Department of Environmental Affairs: Summary of 2011 business plans

Water and Sanitation

25 January 2011
Chairperson: Mr J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs continued to brief the Portfolio Committee on its current strategies and plans for 2011. It was in the process of compiling a draft Green Paper on climate change. It had consulted widely on the issue, both with scientists and other experts as well as members of the public. Government had a role to play. Public hearings would be held shortly on the draft

Members were briefed on the outcomes of the recent climate change conference held in Cancun. The South African delegation was congratulated on its performance. It was reported that several issues remained unresolved and were deferred to the next conference to be held in Durban in 2011. There was still disagreement on the contributions being made by the developed nations. Preparations for the Durban conference were under way and Members requested to be kept informed.

Members were unsure if sufficient efforts had been made to reach people in deep rural areas who would be most affected by climate change. The organisation of consultative workshops had been left to provincial authorities. The workshop in North West was likely to be cancelled due to a lack of response. Members were also concerned about the lack of disaster management centres. With the expectation that climate change would lead to more regular extreme weather events and flooding this was an important consideration. Members were also concerned that there was a need to keep the public better informed, and questioned what language would be used for the presentations, stressing the need to make the activities of the Department more accessible. Members also noted that indigenous knowledge was useful and that a variety of people were being consulted. Members urged the Department to take the lead on climate change, and asked what level of inter-departmental cooperation existed. There were a number of issues to be taken up with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Members noted that prior to the public hearings there was a need to meet to take decisive actions, and urged that more empirical evidence was needed on the effects of climate change. The Department was asked to submit regular progress reports on the preparations for COP17 to the Committee.

Members were briefed on the operations of the Environmental Management Inspectorate, commonly known as the Green Scorpions. There had been some cases of dumping of hazardous medical waste. The Department outlined how the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI or the “Green Scorpions”) was formed, and the five categories of inspectors, as well as the work that it undertook, using both a proactive and reactive approach. A compliance campaign had been launched in October 2010, and although the Department played the lead role, all spheres of government were involved. All priorities must be put together, including health care, hazardous waste, environmental impact assessments and priority areas, with inspection down to local levels. Members enquired about the relationship between the EMI and law enforcement agents, what capacity issues it faced and when it had issued reports, the level of prosecutions, and particularly what it was doing about health care and dumping of medical waste. Hazardous waste was of concern to several Members, who also expressed their disquiet about dumping of waste in rural areas and the lack of cleanliness in some township areas. They were also concerned that tenders may have been awarded to companies that could not cope with the task. Members pointed out that waste management was a vehicle for job creation, and asked why there was not one single and standard permit. Members asked about the cooperation between investigators and prosecutors and expressed the view that it was preferable to concentrate on training of prosecutors and to address the challenge that environmental issues were not receiving enough court time. The Chairperson suggested that the moniker “Green Scorpions” was not the best, and suggested that there were some problems about the delegation of powers. The Department was asked to resolve any issues with Department of Health by the end of March and report back to the Committee, and urged that the National Department must set norms and standards. He also asked whether it would be appropriate for the Blue and Green Scorpions to work together.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson announced that the Committee would in future try to meet with all the entities within its oversight ambit, but would focus on those that had performed unsatisfactorily. It would need to discuss the consequences resulting for the President's forthcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). Members needed to review reports and respond to them.

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA or the Department): Continuation of briefing
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs, said that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA or the Department) would make some scheduling proposals to the Committee. She took note that the Department would need to formulate a response on issues raised during the SONA.

Ms Joanne Yawitch, Deputy Director General, DEA, outlined the programme for the presentations. There would be a short presentation on the Climate Change Policy Process. The DEA was preparing a Green Paper that would lead to a White Paper. The second presentation would be the background to the Green Paper. There would be a presentation on the outcomes of the international climate change conference that had been held in Cancun, Mexico, recently. Finally, there would be a presentation on the logistic arrangements for the Conference of Parties (COP17) congress to be held in Durban later in the year.

The Chairperson noted that the presentation on the Green Paper was a voluminous document. He asked that Ms Yawitch present the essential parts. There would be a proper chance to interrogate the document when public hearings started.

