The Committee requested that the strategic plans of the entities of the Department of Environmental Affairs be integrated into the strategic plan of the department, as opposed to the way it was usually done where the department presented its plan, and the entities came to present theirs separately. It was difficult to see the over-arching picture when done like that. It was noted that the Department of Water Affairs had presented a summary of its strategic plan in the form of a dashboard showing the most important indicators and making it easy to track each indicator over time. This provided a concise overview of the activities of the department and problem areas could be identified instantly. He wanted the Department of Environmental Affairs to do the same. The DEA should also report on specific indicators which would indicate whether the department was working effectively and efficiently. At several points during the meeting this point was reiterated.
The Director General outlined the goals of the department for the period 2012/13 - 2017/18 and the seven programmes of the department were: Administration, Legal, Authorisations and Compliance, Oceans and Coasts, Climate Change and Air Quality Management, Biodiversity and Conservation, Environmental Programmes, Chemicals and Waste Management.
The Director General referred to the organisational structure and said the DEA had adequate resources to implement its strategic plan. If all the posts could be filled and if the department could get the budget, it would be able to execute its brief. She outlined the planning and reporting obligations of the departments as well as the structures and procedures to ensure sound corporate governance.
The presentation was a work in progress in terms of what the Committee had asked departmental responses to. This list included government priorities in terms of the National Development Plan (NDP), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international obligations and implications thereof for long term targets, compliance with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act / Promotion of Access to Information Act, a progress update on DEA’s areas of work plus its legislative programme.
The DEA provided a response to the National Development Plan (NDP) from an Environmental Perspective. DEA’s main response was to Chapter 5 of the NDP: Environmental Sustainability and Resilience but also looked at Chapters 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 13. It said that there was already significant alignment between the current work the DEA did and that directed or implied by the NDP 2030. However to ensure 100% alignment there was a need for some re-alignment and re-prioritisation. The development, monitoring and reporting of environmental indicators was crucial.
The DEA’s response to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) included the targets and actions as related to some indicators, the DEA MDG current status and challenges. Other International Obligations were noted. The DEA reported on compliance to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) and Promotion Of Access To Information Act (PAIA) by DEA and its public entities.
In terms of its Legislative Programme: Bills currently in Parliament were the:
▪ National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill
▪ National Environmental Management Laws Second Amendment Bill
▪ National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill, 2013
Bills and other documents that may be tabled in 2013/14 were the:
▪ National Environmental Management: Air Quality Amendment Bill, 2013
▪ National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill, 2013
▪ White Paper on the National Environmental Management of the Ocean
▪ Ratification of the Rio Ocean Declaration
▪ Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
Members asked how much buy-in the DEA had from CoGTA, provinces and municipalities, because ultimately the DEA’s success in implementing its strategies depended on the effectiveness with which municipalities executed them. Members asked if and how the DEA supported municipalities in implementing national legislation and regulations at a local level. Members asked why the DEA did not know which municipalities had climate change centres and why these centres were not located within disaster management centres. Members asked how many municipalities countrywide recycled waste. Members asked what eco-tourism was and what the current status of 4x4 vehicles’ access to beaches was. Members asked why a squatter camp located on an old dumping site was allowed to continue to exist five years after a Member reported it, how municipalities could be forced to restrict the number of dumping sites and whether more thought could go into the planning of landfill sites because they were often located near rivers where people used the water, or areas frequented by people.
In response to the discussion, the DEA said it would do a presentation on environmental management of the coastal areas and the ocean, the impact that sand-mining and pollution had on the coast and mitigation in terms of pollution and other forms of degradation of the coast and the ocean. The Chairperson agreed that a comprehensive presentation was needed on the state of the environment along the country’s coastline and the oceans surrounding it. The Chairperson said the DEA needed a dashboard-type presentation tool to concentrate all its different functions into the one tool and to then track their progress through this tool. The Chairperson asked that the DEA compile a report on the various ways in which it supported assisted, cooperated and collaborated with municipalities in order to address shared goals. The Director General said it was important to brief the Committee on the areas of research in waste management to clarify the relevance of waste management research to service delivery.
The Chairperson requested that the strategic plans of the entities of the Department of Environmental Affairs be integrated into the strategic plan of the department, as opposed to the way it was usually done where the department presented its plan, and the entities came to present theirs separately. It was difficult to see the over-arching picture when done like that. It was noted that the Department of Water Affairs had presented a summary of its strategic plan in the form of a dashboard showing the most important indicators and making it easy to track each indicator over time. This provided a concise overview of the activities of the department and problem areas could be identified instantly. He wanted the Department of Environmental Affairs to do the same. The DEA should also report on specific indicators which would indicate whether the department was working effectively and efficiently. At several points during the meeting this point was reiterated.
