Public hearings were held on the Geomatics Profession Bill, at which the South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO), the SA Geomatics Institute (SAGI), the Geo-Information Society of SA (GISSA), the Institute of Mine Surveyors of SA (IMSSA) and the SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN) gave oral submissions.
All the bodies, except for GISSA and SACPLAN, expressed frustration at the failure of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (the Department) and the Chief Surveyor General (CSG) to participate with the public. PLATO claimed it could only get to meet with the CSG after putting pressure on the Department, and that it had not been consulted on any aspect by the Department, prior to that meeting. They referred to a day-long consultative workshop where 120 stakeholders, including Eskom and Transnet, were present, but the comments had not been recorded or answered in subsequent drafts of the Bill and several parties complained that they had received neither acknowledgements for their comments, nor feedback. Furthermore, the calls for public comment were made over public holiday periods, with a short time for responses. The Department, however, said that it did believe sufficient consultation processes were followed.
The public submissions also outlined a number of concerns about specific clauses in the Bill. In respect of clause 1, there were concerns that land surveying was adequately defined, but the other professions were not, and mining surveyors were not defined at all. In relation to clauses 3 and 4, dealing with composition of the Council, most of the disciplines complained that the Council reflected the over-emphasis on the land surveyors. It was suggested that the Bill should specifically state that all six disciplines, as well as the education and training fraternity, had to be represented on the Council. PLATO and SAGI recommended that the Minister should appoint the Council, but the powers should not extend to complete control over the composition of the Council, and the Council itself should decide who its office-bearers should be. Similar concerns were expressed about the Education and Training Committee, covered in clause 6(2), on which it was suggested that all six disciplines had to be represented.
SAGI noted that the discipline of land surveying needed to transform and that this was happening mainly because the Department offered an extensive bursary scheme that was encouraging previously disadvantaged people to study geomatics. However, it was concerned that the timing of this Bill and some of the other aspects pointed to the ulterior motive of lowering standards, which would pose dangers to the public. For this reason, the Bill needed clearly to define what it meant by “transformation” in the Preamble. During the discussions there was further discussion on the standards of the training institutes, since SAGI also noted that one training institute in KwaZulu Natal produced graduates who were unemployable in the industry. Competency was also covered in clauses 8(d)(i) and 13(d)(iii), but SAGI objected to the use of this word, which would result in such a strict delineation of the different disciplines that a professional qualified and registered in a certain discipline could not cross over to another, which would affect the land surveyors who attended to planning and other functions currently. IMSSA also stated that mine surveyors did mine planning as well as reports on mineral reserves, used by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the annual records of companies, and the latter would be affected by the current wording of the Bill. SACPLAN also requested clarity and careful wording when describing functions in the Bill, especially in areas where there were overlaps between the responsibilities of the different disciplines, as vagueness created conflicts and tensions. On the other hand, SACPLAN supported the delineation, believing that this allowed SACPLAN to reserve planning work for registered Professional Planners, and exclude others were attending to this as a sideline. The context of having so few professionals, mostly white, in the past, had led to the overlapping of functions but now that more people were entering the field, delineation was possible and necessary.
Several instances were cited where those making submissions had reservations on, or outright disagreed with the wording and wanted substitutions. SAGI suggested that all references to the South African Qualifications Authority must be removed from this Bill, as they were repetitions of what was already in other legislation.
Members questioned PLATO’s reference to the FIFA World Cup Tournament, asked what “competency” was understood to mean by the presenters, and what the understanding, and implications, were also of the word “transformation”. They questioned if this would by default mean the lowering of standards if some training institutions turned out graduates who were unemployable in the industry. Members asked questioned the Department why it had included references to the qualifications authority, and questioned why the Department had decided to come up with a completely new Bill instead of amending the existing legislation. They requested the CSG to table responses, and asked the institutions to formulate and submit their suggested wording for the clauses that they deemed to be problematic.
Geomatics Profession Bill [B4-2013]: Public hearings
South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) Submission
Mr Paul Marshall, President of the South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO), set out the concerns of this body. He noted that the Geomatics Profession Bill (the Bill) aimed to establish a statutory council to maintain a high level of technical, professional and ethical standards in order to protect the public, and to ensure credibility for its registered members. This could only be achieved if the controlling council was made up of members who had, through experience and academic achievement, reached those standards that the council intended to maintain.
He noted that clause 4(1)(b), which dealt with the composition of the council, did not adequately address the various disciplines that were currently registered in terms of the existing Act, and did not allow for new disciplines that might in future fall under its control. Six disciplines were currently registered, collectively known as “geomatics”.
In respect of clause 6(2), Mr Marshall said that the composition of the Education and Training Committee had to be stipulated in the Bill, and must include a balance of suitably qualified academics from institutions offering geomatics qualifications, as well as members from the Council, the Chief Surveyor General’s office, the Council on Higher Education and the geomatics industry.
