Free State & KZN Oversight Visit Committee Report; Committee Programme; 2nd Committee Tourism Summit preparations


10 September 2013
Chairperson: Mr D Gumede (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received the 2012/13 Annual Reports of the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism and the bilateral agreement between South Africa and the Seychelles government. The bilateral agreement did not require ratification by the Committee but was more for informational purposes. Members did make the point that what was the point of making comments about an international agreement after it had already been concluded. Members should be allowed to comment prior to its conclusion so as to be able to weigh the benefits of South Africa in entering into such agreement.

The Committee Report on its Free State and Kwazulu-Natal Oversight Visit was presented to the Committee for consideration. Committee observations, conclusions and recommendations were highlighted. Members noted that the Report addressed the challenges in these provinces in too subtle a manner. The Committee needed to be more severe as there was a lack of accountability, buy in and transparency with tourism projects. There was a lack of communication over the progress of projects. How were funds being spent? Millions of rands were being wasted on uncompleted projects. The National Department of Tourism needed to brief the Committee on the progress of projects and project managers had to account to the Committee as well.

The Committee Programme for the Fourth Term was presented albeit without specific meeting dates. Due to the short nature of the Fourth Term, the Committee agreed it would need to combine agenda items and meet all day. An update was given on preparations for the 2nd Committee Tourism Summit to be held on 17-18 September 2013.

Meeting report

Tabling of 2012/13 Annual Reports: National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism
The Committee received the 2012/13 Annual Reports and financial statements of the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism.

Tabling of Bilateral Agreement between RSA and the government of Seychelles
The Committee received the bilateral agreement between the RSA and the Seychelles government. In 2012 a ministerial delegation, including the Minister of Tourism, had visited the Seychelles. The Agreement had been tabled for information purposes. The Committee was not required to adopt or ratify the Agreement.

Mr R Shah (DA) stressed that the Committee needed to consider the relevance of international agreements which South Africa entered into. What was the reason for South Africa entering into a Bilateral Agreement with Seychelles? Apparently one of the reasons given for the Agreement was to have joint marketing. What possible linkages could exist between South Africa and the Seychelles given the two countries’ geography?

The Chairperson pointed out that given that the Agreement had been tabled in Parliament, Members were allowed to comment on it.

The Committee Secretary noted that if Members wished, the National Department of Tourism (NDT) could be requested to brief the Committee on the Agreement.

Mr Shah said that the Committee needed to know how many Memorandums of Understanding had been entered into and what the progress on them was. A progress report from the NDT would be helpful.

Mr Farrow said it was all good and well that the Agreement did not require the Committee to ratify it but the problem was that Members could only comment on it after the fact. Members should have had a say in the drafting of the Agreement, before it had been entered into.

The Chairperson stated that Members could respond to the Agreement via the Minister of Tourism. He asked whether the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was still in existence. The intention of NEPAD was co-operation, for example, on matters such as the arts.

Committee Report on Free State and Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Oversight Visit
The Committee Content Adviser, Mr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, presented the Draft Report. He noted that Members could still make inputs on the Report if they wished. He drew attention to the Report’s observations, conclusions and recommendations:

Committee Observations:
-The Committee identified challenges of alignment between Manguang Metro and Free State.
- There were skills development issues in the provinces. At departmental level, capacity was lacking to deliver on tourism’s mandate. Both provinces had done a skills audit. The idea was to see how provincial skills development linked with the national plan.
- Project management, specifically within the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), was identified as a problem area. A contextualisation of projects was needed. The Draft Business Plans for EPWP Projects were not flawed per se. They just needed to elaborate on EPWP Projects for tourism. The funding model of EPWP Projects also needed to be looked at. The problem was that project managers were given advanced payments. Inevitably they disappeared after receiving payment. What was the solution? Many EPWP Projects ended up being non-operational. Perhaps the focus should be on high impact projects.
- The sustainability of projects needed to speak to business planning.
- There was a need to look at the pool of project implementers. Project implementers should be from within the area of the project.
- Poor workmanship and value for money were further concerns.
- Community trusts were not functional as they lacked capacity. There was a reliance on project implementers.
- Communication was also a problem. There could be valid reasons why the NDT had put projects on hold which had not been communicated to communities.
- The aim of projects was job creation. However during construction jobs were created but after projects were completed there were no real permanent jobs as projects were not operational.
- Another observation was that budgets for tourism came from Social Responsibility Initiative(SRI) projects which were not a good thing.
- There was political and traditional leadership interference in projects. The work of government was being compromised.
- Stakeholder engagement was important and hence one had to look at the structures that were in place. In Kwazulu-Natal structures were functional but the same could not be said about the Free State Province. Information dissemination was a problem.
- The Committee did not have project managers to accompany them on visits to projects.
- More information was needed on a community partnership model.

