The Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources met to discuss its priorities, expectations from departments, and its oversight visits for the remaining Parliamentary term. This would allow the Committee’s support staff to prepare for future Parliamentary programmes.
Members were asked to raise issues and priorities so that the support staff could draft a programme which they could put before the Chairperson. The Committee’s expectations from departments would give them an insight into what line of thinking Members of the Committee were taking when they raised issues. They could then consolidate them with the Committee view, and also draft agenda items for the Committee’s approval on how they could interrogate departments about what they expected. They would also need inputs from the Committee as to what it was it wanted to do oversight on, and where the oversight should take place, so that they could plan ahead of time.
For the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the key sector priorities they had mentioned last week were the Accelerated Infrastructure Programme and the National Infrastructure Plan. The idea was to look at them in terms of progress with regard to the mandate of the DEA, which was to look at biodiversity and conservation and sustainable development. The impact of acid mine drainage on the economy of the country, which was an area they had worked on together with Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs, had been highlighted as needing some kind of intervention from the Committee. About R3bn had been allocated to the budget vote of the DEA to look specifically at “green” jobs and environmental programmes.
It was suggested that it would assist Members if they were provided with a toolkit that included the legislation involving the departments overseen by the Committee -- the white papers, bills, regulations of the departments, and even current bills from each department – as well as policies that governed departments, the National Development Plan (NDP), reports, etc. As a Committee, they should also be familiarised about the international agreements concerning the departments, including those relating to state-owned companies. It was also proposed that the Committee should limit its focus to five key projects during its term of office, to ensure that they were successful. Members made various inputs regarding possible future focus areas for the Committee. These included the “controversial” fisheries sector, shale gas fracking, rhino poaching, acid mine drainage and the green economy.
Mr Asgar Bawa, Committee Secretary, said the agenda for the meeting expanded on the meeting they had held the previous week. It was prudent for them to meet as a Committee, before they had to focus on the budget. Members and staff would have an opportunity to get to know each other and the issues which Members wanted to raise. This was why the agenda stated that the meeting would discuss the Committee’s priorities, as well as its expectations from departments and proposed oversight visits for the remaining Parliamentary terms. It would allow him and Deshni Kobus, Content Adviser, to prepare for future Parliamentary programmes. When Members raised issues and priorities, the Committee staff could draft a programme which they could put before the Chairperson.
Mr Bawa said that the second part took account of the Committee’s expectations from departments, which gave staff an insight into what line of thinking Members of the Committee were taking when they raised issues. They could then consolidate that with the Committee view, and also draft agenda items for the Committee’s approval on how they could interrogate departments about what they expected
The third issue was the oversight visits. The secretary, the researcher and the content adviser -- as arms of the Select Committee -- would also need inputs from the Committee as to what it was it wanted to do oversight on, and where the oversight should take place, so that they could plan ahead of time.
On 28 August there would be an NCOP strategic planning workshop. This would guide all select committees on the direction the NCOP wanted them to follow. Then, when the Committee held its strategic workshop and invited departments to participate, they would already know what issues they wanted to discuss and engage with the departments, and not come up with issues during that meeting. This meant that when they held those sessions, they would be prepared.
Ms Deshni Pillay, Content Adviser, said that she had put together a document which Members could “brainstorm” per province and highlight key issues, based on sector analysis and the research document that had been presented last week, bearing in mind the themes of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Members could suggest or think about areas they would like to investigate in their provinces, and have a discussion around that.
Ms Pillay said that for each department there were key sector priorities, and Members could reflect within their provinces what the key areas were, bearing in mind the Committee’s mandate. They could then fill out the planning document in terms of what issues they would like to investigate in their provinces. There was a provincial government week from the 8 September 2014, and a local government week was also in the programme. There was no “Taking Parliament to the People” this year, because there would be one in March next year. There was oversight week in the programme as well. Therefore, the objective was just to identify areas they would like to visit, based on the strategic priorities.
Ms Pillay said that for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the key sector priorities they had mentioned last week were the Accelerated Infrastructure Programme and the National Infrastructure Plan. The idea was to look at them in terms of progress with regard to the mandate of the DEA, which was to look at biodiversity and conservation and sustainable development. The impact of acid mine drainage on the economy of the country, which was an area they had worked on together with Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs, had been highlighted as needing some kind of intervention from the Committee. About R3bn had been allocated to the budget vote of the DEA to look specifically at the “green” jobs and environmental programmes that the DEA had on its budget. There was a whole strategy with regard to the green economy.
In terms of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, there were specific activities that had been developed. It was a major strategy and made the linkage in terms of how a sustainable development strategy would fit in the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP). In terms of the Convention on Biodiversity, there would be a big international conference of the stakeholders next year, hosted by South Africa, and the DEA had dedicated a project team that would be working on preparing for the conference. For the DEA, these were the key priorities, and the Committee could discuss what they wanted to do for the DEA.
The Chairperson said that informed by the SONA, Members should look at critical areas, particularly those involving oversight, as they discussed and made preparations for the strategic workshop they would be participating in. The flow of their discussion should also be informed by the documents tabled in front of them
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) said it would assist Members if they were provided with a toolkit that included the legislation involving the departments overseen by the Committee -- the white papers, bills, regulations of the departments, and even current bills from each department – as well as policies that governed departments, the National Development Plan (NDP), reports, etc. As a Committee, they should also be familiarised about the international agreements concerning the departments, including those relating to state-owned companies.