He wanted to do the Budget and the Strategic Plan today and next week to cover the issues such as conservation, biodiversity, climate change and a half day on reports on the protection of rhinos.
He said that he had spent considerable time with the department looking at indicators and he asked them for specific information. He did not expect it to have the information yet, because it would be too soon.
Department of Environmental Affairs Strategic Plan
The Director General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, contextualised the strategic plan, by citing the different pieces of legislation which had bearing on the different branches of its work. She outlined the goals of the department for the period 2012/2013 - 2017/2018:
- Goal 1: Environmental assets conserved, valued, sustainably used, protected and continually enhanced.
- Goal 2: Enhanced socio-economic benefits and employment creation …from a healthy environment.
- Goal 3: A Department that is fully capacitated to deliver its services efficiently and effectively.
The different programmes of the department were as follows:
Programme 1: Administration
Programme 2: Legal, Authorisations and Compliance
Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts:
Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality Management
Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation
Programme 6: Environmental Programmes
Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management.
The Director General referred to the organisational structure and said the DEA had adequate resources to implement its strategic plan. If all the posts could be filled and if the department could get the budget, it would be able to execute its brief.
The department had an electronic document management system, taking over the paper trail the department used to work with. It had electronic systems to coordinate workflow as well.
The last part of her presentation outlined the planning and reporting obligations of the departments as well as the structures and procedures to ensure sound corporate governance (see presentation).
Ms Lize McCourt, COO, DEA commented that the presentation was a work in progress in terms of the list of items the Chairperson had asked departmental responses to. This list included government priorities in terms of the National Development Plan (NDP), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international obligations and implications thereof for long term targets, compliance with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act / Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAJA/PAIA), a progress update on DEA’s areas of work plus legislative programme.
Returning to the presentation, it outlined government priorities in the areas of infrastructure development, mining, job creation and the green economy, environmental sustainability and resilience, fighting crime and corruption, health, rural development, building a capable and developmental state and education and skills development (see presentation). Planning in the DEA also had to be mindful in practice of the following long term targets:
▪ National Policies or strategies such as NDP (2030 horizon), National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD);
▪ National Environmental Sectors and Sub-sectors policies and strategies such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), and sub-sector policies and strategies (such as Climate Change Policy (2011), White Paper on Environmental Management (1996) developed after the Consultative National Environmental Policy (CONNEP) process; Oceans Green Paper);
▪ International obligations such as MDGs, Ministry of Environmental Affairs commitments and obligations.
DEA initiated the process in Strategic Plan and based on above and Environment Outlook Report identified key "impact" or "change" indicators against which progress in medium and long term will be tracked.
Response to the National Development Plan (NDP): Overview from an Environmental Perspective
DEA’s main response was to Chapter 5 of the NDP: Environmental Sustainability and Resilience
From an environmental perspective South Africa faced several related challenges, some of which are in conflict. The country needed to protect the natural environment in all respects, leaving subsequent generations with an endowment of at least equal value, enhance the resilience of people and the economy to climate change, extract mineral wealth to generate resources to raise living standards, skills and infrastructure in a sustainable manner, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.
The country had to:
▪ Set a target for the amount of land and oceans under protection (presently about 7.9 million hectares of land, 848kms of coastline and 4 172 square kilometres of ocean are protected). Using the reports available on the management of the conservation estate, establish the desirability of the retention of current expansion targets on the basis of conservation effectiveness, efficiency and economies of scale.
▪ Develop a Strategic Infrastructure Plan to support socio-economic development through eco-tourism
▪ Achieve the peak, plateau and decline trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions, with the peak being reached around 2025.
▪ Entrench an economy-wide carbon price and zero emission building standards by 2030.
▪ Development and rollout a “Greening Government” programme aimed at reducing government’s overall carbon footprint associated with, at least, transport and building-related emissions
▪ Achieve an absolute reduction in the total volume of waste disposed to landfill each year.
▪ Contract at least 20 000MW of renewable energy by 2030.
▪ Convene and chair a Renewable Energy Rollout Facilitation Forum specifically aimed at fostering coordination, cooperation and coherence between all stakeholders involved in the rollout of South Africa’s renewable energy programme
▪ Institute improved disaster preparedness for extreme climate events.
▪ Stage and monitor periodic extreme climate event response exercises or simulations
▪ Increased investment in new agricultural technologies, research and the development of adaptation strategies for the protection of rural livelihoods and expansion of commercial agriculture.
