Water Research Council, iSimangoliso, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks) Annual Reports 2009/10

Water and Sanitation

09 November 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Mabuza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Water Research Commission was considered to be well established both internationally and on the continent. During the year under review the WRC achieved most of its set performance targets. It had an unqualified audit and only one emphasis of matter. The Committee wanted to know if practical use was made of all this research. It was suggested that perhaps they were not productive in disseminating their research because water continued to be polluted across the country. SANBI provided an upbeat report. SANBI was located in nine National Botanical Gardens. The newest garden was situated in Hantam in the Northern Cape, there were plans to open a garden in the Eastern Cape within the next year. There had been a decrease in income since the previous year; grants had decreased because they had not raised enough external funding. He suggested that this was due to the general international economic situation. They had received an unqualified audit report. iSimangaliso Wetland Park gave an optimistic report with increased gate numbers of 27%. The iSimangaliso Authority was understood to be a development agency with a conservation mandate by establishing South Africa’s first rural economic hub around a park which would provide empowerment, growth and tourism. The challenge was to produce an integrated conservation management and development strategy that would have economic benefits in an area of market failure and limited alternatives. UNESCO had stated that iSimangaliso had been an example of best practice. For eight years the park had received unqualified external audit reports. South African National Parks income growth year on year was around 19%. The impact of cost curtailing measures sat at R21 million. At executive level no performance bonuses were paid. SANParks looked in detail at several controversial conservation matters.

The Committee focused on financial issues for these four entities reporting to the Departments of Water and Environmental Affairs particularly the pressure coming from National Treasury for iSimangaliso and SANParks to be profitable. They noted that this was a struggle. They were particularly interested in how entities ensured that the knowledge that they had created was being effectively disseminated and used by decision makers. They spoke at length about Mapungubwe and the mining problems. Questions were asked about the status of rhinos, baboons and the Ndumo and Hangberg land invasions. Members focused on the ability of those in rural areas to access parks and gardens. They were angered at the state of Hartebeespoort Dam. In terms of SANBI they were interested in a dispute with a staff member who had written to the Committee. They suggested that when it came to alien vegetation the different institutions needed to work far more closely as it seemed that they all had projects but these did not coincide. The Committee asked questions about the status of jackals, elephants and fishing in the Tsitsikamma.


Meeting report

Water Research Commission (WRC) briefing
Ms Janine Adams, Chairperson, Water Research Commission, explained that the mandate of the Water Research Council (WRC) was to coordinate, cooperate and communicate within the area of water research and development. They were responsible for establishing water research needs and priorities and stimulating funding water research according to priority. This was done closely in collaboration with the Department of Water Affairs. They worked to promote effective transfer of information and technology and enhance the knowledge and capacity building within the water sector. This was achieved through hosting open days and workshops. They recently launched the Electronic Water Knowledge Hub, which had made a number of years of research available online and downloadable. The final area of their mandate was to enhance knowledge and capacity building within the water sector.

In terms of strategic context, she stressed that they needed to know about both the water cycle and the knowledge transfer cycle. At the WRC knowledge was generated, shared and transferred. In order to manage water the WRC was required to manage knowledge this was done through an effort to understand the relationship between quantity, quality and accessibility. A harmonious relationship between land use, water use and resource sustainability was key in this area. She noted that the National Water Act stated that resources needed to be protected. These resources included rivers, estuaries and wetlands as these provide the goods and services that the country was dependent on.

Ms Adams explained that through research and development, WRC created knowledge and packaged it. This was aimed at reducing water poverty, increasing water productivity and welfare. The WRC understood itself to be a dynamic hub for water-centred knowledge, innovation and intellectual capital. It provided leadership for research and development through the support of knowledge creation, transfer and application. It engaged stakeholders and partners in solving water-related problems, which were considered to be critical to South Africa’s sustainable development and economic growth. The WRC was committed to promoting a better quality of life for all. The WRC funded far and wide, she explained that there were centres of expertise around the country in the area of around 50 to 60 organisations in total. 

Ms Reshmili Lutchman, Director, Water Research Commission, provided and overview of the WRC’s governance structure. She stated that the WRC, under the leadership of its shareholder, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, and the strategic direction set by its Board, continued to manage its strategic and operational affairs within a sound corporate governance framework. The Board of the WRC adhered to its Board Charter which included a Board code of ethics. The Board of the WRC was comprised of five functioning committees these included an audit, human resources, research policy and strategy, remuneration and an executive committee. The audit committee functions dealt with both external and internal audits. The WRC was in compliance with the Water Research Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury Regulations.

She highlighted that the WRC was assessed using a balanced score card methodology. This was comprised of five key performance areas namely stakeholder relationships, financial perspectives, learning and innovation, internal processes and organisational transformation. For each area there were set indicators and targets (quantitative). During the year under review the WRC achieved most of its set performance targets.

Turning to Human Resources, 60% of the staff of the WRC were female. Further Education and Training candidates comprised 63% of the WRC.

Mr Naresh Patel, Chief Financial Officer, Water Research Council, explained that they received an unqualified audit report. There annual financial statements were prepared in terms of Generally Recognised Accounting Practice (GRAP). They had received one emphasis of matter, relating to a prior year. There were no other major audit findings

Addressing the financial position of the WRC, known as the Balance Sheet, the WRC was considered to have a strong Balance Sheet with no unfunded liabilities. There was normal growth in trade and other receivables, mainly due to the Water Research Levy accrual. Cash that was held at year-end was slightly higher than previous years but this was due to commitments for multi-year research projects that had been awarded. He stated that this cash could therefore not be regarded as surplus. There was growth in trade and other receivables due to higher accrual for research related costs. Retirement benefit obligations increased due to higher medical aid inflation. The bulk of the liability came from the post retirement medical aid liability, which was previously funded by an asset. The ratio of current assets to current liabilities was considered to be quite healthy.