Climate Change Policy Process Presentation
Ms Yawitch said that the Green Paper was the outcome of a long process that had started in 2004, even before climate change had been seen as an issue. There had been wide public consultation. A conference had been held in 2005 with the Deputy President and several Cabinet Ministers in attendance. Another conference in 2009 had involved all stakeholders. Agreement had been reached on the core issues. There had been recognition that climate change was a very significant issue.
Ms Yawitch said that an inter-governmental approach had been followed. The draft Green Paper had been published on the DEA's website for public comment in November 2010. It would be in the Government Gazette in February. Many comments had already been received. The document had been updated from a scientific perspective. Because it was such a big document the DEA had felt it best to publish it only on its website. Electronic copies had been given to Members of Parliament. It had been submitted to a peer process and to scientific review.

Ms Yawitch said that there had been engagement with the public. Meetings would be held in all the provinces. The Department would be holding its fifth provincial meeting that day and would conduct meetings in North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng during the following week. The responses received would be documented. A parallel process was the identification of areas of weakness and information blockages. The economic benefits had to be explored. Aspects of concern were the costs of action and inaction and the creation of jobs and industries. The question of whether climate change would open up new opportunities or would lead to job losses had to be explored.

Ms Yawitch said that the DEA had met the inter-ministerial task team. There had also been meetings with various groups of stakeholders including Business Unity South Africa (BUSA). A presentation on the Green Paper had been made to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and a committee had been established. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had requested a workshop. SALGA felt that institutional issues were an area of weakness. More detail was needed on the role to be played by local government.

Ms Yawitch said that thematic workshops would be held in late February. Meetings would be held with various experts to resolve policy issues. Meetings were needed with educators and skills training practitioners. Seven or eight educational areas were to be identified. The National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) would meet at the end of February. Work was being done on the content of the eventual White Paper. The structure of this document had to be addressed. There would be a national policy meeting early in March, which would consider ways in which to revise the Green Paper. This would have to happen before March, owing to budgetary issues.

Ms Yawitch said that the DEA was working to prepare a draft of the draft White Paper. The process would take six to eight weeks. The Economic and Social clusters of ministries, and probably also the International cluster, would co-operate. The Committee would be presented with an approved draft once it was approved by Cabinet. The DEA wanted to have Members involved. Clarity was needed on what the role the DEA could play in the public hearings on both the Green and White Papers. The Department faced a mid-year deadline, which would be hard to achieve. The DEA wanted to formulate its own position before there was international involvement. Those working on climate change represented a tiny unit but had a lot of work.

Climate Change Green Paper Presentation
Ms Yawitch said that the long presentation on the Green Paper had been distributed to Members. South Africa had to make a fair contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This would reduce the effects of climate change. The principles of the Green Paper were to develop a change response strategy. A balanced approach was needed, based on science. Appropriate interventions needed to be adopted. Water, education and health sectors would be involved but there would be spin-offs into wider issues. Interventions would be needed to mitigate against the effects of climate change. It was estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would peak between 2020 and 2025. Levels would remain stable until 2035 after which a decline could be expected. The Green Paper would determine what the country needed to do and which sectors and policies would be affected.

Ms Yawitch said that the Green Paper would list the benefits that could be achieved in terms of job creation and economic growth. Incentives and disincentives would be put in place. The primary targets would be the energy, transport and industrial sectors. The 80/20 principle was applicable as the energy sector was responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Measures being taken by the developed countries might impact on the South African economy. There was already an example where European countries were cutting back on the import of flowers from Kenya due to the carbon footprint associated with the importation of the flowers.

Ms Yawitch said that the Green Paper would focus on institutional issues. These could do with strengthening. Government planning at a national level had to go down the level of local government. There had to be information and awareness. There were international issues involved. South Africa's response to climate change would impact on the Southern Africa region and on the rest of the continent. Measures of monitoring and evaluation would be detailed for the different sectors. Issues of resources would also be addressed in the Green Paper.

Outcomes of the Cancun Conference: presentation by DEA
Mr Alf Wills, Deputy Director General, DEA, presented on the Cancun outcomes and the implications for the Durban climate change conference. The Kyoto conference had placed legal obligation on developed countries. The United States of America (USA) did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol was also not applicable to the developing nations such as South Africa, Brazil, Russia and China. After Kyoto, countries such as Japan and Russia had felt that the Kyoto outcomes were unfair.