▪ Establish an independent Climate Change Centre, in partnership with academic and other appropriate institutions, is established by government to support the actions of government, business and civil society
▪ Establish a climate change chair in the department of science and technology in line with the Climate Change Response Policy.
The next set of steps towards developing indicators:
▪ The compilation of a South African National Environmental Information Meta-Database containing metadata on all of the significant national information and knowledge management systems relating to the environmental management system, natural resources and natural resource quality, pollution release and transfer, land use and land use change.
▪ Consultation with Stats SA
▪ The consideration of information in the various “State of…” reports
▪ Convening a National Indicator Development Workshop
▪ Relevant Objectives and/or Actions from Other NDP 2030 Chapters
Chapter 3 of NDP dealt with the economy and employment. Green Jobs had to be created by means of Extended Public Works Programmes to lower the unemployment rate. The aim was to increase the GDP from R50 000 per capita in 2010 to R110 000 per capita in 2030. The unemployment rate had to fall from 24.9% in June 2012 to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030. This required an additional 11 million jobs. Total employment had to rise from 13 million to 24 million.
Chapter 4 of NDP dealt with Economic Infrastructure. It included:
▪ Efficient and effective implementation of the environmental impact management governance system (including environmental authorisations) for new developments / implementation of Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) proactive authorisation process.
▪ The proportion of people with access to the electricity grid should rise to at least 90% by 2030, with non-grid options available for the rest. Conservation, restoration, rehabilitation of environmental infrastructure that provided water-related environmental goods and services (such as wetlands).
▪ Ensuring that all people had access to clean, potable water and that there is enough water for agriculture and industry, recognising the trade-offs in the use of water.
▪ Increasing public awareness around the climate and environmental advantages of using public transport, leading by example, support for the use of economic instruments (e-tolling). The proportion of people who use public transport for regular commutes would expand significantly. By 2030, public transport will be user-friendly, less environmentally damaging, cheaper and integrated or seamless.
▪ Priority Area Air Quality Management – Ensure domestic security of coal supply for existing power stations through industry compact. Mainstreaming shale gas-related environmental impact management , enable exploratory drilling to identify economically recoverable coal seam and shale gas reserves while environmental investigations will continue to ascertain whether sustainable exploitation of these resources is possible. If gas reserves are proven and environmental concerns alleviated, then development of these resources and gas-to-power projects had to be fast-tracked.
Chapter 6 of NDP dealt with an inclusive rural economy, which included the encouragement of labour intensive, low impact agriculture (organic, low-tillage, low input, etc.). The development of niche export markets for organic and/or organically derived products – had to be encouraged. The aim was to create an additional 643 000 direct jobs and 326 000 indirect jobs in the agriculture, agro-processing and related sectors by 2030 and maintain a positive trade balance for primary and processed agricultural products.
Chapter 8 of NDP dealt with the transformation of Human Settlements as in creating green cities, sustainable development. The country had to develop strong and efficient spatial planning system, well integrated across the spheres of government, upgrade all informal settlements on suitable, well located land by 2030, more people had to live closer to their places of work, better quality public transport, more jobs in or close to dense, urban townships, develop a strategy for densification of cities and resource allocation to promote better located housing and settlements.
Chapter 10 of NDP dealt with health care and it had to be accessible to all citizens. Towards this goal, effective air quality management was needed and the prevalence of non-communicable chronic diseases significantly reduced.
Chapter 11 of NDP dealt with Social Protection and included food security as well as the EPWP and the Working For… programmes. Existing public employment initiatives to create opportunities for the unemployed had to be expanded.
Chapter 13 of NDP dealt with building a capable and developmental state. Regional waste treatment facility which could convert waste to energy. The system had to make provision for developing regional utilities to deliver some local government services on an agency basis, where municipalities or districts lack capacity.
Conclusions on National Development Plan
There was already significant alignment between the current work the DEA did and that directed or implied by the NDP 2030. However to ensure 100% alignment there was a need for some re-alignment and re-prioritisation. The development, monitoring and reporting of environmental indicators was crucial.
Response to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Mr Alf Wills, DDG: Environmental Advisory Services, DEA, presented on the MDGs and international obligations. The eight MDGs call for a dramatic reduction in poverty and marked improvements in the health and well-being of the poor.
The eight MDG Goals were:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- To achieve universal primary education
- To promote gender equality and empower women
- To reduce child mortality
- To improve maternal health
- To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- To ensure environmental sustainability (underpins the achievement of the majority of the other seven goals) - To develop a global partnership for development.