Mr Rayi asked if the Committee had a person who was responsible for media and communication, and how they were communicating the decisions they had approved to the general public. The Committee needed to look at each department and isolate key priorities, and then go to the template and identify, per province, key areas with regard to the DEA. In terms of oversight, those would be key areas they would be targeting in the various provinces. If there was any DEA legislation pending, they should look at it and conduct public hearings. The DEA had various projects, such as the PHAKISA Project, for which they had to conduct an oversight visit to monitor some of the key elements.
The suggestion, in a nutshell, was to list all the key priorities of each department, and to highlight the areas of oversight for each department, the areas of public participation for each of the departments, and the pending legislation.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Rayi for his input and emphasised that the researcher would assist the Committee in collecting information to guide them as they conducted oversights.
Mr A Singh (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) said that the brainstorming of the areas they wanted to visit during the oversight visits, especially KZN, should cover biodiversity and conservation, as well as the issue of rhino poaching, which an issue of concern in newspapers every day. Another issue was shale gas fracking, which they were concerned about and needed to allay the fears of the community about its long term effects.
The President had highlighted over and over again the Operation Phakisa was a project that would create jobs. It was very important for them as a Committee to scrutinise that aspect of job creation.
Ms C Labuschagne (Western Cape, DA) said that in terms land sites the Committee should priorities waste management which fell under land sites, and the broad framework of waste management even if it was necessary to break it down in provinces and municipal level the lack of the fact that they didn’t have a framework there would be some work that would go into that.
Ms Labuschagne said that acid mine drainage was something the Committee should really look at, especially in terms of the sector analysis document, taking into account what agreements, counter checks and balances had been put in place by the DEA, and why mines did not comply with them.
Ms Labuschagne said that they should also look at the green economy in terms of the Committee monitoring the mainstreaming of the green economy in each province, because as new Members they should have a baseline of those activities which should be based on the previous Parliament’s recommendations.
Ms Labuschagne said that the Committee should also look at what the commitments were to the convention to biodiversity at the provincial level. They needed to list a schedule of the commitments, and what criteria or tools there were in each province, and how they were monitoring those commitments. If the Committee had that information, they could decide on which provinces to go to for an oversight visit, to see best practices and identify matters that needed to be improved.
The Chairperson said that from the inputs of Members, he could see that there was a need for the Committee to have a session with the two departments -- DEA and the Department of Minerals.
Mr Parkies said that they needed to appreciate the work that the support staff was doing because the pile of work in that Committee was divergent to other Committees. They were currently dealing with four departments and could not aim everywhere because they were going to fail. The suggestion was that they should be smart and highlight only five issues as a Committee in order to have a maximum impact on the remaining four years of the term. For example, he had made it his business to gain a deeper understand of the politics of energy, because South Africa was entering the field of energy resources, and international relations were affected by the politics of energy. It was the Committee’s responsibility and duty to know how energy issues affected and impacted on the lives of people -- even broadening their knowledge on such issues, like shale gas.
Mr J Parkies (ANC, Free State) said that fisheries was a very controversial sector. It had been monopolised by certain people and others had been disadvantaged, which was why they needed to focus on it as a Committee. The bottom line was that the Committee should not be aim to be everywhere, and at the end of their term fail as a Committee. They should concentrate on just five aspects that they would focus on during the five-year term.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should highlight a key project in all the provinces that they could happily say was a success story, and run with it to ensure it was sustainable, and indeed creating employment, as well as being equitable. They should do away with projects that reflected a patriarchal way of doing things.
Mr C Smit (DA, Limpopo) said that it was important to basically do two things that when they conducted oversight -- to study and to do oversight, and the two should not be confused. This was because when they studied, they looked at failures and successes and compared why the one was failing and why the other was succeeding so that they could find the best practice to help to overcome the failures. When they talked about oversight, however, this was to keep the executive accountable.
Mr Smit said that in Limpopo, the Committee should look at fuel works and river pollution, which were very important aspects linked to environmental affairs. They should also look at sensitive ecological areas in both current mines and potential mines. In terms of mineral resources, they should consider the influence of mines on municipal economies and job creation. They should look at agricultural projects in rural areas and underused land in order to understand that aspect, and also engage with agricultural associations to help grow that specific industry. With regard to rural development and land reform, they should visit state farms and land reform projects that were already in place, and land where there were claims, so as to understand the dynamics of that process better.
Ms E Prins (ANC, Western Cape) emphasised the issue that had been raised by Mr Parkies, that the Committee could not be everywhere. In the past she had seen various projects where justice had not been done to them, because they were in hurry to go to the next project. They should look at the issue of equity schemes in the Western Cape, because it was a big concern, and this time they would have a presentation from the farms on how they worked. They should have public hearings with the beneficiaries so that they could see what the failures really were. They needed to speak with the people to hear their problems because there was lot of money going into those projects, and they had to establish what it was that made those projects fail so that they could develop a best practice scenario to deal with the problem.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their inputs and the support staff for their presentation.
Minutes of 22 July 2014
The Chairperson said that the minutes had been given to Members last week for their consideration and should ready for adoption.
Mr Singh moved the adoption of minutes, and Ms B Masango (DA, Gauteng) seconded.
The Committee adopted the minutes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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