On the Income Statement they were showing an accounting deficit of R2.4 million. This was due to non-cash items such as depreciations, provisions and actuarial evaluations. Income had increased by R8.6 million this was due to an increase in the water research levy. He explained that 83% of the WRC’s total income came in the form of a water research levy; this was receivable in terms of the Water Research Act. Operating expenses had increased by 3%. This was mainly due to HR related costs.

He said that the WRC owned a subsidiary, this was a property known as the Marumati Building where the WRC was actually located. It was the WRC’s 100% owned property company and had received an unqualified audit report. Returning to the Balance Sheet he highlighted that it reflected a deficit or net loss of R0.4 million this was largely due to the property and the servicing of the WRC’s loans. The main tenant of the building was the WRC, which then contributed 90% of the property’s income.

Dr Rivkar Kfir, Chief Executive Officer, Water Research Commission, started by explaining that the WRC worked with numerous partners but one of their main partners was the Department of Water Affairs. A number of their projects worked to support the Department in terms of policy advice and providing knowledge for informed decisions. They were in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with Eskom. The WRC’s research was divided into four key areas: water resource management, water-linked ecosystems, water use and waste management and water utilisation in agriculture. Water resource management looked at how water was used, the impact of this usage and policies around usage. Water linked eco systems assisted with the management of the resource but it focused on processes, utilisation and rehabilitation. This did not only refer to aquatic eco systems but included wetlands. Water use and waste management was focused on service and institutional management issues, linked closely to local government, it focused on supply and treatment technology, municipal waste water and sanitation, industrial mine water management and sanitation health and hygiene education. The WRC had launched a relatively new project focused on innovative devices called the Water Smart Fund. The WRC’s final key area was water utilisation in agriculture. Focus here was on use, management, water for food and fibre production, fuelwood and timber, the use of water for agriculture and poverty reduction and wealth creation and water protection and reclamation in agriculture.

In order to create knowledge the WRC had a number of research projects - they ran or funded between 280-300 projects yearly. The aim of the all the projects was to provide knowledge that would ultimately inform decision making processes, improving their monitoring and assessment tools and making available a range of new and improved technologies related to water resource management and the provision of water and sanitation services. They were involved in researching climate change adaption strategies, in this area they had moved from a position of understanding the reasons for climate change to adaptation at a local level.

During 2009/10 the WRC supported 284 research projects, of which about 80% (227 projects) were active projects (ongoing and new) and about 20% (57 projects) were finalised. The active projects were comprised of 165 ongoing projects and 62 newly initiated projects. The WRC supported 105 solicited projects, which translated to about 46% of active projects. She explained that ‘solicited’ meant that the WRC would put together terms of reference to ensure the direction of the research. As an example she explained that a few years before they had only been carrying out research on commercial farms. Due to their solicitation this had change to cover a wider understanding of agriculture such as emerging farmers and homestead gardens.

During 2009/10 the total investment in the support of knowledge creation, sharing and dissemination amounted to R115,8 million. They leveraged income originating from sources other than the levy this amounted to R19,7 million. Income included funds allocated for direct support of research projects, capacity building, knowledge sharing and dissemination. Funding came from global sources such as Irish Aid who were funding a project for school sanitation in the Eastern Cape or from the EU. They received funding from the Department of Water Affairs and the Department of Agriculture who provided support to projects and capacity building. The WRC continued to excel in its support to students, with special emphasis on historically disadvantaged students. In the previous year 562 students had been supported, 62% of whom had come form historically disadvantaged backgrounds. The WRC was involved in supporting drives to build research capacity in Africa such as New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). They were working very closely with NEPAD to build a Centre of Excellence for Water Research in Africa.

The WRC supported a number of capacity building initiatives in order to assist in creating young scientists for the future. They had worked with both UNESCO and the Department of Water to this end. They supported the Department by creating the South African Youth Water prize, and they supported various courses and provided training materials. In terms of knowledge dissemination the WRC ran workshops, provided materials, ran demonstrations, printed various journals and provided policy and technical briefs. During 2009/10 the WRC finalised 57 research projects and published 102 research reports, which were distributed widely within the water sector. They published thirty research briefs and hosted a number of technical workshops in order to share knowledge with the sector.

Discussion
Mr G Morgan (DA) congratulated the WRC on its work and its audit reports. He asked if the WRC could assure themselves and the Committee that their research was being read, used and implemented.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) commented that she was under impression that she would be speaking in her language today as she felt that speaking another language was compromising her questions. She asked what the WRC’s relations were with other countries that carried out research within South Africa’s borders, particularly with regards to the sea. She asked about polluted water and whether once research had been carried out, they sat down with the various stakeholders and discussed the issues. She suggested that perhaps they were not productive in disseminating their research because water continued to be polluted across the country.

The Chairperson put forward a picture of the Hartbeespoort Dam and asked how they could allow the people of the country to drink water, which was polluted. She asked if they carried out research on Acid Mine Drainage.