Mr Wills said that the Kyoto Protocol applied to less than 30% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. If the USA and China were added the figure would be increased to 70%. A key issue for the developed countries was the economic advantages that would apply to those countries not obligated to the Kyoto protocol. Under the current system it seemed that the key issue was competitiveness, and not climate awareness. Since 2004 the focus had been on enhancing the balance. At the Bali conference of 2007 a political balance had been struck. There was movement on two tracks, namely the Kyoto agreements and more agreements. A deadline had been set for the Copenhagen conference of 2009 but no final agreement had been met at that meeting. The Copenhagen Accord had led to a political agreement and deadlines had been set for Cancun.

Mr Wills said that the conference at Cancun had maintained the possibility of a two track outcome. The major elements of the Copenhagen Accord had been considered. There were three types of outcome. The first was an agreement on the negotiations to date. The second was developing a process to further elaborate on these negotiations, especially regarding governance and operational procedures. The final aspect was on elements on which agreement had not yet been reached, and that would be deferred to the Durban conference.

Mr Wills said that there had been an agreement to capture the pledges made under the Kyoto Protocol. Pledges had to be converted into quantifiable emission limitation objectives. 1990 was set as the base year. Three market mechanisms were used. There was some progress regarding land usage. Continuous use would be made of technical measurement of global warming. There was an agreement on adaptability. There was no formal agreement reached on losses or damages due to climate change.

Mr Wills said that in terms of mitigation measures, there had been an agreement to capture the pledges made by both developed and developing countries. More robust international assessment was needed. More advanced reporting systems would be put in place. Verification systems were to be incorporated and actions taken by developing countries. In terms of finance, a new Green Climate Fund had been established. $30 billion had been pledged until 2012, and beyond that the developed nations had pledged $100 billion per annum until 2020. There was an agreement to establish technical mechanisms, a central committee and a network. Capacity building would be put in place.

Mr Wills said that there had been matters where agreement had not been reached. There were political questions related to key equities. There was no agreement on the legal form of the outcomes from the conference. The choice was between a treaty or a set of non-legally binding decisions. The latter approach had been used at Kyoto. If a treaty was to be adopted there would be a question of either replacing the Kyoto protocol or of establishing a parallel process. There was no agreement on the collective level of ambition of developed and developing nations. After Copenhagen there was suggestion that the world would be moving towards a 3 to 5 degree increase, while at Cancun the aim was set at 2 degrees. The question was as to when climate change would peak. There was no agreement on how the accounting rules would be set.

Mr Wills said that a further area of non-agreement was on offsets. Developed countries could buy credits from the developing world. This would lead to a zero net effect from the measures in place. Agreement was still needed on the way to increase collective ambitions. Collective responsibility was needed on the political questions regarding where the burden should lie and on costs. There was no agreement on the comparability of efforts among the developed countries and regarding compliance. There had to be a fair share of the remaining carbon space in terms of time, access to resources and the treatment of intellectual property (IP) rights in the global interest. All these issued would be transferred to the forthcoming Durban conference.

Mr Wills continued that there was an emerging dynamic. There were two extremes to a continuum. Vulnerable countries were saying that there should be legal obligations on all countries to prevent dangerous climatic change and to support the vulnerable countries to adapt to change. On the other hand, the developed nations favoured the concept of an umbrella group. Some of the developing countries, such as China, India and the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) preferred the route of non-legally binding decisions. The situation was informed by the political realities in the USA. The American government could not pass domestic regulations at present but this situation might change in the future.

Mr Wills said that there was some reluctance to move into legally binding obligations without the commitment of the USA. There was greater confidence in non-legally binding decisions. Incremental steps could be introduced. These could be converted to legal obligations in time. Urgent concrete decisions were currently needed.

Mr Wills said that further work was needed on the Cancun process. The Durban conference would pick up on what was not agreed to. The big political issues had to be considered further. A transparent and inclusive consultation process was needed. The Mexican COP Presidency had followed a multi-pronged approach. Expectations had been lowered. Cancun was seen as a step and not the answer. There was an emphasis on the way in which climate change could damage the multi-lateral approach. There had been an extensive preparation process for Cancun. Government had consulted extensively with stakeholders. The DEA had kept its finger on the pulse. Management had played an active and constructive role. The Mexican Presidency had agreed to lift out the material issues. There had been an informal consultation process in parallel to the formal consultation.

Mr Wills said that a draft agreement had been tabled on the final day at Cancun. This had been agreed to by acclamation. The only objection came from the Bolivian delegation. There had been more reaction to the perception of a lack of inclusiveness. It was unlikely that this methodology would work in Durban.

