown in terms of gender and race. Often SMMEs which were owned by black people were not supported as much as previous enterprises. The youth had benefited but the report did not stipulate whether women and disabled people benefited.

Ms Ngcaba explained that the Department had met its target on black economic empowerment (BEE) and would be able to give a detailed report on gender related statistics.

With regards to travel, Ms Tsoletsi wanted to know whether the Department's trips had in fact benefited the Department and how. She also asked for a breakdown of how much time was spent travelling and in the office.

Ms Ngcaba said that their trips which involved the Minister and Deputy Minister was shown in the report, however she would be able to provide a more detailed report on the Department’s travels domestically and internationally.

Mr Wills commented that the vast majority of their travels had to do with negotiating multi-lateral environmental agreements. 17 of those trips were for scientific and capacity building meetings, where staff was exposed to national best practices to science and capacity building. The remaining meetings were preparatory meetings for multi-lateral environmental agreement negotiations or bilateral negotiation meetings with various countries such as Cuba, Nigeria and Europe where they supported joint bilateral commissions and the Minister’s engagements on those. The vast majority of the meetings had to do with their legal obligations.

Ms Tsoletsi suggested that the financial statement be reviewed again in future as this was a summary and she would like to see the original from the Auditors.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) said that, according to the report, metros and municipalities with air quality that did not meet ambient air quality standards were difficult to assess and report on accurately in the absence of monitoring data for all municipalities in South Africa. She asked what the Department’s plans were to assist municipalities.

Ms Manganye referred to the report that the development of climate change strategy for South Africa’s oceans and coasts had been initiated and asked how long it would take to be put in place.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Department hoped that it would be finalised this year and the Department could then make a presentation thereof to the Committee.

Mr Wills said that this strategy related to a physical research strategy and how the interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean contributed to the larger climate change scientific picture not only for South Africa but also globally. It was not how to manage oceans but more a research strategy.

Ms Manganye suggested that the Department’s target was to have 40% of elephant management plans in place but that this was not achieved due to the low submission rate by relevant organs of state. Four plans were received from KZN Wildlife but they did not meet the criteria. Her concern was whether the Department had advised those four organs what they fell short of.

Mr J Skosana (ANC), temporarily Acting Chairperson, agreed with Ms Ndude that it was true that when a department or entity had a disclaimer, it must have results of that particular problem. A clear report of what happened should be given and if there was a case made against someone, there needed to be a result.

The Acting Chairperson said on the issue of job creation that it the number of jobs created needed to be made clear. It also needed to be clear which of them were senior positions. A clear report was needed on the resources and challenges e still faced in the new establishment of the Department.

The Acting Chairperson said that the issue of biodiversity was being discussed only with regard to towns and cities. The rural areas were being ignored. How were they being resourced and how were they benefiting? He said that he met several mayors from rural areas and they were concerned that they were not benefiting from resources, even today after 16 years of democracy.

Ms Ngcaba explained that most of the Department's protected areas were in fact in rural areas. The Department was informed that people living around those protected areas benefited in how they ran those areas. At the same time the Department had also defined how municipalities should create a design for open spaces in order to improve the quality of life of local people. The Department’s greening initiative was linked to that.

Mr Wills added that Programme 5 also had a community based natural resource management programme which was a biodiversity focus - thus there was a programme that focused on biodiversity

The Chairperson said that the Department should not do what the Department of Water Affairs was doing. She said that Members were terribly unhappy with the Department of Water Affairs. She said that she had received many letters from people in and outside of Cape Town complaining about environmental affairs.

The Chairperson said that Members had visited some mines where there was a pollution problem but had discovered that EIA was in fact the problem, thus her question was who was responsible for development. She explained that an unspecified medical waste company had been taken to court, but she had no knowledge of this and could therefore not clarify this to the Minister and asked the Department to be more open and share this kind of information. She said that it showed lack of respect to authority and that she would not deal with people who showed such little respect to authority and they would be thrown out of the Department.

Mr Wills commented on the Chairperson’s complaints and said that depending on the nature of the development being put in place, a developer would need between six and eleven different permits. And because the EIA permits were much newer and had only come in since the new Government took over in 1994 the Department found that there were different agendas which they blamed the EIAs for. And in his experience EIAs were not to blame. It was the developer’s problem for poor planning, thus the developer was responsible for development.

The Chairperson said that a site which was not suitable to build houses on could turn into millions of rands being paid out because the site was not properly inspected and a hazard to people’s health. She asked whose responsibility it was to ensure that those sites were suitable to build on. Departments were passing the buck and while they were passing the responsibility to each other, people on the ground were still suffering.