Overall, Mr Marshall expressed PLATO’s dissatisfaction with the consultation process on the Bill. It had lain dormant for a substantial period, until after the 2010 World Cup. A limited time was allowed for comment after the publication of the Bill, and the existing PLATO Council only became aware of the Bill after it had been in the drafting phase for 18 months. Only after putting pressure on the Deputy Director General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), and then on the Chief Surveyor General (CSG), did the steering committee agree to have a meeting with PLATO, the first and last that ever took place. The steering committee refused to make any commitments after the discussion.
The Bill was workshopped in June 2011. Although many stakeholders were represented at this workshop, none of the comments made had been included in its latest draft.
Mr Marshall said that the existing PLATO Act was working well and did not hinder the transformation goals of the profession. No reason had been put forward for drafting a new Act instead of amending the PLATO Act, which would have been much cheaper.
Mr S Ntapane (UDM) asked the relevance of mentioning the FIFA World Cup Tournament in the submissions on the Bill, taking exception to the statements.
Mr Marshall said he was not attempting to be facetious, but the Bill came out early in 2010, and he was told at the time that nothing would happen until after the World Cup. In fact, there was no further progress until 24 June 2011.
The Chairperson said Mr Marshall had to be specific about the issues he wanted changed, and to suggest wording that he would like to see inserted in the Bill.
Mr Marshall replied that the Bill was published on 5 April 2013, but PLATO had to comment on it within 14 days. When commenting on the Bill, he had not had time to go into specifics. As President of PLATO, he was primarily concentrating on the workability of the Bill. His main points were that the different disciplines had to have representation on the Council, as well as on the Education and Training Committee, and this was not stated specifically in the Bill.
Mr A Trollip (DA) said he heard Mr Marshall’s point that there had not been enough proper consultation during the process of formulating the Bill.
Mr Trollip noted also the points of concern around the composition of the Council and Education and Training Committee, but questioned if these issues had been raised, during the meeting between PLATO and the Deputy Director General and CSG, and, if so, what the response had been.
Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) wanted clarity on whether Mr Marshall was invited to attend the workshop on 24 June 2011.
Mr Ntapane said Mr Marshall and the other professional bodies had to understand that they were asked for contributions to enrich the Bill, and could not expect a fundamental change to suit the Bill to what exactly they wanted and it was unreasonable to expect to have every proposal addressed in the Bill.
Mr Ntapane asked whether new disciplines that were mentioned could not be accommodated, in future, by way of amendments to the Bill.
The Chairperson said he had understood that the DRDLR attempted to facilitate public participation, but Mr Marshall was querying the quality of that participation.
Mr Marshall replied that there may have been public participation, but there had been no consultation in the true sense of the word over the last eight years. He had submitted comments in the past. He never received any acknowledgement of receipt, or response to the comments. If his proposed changes were not included, he wanted to know why. He felt he was not being heard. He strongly felt there should have been consultation with him as the President of the existing council, because he was aware of the pitfalls and difficulties of running a council. Nobody ever asked him how the Bill would be implemented in real life. This, he felt, would have been genuine consultation. He was frustrated.
He also noted that a previous version of the Bill had been workshopped, in a day-long workshop attended by 120 stakeholders, including Eskom and Transnet. Nobody recorded what the stakeholders had said, and the present Bill, published two or three weeks ago, reflected none of the proposals made at that workshop. Although there were changes to the wording, they were insignificant and did not address the content.
Mr Trollip said the Committee had to be assured of the integrity of stakeholder engagement processes. The purpose of this process was to enrich the legislation. He was highly concerned about Mr Marshall’s statement that there was no record of the Department’s interaction with 120 stakeholders, and that none of the recommendations made during that interaction were reflected in the current form of the Bill. The Members needed to be convinced that real consultation had taken place, because the Committee assumed that a thorough process had been followed, with integrity. He asked the CSG specifically if the submissions were recorded and considered. The public was also a stakeholder, and he cautioned that any piece of legislation must take into account the public’s concerns, and that no legislation should reflect only the interests of the relevant department.
SA Geomatics Institute (SAGI) Submission
Mr Peter Newmarch, President, SA Geomatics Institute (SAGI), noted that SAGI was a voluntary organisation for registered persons working in the fields of land surveying, photogammetry, remote sensing, town planning, geographical information Systems (GIS) and land management. The Bill would have a direct impact on SAGI members.
Mr Newmarch claimed that the drafters of the Bill seemed to have shown little understanding of who PLATO was, as the Bill consistently used the acronym “SACPTS” to refer to the current Council, whereas anyone who had thoroughly researched the profession and its needs before drafting the Bill would have realised that the Council was generally referred to as “PLATO”.
Mr Newmarch said that in February 2013, the DRDLR had answered concerns raised in a previous meeting by the Portfolio Committee Members about the bursary students and their performance, and a report on the scarce skills training programme that DRDLR was running. The report stated that the geomatics profession was still not fully representative of the demographics in the country, and “required transformation”. He said that this begged the questions of who had responsibility for bringing people into the profession and financing them, and what was the purpose, core functions and responsibilities of the geomatics profession.
He noted that achievement of demographic transformation depended on black students studying geomatics. In general, those students would need bursaries to help them study. It was therefore the funding of students that led to transformation of the profession. The State was thus the largest influence in changing the demographics of a profession, not the legislation governing a profession. The purpose of legislation was to regulate the profession, and to protect the public.