Mr Wills said that there were implications for the Durban conference. The first few months of 2011 would be used for consultations with key parties. These would identify the issues, processes, possible outcomes and areas of disagreement. There would be an informal consultation process. Technical work would lead to operational climate change agreements. There would be a minimum level of dialogue. South Africa's overseas missions would be used for lobbying. The DEA would facilitate consultation between government and other entities such as business and labour movements. Preparations for Durban would be guided by the inter-ministerial committee on climate change. A sub-committee had been set up to investigate sustainability issues.

Preparations for COP 17
Ms Yawitch said that the logistical preparations for the COP 17 conference in Durban were under way. Durban had been chosen as the venue as it had the biggest facility. The entire conference could be accommodated in one place. This had been a problem in Copenhagen and Cancun. The logistics committee would meet on 3 February and a meeting would be held with the Durban authorities the following week. This would resolve issues relating to finances and the division of work. A block booking had already been made in the city's hotels. By 5 March 2011 tenders would be placed for the appointment of a conference organiser. A United Nations delegation was expected for a site visit in the middle of February.

Ms Yawitch said that there was a major advantage in the World Cup legacy in terms of broadband and media facilities. There was a marketing opportunity. The Cancun conference had been used as a showcase for Mexico. The DEA had engaged with BUSA regarding programmes and financial institutions. A meeting was planned with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Parliament would play an important role.

Mr P Mathebe (ANC) said that there had been no intent to reach a legally binding treaty at Cancun. All of this had been left for Durban, and there was a need to revive this plan.

Mr G Morgan (DA) had been at Cancun as part of a South African Parliamentary delegation. The delegation had enjoyed access to the negotiating team. This had been a major problem with some of the other countries such as the G8 and G5 members. Members had been included as delegates. They had co-operated well with the members of the delegation and had learnt much. Their experiences at Cancun would be used as a template for the 2011 conference. Politicians had to be a part of the process and make a contribution to selling the brand. He expected that things would get quite hectic towards the end of the year. The conference planners would need to have dialogue with the legislators.

Mr Morgan said that Parliamentarians had met with other delegates at Cancun, particularly those from European Union nations. Members had been able to give the South African viewpoint. They had monitored the process. The Cancun organisers had managed expectations. He felt that they had shifted the most difficult issues on to South Africa. It might also be necessary to manage expectations at the Durban conference. People had unrealistic expectations regarding South Africa. The country had a history of being good negotiators. He felt that it might be possible to reach a binding agreement.

Mr Morgan said that South Africa would try to market the Durban conference as a success. The political discussions would be difficult. At the end of the Cancun conference there were still issues from Kyoto on the table. Japan had stated that it would not sign second stage commitments but had toned down its attitude by the second week. The situation had been unpredictable.

Mr Morgan hoped that South Africa would make full use of its new association with the BRIC group. This presented new opportunities. The G20 meeting in France had been a critical forum for South Africa. He hoped that there would be enough confidence building by July. It would help if there could be some Gleneagles-style pronouncement. The South African negotiating team was technically strong and had conducted itself with integrity at Cancun. He was proud of the members of this team.

The Chairperson endorsed the comments made by the Members. He had also been part of the Parliamentary delegation. He had been very happy with the way that the negotiating team had treated the Members even thought the politicians had no real role to play at the conference. British Members of Parliament had been excluded from their country's delegation and had had to seek invitations through non-government organisations (NGOs). The International Government Organisation (IGO) had made a request to clarify the status of Members of Parliament at the COP conferences. They would not be part of the negotiating teams, but should be involved. There was a huge opportunity to pressurise governments but they were being excluded from the process.

The Chairperson said that the South African delegation had been held in high regard by other countries. He congratulated them for this. The Parliamentary delegation had conducted itself in an apolitical way. There had been a high level of consensus. He admitted that there had been some unhappiness over the way in which the delegation had been composed. A lot of taxpayers' money had been wasted. The travel arrangements were unsatisfactory, with a 25 hour journey to Cancun. IGO thought that the South African Parliament was important. IGO was planning to visit the country in February 2011. The Committee was still processing the report on Cancun.

