Department of Mineral Resources Strategic Plan: postponed; Second Term Programme & Oversight visit: discussion

NCOP Economic and Business Development

19 March 2013
Chairperson: Mr F Adams (ANC; Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting was unable to discuss the strategic plan or minutes, and dealt instead with planning the second term programme. The meetings scheduled for the following week would be cancelled since several Members were attending the BRICS summit. It was also noted that Parliament would be dedicating a whole term to the oversight visits. A draft document had been circulated to Members listing some projects on which there needed to be follow up, but other areas were mentioned by the Committee, particularly those that concentrated on mining, economic development and energy. Members agreed it would be important to visit Upington to Prieska and through to De Aar, and investigate issues in Noupoort, as this had potential for job creation. Members agreed also that provinces not yet visited should receive visits, including the Western Cape, where tourism initiatives in particular would need to be investigated, as well as the bye-laws that were being used to close down some street vendor operations. Although the suggestion was made by the Content Advisor that the Committee should not start up any new projects whilst others remained unfinished, Members agreed, on discussion, that they did need to visit some new areas, and that the Committee would divide itself into sub-committees to cover as many areas as possible. Written progress reports would be sought in respect of projects already seen, as this may obviate the need to visit again. Gauteng was also to be visited, in particular mining areas. Local Economic Development (LED) forums were noted as an issue in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. Job creation on certain Free State projects needed to be investigated. It was noted that Limpopo was still in quite a precarious position. The Mpumalanga programme would be finalised once the Taking Parliament to the People Report was available. Members briefly discussed whose responsibility it was to monitor the follow-up after the visits, and how the Committee could call the executive to account. The Committee Researcher and Content Advisor made some suggestions about preparing a standard form of report, and this was welcomed by the Committee.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the meeting would not follow the set agenda. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) had been due to brief the Committee, but was still waiting for approval of two reports which had not yet been submitted to Cabinet, and it could only brief the Committee once it had done so.

After those reports, the Committee planned to go out to the provinces, and, in conjunction with provincial legislatures and municipalities, would engage in public hearings and generate public input.

He also noted that the Committee could continue with the strategic plan but would only be able to discuss “snippets” of it, and would deal with it in more depth at a more convenient time. The Minutes that were due to be adopted were also not yet ready.

Mr Ludumo Sishuba, Content Advisor to the Committee, said that the minutes would be ready for the next meeting

The Chairperson was concerned about the meeting scheduled for the following week, because Members of the Committee were going to attend the BRICS Summit.

Ms B Abrahams (DA; Gauteng) asked whether the meeting for next week would still be able to take place, in light of both Chairpersons not being able to attend that meeting.

The Chairperson stated that if there was a quorum of representatives from six provinces the meeting could take place. He asked Mr Sinclair (DA; Northern Cape) if he would be attending the parliamentary forum or had been notified of it.

Mr K Sinclair (COPE; Northern Cape) said he was not mandated by the committee to attend the BRICS Summit.

Mr D Gamede (ANC; Kwazulu-Natal) said he knew he was due to attend the summit but would possibly not go because he would not be in Cape Town at the time.

The Chairperson noted that there would be five permanent members who would not be able to attend the meeting, and the quorum would not be met. The meetings for both Select Committee meetings in the following week would be postponed. He said this could be taken as an official announcement.

Second Term Committee Programme
The Committee moved on to discuss the second term programme.

The Chairperson pointed out that the oversight visits to the respective provinces were not reflected on the programme, because it was stated in the last Chairperson’s Forum that there would be a dedicated term for oversight visits. This was confirmed by Mr Gamede.

Mr Sishuba added that the Committee had received a document from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that had highlighted a number of projects that were started in the “Taking Parliament to the People” initiative. The document handed out at the meeting would be used to plan follow-ups on the specific projects, in the respective provinces, that had been visited previously, to incorporate them into the oversight visits.

The Chairperson reminded Members that in De Aar they had previously visited Van der Kloof Dam, but this was not reflected on the document. He also spoke about the Presidential Infrastructure Projects that were a key driver for economic development. He also highlighted the Transnet job creation issue, the “Rail Corridor.” Billions of rand had gone in to that project. An electricity project had also been started by the MEC of that province, and he told the Committee that details of it were obtainable from Department of Energy.