The Department’s bursary scheme and the Government’s Student Grant Scheme had altered the demographics of the profession. This raised serious questions about the motivation behind this Bill, and what was meant by “transformation” in the context of a profession. He claimed that academic qualifications, funding of the Council, rationalisation of the categories of surveyors, work reservation and disciplinary procedures had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with demographic transformation. If the Government maintained that “transformation” was indeed necessary in these categories, then it had to explain what it meant. “Transformation” surely could not mean lowering standards and endangering the public. Standards of best practice, standards of knowledge, and standards of conduct were non-negotiable and relevant, irrespective of whether the geomatician was black, white or Indian. The mention of “transformation” in this context seemed to suggest that standards were too high and needed lowering. SAGI, on the other hand, felt that standards were too low already.
If the Bill was not intending to use “transformation” as relating to standards, then it was assumed that the composition of Council was the “transformation” matter. While there were already numerous excellent black, coloured and Indian surveyors in the geomatics profession, they had refused to serve on the Council when they were approached to do so. The Council rejected the notion that people had to be forced to serve time on a Council, and felt that if they did not stand of their own free will, it was not transformation.
SAGI would submit, contrary to what the DRDLR had claimed, that the geomatics profession was further ahead in the transformation of the profession than any other profession in South Africa. Furthermore if the retirement age of 60 for surveyors was factored in, together with the rate at which new graduates were entering the profession, the ‘non-white’ male percentage would dramatically increase, as about 1 026 people were likely to retire over the next 10 years. If academic institutions maintained their current student graduate numbers, currently totalling, in combination, about 158 students per year, the overall situation in ten years from now would be a profession that had about 2 850 registered persons, with 318 as white males and 89% as “non white”.
In summary, Mr Newmarch asked that the DRDLR be asked to explain, and to define in the Bill, what it meant by “transformation”.
Mr Newmarch then moved on to describe the key concerns on the clauses of the Bill.
He noted that clause 2(a) did not adequately cover what geomaticians did. Mine surveying engineering surveyors were not fully accounted for in this definition. Land management was not mentioned at all.
Clause 2(c)(i) had to be removed, in line with his comments on transformation. He pointed out that if things happened as he had predicted, the Council may well sit, in 2023, with the situation that it was “over-transformed” and he questioned if then the Council would bring in measures to promote and protect white people.
Mr Newmarch suggested that there was no need for clause 3(3). The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act already required all professional bodies to register. SAGI was surprised that this Bill was passed by the State Law Advisor, as it was considered bad legal practice to double-legislate, and this was simply a duplication of what was already in other legislation.
In relation to clause 4(8), SAGI felt that for the Council to function properly on a day to day basis, the chairperson should not be a member in the employ of the state. (Note: Mr Newmarch later changed his position in this regard and agreed with Mr Marshall that the Council itself should elect the office bearers, after the Minister had appointed the Council).
He said that clause 4(9) was problematic, as it was a very subjective assessment as to when a person could or could not perform duties, the wording was too vague and arbitrary, and specific timeframes had to be stated.
SAGI also suggested that clause 13(2)(a) was presently worded to require “supervision” of a registered person, but noted that “supervision” was not defined in the Bill, and that it should be.
Mr Newmarch echoed the concerns of PLATO, saying that SAGI was dissatisfied with being given only 14 days in which to comment on the Bill, as the time was far too short. It had also been concerned, as in the past, that comments to the DRDLR would be dismissed or ignored.
Mr Trollip said the DRDLR had to take note of the view expressed on definitions of what geomaticians did, and added that technical matters had to be taken into account. He noted that land management was not mentioned, for example, and he felt that it was important. Some clauses clearly needed re-wording. He asked whether the Department was amenable to looking again at some of the wording, and at what needed to be included, in consultation with the professional bodies.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked why SAGI was suggesting that there was a need for a full-time chairperson of the Council, given that the Bill provided for an alternate and deputy chairperson. She also asked for further clarity on his concerns about the wording.
Mr Newmarch replied that, for the Council to perform according to the Bill, there were certain functions and duties that the Minister had to perform. Other legislation often used the phrase “the Minister must nominate” or “the Minister must publish”. However, there were rarely time limits prescribed for such actions, and this led to non-delivery and delays around what should be done. He said that geomaticians and land surveyors dealt with legislation regularly. He himself had experienced projects that had sometimes gone on for six to seven years, as a result of these delays, and he was insistent that the Bill must be more specific on the time frames. The Bill also said that if the chairperson could not perform the duties, the deputy or alternative chairperson had to perform the duties, but he was questioning at what point in time the alternate or deputy might take over. The Bill should be more specific also at what point the chairperson was regarded as unable to perform the functions.
The Chairperson said that judges used the term “reasonable”, and perhaps the Council should rather agreed, for itself, on what it would regard as “reasonable”, instead of asking the Minister to legislate for something rigid, such as fourteen days.