Mr Mathebe was highly impressed by the consultation process. The DEA said that it would cover all the provinces. However, he asked how deeply the process would reach into rural areas. He thought that there would be no interpreters, which could lead to a language problem. Environmental issues would seriously impact on rural communities.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked how the issues would be disseminate into the provinces. He asked how the consultative process would be managed. Climate change was a difficult situation if superpowers such as the USA, Japan, China and France were not ready to bind themselves to agreements. This was a serious problem.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) said that climate change awareness was the order of the day. It was a significant issue. Unfortunately the message was not reaching the destinations where things could happen. She was from Gauteng, a province that had been hit by a series of floods. These had resulted in loss of life and property. She asked how the public meetings would be organised. She asked if radio and other media had been used to publicise these meetings. Civil society should be attending the meetings, as they were the most affected. She also asked what language was used.

Ms Ngcaba said that the DEA made use of provincial and local government to set up the consultative workshops. Letters had been sent in November 2010 to request that arrangements be made. Provinces were requested to consult the key stakeholders. Some had planned better than others. In North West only one party had indicated an intention to attend and this workshop might have to be cancelled.

Ms Yawitch added that reaching people at grass-roots level was a critically important issue. National government was not good in reaching people at that level. The question was with whom national government should be working in order to achieve this goal. Interaction with civil society was important. The South Africa Weather Services (SAWS), an entity reporting to the DEA, did have this capacity.

Ms Yawitch said that the public meetings were conducted in English. The DEA had asked their provincial counterparts to determine the need for interpreters, but there was no indication that this was needed.

The Chairperson said that every effort would be made to get all Members of the Committee to attend the Durban conference.

Mr Morgan suspected that there would be ample opportunity to review the Green Paper in March. He knew where the negotiations stood. At face value good work had been done on the Green Paper, which would then lead to a White Paper, which in turn would lead to legislation. There was still some way to go. It was frightening to see how many role players were involved. The science behind climate change had to be communicated. There was an increased likelihood of extreme weather events. Climate change could not be linked to specific events but the weather patterns experienced in January were more like to recur and would be more intense. Disaster management centres had to understand that where floods might, in the past, have been anticipated once in ten years, there was now a greater chance of these occurring every one or two years. This matter needed to be discussed. Not all local government authorities even had disaster management centres. This matter should be taken up with the Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

Ms Ngcaba agreed that some disaster-prone areas did not have disaster management centres. The DEA was looking at the gaps but had limited financial resources.

Ms Yawitch added that the second national committee had seen scientists engaging with those communities who had identified climate change as an issue. Disaster plans and coping strategies had to be put in place and be informed by indigenous knowledge. She quoted examples of the rooibos farmers in the Western Cape and farmers in the Limpopo basin. Proactive management of disaster services was needed. In Venda, fog nets were used to catch dew to alleviate the drought in that area.

Ms Yawitch said that the DEA did have interaction with SALGA. A variety of people, including  religious organisations, traditional leaders and councillors, were looking at climate change issues.  Climate change was a standing item on the agenda in regard to natural disasters.

Mr Morgan said that the DEA needed to show leadership on the issue of climate change. It was a controversial question. He asked who would direct the country's response. It fell within the portfolio of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, but it was a cross-cutting issue. He asked what level of inter-departmental co-operation existed. There was a serious message for COGTA.

Ms Ngcaba said that the DEA was playing its part in providing leadership. It led the inter-departmental committee. The Department was doing its best to work with most of the concerned parties. A meeting of stakeholders would take place on 14 and 15 February 2011. A whole chain of things would then happen.

Ms Yawitch agreed that the DEA must provide leadership at a national level. A sound developmental plan was needed. The Department of Agriculture was doing a lot of work on provisions to counter the effects of climate change.

The Chairperson noted that there was a clear programme for the drafting of the Green and White Papers. He agreed that Parliament had a role to revise the programme. The Committee would have to finish its report on the public hearings quickly. It would be important for the DEA to attend these hearings. The Committee would need to meet the Department before the public hearings, to take decisive actions. Procedures would need to be revised. The Members had been invited to attend a conference on climate change in Cape Town. It would be useful to attend this conference. The Green Paper process should start with the collection of scientific data. Empirical evidence was needed on the effects of climate change on South Africa. The Committee would give the DEA the chance to deal with the Green Paper. Inputs from the consultative process should be included.

The Chairperson requested that the DEA submit progress reports on the preparations for COP17. The Committee had to agree with the Department on the format of the reports, which should be submitted monthly. The Speaker of Parliament had asked for information. Issues of climate leadership had to be sorted quickly. Structures should be illustrated diagrammatically. He asked how the DEA should lead the nation. Every question should be dealt with by the people involved. The public never became involved with the political process. There was an issue with the language used and who was invited.