Current status, targets and actions as related to some indicators
CO2 emissions increased since 1994 from 258 million tons to 369 million tons. Proportion of terrestrial area protected was 7.7% against a target of 17% and marine area protected was 7.34% against a target of 10%. Number of Legally Designated Landfill Sites: the target was to have 80% of the 341 unlicensed landfill sites licensed by 2015.
DEA MDG Current Status
Information for all DEA indicators submitted to StatsSA SWG5 Secretariat. Metadata sheets for all indicators submitted. South African Quality Assessment Framework lite assessments conducted.
▪ No permanent reporting structure - StatsSA is in a process of establishing a permanent coordinating body.
▪ Unavailability of data (due to frequency of data updates).
▪ Postponement of appointment of authors for the technical and country reports.
▪ Need for adequate consultation with report writers and to ensure that information reported on and the resulting supporting text is the correct reflection of the current situation.
Other International Obligations
Slides 59 to 54 detailed the international obligations of the country in terms of preserving the Environment. They included adhering to amongst others the SADC Wildlife Protocol, the Stockholm and the Basel Convention.
Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) & Promotion Of Access To Information Act (PAIA)
Mr Ishaam Abader, DDG: Legal, Authorisation and Compliance Inspectorate was appointed to present on compliance with the PAIA and PAJA.
PAIA Compliance of DEA and Public Entities
▪ Deputy Information Officers had been designated
▪ Section 32 reports were timeously submitted every year to the Human Rights Commission;
▪ PAIA manual and section 15 list were reviewed annually and published on our website;
▪ Specific PAIA workflows tracks all PAIA requests that were received;
▪ PAIA compliance reports were tabled at Senior Management meetings;
▪ Information sessions were held annually on PAIA compliance.
PAJA Compliance of DEA and Public Entities
▪ The principles of PAJA have been incorporated in the DEA’s legislation;
▪ Templates have been developed which contains the reasons for decisions and the details to lodge an appeal - an appeal protocol was in place;
▪ Information sessions on PAJA compliance were held annually.
Bills Currently In Parliament
▪ National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill
▪ National Environmental Management Laws Second Amendment Bill
▪ National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill, 2013
Bills That May Be Tabled In 2013/14
▪ National Environmental Management: Air Quality Amendment Bill, 2013
▪ National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill, 2013
Other documents to be tabled In Parliament
▪ White Paper on the National Environmental Management of the Ocean
▪ Ratification of the Rio Ocean Declaration
▪ Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked how the DEA integrated its work with other spheres of government. Did it have directives to disseminate information to the relevant people in those other spheres of government?
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked what buy-in and commitment the DEA had from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and municipalities in terms of corporate governance, to work towards the goals of the national DEA at a local government level, because the success of the DEA in terms of environmental management depended in a sense on how well the local governments implemented the legislation, regulations and procedures to achieve them.
Mr Skosana asked whether municipalities had regulations in line with the national regulations to reduce the Carbon Price.
The DG replied that in the area of cooperative government, the DEA had successes and challenges. The DEA had institutional arrangements with provinces and local municipalities in line with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act. In Chapter Two and Three, the Act outlined the institutions which would facilitate cooperative governance.
The Minister had MinMECs where she met with the MECs of the provinces. Before the Minister met with the MECs, the DG met with the Heads of Departments in the provinces, which dealt with environmental functions, which was the Technical Committee for the Environmental Sector. Then there was the Working Group which fell under this structure which dealt with protected areas and biodiversity issues. All the working groups were in line with the department’s functions. There was a working group that dealt with legislation called CEC for Law Reforms where people from the national department participated. For local government, the DEA staff participated in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) forums. The IDPs outlined the priorities of that particular municipality and the resources available to realise it. From time to time this engagement became insufficient, and in these instances, senior DEA staff like the DG, or DDGs attended these IDP forums in order to resolve bigger challenges on the ground.
At local government level, there was no separate budget line for environmental functions. Municipalities had budgets for infrastructure, water and other services, environmental health and safety, and street lightning, Environmental Affairs was normally categorised with street lighting and had a very small budget. The budget was normally coming from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) formula, which was not adequate.
Metros had budgets for environmental affairs. They participated in the Technical Committee for the Environmental Sector structures. The DEA engaged with South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and CoGTA. Out of the desired Outcomes 1-12 as set out in the Strategic Plan, CoGTA coordinated Outcome 9. There was a working arrangement, but it was not completely up to the challenges which bedevilled the DEA’s work at the level of local government.