Mr Newmarch replied that the profession also needed reassurance. Hopefully, questions could be dealt with through the Registrar. In his experience there were lots of delays, and it was possible to have to wait for a year or two before getting approvals from the Minister, because no time limits were currently stipulated. There were real concerns around timing, but it could be addressed by way of the Council, as the Chairperson suggested.
The Chairperson asked who made the rules of the Council.
Mr Newmarch replied that the Council made the rules, but they had to be sent to the Minister for approval. He said SACPLAN’s rules were sitting with the Minister for approval, but they had not yet been gazetted, and reiterated that although a Council could often attend to matters quickly, it could be a number of years before something was gazetted.
Mr Trollip said he was concerned about Mr Newmarch’s statement that the drafters apparently failed to understand the position of PLATO, given that it had used the wrong acronym for it, which indeed seemed to indicate a disjuncture or oversight on the part of the Department that there was an existing body, with existing legislation. He had received the impression, from the submission, that there were concerns that the new Council might not be able to function in line with the very important aspects of rules, conduct, integrity, honesty, and discipline, and asked Mr Newmarch to clarify why he felt that the Bill did not adequately cover this and why it apparently failed to protect fundamental ethical and governance principles.
Mr Trollip also said that Mr Newmarch had expressed a concern that the cadastral system could be compromised, and asked why the current Bill was seen as a threat, and why there was a fear that transformation would lead to lowering of standards. Furthermore, Mr Newmarch referred in the written presentation to concerns around the qualifications of students, particularly in maths, and asked him to elaborate on why he thought that qualifications could compromise the ethical standards and integrity of the profession.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked why there was so much discomfort about transformation, as mentioned in clause 2(c)(i) of the Bill.
The Chairperson said the issue was really not about numbers. Ten years down the line, 89% of the profession would be black, but he questioned how this could be described as “over-transformation”.
The Chairperson also referred to Mr Newmarch’s references to preserving the integrity of the profession, and said that it was clear he was worried about lowering standards. He asked that Mr Newmarch be more specific, by pointing out the clauses which created discomfort.
Mr Newmarch replied that, as a white South African, he regarded the word “transformation” as changing the demographics, as depicted in the media. If “transformation” meant measuring the changing demographics, he had no problem, as this had to happen. However, it was necessary also to ask what was the role of the profession. The profession was grateful to the Department for providing bursaries, because it was the people coming into the profession who changed the demographics. The PLATO also gave bursaries, but not as many as the department, so it was DRDLR who was effectively allowing for the means for meaningful transformation on a demographic level.
He noted that he was quite pleased with a previous submission the Department made on transformation, although it had then not used that word, but referred instead to updating, modernising, and fixing problems, which to him were relevant and the reasons why the Bill existed in the first place. He saw transformation as being purely related to the demographic issues, but modernising, updating and fixing problems would be used for other matters. South African apartheid history created a racially-skewed society and this did need to be fixed. He pointed out that the profession would probably be the first to be “transformed” but he was concerned that the Bill did not say whether “transformation” was used in the context of demographics, or in the context of modernising and updating.
He noted that the profession itself was there to provide for standards, requirements for registration and other issues. There was a danger of standards being undermined. It was hard to become a land surveyor. Practitioners offered articles to students. Many member employers said that the standards at some academic institutions were so low that their graduates were unemployable. The profession’s view was that standards at universities had dropped tremendously. It was trying to find out why this was the case.
The Chairperson responded that three institutions offered land surveyor qualifications; namely, Universities of Cape Town (UCT), Natal and KwaZulu Natal (KZN). He asked if Mr Newmarch was suggesting that the KZN institutions were qualifying people who lacked the knowledge and skills to be employed after graduation. He also asked if it was suggested that transformation was the cause of dropping standards.
Mr Newmarch responded that the profession had suggested to PLATO that the accreditation of one of the KZN institutions had to be withdrawn, because they were not qualifying students at the correct levels, and their students were taught only the basics, but given no in-depth knowledge. The other KZN institution managed to turn out acceptably knowledgeable and skilled graduates.
Mr Newmarch said there were some students doing a degree course in land surveying, and there were other students at Universities of Technology who were doing a technical degree. This meant that there were therefore educationally lower output levels. They then had to do their articles, graduated into the profession, and were registered at a certain level, and then should progress after a number of years to another level. However, the statistics showed that a growing number of people were stagnating at one level and were unable to progress to the next level. This, in his view, was simply due to the fact that their competency was not at the required level.
He answered the question of how this related to transformation by saying that it was his feat that unless “transformation” was defined, it could be used to suggest that the criteria to graduate to the next level were too high and had to be lowered, and he had already referred to lowering of standards. People from other professions like engineering were also complaining that students from certain academic institutions were not being trained adequately. He reiterated his question whether ‘transformation’ meant that the standards had to be lowered.
The Chairperson said there were two separate issues. Rules were made by the Council, not by the Minister. Firstly, Council had to engage with the institutions where the standards were too low, because that was its domain. Secondly, the Portfolio Committee should define what was meant by transformation but the issues had to be separated. He agreed that standards had to be maintained.