Dr Kfir explained that research within the WRC was long term. They went through a number of projects and research became accumulated. The end user was understood as part of the project the entire time. In order to measure the impact of their research, they carried out a number of independent impact studies through independent groups. These impact studies looked at the use of the research over a period on the ground. She explained that impact could be understood as a value chain and that they were not implementers themselves but rather they simply provided the knowledge. They could not make anyone do as they suggested rather they simply provided advice. She noted though that there were monetary and political elements that played a role in these cases. Addressing Hartbeespoort, she explained that it was not simply about the dam but about the rivers. There was a need to implement effluent policing more harshly since the dam was an obvious victim of this. It was not that nothing was being done about the issue but that the problem lay with what was going in. Within the Haartbeespoort Dam, they were using powdered operated carbons. The river needed to be cleaned and this would require more money. She noted that although there was this issue, they needed to note the good things being done, such as the water purification process, which was far advanced according to world standards. Over the last few years the WRC had been focusing on repackaging the knowledge in order to make it more accessible to those who would need to access it.

Addressing Acid Mine Drainage she explained that they had a number of patents, which were a first, created in conjunction with Rhodes University. The water was being neutralised by mixing it with sewerage. Communities were even in some cases using this water as drinking water. Their relationship with overseas entities was considered to be very good, this allowed teaming up on projects and sharing of costs. The WRC was considered to be well established both internationally and on the continent.

Ms Manganye suggested the WRC had not understood her questions. She reiterated that there were two ships doing research in the sea in SA. She asked if the WRC knew about them and whether they had gained from the research

Mr Morgan argued that the response to Hartebeespoort was a less than satisfactory response and hardly scientific. The focus in the country was on rivers but what was really needed was an increased dam health management and research programme. The failures of the Hartebeespoort management system were making it harder to implement management systems in other parts of the country. The best research was research that was transferable; there was no transferable research from Hartebeespoort because it was such a failure. He asked about where the WRC was with regards to its Diatom Research Protocol.

The Chairperson explained that a report from the Committee after its visit to the dam suggested that they were using worms to eat the algae. She asked if the worms were doing what they were meant to

Dr Kfir explained that to a very large degree, the knowledge was there although she reiterated that they were not the implementers. Again she reiterated that the issue was effluent and what was coming into the dam. The international practice was to put water borne sewerage into the dam and then the dam was cleaned. She stressed that this was highly problematic but done everywhere. The problem was effluent. Addressing the worms, she stated that there was nothing credibly scientific about their work as yet. The WRC had been involved in diatom research for a number of years, it was a good monitoring element but not if it was applied widely. She stated that they were unsure which group the Member was talking about as there were a number of groups working in the country currently. Some of these they worked with and some seemed to circumvent them. She expressed irritation at organisations that made the initial contact with the WRC, used them and then did not provide follow up research.

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) briefing
Dr Tanya Abrahamse, SANBI Chief Executive Officer, explained that their mission was to champion the exploration, conservation, use, appreciation and enjoyment of South Africa’s exceptionally rich biodiversity for all people. The organisation was created in 2004, built on the foundation of the National Botanical Institute (NBI), which included botanical conservation research, herbaria & gardens. It had over a 100 years history of botanical exploration and science. SANBI was located in nine National Botanical Gardens (NBG) with the head office in Pretoria. The newest garden was situated in Hantam in the Northern Cape, there were plans to open a garden in the Eastern Cape within the next year. SANBI had 719 staff members of which half were garden management.

She stressed SANBI continued to complete a massive amount of work with very little funding. Their annual income stood at approximately R331,4 million. The total annual operations expenditure was approximately R343,2 million and approximate deficit was R11,8 million. They received R150,8 million from the state, their own income tallied to R44 million and donor finds and other grants amounted to R137 million. She highlighted that they had been lucky in receiving a number of donor grants from not only the WRC but from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Globally these grants were reducing though.

SANBI was considered to be unique because it not only undertook research, but this research was packaged and implemented widely. This arrangement was considered to be world best practice and they received a number of visitors from other organisations based in countries such as Brazil and Korea who often came to South Africa to learn from them.

Within the next three years they would be focusing on establishing two new gardens one in the Eastern Cape and one in Limpopo. She stressed that this was part of their plan to have a national footprint. Their role as an organisation was broken down into six key result areas:
1 Understand biodiversity and bio-adaptation to climate change.
2 Creation of models for integrated biodiversity management.
3 Creation and maintenance of conservation gardens.
4 Providing policy advice.
5 Management of network and human capital development.
6 Effective systems and processes.
Returning to key result area four she explained that this was central to informing the Minister, government and organisation about the state of biodiversity in the country. In key research area two they had worked with a range of businesses and local entities in order to mainstream the lessons they had learnt through their pilot programmes. Turning to number three she noted that the old method of creating a garden had been to buy the land from an existing owner or transfer the land from another state entity that owned the land. In the new garden in the Eastern Cape the land would not be acquired but rather it would be a joint venture with another entity. Reflecting on the Members’ earlier questions for the WRC, she noted that policy advice and the ability to implement research was key. In terms of number five, she urged Members to look at the Biodiversity Advisor. The country had been quoted as best practice in terms of managed networks and human network capital. Addressing number six, she stressed that it was important to maintain their brand and corporate identity both nationally and internationally.