Conclusions drawn by the Committee:
- At times it seemed as if the recommendations made by the Committee were overstepping the bounds of the principle of separation of powers, when in reality it was not.
- The Committee came to the realisation that there needed to be feedback between the Committee and the National Council of Provinces. A feedback mechanism was needed.
- Access to funding entailed a long process.
- There was a crisscrossing of issues. For example, who was responsible, for marketing, the province or local government?
- The Committee had to re-look how it structured its oversight visits in terms of the interactions that were needed. This issue would be dealt with by Committee staff.

Committee Recommendations:
The recommendations made by the Committee were directed to the Executive. The Executive together with the Director General could deal with these at Ministers and Members Executive Councils (MinMECs) level. The monitoring of the National Tourism Sector Strategy would deal with many of the issues that had cropped up. There were many working groups in place that could deal with challenges. There were marketing working groups and governance working groups for instance. Working groups needed to be developed. Working groups could influence what happened at local level. Some of the recommendations made were:
- Assistance to provincial and local government in terms of planning was needed. There was a planning toolkit available at national level.
- It was advisable that every district municipality should have a local tourism bureau.
- Every province should have an official dealing with tourism at directorate or chief directorate level. In some provinces, tourism was coupled with environmental affairs and environmental affairs inevitably took precedence over tourism.
- Greater resources should be provided at provincial and local level. Resources were especially important at local government level.
- There should be a synergising of marketing. Co-ordinating structures were needed and should be lead by Members of Executive Councils (MECs). At national level the Minister of Tourism drove the MinMECs. The question was how it was to be driven at provincial level.
- In February 2013 a local government conference had been held. A resolution had been taken that provinces needed to look at the Kwazulu-Natal model on how to develop structures. It did not mean that provinces had to copy the model exactly.
- On the issue of SRIs, the Committee recommended that the NDT have a turnaround strategy. The NDT could draft a comprehensive turnaround strategy on projects. In this way some projects could continue whilst others should be written off. The recommendation was that the NDT should have a turnaround strategy for SRI projects before the end of the current financial year. South Africa was lagging behind in competitiveness and was even overtaken by Mauritius on matters such as service excellence.
- The NDT needed to look at Community Participation Models and at skills development.

Mr Farrow appreciated the fact that Mr Khuzwayo had captured the challenges well in the Draft Report except he had done so in a very nice way. More harshness was needed as the issues had to be addressed. Where was accountability from top to bottom? There was no buy in and transparency. How were funds being spent? He recommended that the Committee invite the NDT Director General to explain how the system worked. From the drafting of a business plan to implementation, was a manager appointed? There were millions spent on uncompleted projects. A great deal of political interference took place. The question was about how project management should take place from inception of projects to their implementation. The Committee needed to be harsher. Why were project managers not accountable to the Committee about projects? There was simply just a release of funds and no accountability. The NDT should be aware of shortfalls. The Committee should invite the Director General and project managers to address the Committee. Members needed to have a more meaningful role. Perhaps there were problems with the concurrent transfer of funds. There could be a great deal of issues to consider and the Committee simply did not know what these issues could be. There was additionally a lack of communication about the progress of projects. Lack of communication was part of the reasons why projects failed. The most important thing after projects were off the ground was that an after care process was needed to sustain the project. Communities and trustees had to be put in charge to monitor projects. Mr Khuzwayo had captured issues in a subtle way but the Committee needed to be more firm.

Mr L Khorai (ANC) said that there were many issues emanating from the Draft Report and suggested that it should be considered in a later meeting. The NDT officials should be called to account. On interactions between the Committee and the NCOP, he said that interactions should be concrete. The adoption of certain projects by the Deputy Minister of Tourism was an issue which needed to be thrashed out. The Committee needed more information about those projects.

Mr Shah pointed out that interactions between the Committee and the NCOP could be done by way of drafting reports after either had visited projects. The report could then be forwarded to the other committee. In this way reports could be analysed and further challenges identified.