The Chairperson said he would be concerned if it was found that the DRDLR was spending money, in the form of bursaries, only to find at the end of the training that the students were unemployable. He made the point that it was not uncommon in other professions that people may qualify but then stay at a certain level, such as the police, nursing and other professions. Not everyone wanted to, or did progress to managerial level. He agreed, however, that the identified problem within the geomatics profession had to be solved.
Mr Newmarch added that the Council was actively engaging the universities on the issue of standards.
The Chairperson said the Committee could assist the Council in this process by bringing the professional bodies and the training institutions together.
Ms Ngwenya–Mabila agreed that the new legislation had to take into account the existing legislation. She asked for more clarity on why it was suggested that the references to SAQA should be removed.
Mr Newmarch replied that it was a poor principle to “double-legislate”. There was already legislation on SAQA. Clause 8(d)(i) of this Bill read that: “The Council, in exercising its powers and performing its duties, … must consult with the relevant quality council referred to in Chapter 5 of the National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008 (Act No 67 of 2008) and the voluntary organisations, to determine the competency standards relevant to the geomatics profession.”
The Council was of the firm view that, as with other professions, it was the Council itself that had to determine competency, so that the profession kept a handle on what the person must be competent to perform, and what academic training was needed to reach the competency. The wording in the Bill implied that Council had to reach agreement with SAQA on what the competencies within the profession must be, and disagreed on that principle. SAQA should not have a say in the matter, and it should play no part in determining the competency level. In fact, it was the profession, through the Council, who should dictate to SAQA what the competency levels had to be, following which SAQA would then sit down with the academics and design a course that would deliver graduates with the requisite skills.
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Newmarch was not contradicting himself. Earlier on in his presentation, he said that when new technology was introduced, the Council would tell SAQA to upgrade the training to include the new technology.
Mr Newmarch replied that the way the Bill was worded meant that the Council would have to take account of what SAQA had to say.
The Chairperson said the Council could approach SAQA to upgrade its qualifications. SAQA equally could approach the Council when it felt that the Council’s standards had dropped and needed adjustment. This was one way to make sure that one party could intervene when the other one allowed standards to slip. He was happy that the profession was so adamant that it would not allow its standards to drop. However, he maintained that both the profession and SAQA had to have a say in determining the curriculum.
Mr Newmarch said land surveyors performed many other functions, apart from what was formally defined as geomatics. There was fear, in the profession, that this Bill could limit what geomatics professionals were competent to do, as there had already been fights amongst the different disciplines about who should be allowed to do what. Geomatics professionals did not like the word “competency”. The SAQA Act stated that Council had to engage with SAQA. The fears that he mentioned would probably be allayed if the word “competency” was removed. He furthermore stated that the rights of land surveyors, as a group, were protected in the Constitution, and pointed out that land surveyors had been practising their craft since pre-Egyptian times. He questioned if this Bill would allow land surveyors to continue operating as they had done until now, or whether they would be restricted to performing certain functions only.
The Chairperson said that the rules were determined by Council, and so Council had to make sure that standards were maintained and improved all the time.
Mr Newmarch replied that the definition of “transformation” would affect two councils that the DRDLR oversaw, namely the Council for Geomatics and South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN). He wondered if “transformation” could be extended to allow this principle to be called into play to attempt to resolve any turf wars between planners and surveyors. Again, he reiterated that many of the concerns could be resolved by assigning a clear definition to the word “transformation”.
The Chairperson referred to the concerns as raised by both Mr Marshall and Mr Newmarch about the level of control that the Minister would have over the Council referred to in the Bill. Mr Marshall said the Minister, according to the Bill, had the power to appoint all the members of the Council, and suggested that the Council should have the power to elect its own office bearers, whereas Mr Newmarch proposed that the Chairperson must not be a government employee.
Mr Newmarch withdrew his earlier proposal, to align himself with Mr Marshall’s proposal that the Council itself should appoint its own office bearers.
Geo-Information Society of SA (GISSA) Submission
Mr Morena Letsosa, Representative, Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA), said that this Society had several proposals on the Bill.
In relation to definitions, he suggested that the term “Geospatial Information Science (GISc)” needed to be clearly defined.
He suggested that the definition of “geomatics practitioner” had to be amended. It was currently biased towards the surveying profession. He proposed the following wording:
“geomatics practitioner means a person who exercises skills and competencies in the science of measurement and/or the collection, assessment and application of geographic information for the efficient management of land, the sea and structures thereon and therein, as contemplated in section 2(a), and who is registered in one or more of the branches of geomatics and in one or more of the categories contemplated in section 13(4)(b), (c) and (d)”.
He added that although there was a definition for a professional land surveyor, the Bill also needed to include a definition of a professional GISc practitioner. Furthermore, education in the GISc field should be recognised as a field of specialisation and teachers or lecturers in this field had to be represented on the councils and committees governing the profession.
He proposed amendments to clause 2 (a)(iv), to read: “…the design, development, establishment and administration of geospatial technologies (such as geographic information systems and remote sensing) and the collection, storage, analysis, visualisation and management of geo-spatial information.”