The DEA was involved in a forum which coordinated Waste Management. It also gave input on the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) formula and how funds were allocated for the different services. Ms Nolwazi Cobbinah, Chief Director: Pollution and Waste Management, and her team, participated in these forums.
Regarding the monitoring of Air Quality, the DEA engaged with Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), but it did not have the capacity to monitor and inspect all areas. There was room for improvement.
DEA helped some municipalities to formulate model by-laws, which emanated from national legislation, for the areas of waste management and air quality management which municipalities would adopt. However this was not enough if they did not have the budget to implement it.
The DEA would compile a detailed report on all the different interventions it was involved in to support local governments in their environmental management functions, as the Chairperson had asked.
Mr Skosana asked how many municipalities were recycling their waste.
Ms Nolwazi Cobbinah, Acting DDG: Waste and Chemicals, DEA, replied that according the latest research which the department was about to conclude, it counted 126 municipalities engaged in recycling activities to varying degrees. The department counted 29 buy-back centres across the country.
Mr Skosana said in Gauteng the Premier announced the opening of a Climate Change Response Centre. Was it on the cards for the other provinces as well?
Ms Deborah Ramalope, Chief Director: Climate Change Mitigation, DEA, replied that the DEA was aware of the fact that Limpopo had just established a new climate change centre. Municipalities in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State had also indicated that they would like to establish such centres, but she was unsure of how far each had come in terms of realising it. The DEA became aware of them when provinces reported on it in the Inter-governmental Committee on Climate Change (IGCCC).
Mr Skosana said the Chief Director said some municipalities would be establishing climate change centres. Managers had to be in charge, in other words, the DDG had to be informed. It was not sufficient to wait to be told. Why did the department not put climate change centres inside the disaster management centres?
The DG replied that in terms of the DEA’s climate change policy, it did not make provision for municipalities to establish climate change centres, which was why the response was that the DEA was informed about them as they came into being. They had more of an educational function. What the DEA knew and supported were disaster management centres which were set up by municipalities in with coordination with provinces and other role players. The work being done between the DEA and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) on long term climate change effects for adaptation would be used in disaster management centres. There was coordination and links between disaster management centres, the Weather Service and the DEA. The DEA was not abdicating responsibility. There was just no requirement for climate change centres to be established.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked what the latest news was on 4x4 vehicles on beaches. There was a time when it was a hotly debated issue.
Mr Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, DEA, replied that the Committee would remember when the 4x4 Vehicle Control Regulations were established and enforced, there was long and heated public debate on this issue. For some stakeholders, the total banning of 4x4 vehicles on beaches had been a bitter pill to swallow. It continued to be a bitter pill for them and they continued to organise and mobilise to try and motivate access to beaches again. The campaign went through phases. There was a framework in place in terms of the current regulations, and that framework allowed access in different ways and under different conditions, as well as monitoring and reporting by the DEA etc. Currently the Oceans and Coasts division of the DEA had advertised an amendment to the legislation that would transfer the regulations including some amendments to the Integrated Coastal Management Act (ICMA). As a result of this, he was sure the debate would open up again and the Committee would probably receive emails from the two camps involved. He understood the actions of the department to be aimed at getting the regulations to a more suitable place, in terms of the ICMA, instead of where it currently sat.
The Chairperson asked whether the framework allowed limited forms of access.
Mr Zaloumis replied that the framework allowed limited access, for example, if one was disabled, one could make applications to the department under certain terms and conditions. Regulations also allowed access for research officials.
Mr André Share, Chief Director: Oceans and Coastal Research, DEA, replied that for fishing purposes, if there was no other access point, the 4x4 vehicle was allowed to get to the sea. This kind of access was under strict control. People with disabilities could apply for a special exemption for that particular activity. A few years ago with the implementation of the 4x4 regulations, there was a public outcry and the pro-4x4 camp alluded to the fact that it might have had an economic impact. A feasibility study was done at the time and the study showed there was no long-term economic impact. Once the regulations were on the table, there might be representation made to the Committee again in that regard.
Ms Zikalala asked whether the term ‘eco-tourism’ could be explained in simple language.
Mr Zaloumis replied that there were many definitions for eco-tourism, but in his understanding it had to comply with two requirements. It was about visiting pristine natural places, and the tourism activity had to be socially and environmentally responsible. Eco-tourism looked at values such as whether it involved the community, whether the tourist visits had a low impact on the environment, whether the carbon footprint was kept as small as possible and whether it was sustainable. Very often, to understand what it was, one had to understand what it was not. About two years before there had been a court case in Durban, where a developer called his development an eco-estate. One of the NGOs took him to court and the court ruled that he was not allowed to use the word eco- in conjunction with his development, because it was not eco-friendly. The extreme form of what it could be was a very small tented camp in a game reserve, where waste was recycled and the area kept in pristine condition.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) said the focus on rhino poaching was acceptable but, there was an increase in cycad poaching, which was driven by syndicates. What was the department doing about it?