Mr Sinclair observed that the Upington to Prieska area, through to De Aar, had been labelled as a “solar corridor”. The Minister had gone to Prieska to announce the establishment of a solar farm. There were also another two major solar farms in that area, and he saw it necessary to engage on that.

Mr Sinclair commented that in relation to the “Noupoort Provincial Week” he wanted to point out that there was very little economic activity there, despite the fact that it also had a cargo hub like De Aar. De Aar had a lot of economic development and should be included on the programme. It provided the province with an alternative energy source as well as the railway vitalisation, including the cargo hub. He also suggested that Noupoort, and Msobomvu Municipality, be considered for economic development. The Transnet workshop and various other economic development initiatives were present in Noupoort already and if used correctly, could be used to boost job creation.

Mr Gamede suggested that provinces that were not looked at already be considered for oversight visits, to ensure that all provinces had been visited by the end of the financial year.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Gamede on that approach. He noted that the Western Cape had not been visited for four years, and that PetroSA was quite critical of this. He agreed that the oversight visits would have to be extended into the areas previously “neglected” by the Committee. He also pointed out that it would be necessary for this Committee to work with the relevant stakeholders in tourism; the Western Cape MEC stated that tourism had created a lot of work but the industry was disputing this statement, saying that the work that had been created was benefiting those previously advantaged, but not the disadvantaged. The Committee would have to look into that and include the list compiled in Pretoria.

Mr Sishuba suggested that the NCOP should not start up any new projects while others were still in progress. He also suggested that the Committee should follow up to confirm closure on one project, and noted that he had raised this point because of some concerns expressed in the NCOP.

The Chairperson noted this suggestion. However, he said that the oversight to the previously-unvisited provinces would be a breakthrough. He noted that the Committee would not be able to open up new large projects, but would have to promote and assist what was currently happening in the provinces. He thought oversight should continue to be done by all Committees. The next Committee in the new Parliament would take on and follow up on this Committee’s oversight reports.

The Chairperson noted that the Tourism Amendment Bill was under discussion at the National Assembly and this was intended to address the problem that there was not sufficient transformation in the tourism industry.  Some people who had opened up businesses were now running at a loss, and he cited several B&Bs in Khayelitsha that were being repossessed by the banks. The informal sector was also being affected by the bye-laws in Cape Town, where vendors were being told they could not trade on the streets, whether or not they had registered, and that was something else that this Committee would need to look into.

Ms Abrahams said that the previously disadvantaged projects in Gauteng had not been reported upon.

The Chairperson said that Gauteng Province was not on the list but that it should be included.

Ms Abrahams stated that she wanted to add mining communities in Gauteng to the list, since the discussion had now moved to tourism in the provinces. She also noted that there was nothing on tourism listed under Western Cape, and requested that it should be included both for this province and Gauteng.

The Chairperson said that the Committee could touch on any topic that Ms Abrahams was concerned about in Gauteng.

The Chairperson asked Mr Gamede what was happening in KwaZulu Natal. He thought this document before the Committee did not reflect exactly what had happened and been seen during the oversight visits, as he thought the Local Economic Development (LED) forums were an issue in the Western Cape.

Mr Gamede confirmed that there were a lot of issues on the LED forums.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee must study the Committee’s own oversight reports, instead of relying upon reports that the Committee received from the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Trade and Industry (dti),  DMR, and Department of Tourism (DoT). This Committee should investigate what these departments had done and whether the issues could be regarded as closed, as part of the Committee legacy reports. There was a lot happening in the Free State too, but it was unfortunate that the representative from this province was not present today to elaborate on that. He noted that tourism in Maluti had to be looked into. In Kwaqua, there were issues around B&B set ups, as well as the building of an automotive hub. He said that for both, job creation needed to be established. He also commented that during the oversight visit, the Committee had noted illegal mining taking place

Mr Sinclair noted that the Gariep Dam was also not reflected on the programme, but that it had tourism, alternative energy and economic development potential. He was confused as to what a “PIG zone” was, as stated in the programme, and requested clarity.

The Chairperson was also not sure what this meant. He suggested that anything the Committee did not think immediately important should come off the programme. The Committee may well split into groups for oversight, to be able to all the provinces before Parliament went to recess, to do full justice to its work.

Mr Sishuba added that projects should be prioritised, and so the Committee needed to set targets, for instance, tackling a certain number of projects at a time. Consolidated reports would be presented to make suggestions to the Committee.