He further proposed that the composition of the Bill’s new Council had to be representative of the different disciplines, had to include a person from the GIS sector, a minimum of one from GISSA, and should specify the inclusion of representatives from both the public and the private sectors.
He questioned what would happen to the registration of GISSA members under PLATO, when this Bill was passed into law.
He also noted that clause 13(2)(a) contained a “grandfather clause” which favoured people with existing links to the industry above previously disadvantaged people.
Other concerns were set out in writing in the presentation (see attached document).
There was no discussion on this submission.
Institute of Mine Surveyors of SA Submission (IMSSA)
Mr Donovan Andersen, President, Institute of Mine Surveyors of SA (IMSSA) noted that mine surveying was a branch of mining science and technology. It included all measurements, calculations, and mapping that served the purpose of ascertaining and documenting information, at all stages from prospecting to exploitation and utilising mineral deposits, both by surface and underground working. The presentation further outlined the principal activities of a mine surveyor (see attached documents for details).
IMSSA was established in 1923, and gave advice to the State, industry and academia. It had 444 members across three branches, as well as abroad, and the common purpose of the members was the health of the mining industry. IMSSA was an integral part of the mining industry in South Africa, having links with PLATO, the International Society for Mine Surveying, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, SAQA and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), amongst others.
Mr Andersen said that IMSSA shared the concerns that the Bill, in its current form, was too focused on the land surveying profession and failed to adequately describe any of the other geomatics professions, including the Mine Surveying profession. IMSSA suggested that the six voluntary associations should sit down together to amend the definitions so that the professional principles were properly defined and fully representative across the broader scope of the new Council.
Further to this point, he then referred to Chapter 3, clause 13(2)(b), reading out the wording and saying that it was written exclusively to cater for professional land surveyors. That exclusive reference to the professional land surveyor must either be withdrawn, or a specific mention of a “professional mine surveyor” must be included, so that there was a clear definition of the boundary of responsibilities between the two branches.
Once again, there was disproportionate representation of professional land surveyors in the new Council, clause 4(1)(b)(i) and (ii).
IMSSA referred to clause 4(7), and said that whilst IMSSA recognised the powers of the Minister to appoint the chairperson, a deputy chairperson and an alternate chairperson to the Council, it nonetheless believed that this should be done only after the Council itself had submitted nominations to the Minister. It shared other parties’ concerns that the Chairperson should not be a state representative. IMSSA suggested that the following wording be substituted: “The Council will elect and nominate to the Minister, from members of Council, the chairperson, a deputy chairperson and an alternate chairperson, whereupon the Minister shall ratify and appoint these office bearers”.
He also added that better representation would be achieved by incorporating one geomatics professional to be nominated by each of the six recognised voluntary associations. This could be done by amending clause 4(1)(b)(i) to exclude the reference to professional land surveyors.
Mr Andersen, like other presenters, expressed his dissatisfaction with the process of consultation followed by the DRDLR. He also noted that despite the fact that IMSSA had made submissions to the DRDLR on 16 January and 6 February 2006, on an earlier draft, as well as 17 June 2011, none of its contributions appeared to have been taken into consideration in any of the revisions of the draft Bill.
Mr Trollip said the presentation was well set out, and the concerns of IMSSA were fair and understandable. He asked what the DRDLR had done to respond to fair requests and concerns. It was clear that there were numerous, and largely consistent concerns about the composition of the new Council, and if there had been proper interaction between the stakeholders and the DRDLR, they were likely to have been resolved.
The Chairperson said the IMSSA’s submission raised another concern, that the person appointed to char the new Council should not be a state employee. He questioned then what real role remained with the Minister if he was unable to change, amend or reject anything the Council had decided, and if this suggested that the Minister needed not to play any role at all.
Mr Andersen replied that his presentation was suggesting that the person appointed as chair of the new Council should not automatically be a state representative, and pointed out that since the current wording of the Bill was that the Minister had to appoint a chairperson, it was most likely that a state employee would be appointed to this position. The State was therefore effectively “acting as judge, jury and executioner”. If the Council itself nominated the office bearers, the Minister still would have to ratify the appointments, so there still was a role for the Minister to play.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked how the Bill affected the livelihood of members of IMSSA.
Mr Nape Mojapelo, Vice President, IMSSA, replied that currently, when a company did prospecting and mining rights applications, it needed a plan. This plan had, up till now, been done by mine surveyors. The Bill, in its current form, did not recognise this group of professionals, although he assumed that this was an omission and was not intentional.
Mr Alex Bals, Member and past President of IMSSA, added that the current practice in large mining companies was that both land surveyors and mine surveyors were used in the prospecting and mining rights applications. The mine surveyor would certify the integrity of the application in terms of the mineral rights, and the land surveyor would confirm that the cadastral information on which the plan was based was in order. All plans were signed by both the land and mine surveyors. IMSSA needed clarification on whether this position would remain, when the Bill was passed.
