Committee Report on Department of Water and Environmental Affairs 2011 budget; Committee Reports on the financial performance of the Department, Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority and Water Research Commission for 2009/10

Water and Sanitation

18 April 2011
Chairperson: Mr J Skosana (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed its report on the Department of Environmental Affairs 2011 budget and strategic plan. Members briefly debated whether the Committee had oversight over the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs when the Minister’s performance agreement was signed with the Minister in the President’s office. The majority of Members emphasised that Parliament (through the Committee) was mandated by the Committee to exercise oversight over the Executive (including its individual Members).

The Committee also considered its Annual Report of the Entities reporting to the Department of Water Affairs (Water Research Commission and Trans Caledon-Tunnel Authority) and outstanding minutes. After careful deliberation, all reports and minutes were adopted pending that the corrections discussed were added to the reports.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson
In accordance with the rules of Parliament, the Committee elected Mr J Skosana (ANC) as acting chairperson in the absence of Mr J de Lange (ANC).

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on Budget Vote 30, Environmental Affairs, dated 19 April 2011
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration.

A number of technical errors were sighted and corrected.

Members also suggested the following changes:

Mr G Morgan (DA) referred to page 2 and suggested that the wording ‘waste water’ should be removed as there were lots of sources of pollution in the marine environment. Severe pollution in the marine environment would be addressed by improved protection of the coastal environment through, among other things, estuarine management plans and the licensing of outfall pipelines.

Mr Morgan then suggested that the word ‘stagnated’ was too harsh and to rather use ‘has reduced in quantity over the last 10 years’.
 
Dr S
Kalyan (DA) referred to page 4 and suggested that the approved number of posts may expand and thus should read ‘current’ approved establishment of 1086 posts.

Ms Kalyan also suggested that the paragraph on the Department’s use of consultants for the specialised tasks to be re-worded. It appeared that Department of Environment Affairs was 100% manning and operating the SA Agulhas.

A Member of the support staff pointed out that Mr de Lange (the absent Chairperson) had proposed that the entire sentence from ‘The Portfolio Committee…section 24’ be removed and should read: ‘these findings raised questions on whether the Portfolio Committee…. section 24.

Mr Morgan added that it could read in a simpler way and that it should not refer to constitutional ideals but rather talk about rights. He suggested the paragraph should be rewritten as follows: ‘However the Department’s 2007 State of the Environment Report indicates that there are numerous environmental challenges and that the state of our environment had in fact deteriorated in respect of every measurable facet. This seems to place in dispute the efficacy of our advanced environmental regime. The Portfolio Committee is of the view that this report and its findings begs the questions whether South Africa is moving towards advancing sustainable development and whether the extent to which the Strategic Plan and budget of the Department are aligned to an environmental governance model which is synchronised with the constitutional right enshrined in section 24 of the Constitution’.

Mr P Mathebe (ANC) questioned whether the Committee had oversight over the Minister when the Minister’s performance agreement was signed with the Minister in the President’s office.

Mr Morgan replied that the Committee’s constitutional mandate was to have oversight over the executive, which included the Cabinet and its individual members. There was no controversy, as the performance agreement could be downloaded off the Presidency’s website. If the Committee acknowledged oversight of the Department only, it would not be consistent with the constitutional imperative of parliamentary oversight over the executive.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) outlined the different roles of the Executive, President and Parliament in the Constitution. Parliament had to exercise its role over the Executive.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on whether the Constitution allowed the Committee to demand the performance agreement of the Minister.

Ms P Benghu (ANC) said that the performance agreement was available for the public on Parliament’s website and the Portfolio Committee had to monitor progress on the performance agreement before it was made public.

Mr Mathebe referred to page 11 and suggested that Umtentweni Metropolitan should replace Durban Municipality.

In response to Ms Kalyan’s earlier question, the Chairperson relayed the response from the Department regarding the operation and manning of the SA Agulhas: The DEA owned the vessel, SMIT Amandla Marine managed operations and maintenance and that the Department’s role was oceanographic research. The Department of Science and Technology was responsible for funding of scientists.

Mr Mathebe moved to adopt the report and was seconded by Ms Ndude.

The Chairperson announced that the report had been adopted and would be refined by the Department.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on the performance of Water Affairs for 2009/10 financial year, 29 March 2011
Members referred to the Recommendations and asked for correction on the use of the number of households that did not have access to potable water.

Members approved the report pending the technical corrections. Ms C Zikalala (IFP) moved to adopt the report and was seconded by Ms Bhengu.

The Annual Report of the Entities reporting to the Department of Water Affairs: Water Research Commission and Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and Water Research Commission (WRC) for 2009/10, dated 29 March 2011
Mr Morgan referred to the Recommendations and suggested changing the phrase “black companies” to “black-owned companies”.
 
Ms Ndude moved to adopt the report with corrections and was seconded by Mr Mathebe.

Outstanding Minutes
The Chairperson tabled two outstanding minutes for consideration. These were dated 1 and 8 September 2010.

Members were satisfied with the content of both documents and approved them without any changes.

The Chairperson thanked Members and the meeting was adjourned.

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