The Red List of South African plants had recently been published; this was a first for the country and was being looked at as a model to copy particularly by countries such as Brazil. An exchange programme had been implemented with Brazil to allow young researchers to visit elsewhere and teach. SANBI had recently described a new species of plant called Moraea Vuvuzela, this was launched during the World Cup and named by a retired cleaner from Pretoria Campus. They were considered to be an international leader in terms of biodiversity off shore work. They had saved and protected over 900 hectares of grassland in KwaZulu Natal. Ten thousand learners went through the education based gardens learning programme. This programme was currently under review. They won a silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. In closing she suggested that they were not taking enough notice of cycads and more work would need to be done here. They had lead the national biodiversity expansion strategy and were involved in the second national report on climate change.  

Mr Moeketsi Khoahli, SANBI Chief Financial Officer, spoke about SANBI’s budget. He explained that they had been vigilant in containing costs. There had been a decrease in income since the previous year; grants had decreased because they had not raised enough external funding. He suggested that this was due to the general international economic situation. Other income came from guided tours and rentals from tenants. In terms of non current assets, total expenses had increased due to salary increases, although in terms of other operating expenses they had shown major savings. Current assets showed an increase in terms of cash and cash equivalents. Consumables in terms of stock had decreased. Non-current liabilities had increased due to medical aid benefit increases which was being managed with the assistance of consultants. They had received an unqualified audit report

Discussion
Mr Morgan suggested that of all the entities before the Committee, this was the only entity which corresponded with the Members of Parliament over internal staff matters. He asked for more information over what happened with regards to staff matters raised in the previous year. He informed SANBI that they had recently received an email about a staff member who was currently on suspension and asked if there were genuine issues or HR problems within the organisation

Ms Manganye expressed hope that the entity would continue to be a world leader

The Chairperson asked for a report on how many interns and students were still being used. She asked about their projects and whether these were being carried out in rural areas, particularly in light of animals that were being killed, due to invasive plant species. She requested a briefing on the proposed amendment for Botanical Gardens

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked if they carried out any projects with rural schools and children around these gardens and plants. She suggested that in future, Members would like to be invited to the gardens and events

The Chairperson asked for more information on the cycads

Dr Abrahamse replied that there was an accusation made that a member of staff’s husband had benefited from work. A forensic audit was carried out and this was shown not to be the case; this report was accepted by the board and by the auditors. The accuser did not accept the report. SANBI then sought performance and mediation routes and it was suggested the best way to deal with the situation was a formal mediation and arbitration process. At the end of this, the independent arbitrator ruled that the staff member in question would need to leave. She then took the organisation to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) who threw it out, saying they had no jurisdiction. The case was now with the Labour Court who was currently going through the arbitration tapes. They were of the belief that the Labour Court would throw the case out particularly since the Arbitration Act and process was quite strong and arduous process.

The original accuser was a union official and SANBI had, had a number of issues with the woman in question. During the first disciplinary process, the CEO was instructed to halt the process but the misdemeanours continued. The continued issues were causing a morale problem. The disciplinary process in this case had been delayed due to the ill health of the staff member in question. She informed the Committee that it had begun in the last week, but had been delayed till 24 November. They hoped to go through due process with the staff member involved. She noted that they had engaged with their union, NEHAWU, quite substantially and extensive meetings had taken place, establishing both the expectations of the union and the place of the union. She offered to send the Committee a report providing more information about this relationship building exercise. They understood the union as a partner in delivering their mandate and encouraged its involvement.

Dealing with Alien Invasive Species she explained that they had implemented a major programme – the Emerging Weeds Programme. This project had a national footprint and was considered to be quite successful. She offered to provide a report for it as well. Addressing the Chair’s question on cycads she again offered to send a copy of the Cycad Crisis Management Plan. All cycads were under threat and there was a need to re-look at their management. For the first time historically since the Rio Convention, an agreement had been implemented to allow knowledge sharing on indigenous plant life.

Addressing awareness programmes, she explained that the previous Portfolio Committee Chair had been invited a number of times, although they would now be extending this to the rest of the committee. In terms of this, Kirstenbosch Gardens had been particularly active. Indaloyethu was one of their main programmes for education and awareness. She stressed that the area where they believed the most important awareness needed to be inculcated was with their municipal colleagues. Municipalities often had green spaces within them, which were not considered to be National Botanical Gardens, but they were gardens for leisure, pleasure and tourism none the less. A focus of the Municipal Greening Programme was the improvement of these gardens and assistance in upgrading

Mr Khoahli added that they had won an award for their greening of rural spaces and greening the nation. They were involved with public entities like schools, police stations and clinics assisting with borehole water, nurseries and tree planting. There were a number of programmes involving the community, indirectly creating employment

Dr Abrahamse explained that the organisation had organically grown and was still considered to be relatively new. They had moved from being the National Botanical Institute to SANBI and in this move their mandate had expanded. During this time there had not been a proper organisation review or design. To rectify this they had engaged the Technical Assistance Unit (TAU) of National Treasury to re-look at the whole organisation including its culture, its ways of working and its empowerment of people order to understand and grow the organisation better and ensure its future efficiency and effectiveness. They had carried out a diagnostic phase for the entire organisation, which had highlighted issues around communication, leadership and conditions of employment. From this they had created a working plan, which would need to be approved by their board next year

The Chairperson highlighted that the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) had a programme for dealing with alien plants. She told them that they would need to come up with a common plan across the organisations involved

iSimangaliso Wetland Park briefing

Mr Andrew Zaloumis, Chief Executive Officer, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, presented the Biodiversity, explained that based on its acceptance as a World Heritage Site, it could be understood that there was no other place like iSimangaliso. In this single area, it hosted 65% of South Africa’s bird life. He suggested that world heritage was about two things: celebrating human skill and inspiration and celebrating gifts in nature. With tremendous natural wealth, iSimangaliso existed in a space of poverty amongst natural plenty. This was due to socio economic neglect, with the area around iSimangaliso previously on a low-road growth rate. The key challenge for government had been the shifting of the development trajectory in order to begin to end the paradox of poverty amongst natural plenty.

