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environmental affairs and tourism portfolio committee
19 March 2002
BRIEFING ON THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (WSSD)
Chairperson: Mr M. Kalako
Documents handed out:
The Committee was briefed on the state of readiness for the WSSD by the Johannesburg World Summit Company (JOWSCO). Global Conferences Destination Management Company (DMC), the company designated by JOWSCO for particular logistical aspects, also briefly presented on accommodation and registration for the Summit. The presentations were followed by a brief period of questions from the Committee.
Mr M. Kalako (ANC) told the Committee that he was acting Chairperson for that meeting as Ms G. Mahlangu was currently engaged with constituency duties. He then stated that they had hoped members from other committees would be joining them for the briefing, but only one member of the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee was present.
State of Readiness for the WSSD
Mr M. Mashishi, chief executive officer of JOWSCO, was joined by Ms M. O'Brien, executive of operations and logistics of JOWSCO, and Mr W. Riddell, chief executive officer of Global Conferences DMC, to inform the Committee of the latest preparations for the Summit. Mr Mashishi apologised for the miscommunications surrounding their previously planned meeting with the Committee and said that they would be happy to meet with the Committee whenever requested.
Ms O'Brien delivered most of the presentation beginning with reiterating JOWSCO's mandate. She discussed the expected human imprint on Gauteng during the Summit and the role of Ubuntu Village. She then explained the state of preparation for the official UN Summit. Technical and material resources had been fully scoped, and no roads would be fully closed within Sandton. Next she spoke on the NGO Global Forum and civil society. A memorandum of understanding had been submitted to the new coordinators of that process, but only 30% of the scoping of technical and material resources in that capacity had been completed thus far, though the venue had been secured. She added that South Africa as the host country was only in charge of assisting and providing the venues for the particular activities being held. This meant that the UN and the civil society and business groups, for example, were in charge of running their own processes.
Ms O'Brien remarked on logistics of getting around and more specifics of the Welcome Card necessary to be involved. She told the Committee about the Ubuntu day pass that would be available to allow South African citizens access to all that there was to offer at a reasonable cost. She then noted specifics in the status of preparations. Ms O'Brien moved on to explain the role of Global Conferences DMC and the advanced booking system in place. Concerning the hospitality industry, the Tourism Grading Council would practice quality control for the homestays programme, and the IMVELO awards would be used to encourage best practice for sustainable development in all areas of the industry. She then offered specifics on how they were conducting airline bookings and stated that scoping and operation plans for Summit airports were at 70%.
Ms O'Brien briefly commented on healthcare service plans and what would be available, and health, fire and disaster management would be led by the Department of Health. She also talked about the volunteer programme that would include tertiary institution and corporate volunteers. Concerning security, the core command technical assessments were complete. She also mentioned JOWSCO's empowerment policy that gave priority to the historically disadvantaged and local manufacturing and was committed to the environment and SMMEs. They also ensured that any subcontractors they used were in accordance with these priorities. She finished up by discussing tenders that had been awarded for managing various aspects of the WSSD and upcoming tenders that would be awarded soon.
Mr Riddell then briefly spoke on accommodation procedures and status. Global Conferences DMC was Summit-driven and was appointed 14 December 2001. He discussed their mandate in full but focused on accommodation as members had had many questions on that in the previous briefing. He said that one problem they had come across was that requests for single occupancy rather than sharing rooms was greater than they had planned for. The DMC would focus on encouraging double occupancy to increase bed availability. He finished his presentation by taking the Committee through the website that would be used to register people for accommodation.
Mr R. September (ANC) said that he was impressed by all that the presenters were doing, but he was curious of how they were dealing with the probability that the hospitality industry would try to take advantage of the situation.
Mr Mashishi replied that very early on the Minister had signed a memorandum of understanding with the hospitality industry to lock rooms for the event and to lock pricing. That had already been accounted for.
Ms J. Chalmers (ANC) stated that numbers could present a major problem, and JOWSCO could not be certain of how many would attend the WSSD. She asked how they were dealing with this issue. She also asked if JOWSCO was responsible for informing the public about how it would impact their lives.
Mr Mashishi agreed that the numbers they were working with were based on projections, but these projections were based on a number of things including attendance at other summits and interfacing with the UN. JOWSCO was working with the conservative figure of 65 000, and it was the best possible estimate currently, but by the end of April they would be more certain on the number based on studying trends generating in registration. Concerning informing the public, he stated that they had a joint marketing committee with the Department. It entailed releasing logistical information and facts specifically for Gauteng and content-based information for everyone. The marketing campaign would begin in full at the end of March, and it would include road shows to all provinces, ample media time already secured, and billboards in Gauteng.
The Chairperson asked about the inclusion of local government in the processes. He also wanted to hear more about security.
Mr Mashishi replied that a forum including all three levels of government met monthly to ensure that they were all working together. The city manager of Johannesburg was also part of their committee for preparations. He said that security had been briefly discussed, but he added that the security groups set up had completed their scoping work, and additional forces would be called into Gauteng during the Summit.
Ms L. Mbuyazi (IFP) reminded Mr Mashishi that the Committee had been upset when JOWSCO had not attended the previous meeting meant for a briefing, but since he had apologised, they could move on. She then mentioned craft markets asking if information would be disseminated so that people from other provinces could represent, and she wanted to know how they would be accommodated.
Mr Mashishi stated that JOWSCO hoped to have the broadest spread possible, and they were currently working on the issue of how to bring more people in from outside Gauteng, but he would have to get back to the Committee on the manner they would use to achieve this.
The Chairperson asked if anything was happening concerning immigration issues that the Committee had expressed concern for before.
Mr September agreed with the concern and suggested that JOWSCO monitor this closely. Additionally, he mentioned that business people in Sandton were very concerned about the interruption that would be caused by the WSSD.
Mr Mashishi replied that Home Affairs had assured JOWSCO that they were working on immigration and increasing capacity to this effect. He suggested that pressure from the Committee to be informed on the issue might be useful in getting results from Home Affairs. Regarding the concern of business in Sandton, he stated that the possible impact was being minimized, and Sandton would still be open but with increased security.
Ms Chalmers asked about visas and who was in charge of that area.
Mr Mashishi said that they were considering many options to ease the visa process on both sides including waiving visa fees and providing specific 12 day visas for those attending.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee needed to work with other Committees and needed to seek information from other Departments involved in the WSSD preparations. He thanked the presenters and said that they appeared to still be on track. The meeting was adjourned.
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