Mr Wills said that housing development would be a provincial and not a national responsibility and often decision were made which perhaps had long term consequences that were not detected through the EIA processes. He mentioned that the new tools in the NEMA Amendment Act 2008 that this Committee had passed provided for these environmental management frameworks and was a much better tool to deal with that. The problem with the EIA as an environmental management tool was that it was a site specific tool and did not look beyond 500 metres of a site. 

Ms Mabuza said that another of her concerns was that alien vegetation was killing livestock. She said that 10 years hence South Africa would be bereft of grass.

Ms Ngcaba responded that the Department had a Working for Water programme, which had been run by the former Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, but the Minister had approved that it was to be transferred to Environmental Affairs. The Department had regulations as a department and had to abide thereto. She said that there were mechanical ways as well as biological ways to treat water. The Department could also use more labour and people could be trained to treat alien species. The task was bigger than the money available to deal with this problem.

A Member asked on the issue of mining in Mapunguwe whether the Department and the Department of Mineral Resources were not talking to each other. The Member noted that an Australian company had been given a mining contract in Mapunguwe.

Ms Ngcaba explained that the licence had been issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and that the Department of Environmental Affairs had no legislative power to deal with the matter.

Ms Tsotsetsi asked whether consultants could not be outsourced from other departments instead of spending all that money on hiring outside consultants.

Ms Tsotsetsi said that she had referred to the issue of capacity. The Department has given unacceptable reasons regarding this and said it made her wonder whether the Department's staff members were competent for the positions they held.

The Chairperson said that she wanted a list of all employees in the Department and their qualifications to assess whether staff members were competent for the positions they were in. The Department must also produce certificates and proof of the staff members' academic background. She believed unqualified people were a high risk to the people of the country. Staff had already been suspended at Water Affairs.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Department would forward the staff database to the chairperson.

Ms Tsotsetsi raised the issue of multi-nationals and asked what the conditions were for foreign donors.

Ms Ngcaba said that the multinationals and donors did come with conditions. She gave an example of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) funded through donors such as the World Bank and this had brought international consultants who had help and advised. There was also had a steering committee with DAFF and the Department of Health that helped and advised projects.

Mr Huang highlighted the part of the report which stated that the US $500 million Clean Technology Fund (CTF) loan had been obtained and asked how the Department could utilise it in other ways.

Ms Ngcaba said that the CTF had been established and funded by Europe.

The Chairperson interjected and asked whether the Department was responsible for the sum mentioned.

Ms Ngcaba said that the Department was responsible for obtaining the money but not for implementing the operation.

The Chairperson asked where the money would go.

Ms Ngcaba said it would go to Eskom and other private sector entities.

The Chairperson asked to whom would Eskom and other private sector entities would report.

Ms Ngcaba said that Eskom and other private sector entities would be contracted and accountable directly to the CTF. The money was not for the Department was rather to augment activities associated with the Department.

The Chairperson asked why the Department had drafted a report stipulating how the money was to be spent, while the Department had no responsibility for that money. She asked how it accounted for the money.

Ms Ngcaba said that in the plan the Department would state how much would be mobilised to a participating sector.

Mr Wills said that the loan was exactly that. The loan conditions were set by the CTF, which was managed by the World Bank. The money was interest free for 20 years and did not need to be repaid in the first 10 years.
There was a reporting requirement for the loan. As part of the process the Department could participate in the monitoring and could bring the details of the report and investment flows to the Committee. The Department had a mandate to promote the sector as a whole.

The Chairperson asked who would be responsible for repaying the loan.

Mr Wills answered that the recipients of the loan would repay it - Eskom for solar power and private sector companies dealing with energy efficiencies.  

The Acting Chairperson said that he wanted clarity. The loan application had been made by Environmental Affairs, but who was to say other companies like Eskom would pay back their share? These companies were not responsible for applying for the loan in the first place.

Ms Ngcaba said that there were rules set by Treasury about involvement in donor funding. These funds that had come into South Africa had been approved by Treasury. In this case there was a steering committee which involved Eskom, the Department of Transport and Department of Energy. This steering committee would look at the details of the project. Even now the sum mentioned was still an enveloped amount and it was still necessary to look at the detailed project plans before approval by World Bank. In terms of accountability she said that she could not take financial accountability as the Department was not the contracting party; the contracting parties were the ones dealing with financial accountability. Thus the Department was just a facilitator.

The Chairperson said that she understood, but was still concerned that when the money was approved it would come through Environmental Affairs first before going to other parties.

Ms Ngcaba said that the money would go through the Treasury.

The Chairperson said that she was content with the response.

The meeting was adjourned.



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