He suggested that this was what Heads of State had in mind when the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) was launched by South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. The project was overseen by a trilateral oversight committee and then within the province there was a committee, which provided assistance with blockages. Progress with this project was explained in terms of malaria having been eradicated from iSimangaliso, large parts of Mozambique and Swaziland, improvement to borders and access. Major roads had been built and they were in phase two of constructing a major tourism route through Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. Trans frontier parks were in the process of being established. There had been progress with the key frontier park for iSimangaliso with Ponta do Ouro. Mozambique had just proclaimed its first marine protected area 17kms north from the Ponta do Ouro and they were in the process of applying for this to be considered a World Heritage Site. He suggested that this was important for iSimangaliso because their currents came form the North therefore anything that happened in Mozambique would directly effect iSimangaliso. In terms of creating a tourism destination Mozambique was considered to be iSimangaliso’s partner and they were cooperating to compete in an international market so they could not see each other as competition. The road that had been constructed between the two had created opportunity for economic growth.

He explained that the iSimangaliso Authority had been created to conserve the World Heritage values and to ensure that benefits were delivered at a local level and that there was development within the tourism industry and economy. iSimangaliso Authority was understood to be a development agency with a conservation mandate. The challenge was to produce an integrated conservation management and development strategy that would have economic benefits in an area of market failure and limited alternatives. In terms of implementing government’s vision, the major tourism route – the N2 and R22 – had been completed. They were well on their way to completing planned access roads. Internally in the park there had been a significant shift in the tourism product, sixteen parcels of land had been consolidated into one. They had a tightly aligned strategy with SANBi in order to deal with alien vegetation. Yearly they were clearing around 30 000ha of aliens. The park had been fenced; this would turn it into a singular ecological area from the mountains to the sea. Allowing the introduction of more black rhino and the introduction of eland, an animal that used to exist in the park. Infrastructure development was considered to be well underway. In terms of jobs in the year under review,  5 303 temporary jobs had been created and 30 permanent. iSimangaliso was understood as consolidated through the World Heritage Consolidation Act. They were in the process of consolidating it functionally and although progress was far advanced it was by no means complete. UNESCO had stated that iSimangaliso had been an example of best practice. He explained that UNESCO stressed the conservation of World Heritage Sites and it was essential to recognise the context within which these parks exist. Conservation would be impossible without development around the parks. In the next 18 months there would be a substantial shift in the product offered by the park due to projects out to tender currently. This would provide empowerment, growth and tourism.

Indicators of economic growth were provided over the last ten years. A recent study had shown an 89% increase in the number of tourism businesses in the park, a 46% increase in bed numbers and occupancy had gone from below the national average to above. When the programme had started there had a been a negative growth rate of tourism in the area. In the last two financial years there had been an increase in gate numbers and in the year under review own revenue had increase by 27%.

The key focus had been land claims and land claim settlements. At the start of the project, 100% of the park was under claim. Claimants received titles with restrictions and titles and a co management agreement. A key part of this was the beneficiation basket; one part of this was the revenue sharing agreement. In the year under review just over half a million rand was paid in revenue sharing. When new lodges had been developed equity sharing had been given to equity partners. They understood their BEE partner as their mandatory partner. In the year under review the former Minister had launched a programme with 98 entrepreneurs, of these 28 received grants. He suggested that they may be establishing South Africa’s first rural hub around a park. The programme was expected to double in size over the next two financial years. In 2009/10, 3 500 land care contracts had been awarded, employing 35 000 local people, R17 million had been put into land care over eight years.

In terms of infrastructure there had been a major investment as mentioned with the Lubombo project and its coinciding road development. Over the last seven years 164 000 jobs were created and R42 million spent through 43 Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) on infrastructure. R36 million had been committed to SMMEs for the next three years. Tourism Skills Development was an important focus and he stressed that they trained for jobs rather than just numbers. From their programmes, 80% of people had been employed. The craft programme had been ongoing; it had supplied Mr Price and other retailers. Vocational skills training had been an important component. They had been involved in an Art Development Programme, the opening of Moses Mobida Stadium saw some of the art created in the programme hung in the presidential suite and a number of commissions had been given. This had been supported by a cultural heritage programme, which stresses the need for the youth to take ownership of their culture and use culture to inform park management and indigenous knowledge. Natural resource harvesting was considered to be an integral safety net. The biggest event took place yearly in May when 3 500 people from across KwaZulu Natal came and harvested incema. The park was the only major site of incema left in the country. In order to do this they had to set quotas, manage participation and the event itself. This was an ongoing process. In terms of food security, he explained that much of the park was surrounded by sandy soil but the wetlands and peat soil were extremely fertile. This created pressure for people to come in and farm within the park, creating alternatives to this was important. In 2009/10, 39 gardens had been created with 900 beneficiaries, 400 women were trained.