Mr Bals noted that the mine surveyors profession also faced a second threat, in the planning space. Currently, mine surveyors were required to register with PLATO as a pre-requisite for recognition by the Stock Exchange as a competent person to report on mineral resources or reserves. These registrations were reflected in the annual statements of mining companies, which were circulated to companies and investors. Registration with PLATO was done to ensure that mine surveyors could be disciplined if they got things wrong. If the Bill compromised the ability of mining surveyors to continue to register with PLATO, they may well lose out to other professions doing mine planning, like mining engineers. Mine surveyors shared the space with mining engineers. In South Africa, however, the mining surveyors were unique in the sense that they had for a long time been responsible for mine planning, scheduling and design, which resulted in statements to the auditors, in contrast to other countries, where this function was the domain of mining engineers.
SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN) Submission
Mr Tshisa Madima, Deputy Chairperson, South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) noted that this Bill was similar to the Planning Professions Act (Act 36 of 2002), in that both pieces of legislation aimed to regulate town and regional planning, and land surveying.
In general, SACPLAN welcomed the Bill, but was concerned about the potential conflict caused by overlapping interests and professional responsibilities contained in the Planning Professions Act and this Bill.
He noted, in relation to clause 2(a)(iii), that this referred to determining boundaries of land and land use, and this was an area of overlap between the geomatics profession and the planning profession, and a possible cause of conflict. SACPLAN asked for clearer delineation of functions for the different disciplines as well as a tightening up of the definition, leaving less space for operating outside of the strict prescriptions.
Mr Madima noted that although the professional body for land surveyors, SAGI, had been very vocal in its opposition to planning functions being reserved to registered professional planners, SACPLAN did not agree and supported the way in which the Bill reserved this work.
Mr Madima, although he was not as strongly critical of the consultation process as other presenters, noted that the time given to comment on the Bill was very short. Furthermore, because there were two public holidays and a long weekend, this made it difficult for the institutions and bodies to contact people who could inform SACPLAN of appropriate responses.
Mr Ntapane asked how SACPLAN was proposing that clause 2(a)(iii) should be re-worded.
Mr Peter Dacomb, Council Member, SACPLAN, responded that SACPLAN was suggesting that the reference to “planning” should be removed from clause 2(a)(iii). Furthermore it was suggested that clause 2(a)(iv) should not contain any references to GIS, as he was not sure that they were properly placed here. The Bill had a cadastral, rather than a geomatics base.
Mr Martin Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, SACPLAN, added that it would be necessary to re-look at both sub-clauses to see whether planning, as a function, should be addressed in those clauses.
Mr Trollip said there was apparently a symbiotic relationship between planning and surveying. He questioned how the DRDLR had dealt with this issue and made the point that if there had been substantial interaction surely this issue would have come to the fore much sooner and been clarified. He noted that the fact that these concerns were being raised only now that the Bill was already before Parliament indicated poor interaction between the Department and the stakeholders.
The Chairperson said that both Mr Newmarch and Mr Modima had addressed the issue of competencies. Mr Modima was of the view that the apartheid history in South Africa meant that black people would not practice the geomatics professions, and so the skills were consequently in short supply and overlaps were necessary and proliferated. However, now that the different disciplines were all attracting more entrants, they were to be delineated more specifically, and this meant that the default position of overlapping would change. In other words, each discipline would have a function and stick to it, so that, for instance, surveyors would not be able to submit plans, as this would henceforth be a function residing with the planners. Clients would hire entities for rendering services according to whether they had proven competencies to render the services. However, this was not to suggest that the Bill was “inventing” delineation as, although it would be covered by the Bill, it was essentially something that the market would decide.
Mr Madima said GISc was a tool used by many professions, for example sociologists, to manipulate information. He submitted that it was dangerous to put it in the Bill under the guise of geomatics.
Mr Andersen commented on the statement that GISc was a tool, and said that in fact that there were two sides to the story. On the one hand, GISc and geoscience were tools, but on the other hand it was also a recognised profession. He used the analogy of a car, which was a tool, but the person driving the car firstly needed a licence, and secondly this did not make him automatically a racing driver. A professional needed to have a licence to use the tool of GISc, as the use of the tool did not mean that a person would be a professional geoscientist. The Council should make sure that the practitioners stuck to the rules, regulations and standards for spatially defined disciplines. He reiterated that GiSc as a profession was a spatially defined discipline.
Mr Herman Booysen, Representative, GISSA, reiterated that clause 2(a)(iv) had to be carefully thought through, and GISc had to be clarified. He commented that as well as being a tool, GISc was also a science and a profession, and it had to be treated as such.
Mr Madima said Mr Morena had mentioned geoscience, which was both a field and a profession. However, he thought that GISc was a tool placed under the Council but it was difficult to control all the professions using this tool.
Mr Madima wanted to comment further on the possible definitions for competency. Competency could mean what a person could do, or what a person was capable of doing. Secondly, as more specifically related to the Bill, it could also mean that somebody who had certain attributes, was permitted to do x, y and z. The two meanings were being mixed.
The Chairperson said Mr Newmarch had raised the question of what “competency” meant in the Bill. He seemed to be suggesting that he should be permitted to do what he was capable of doing, not only what the Bill said that he may do.