The Chairperson conceded that indeed there were gaps that needed to be filled. The fact that provincial project mangers had not been present at the time of the oversight visit was concerning. The Committee Report would not be finalised in the present meeting. The Committee could request that the NDT furnish the Committee with reports on its different projects. The NDT could be given 6-7 days within which to respond. The reports received from the NDT could be attached to the Committee Report as annexures. The Minister of Tourism should be asked what was happening in the Free State Province. He proposed that the Committee finalise the Committee Report after the close of the Tourism Summit on the 18 September 2013. Project management was a specialised skill and the correct persons needed to be put in place. At present this skill was lacking in those provinces the Committee had visited. Supervision and monitoring from the NDT at provincial level was lacking. It was all good and well that corrupt persons had been prosecuted and arrested but the crux of the matter was to see improvements at grassroots level.

Mr Khuzwayo agreed it was a good suggestion to invite the NDT to brief the Committee on the progress of projects. Insight could also be given on whether the Deputy Minister had adopted certain projects. Whether projects were value for money also needed to be looked into.

Mr Farrow agreed with Mr Khuzwayo and stressed the importance of speaking to project managers. Answers were needed by the Committee. On what were project funds spent? The Committee should be given a breakdown of expenditure. 

Committee Programme - Fourth Term 2013
The Committee Secretary noted that the fourth term of parliament was short in that it consisted of only five weeks. In compiling the Draft Programme attention had been given to immediate issues which needed to be prioritised. The agenda items appearing on the Draft Programme did not have specific dates attached to them due to the fact that the House Chairperson had not identified focus areas as yet. The Committee Secretary was awaiting the release of dates. He went through the agenda items of the programme. He added that the Committee was still to undertake an oversight visit in the Western Cape Province. Permission from the House Chairperson was awaited. There was a strong indication that the National Council of Provinces would suggest amendments to the Tourism Bill which meant the Committee would need to meet to  consider the NCOP amendments. A further issue was the Committee would need to consider its Legacy Report. The Report would detail what work the Committee had done, what it had achieved and what improvements could be made. The format of the Report was currently being worked on by management.

Mr Farrow pointed out that the week of the 7 October 2013 was reserved for parliamentary committees to work on their Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports. Given the limited time that the Committee had in the fourth term, he suggested that the Committee deal with two annual reports per day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

The Chairperson said it was up to the Committee to combine agenda items on one day.

Mr Shah agreed that combining issues was the best option. The Committee could handle doing eight items over five weeks.

The Committee agreed to combine items.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Section to combine agenda items as agreed within the Draft Programme and to present it to the Committee at its next meeting.

Update on preparations for 2nd Committee Tourism Summit 17-18 September 2013
The Chairperson said that the objective of the Summit was for interaction between the different role players in tourism. It was part of the oversight function of the Committee.

The Committee Content Adviser proceeded to give the Committee insight into the scheduled agenda of the two-day Summit. Day 1 of the Summit would be inputs by government. The Director General of Tourism would speak on what had been done about the resolutions taken at the 2011 Tourism Summit. The Minister of Tourism as well as the Minister of Arts and Culture were scheduled to make contributions. National Treasury had also been invited to speak on funding. The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee had also been invited. The Ministry of Co-operative Governance and Local Government Affairs would speak about the significance of local government on tourism. Reducing the red tape attached to Environmental Impact Assessment studies in the interests of tourism would also be addressed. Transport matters that impacted on tourism would also be discussed.

Mr Farrow pointed out that there seemed to be an impressive number of Ministers attending the Summit. He felt it unlikely that many of them would be able to attend the Summit. In the absence of political representation, the void should be filled by administrative representation.

Mr Khuzwayo acknowledged that many of the political heads would most probably not be able to attend the Summit. He noted that on Day 2 of the Summit, the issues for discussion would include the National Airlift Strategy, the Open Skies Policy in Africa, International and Regional Airlift Strategy, low cost airlines, the high cost of the carbon tax which had been introduced internationally, domestic tourism and also a heritage strategy. Transformation in tourism from an industry perspective would also be looked at. The intention was not to have too many resolutions emanating from the Summit but to have perhaps five or so which could be adopted.

Committee Minutes
Minutes dated 4 and 11 June 2013 were adopted without amendments. Minutes dated 18 June 2013 and 20 August 2013 were adopted with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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