Mr de Lange said that the DEA had an opportunity to be creative. It should play a leadership role for the ordinary people. He outlined two possibilities to increase the level of interaction. The first was setting up a road show, to inform people what the DEA was trying to do, and these could be assisted with video presentations and pamphlets. The second possibility was regular interaction with the public. He used the example of the power cut warnings from Eskom that were broadcast on national television. The SAWS would be a good vehicle to disseminate information. He realised that there would be budget implications. He was convinced that the staff of the DEA would be prepared to forgo their bonuses to inform the public.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) asked if the DEA would use the advantage of South Africa hosting COP17. Sport and celebrities should be used to spread the word. Cricket was running workshops reaching the deep rural areas in the Eastern Cape. South Africa was an activist state. The DEA must go out of its way and be creative.

Mr S Huang (ANC) was proud of the new Chairperson of the Committee. Mr de Lange was making a difference. He was concerned about the COP17 preparations. Durban was the host city. He asked how much financial assistance Parliament would be given. The budget was R19 million.

The Chairperson still needed more detail. The DEA would have to go to Cabinet first. Once the report was done then it could be integrated fully. The task for the DEA was to plan the campaign for the year.

Presentation on Compliance and Enforcement Approach
Mr Sonnyboy Bapela, Chief Director, DEA, was the head of the so-called “Green Scorpions”, which was essentially the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) of the DEA. The background to the formation of the inspectorate was that there had been a compliance campaign in each of the three different spheres of government. An amendment to the National Environmental Act had created the EMI. Not every person became an inspector. Training and examination was needed. A person was designated as an inspector by the Director General. There were five categories. A Category 1 inspector dealt with pre-compliance and compliance notices. A three-pronged approach was followed, in phases. The first, which was proactive, involved the checking of the number of permits and creation of schedules for visits, after which there were then reactive and criminal prosecution phases. Since 2007 the EMI had conducted various inspections. Level of compliance reports had been created. The EMI could approach the DEA for advice on how to deal with issues.

Mr Bapela said that the most challenging was the reactive phase. This dealt with following up on complaints and compiling reports. Aspects of health care were involved, such as the illegal dumping of medical waste. Some of these cases were influenced by State entities. Mining waste was dealt with by legislation. The criminal process was a concurrent responsibility. Continued contraventions would lead to the institution of criminal proceedings.

Mr Bapela said that a compliance campaign had been launched. This had started in October 2010. The national Department played the leading role but all spheres of government were involved. The way forward was to put the priorities together, for example health care, hazardous waste, environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and priority areas. Environmental inspection had to go down to local levels. The EIA had a staff of forty trained officials. There were a total of 950 inspectors, 280 of whom dealt with water supply issues. Of the 950, 650 were allocated to National Parks.

Ms Ngcaba added that rhino poaching was a major concern.

Mr Mathebe presumed that the inspectors had no power of arrest. He asked what the relations were between the EMI and law enforcement agencies.

Mr Morgan asked what capacity issues the EMI faced. He asked when the last report had been issued. It was a very useful document. He asked if there had been an increase in prosecutions. He asked if the EMI was planning a campaign on health care and the dumping of medical waste. There was a need to enforce standards. Good work had been done on the WasteMan case, and this had gone to court. The company had come into the service chain quite late. The DEA had nothing to do with who was awarded contracts for the disposal of hazardous waste. A significant number of companies had been awarded contracts despite not having sufficient capacity. They often took short-cuts to do the job. He asked what was being done to liaise with the Department of Health (DoH) and to provide informed advice to the procurement panels responsible for these awards. Not all departments took a holistic view. The tenders were a provincial issue but not all the provinces had the capacity to discharge their duties. It was necessary sometimes to change the existing situation, and new technology was needed.

Mr Bapela replied that the third report had been published in October. There would not be a blitz on health waste. The EMIs would act based on tip-offs. In 2011 they would focus on a compliance programme. They would have to deal with both the source and the transport of waste.

Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) said that waste management was a vehicle for job creation. She asked how the process would be affected if there was tighter regulation.

Mr Bapela agreed. Recycling centres were one example of job opportunities.