Mr Lewis said that SAQA used the term “competency”, and suggested that there should be therefore uniformity in the terminology used.
The Chairperson said this Bill would not invent “competencies” since they already existed.
Mr Newmarch said planners and surveyors worked hand in hand. Removing any reference to planning would affect engineers and surveyors. This argument would never be solved. Professionals needed to account to a Council. Land surveyors would be acting outside their competency if they attended to planning. He said the essential aspect was how the Committee would ensure that the public was protected.
In regard to planning he said that it was the constitutional right of every landowner to plan what he wanted to do with his land. Municipalities and the State would employ planners to give statutory approval from government’s side. He had no problem with this application of the planning function. However, he did not believe that any private land owner should be forced to use a professional planner. It was his common law right to decide what he wanted to do with his own land. This question would not be solved in this forum, and it was up to the Councils to decide whether a person had overstepped his competency.
Mr Karl van Rensburg, Vice–President, SAGI asked, through the Chairperson, whether SACPLAN agreed that the main function of the Bill was to protect the public.
Mr Madima replied in the affirmative.
Mr van Rensburg then noted that there was currently no reservation of work for planners. He asked how many planners had effectively been disciplined, fined or taken off the roll for misconduct.
Mr Madima said he did not have the statistics with him, as he did not expect this question.
The Chairperson said he did not know whether it was relevant for the purposes of the meeting.
Mr van Rensburg asked what then was the purpose of SACPLAN being present at the meeting. SACPLAN had admitted that land surveyors had been attending to planning for many years. He said that 80% of applications submitted in KZN, and 60% in the Western Cape, were done by land surveyors, and there had not been any finding that they had submitted bad plans. He did not agree with the SACPLAN position that land surveyors should henceforth be prevented from doing planning.
The Chairperson said that SACPLAN had the right to lobby that land surveyors should stop doing planning, irrespective of whether combining the two functions had been a problem in the past. The DRDLR appeared to have taken that into account.
Mr Mmuso Riba, Acting Chief Surveyor General, DRDLR, said that he registered a cold war raging between surveyors and planners in the field. In his opinion, this was something that needed the intervention of the Minister. The two fraternities belonged in one ministry.
Closing remarks – Acting Chief Surveyor General
Mr Riba noted that the DRDLR appreciated the inputs and comments on the issues of concern. He also noted that there were reservations based on fear of the unknown and resistance to change. He agreed that the whole process would require inclusive participation from members of the various professions. The DRDLR could draw up drafts of rules and regulations, although the final responsibility for this rested with the Councils. The rules and regulations had to be submitted to the Minister.
Mr Riba acknowledged the existence and functioning of PLATO and voluntary organisations. Some of the matters raised here had been raised before but there were also some new issues, which the Department welcomed. He noted that the DRDLR had not previously received any submission from SACPLAN and asked that he be furnished with a copy. He noted to the Committee that he would provide a portfolio of evidence and records from the different consultative sessions, and would also prepare a response to the comments and queries raised today.
Committee’s Closing Remarks
Ms November said this session had been an eye-opener and a window into the concerns of professionals in the field.
Mr Ntapane thanked the presenters and assured them that Parliament took public participation seriously. He saw the presentations as an outcry from the profession to be taken seriously by the lawmakers. However, the professionals had to understand that not all their proposals would be reflected in the Bill.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila said sections 52, 79 and 118 of the Constitution dealt with ensuring effective public participation in the legislative process. The Committee had paid careful attention to the submissions and would now sit down with the DRDLR to see which recommendations could be included in the Bill. The professional bodies had a right to be heard, because the law would affect them, as they were the implementers of the law. The Committee would monitor the effective implementation of the legislation.
Mr Trollip said he endorsed everything that had been said by his colleagues and said that special attention had to be paid to the issues which were unanimously raised by all presenters. He thanked all contributors for their submissions, their candour and their willingness to give and take advice. He was surprised by the “cold war” raging between planners and land surveyors, but commented that this was not really the appropriate forum to deal with it, as it was a matter for the professional bodies to sort out. However, it was necessary that Members be aware of it, and how it may shape submissions.
Mr J van der Linde (DA) said he hoped the professional bodies would spend the next three weeks deliberating on the clauses on which they had indicated dissatisfaction, and would then suggest more appropriate wording to the Committee, which would advance development of the Bill.
Prince B Zulu (IFP) said it was interesting to see the academics debating, and commented that it was interesting to note that only males had appeared to give the submissions, commenting that transformation would also encompass gender balance.
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) said the purpose of the Bill was to ensure correct governance and said that consultation had to be serious and thorough.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Institute of Mine Surveyors of SA (IMSSA) submission
- Institute of Mine Surveyors of SA (IMSSA) presentation
- SA Geomatics Institute (SAGI) submission
- South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) submission
- South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) comments
- SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN) submission
- SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN) presentation
- Geo-Information Society of SA (GISSA) submission
- Invitation to Comment on Draft Geomatics Proffession Bill, 2011
- CSPRI Budget Vote Submission 2013/14
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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