In the year under review approximately 200 schools came into the park on assisted programmes. Their goal in the future would be to grow this to 600 schools, particularly since there were 600 schools, which surrounded the park. Coasts and Oceans supported this portion of the programme as a marine component. It was noted that 90% of people did not access the park unless it was on formal programmes. They recently started their education programme, which saw ten students from around the park go to university and technicon. In the current year they would be taking on another thirty students and in the following year another ten. It was hoped that in three to four years time fifty students living in and around the park would be able to qualify in science, conservation, tourism and business. This was understood as deep empowerment as this group would be the future managers and CEOs of the entity. He stressed that integration and vision were key aspects for international donors.

Annually 80 to 90 000 people access the park for free. It was a challenge to manage these kinds of numbers but the park did hold 9% of the country’s coastline. They had received two national assessments and came up fairly well. For eight years the park had received unqualified external audit reports and in the last two years they had had performance reports, which had been endorsed by the external auditors as achieving their objectives.

Total expenditure had been almost R230 million and the surplus before depreciation had been R139,8 million for 2003-2010. In 2010 it had been R9,9 million. Surplus after depreciation sat at R76 million for 2003-2010, and a negative of R5,7 million for 2010. In the years that the park had operated, 16% of total expenditure had gone to employees - this was below the government norm of 30%. Cash expended on capital had seen 31% go to cash expenditure projects. Revenue had dipped in 2009 although it was expected to rise again as they had increased park expenditure in 2010 by 27%. Looking at expenditure trends he explained that the costs of the park would increase due to an increase in expenses and the growth of park infrastructure. In the year under review 85% of expenditure went to BEEs. Overall the challenge had been the requirement to utilise biodiversity to generate economic opportunity. Very often these areas were surrounded by poverty, with very high expectations of delivery from communities. Generating new investment in a recession economy was challenging and coordinating government’s regional economic development was a challenge. As an example he explained that in the Duku Duku forest they had to align several government departments both nationally and locally to get development implementation underway in order to find a sustainable solution. Lastly he highlighted the debate between optimising revenue versus maximising revenue, explaining that they were increasingly under pressure from Treasury to maximise revenue and yet they were managing a World Heritage Site where by definition development had to be limited. At the same time, communities expected and had the right to certain deliveries.

Discussion
Mr Morgan asked whether the Park had, had any involvement with the land invasions in the Ndumo Land Reserve. He asked for an update on illegal and unauthorised structures within the park and what was being done about them with regards to the law. He requested an update on the status of the Integrated Management Plan

Ms Bhengu asked how sustainable were the jobs created and whether there were challenges facing their various SMMES.

Mr Zaloumis explained that Ndumo was a difficult situation for him to comment on as it was not part of their mandate. He noted that in all cases, land grabs did pose threats to parks and environments in the same vicinity. He suggested that if Ndumo was not timeously resolved, it would set a negative precedent. iSimangaliso was left with no option to take a stand on unauthorised developments for two reasons. Firstly it could be understood as a form of economic theft. These developments often ate away at conservation areas, were not sustainable and did not provide employment. He explained that government took the lead with the National Minister in one court case and then with themselves in another and went to court with six unauthorised developments. The court ruled in favour of the state in all six cases. Demolition took place and in one case a contempt order was issued. Taxing orders were in the process of being issued because the cases were awarded with costs and the site had been rehabilitated by iSimangoliso. They were now entering into stage two of the compliance programme. Voluntary compliance and relocation had been offered to the agencies still involved in unauthorised developments. These agencies had been given the option of coming on board and accepting voluntary relocation. Those who chose not to would see action be taken up in court. He suggested that as a result of the actions implemented, there had been a reestablishment of lawfulness in the areas, an area which was only about 100km from Ndumo where court cases had not as yet taken place. The Integrated Management Plan (IMP) had been approved by iSimangoliso’s board and had been submitted to the Department to be approved. They hoped this would happen early in the new year.

Sustainability of jobs could be understood as a continual challenge and something that they had worried about. Year on year they had managed to establish 3 500 temporary jobs suggesting that these jobs had become sustainable. The alien plant species did not go away. The challenge was ensuring that those trained in alien plant clearing could find work in other areas. Initially there was no budget for this but they found budget and trained the SMMEs so that they would be able to find other work.  He explained that all maintenance work was tendered out and this created a number of jobs. The challenge for the park had been the transition from finalising the infrastructure of the park and establishing tourism jobs, the recession had been a particular challenge here. The next big step for the area would be finding outside investment from major companies.

Mr Morgan asked if there had been any significant changes to the IMP put forward to the Department. He raised the damning submissions in the initial stages, particularly the submission of the Oceanographic Research Institute. He asked who had assisted iSimangaliso with the court cases

Mr Zaloumis explained that they had dealt with the IMP in a vigorous manner. All comments were captured in a comments document and a response was given to each submission. Although they were not legally required to, they had had the IMP reviewed by UNESCO. They were complimentary about the IMP and made some changes. Where iSimangaliso felt that they did not have the expertise required, they referred those questions to specialists and external reviewers. He stressed that the IMP was not a scientific document and functioned as a framework to be owned by everyone.

The court case on the beach camp was led by the Minister of Environment with iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The other court cases were iSimangaliso as the lead applicant with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. He offered to send any of the ruings or proceedings to members.

South African National Parks (SANParks) briefing
Mr David Mabunda, SANParks Chief Executive Officer, suggested that visitors came to South Africa to see the Parks. The vision and mission of the Parks had not changed. The Business Plan and Strategy of SANParks focused on a biodiversity level as opposed to single species. He stressed that they needed to look at habitats and eco systems. They managed for ecological heterogeneity, referring to changes in times and space within a habitat and within many habitats that form part of an eco system.