Ms Wadzi Mandivenyi, Acting DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation, DEA, replied that the department recognised that there was a crisis with cycad poaching. There was a National Cycad Crisis Plan that was being implemented which had been approved by MinMEC. There were a number of interventions. Last year the Minister published a ban which restricted the trade in terms of the size of cycads which could be traded and exported. The scientific authority also released non-detriment findings for four species of cycad, which were negative. This meant that further restrictions now applied for these species of cycad.
For the Albany cycad in the Eastern Cape, the department had a Biodiversity Management Plan, which was being implemented with success. There was microchipping requirements and they were also listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The wild cycads were listed under Appendix 1 and the commercially propagated cycads were listed under Appendix 2. There were further restrictions which now applied to the size of the cycads which could be exported, traded or relocated. It was on issue on the MinMEC agenda for regular reporting. At the moment there were enforcement actions underway, assisting provinces to make sure that the enforcement was enhanced. It was hard to distinguish between wild harvested and nursery grown cycads once they were in circulation. It was an area the DEA enforcement component was aware of and was trying to address.
Ms Wenger asked whether the DEA engaged with universities and scientific institutions regarding waste recycling, for example the University of Stellenbosch, which had a research unit specialising in how waste could be turned into commodities.
Ms Cobbinah replied that once the National Waste Management Strategy had been finalised, the department would contact all institutions. It wanted to establish a repository where all the information on waste research would be kept. It then wanted to do a workshop on the types of research the various institutions were involved in, because it did not want to duplicate the research. There was research which was urgent, which the DEA needed to undertake outside of the department in order to inform a number of policy decisions, and there was other research which was not so urgent, which could be done by the network of research institutions in the country, including the CSIR.
An example was land that had been contaminated by mercury in KZN. The mercury had been recovered. The waste had been sent to Gauteng for treatment. Another example was land that had been contaminated by PCPs from all of the work around transformers. Another example was illegal landfill sites. They also fell within the category of contaminated land.
The DEA was currently only building and updating its database on contaminated land now. The database was with the Department of Water Affairs, because previously, it issued all the remediation orders.
Mr Skosana asked how air quality was monitored at municipal level.
Ms Thuli Mdluli, Chief Director: Air Quality Management, DEA, replied that some municipalities had monitoring stations to monitor air quality, but not all. The monitoring stations were sufficient for the areas where there was not much of an air quality problem.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked whether the DEA had inspectors to check if factories in rural areas complied with legislation on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
Ms Mdluli replied that by and large industry complied with legislation as far as emissions went. The Green Scorpions also did monitoring and enforcement work. There were cases pending and there had been successful prosecutions.
Ms Ramalope replied that currently there were no inspectors to check for compliance to emission reduction in the different sectors. There were no emission reduction levels for the different sectors or companies. The DEA was currently doing research and analysis to establish what these levels had to be. Once this work had been completed, the DEA would come up with target levels for the different sectors or for companies. Once these were in place, the DEA would be able to monitor for emission reduction
Ms Wenger asked who did one report to when entities released air polluting emissions into the atmosphere at night.
Ms Mdluli replied that nocturnal emissions of pollutants into the air could be reported to the DEA as prescribed by Section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). The DEA then treated it as an incident. Irregularities were picked up by monitoring stations.
Ms B Ferguson (COPE) asked whether there was a mechanism in place where the DG and executive management of the DEA, could sit with the chairpersons of the boards of the entities to flesh out any problems they had, which could affect the DEA in the longer run.
The DG replied that an approved governance framework existed. The DG, the DDGs and the staff of the DEA had continual engagements with all of these entities. However, the DG did not meet directly with the board members, because the boards met with the Minister. The DG met with the chairpersons of the boards only in preparation for the bilateral meetings of the Minister with the board chairpersons
Dr S Huang (ANC) commented that the DEA had a huge workload to complete within the current financial year and the DEA would be very busy throughout. He asked the DG how she as the leader of the DEA planned to improve the relationship between the DEA and its entities. The fact that these relationships were not optimised, lead to many issues picked up by the Auditor-General in his last report on the DEA.