The Chairperson agreed and said the consolidated reports should also  be forwarded to the provinces so that they could confirm what had been done and what had not been done on the projects. This would assist the Committee, so that it did not visit provinces unnecessarily.

Mr Zibele Ngxishe, Committee Researcher, Parliament, noted that the projects were mixed, across a range of economic sectors, with some also that were not specific to one sector.  He wanted clarity on whether the choice of projects was to be guided by the three sectors falling under this Committee, of mining, energy and economic development.

The Chairperson confirmed that these three sectors should be the guideline. He asked that the projects raised in Gauteng be included in the report.

Ms M Dikgale (Limpopo; ANC) stated that in her province, people were complaining about the quality of the houses they had received in one of the projects. The Committee had been asked to pay a visit there. She wondered also why one of the mines in the area was not included, noting that the Committee had never met with the miners there, but only the traditional leaders. She asked this be included on the programme.

The Chairperson responded that it was in fact in the programme, and pointed it out.

Ms Dikgale said she was satisfied with this.

The Chairperson noted that the mine was to be incorporated again in the programme, along with other projects in Limpopo. The Committee would, in the Eastern Cape, investigate the initiatives in place for economic development and mentioned a few key areas, in line with the strategic plan, as Coega Industrial Hub, tourism in the Eastern Cape, King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality, Eskom, Kaisley and the Mthombo project. All these projects were visited by the Committee. He also spoke about the Presidential Infrastructural programmes in those areas. The visits to Mpumalanga were to be defined more clearly after the second Taking Parliament to the People.

Ms Dikgale noted that in Mpumalanga, this programme was quite chaotic and that problem must be looked into.

The Chairperson said the Committee was waiting on the finalisation of that report, whereafter there would be additions to the programme.

Ms Dikgale asked when the Committee intended to start its visits to Limpopo.

The Chairperson said that Limpopo was still on shaky ground, and this would not be discussed for the moment. He asked Members to look at the report done by the Researchers and Content Advisor. Oversight was to be guided by this document. He suggested that the Committee have a joint meeting with the Committee on International Relations.

Mr Sinclair said that his worry was that only a few months remained to deal with all the issues, and this Committee must realise that it could not handle everything by itself. He also suggested that the Committee should move away from a “birdshot” approach, and initiate four or five projects in a province. Oversight was critical, because the Committee would often go and engage but there would be no follow-through. He said that list of visits still needed work.

Ms Abrahams enquired about who exactly was responsible for monitoring and follow-ups in Parliament.

The Chairperson replied that this was the work of Committees as they oversaw the executive. However, the oversight reports must be tabled to put monitoring patterns in place. The Committee had to set a dashboard for itself. However, the physical follow-through and delivery was the task of the executive, who had to report back to the Committee. For instance, the Committee could note and report on illegal mining in the Free State, but the Minister was called in to explain the implementation of measures in relation to that mine.

Ms Abrahams said that the executive wasted Parliament’s money when it did not ensure delivery. She asked again who exactly would monitor the progress that was actually made.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had the power to engage the executive in a debate if the latter did not deliver, either by submitting a statement, or through debate.

Ms Dikgale enquired again when the oversight programme would start. She thought that the strategy of dividing the Committee was good.

The Chairperson said it would commence next term.

Mr Ngxishe noted Ms Abrahams’ comment and said that monitoring and oversight could be improved further, and perhaps it needed to be evaluated. The main issues seen during the oversight visits should be bulleted in a standard form of report, and the need for the executive to take remedial actions should be stated, with appropriate timelines. The Minister must be engaged on this point.

The Chairperson appreciated the suggestion of this report and asked Mr Zibele to prepare something for the next meeting, to account for the work that the Committee was doing. He asked Mr Zibele to be the driver of the reports.

The Chairperson noted the Nuclear Summit that would take place in Gauteng, and added that the Committee should consider visiting USA, France, Spain and Germany for its overseas study visits, in order to see how nuclear power was used as an alternate source of energy in other countries. They used Independent Power Producers and they were very advanced in this regard. The South African government was assisting in moving along this route in regard to renewable energy.

Mr Sishuba added that it would be useful to have a local interaction with university professors from UCT on the point, and the Chairperson agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.


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