Mr Themba Mabilane, SANParks Chief Financial Officer, explained that tourism had increased by 9%. Total income growth year on year was around 19%. In terms of expenditure the impact of cost curtailing measures that had been implemented were considered to have been successful. Operating and administrative expenses had experienced a drop. Compensation of employees had a seen a 4% growth, this was far below the applicable rate at the time. At executive level no performance bonuses were paid. The surplus of R67 million was not money in the bank but rather an inflated figure due to toher activities. Pure savings sat at R21 million.

Mr Mabunda highlighted rest camps were the typical product that brought in revenue for SANParks. Accordingly they were currently rebuilding chalets that were built in the 1930s. There were a number of black families visiting the parks and this change was understood as a sign of diversity, which they were proud of. 77.6% of visitors were still South Africans. He suggested that this meant parks serviced the interest of South African first. Rhino poaching was considered a scourge. The Hawks, South African Revenue Service (SARS), wiIdlife investigators, Interpol and private rhino owners were involved in curbing rhino poaching. A delegation had recently been sent to Vietnam as an end user of rhino horn. During the year, 128 suspects had been arrested and charged with poaching. One poacher had been killed in a gun battle. He suggested that poachers were heavily armed and that it was a war where lives were at risk. They had lost 251 rhinos country wide, not just in the parks. By the end of the year this number would probably be around 300. Challenges were particularly the level of security needed.

He explained that if poaching continued at the current rate, they would begin to see a drop in the rhino population in 2012. He explained spreading the risk and create meta populations of rhino in South Africa. They had considered natural limitations and dispersal limits, and in terms of this they only took out 3.2%. In reality it was impossible to remove 300 rhinos and disperse them around the country. They were conscious of the destinations the rhinos were going to and the buyers involved. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) advised them and as soon as they were aware of any buyers involved in criminal activity and they were removed from the list

No elephants had been poached in the last ten to twelve years. He suggested this was because there was no market for ivory although poaching was taking place across the border in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. He noted that there was a suggestion that there were too many elephants in the country. He provided an example of how counting was done and how problematic this was. In light of this, their methods had changed. Culling remained an option but it was not the first port of call for SANParks in order to manage their elephant population.

Addressing the management of the jackal population, he explained that they had problems in small parks where the natural systems that control the ecology had been upset and small predators were taking control. In order to curb this, they were in a process of restoring major predators. In the Karoo and Addo particularly jackals that were picking off the Springbok population. In order to deal with this they had been forced to cull some of the jackal population. A post interception study was being carried out with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to understand the jackal and the impact better

Turning to fires, he explained that there was a war between the trees and the grass. The savannas were showing a rise in CO2 internationally due to global warming. Fires were being used as a method to cut back bush and trees encroachment and deal with the CO2 issues. Within the Kruger Park they had created firestorms, the aim of this project was to determine the desirability and feasibility of experimenting with very hot fires to address this bush thickening. In spite of precautions seven rhinos had been lost. The rationale for this method included the fact that their management of the system with changing policies and climate change had meant a decrease in fire frequency and intensity and an increase in CO2. This favoured the woody tree layer, which was outcompeting grasses, causing a reduction in savannah ecosystems and dominance of thickets and forests. This had been documented in communal lands and private lands, reserves and national parks. He noted that the method was controversial but was necessary as part of the wider eco system management.

A memorandum was received from the Tsitsikamma Angling Union, in 2004 demanding the restoration of fishing rights in the park. A ministerial task team had been appointed by the Deputy Minister to investigate and formulate a response to the memorandum and fishing issues in general. The Task Team produced a report in March 2007 in which it was proposed that members of the Forum on an experimental basis open 4 areas, amounting to 10km, within the park to controlled fishing. He stressed that they had had their reservations and that the previous Minister had disallowed the action. This issue was still being raised though. On 15 October 2010 the Deputy Minister convened a Marine Week function at Tsitsikamma and met with the community. Again the issue of fishing rights was strongly raised at the meeting and a memorandum delivered to the Deputy Minister. The Deputy Minister indicated that this and other issues raised would be looked into and feedback given to the community by end of November. There were no plans currently to open the Tsitsikamma National Park to fishing.

Turning to baboons and Table Mountain, he explained that their relationship had soured over the last year with the City. The management of baboons in the city was not within SANParks control. They had been unable to agree on a baboon management protocol for the management of baboons outside the boundary of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). The City had insisted that SANParks take joint responsibility for management and for funding in the Cape Peninsula outside of TMNP. This was considered to be outside of the SANP mandate. He noted that the issue had been further politicised by the City through media statements and through a City Council resolution in August calling for investigation into taking back the Park.

In 1999 SANParks was allocated by Department of Public Works a portion of unregistered and unsurveyed land west of Hout Bay which was proclaimed as part of TMNP in 2000. When they were given the land it was already occupied by a small informal settlement, which the City consented to. It was then agreed that on the upper edge of development, the sloot, a 15m firebreak would be established. The lower Sentinel property was purchased by SANParks with TMF funds and transferred in April 2010. Initial discussions were held with the City for the occupied portion of the unregistered land up to the sloot to be excised from the Park through a boundary re-alignment for inclusion in the adjacent City land. This excised area was later negotiated for the firebreak to be included in the City land portion as well as a buffer between developed and natural areas. Land invasion above the sloot commenced in August 2009, taking place first on City land and then on TMNP land, mainly on the unregistered portion. Joint City and SANParks eviction proceedings commenced in September 2010. The Premier of the Western Cape met with the Hangberg community followed by SAPS and Metro Police action to demolish 29 unoccupied dwellings. He stressed their interest really lay with the invasion on TMNP land and nothing else. They were happy with a discussion first in terms of eviction proceedings. He noted the need to identify alternate land for the evictees to be moved to. This had been confirmed by the High Court. They understood that land was scarce in the Peninsula and that the approach to resolving this problem would need to take this into account.