The DG explained that she understood Dr Huang’s question to include how the DEA was going to improve efficiency in its relationships with its entities. Its Annual performance Plan (APP) was linked to efficiencies. Procurement had been automated which made it more efficient. The way resources were used, as well as the competencies of the people had improved. The DEA’s relationships with entities were reasonable and good generally. The Minister would try to meet the boards twice a year. If her time permitted it, it could be quarterly. The DEA was trying to have more meetings in order to improve relationships.
Ms Ferguson said the DEA presentation said: “If we can fill the post…” and “If we have the budget”. It seemed that the DEA did not have resources to fund the vacant posts, yet the DEA said it had adequate resources. These statements were contradictory.
Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) asked how empty posts could be identified on the organogram, so that one could identify the skills needed by the DEA.
The DG replied that the DEA could provide a vacancy schedule and list. This would change, because posts were in the process of being filled. The structure was not funded completely. A 5%-10% vacancy rate was acceptable. The DEA prioritised which posts were the most urgent to fill, while remaining within the budget. Resources were revised from time to time.
Ms Zikalala wanted to know exactly what the functions of the boards of the DEA entities were.
The DG replied that the role of the boards as they functioned within the ambit of the DEA, was that the board had a fiduciary function as the accounting authority, which reported to the Minister, while the DG was the accounting officer, which reported to the Minister on behalf of the DEA. Legally the board was responsible for all the decisions they made in terms of expenditure. The DEA then exercised oversight so that the Minister could have the assurance that the board complied with the requirements of the law.
The board also had sub-committees, which dealt with particular subject areas, for example, a conservation committee, an audit committee and a Human Resources (HR) committee.
Ms Mnaganye said the DEA had to make sure it chose people with the correct skill sets to sit on the boards of its entities. Selecting the wrong people had adverse effects on the DEA in the long run.
The DG explained that when the DEA appointed boards, there were specific skills requirements which were defined upfront, for example there were instances where the conservation sub-committee had challenges in the veterinary science field, and scientists were needed, who had knowledge about disease management amongst the animals in the protected areas. In the conservation subcommittee, the board members would have skills relating to the content of the DEA, while the board members in the audit and HR board committees would have expertise in those fields.
When the DG met with the Auditor-General regarding the audit report of the DEA, the audit committee of the board could bring issues to the meeting, as could the CFO of the DEA.
Ms Zikalala said five years before she had reported to the DEA that there was a squatter camp built on top of a dumping site in Thembisa, Kempton Park. Nothing had been done about it in the interim period.
The DG replied that Thembisa fell under the Ekhuruleni Municipality. The DEA had engagements with this municipality, but this was a difficult matter. The municipality had to strengthen itself in terms of the sustainability of the solutions it put forward. Some of it was linked to the Department of Human Settlements and the availability of alternate housing for the squatters. Regarding waste management, the team could look into details to see what had improved since the complaint had been made (five years ago). The report would show whether the interventions had been sufficient and sustainable as well as what other interventions needed to be made in the long run.
Ms Manganye asked whether the national DEA assisted municipalities to plan their annual budgets to accommodate Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s).
Ms Ramalope replied that the DEA developed the Municipal Toolkit which had been designed to help municipalities to integrate climate change issues within their planning processes. The DEA was in the process of doing workshops with municipalities to assist them to use the toolkit. They would not need consultants, just competent municipal officials to use it.
Ms Manganye said there was something wrong with the planning on where to locate landfill sites, when they ended up being close to water masses being used by the public, like rivers. This needed to be addressed.
Ms Zikalala said she thought waste contributed towards air pollution. She asked what could be done to force municipalities to control the number of dumping sites allowed.
Ms Bengu asked, in terms of the developmental state, what support was given to municipalities to manage illegal dumping, especially in the rural areas where medical waste was dumped, in some cases near schools and places which children frequented. Environmental management skills were not prevalent in rural areas.
Ms Cobbinah replied on support for municipalities to help them to control dumps and suchlike, that there were various interventions, as the DG had indicated, like the model by-laws the DEA wrote for municipalities to deal with a whole range of issues such as waste management. The DEA also instituted a number of training interventions. For two years, the DEA trained landfill managers on how to operate landfill sites. In the current and next financial year, the DEA was training CFOs and executive directors and technical directors in the basic principles of integrated waste management. The DEA also participated in the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) programme intervention where a CoGTA team went around the country to rural municipalities and the DEA went along as waste management specialists.
The DEA also participated in a range of other projects for example the Presidential Project. The one the DEA spent the most time on was in King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality (KSD) in the Eastern Cape. DEA staff went there on a monthly basis and spent between two days and a week there. The focus there was on landfills.