Mr Skosana asked if the permits granted at national, provincial or local level differed. He asked why there was not a single standard permit. Dumping was a particular problem in the rural areas, which were dirty. He asked how far the issue had been addressed with municipalities and provinces. He commented that the DEA was doing well with rhino poaching.

Mr Bapela said that dumping of general waste was a concurrent function. It was generally the responsibility of local government.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked how compliance with legislation could be ensured.

Mr Huang asked about the 950 members of the EMI. He asked if the unit included prosecutors.

Ms Ndude asked about the level of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors. She asked if the EMI had programmes with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Mr Bapela said that the EMI had a contract to train prosecutors on environmental issues. A challenge was that court cases arising from environmental issues were not getting the attention they deserved. Time in the mainstream courts was not being allocated.

Ms Zikalala asked from where the Green Scorpions and EMI operated. She was concerned about the level of dumping in the townships. She did not see the Green Scorpions operating in areas such as Tembisa. It was important for Members of Parliament to educate their constituents. Members also needed to be informed.

The Chairperson was not comfortable with the nickname “Green Scorpions”. He suggested an alternate nickname such as the “Green Mambas”.

Mr Bapela said that the nickname Green Scorpions was put forward by the public. The unit's official name was the EMI.

Ms Yawitch said that she had previously been the Deputy Director General responsible for the management of health waste. The current situation reflected system failures. It was a competitive industry characterised by undercutting. Perhaps more care should be put into drawing up the specifications for tenders. Government was unable to enforce the conditions of the tender. At hospitals some waste, which could go into general waste disposal, was being sent for incineration with the hazardous waste. The DoH was looking into the situation and should manage it.

Ms Yawitch said that there was a Danish project under way to develop health waste policy. Tender specifications had to be addressed. The DEA had tried to engage the industry. The waste management industry blamed government. Some issues had been sorted out. There should now be sufficient capacity. Enforcement actions had made more companies wary of breaking the law.

Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operations Officer, DEA, explained why there were different levels of permits. The Constitution assigned mandates to the different levels of government. Water was the sole responsibility of national government but the regulation of air quality and land use was a local issue, while provincial government was in control of EIAs. An integrated permit process was needed. She asked what agreements would need to be in place for joint enforcement. These matters should all be put into the hands of the Green Scorpions. There were legal blockages. There was fragmentation and duplication.

Mr Bapela said that the DEA and the South African Police Service (SAPS) had signed a standard operating procedure on criminal investigations. SAPS was responsible for this aspect with the support of the EMI. Use was made of the SAPS case management system. The DEA provided an official to focus on environmental issues for each SAPS station in the country.

Mr Bapela added that more consultation was needed on tenders. It was the responsibility of the relevant Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) to appoint environmental inspectors at the local level. This authority could be delegated to municipalities. Some measures were in place to cooperate on prosecutions.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was starting its interaction with the DEA on a clean slate. There was a draft report on the unit, including cases and judgments. He was nervous that new expenses might arise. Various powers were delegated to local level but the Constitution still made provision for interventions where problems might arise. Only national government was allocated exclusive powers. Other powers were concurrent, while provinces and local government could legislate in certain matters. There was a clause in the Constitution to tilt the balance towards national government.

The Chairperson instructed the DEA to resolve the problems with the DoH by 31 March 2011. The DEA was to submit a report by that date. If no progress could be made the Committee would intervene. All tenders must be compliant. Local authorities did not enjoy exclusive powers. The national Department must set the norms and standards. He proposed a meeting with the National Prosecuting Authority. Everybody wanted to have special courts established to cater for their specialised needs. He felt that specialisation should rather be at the prosecutor level.

Mr de Lange asked again where the nickname “Green Scorpions” had come from. If the EMI was able to expand to increase its operations then the Committee would fight to have more resources allocated to it. Parliament had produced some first grade legislation but compliance needed to be strengthened. Government needed teeth to back up legislation. He suggested that the operations of the Green Scorpions be integrated with the so-called “Blue Scorpions”, who dealt with water regulation, by whatever acceptable name the inspectorate used.

The Chairperson noted that the DEA delegation still had three reports to present. However, the Committee had other business scheduled for the afternoon. He requested that these reports be deferred to February 2011.

Ms Ngcaba pointed out that the strategic plan still had to be discussed.

The Chairperson replied that Parliament still had a long discussion on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act requirements. There was huge confusion over this. Parliament's schedule would be seriously affected by the forthcoming local elections.

The meeting was adjourned.

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