Mapungubwe National Park had suffered with regards to mining in the area. They were in the process of consolidating all parts of the park. He explained that the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) process led to the issuing of a coal-mining permit to Vele Colliery adjacent to the eastern boundary of Mapungubwe National Park, a World Heritage Site. The plan did not take into account their concerns. SANParks had lodged an objection during the EMP process; this was not taken into consideration. They were prepared to engage with the mine to discuss mitigation measures once the permit had been issued. This year the Department had told the mine to cease operations. He explained that the challenge now for SANParks was maintaining their world heritage status. UNESCO would be sending a fact-finding mission to Mapungubwe to assess the impact of the mine on the World Heritage Site status of the Park. They would be meeting in the third week of November. He stressed that SANParks was not a regulatory or monitoring agency.

Discussion
Mr Morgan he asked what SANParks role would be in the Minister’s study looking at the Parks in South African in general. He suggested that conservation in South Africa was, in general, heavily under-funded. This issue had been raised in the strategic workshop and he did not agree with Treasury’s approach of maximising revenue for these entities or that they should be self-funded. The Democratic Alliance had recently undertaken a study, which considered the problems associated with parks in South Africa. What had become evident was five of the parks subsidised the rest of the parks. There was a need for a robust fight with Treasury particularly since it seemed their funding was being cut and would continue to do so.  He disagreed with Treasury’s approach that these entities should be self-funding or profitable and suggested that the National Department would probably want to cherry pick a few parks and place them within SANParks protection, leaving a number of other parks fundamentally unviable.

Addressing Tsitsikamma, Mr Morgan noted the needs of small coastal communities but commended SANParks on holding to its decisions. They needed to find other opportunities for those involved. He asked what the difference was between the management of lions escaping from Kruger park from that of baboons escaping from the TMNP. He asked what had happened in Hangberg since there had been a turn around on the initial action taking. He raised evidence that suggested there had been political pressure over the Hangberg decision and highlighted the land and housing issues across the country in places like Ndumo. They could not be soft on these issues as it suggested that encroachment into National Parks was not an action that would receive any serious repercussions.

The Chairperson asked how it was possible that a helicopter could land on park land undetected, shoot the animal, remove the horns and fly off freely. She suggested that this meant there was degree of collusion and asked what was being done about this. The Committee had recently met with Wool Growers South Africa who informed them they were running at a loss due to the jackals. SANParks had a responsibility to sort this out. Addressing Mapungubwe, she asked how many baobabs had been removed for the mining to take place.

Ms Manganye questioned whether the killing of rhinos was not encouraged by cross border issues. Noting that the matter was escalating to other provinces, she questioned whether these poachers were amongst SANParks own members at the parks.

Mr Mabunda agreed that there was merit in looking at how conservation within the country was managed. The Protected Areas Act was a positive step as it would clearly state how much was required as a business management model. They had engaged with Treasury particularly through their Chief Financial Officer. They had lost part of their land acquisition grant due to their inability to raise enough funds for the project. He noted that biodiversity did not exist to make money and so some parks would never be financially viable - they existed as protected areas for the country. In terms of Tsitsikamma, they would always be guided by science and advise the board accordingly. He explained that there was no difference between a baboon and a lion escaping. The difference lay with how state agencies and different levels of government interact with each other. The first people to handle the situation would be the local environmental agency and then SANParks offered technical expertise. In terms of Cape Town this had been done. He noted that the city was considering one option and SANParks was asking that the city look at another option as the population required management. Simply having monitors was not enough. He understood the reluctance to manage the population due to the criticism it would create, but this was necessary. A smaller manageable population of baboons would be controllable. He stressed that it was cooperation between SANParks, provincial agencies, the Department in the province and the City which would make this problem manageable.

Addressing Hangberg, he explained that when SANParks received the land there were already squatters on the land. No phone calls had been received. The interests of conservation would not be compromised; they were still involved in the case, just not as the first applicants.

He answered that dehorning was being encouraged by the private sector; this situation would be exacerbated unless they were able to take stock of the horns coming from which rhinos. This he suggested would a controllable system. The Department as a regulatory authority was in the process of looking into this and coming up with specific control measures. The human element could not be ruled out though, even in the issuing of permits. He explained that the only way a horn could be taken out of the country was if there was a permit and yet these were in existence. The helicopter had landed for between ten and twelve minutes. They could not discount inside jobs. They had prosecuted a traffic cop who was involved.

Addressing jackals, he explained that they were in a difficult situation and trying to address issues mainly raised by stock farmers. They were working with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in order to find a solution. He explained that they were stuck in difficult space: between farmers losing livestock and organisations attempting to protect jackals as part of biodiversity.

Many species of vegetation had been destroyed through the mining in Mapungubwe but they did not know where this vegetation had been taken too.

The issue of rhino poaching escalating into other provinces could not be ruled out but they were working on all leads in attempt to curb this kind of thing.

As the had not been sufficient time to hear the South African Weather Service report, the Chairperson suggested that they would meet with them via videoconference the following week.

The meeting was adjourned.


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