As part of the intervention to create jobs, the DEA had embarked on a programme of adding capacity to municipalities. Three areas were targeted of which the first one was waste collection, which included planning routes, and doing inventories for waste collection. The second area was to employ people at landfill sites to deal with the administration that went with operating a landfill and the third area was the area of awareness creation about waste separation. The programme would be rolled out in two provinces, the North West and Free State shortly. The DEA could not roll it out across the country due to budget constraints. The DEA was looking at the towns and municipalities in the country where it had made significant investments already. All these interventions would be explained in detail in the department-wide report on the DEA support for municipalities, which the Chairperson had asked for.
Ms McCourt added that although there was action from most of the branches within the DEA, directly linking to local government, the DEA also had a coordinated effort where it made sure that the same department did not go to different sections of a municipality within a week. The DEA had a different approach with rural district municipalities than it had with the urban metros. It deployed to middle management or ASD-Level in 26 district municipalities. DEA officials assisted the municipality with matters such as forecasting the cost associated with EIAs when they looked at the IDPs, and guiding them on the correct processes. They also assisted the municipalities with implementing the Extended Public Works Programme and provided project management skills for these programmes.
In addition to the proactive work on the IDPs, the DEA also offered municipalities direct support. It had a Chief Directorship called ‘Capacity and Support’. It assisted municipalities and provinces with EIA functions such as training and skilling. It also had a pilot project in partnership with the University of the North West where the DEA funded the EIAs and it was done by the university, free of charge, for the municipality. The pilot project was becoming more sustainable and the DEA would role it out on a wider scale in the future. The assistance was coordinated and reported against.
The DEA also deployed nine officials to the nine provinces to assist with the administration and tracking associated with EIAs and it had a discussion forum where it engaged with the provinces on these matters. This would also be elaborated on in the comprehensive report.
Mr Skosana said the COO reported that 26 directors had been deployed to 26 rural municipal districts. He would follow up in his rural constituencies to verify her claim.
Mr Skosana said research on waste management was important, but practical work was paramount. The DEA had to network on these matters. Research work could be misleading, because it could be done with a computer. Research combined with practical experience was better.
The DG said she thought it important to come and brief the Committee on the actual areas of research in the area of waste management. The committee member had questioned the relevance of the research to the practical solutions to managing waste effectively. A presentation by the DEA would explain and clarify the relevance of the research into waste management to service delivery.
Ms Manganye asked how extensive sand-mining was in the country. She asked what the role of Coastal Management was in regulating sand-mining, because it had implications for ocean management.
The Chairperson said that questions on the coastline and oceans had to be held back because a comprehensive report was needed on the topic.
Ms Zikalala said there was a suggestion to invite Mr Peter Luckey to address the Committee on the environmental management of the coastline and the ocean.
The DG said the DEA would do a presentation on environmental management of the coastal areas and the ocean, the impact that sand-mining and pollution had on the coast and mitigation in terms of pollution and other forms of degradation of the coast and the ocean.
Ms Tsotetsi referred to Slide 7 on the protection of the natural environment in all respects, and asked if there was any coordination or integrated programmes between the stakeholders like the DEA, Departments of Human Settlements and Rural Development and the Association of Traditional Healers, on the availability of medicinal plants.
Ms Tsotetsi asked how realistic Goal 7, Target 7c on Slide 28: ‘Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’ was for the country in the light of the challenges of infrastructure and rapid migration in SA.
Ms Ferguson asked what the DEA’s response was to the examples of soil erosion referred to. Where were these examples, and how would it be managed?
Ms Ferguson said the Centre for Environmental Rights accused government of blocking access to information on environmental issues. The worst offender was the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). How was the DEA engaging with that report?
Items requested by the Chairperson
The Chairperson said the DEA needed a dashboard-type presentation tool to concentrate all its different functions into the one presentation tool and to then track their progress through this tool.
The Chairperson asked that the DEA compile a report on the various ways in which it supported assisted, cooperated and collaborated with municipalities in order to address shared goals.
The Chairperson said that a comprehensive presentation was needed on the state of the environment along the country’s coastline and the oceans surrounding it.
Item suggested by the DG
The DG said she thought it important to come and brief the Committee on the actual areas of research in the area of waste management to explain and clarify the relevance of waste management research to service delivery.
Ms Zikalala commended the DEA for showing good progress in terms of United Nations Millennium Development Goal Seven (MDG 7), which was to ensure environmental sustainability.
The meeting was adjourned.
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