Department of Environmental Affairs on their Strategic Plan for 2015-2019

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

20 March 2015
Chairperson: Mr J Mthembu (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee met with senior staff of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to go through the Department's medium term strategic plan for 2014-2019 following from a previous meeting where, due to a lack of time, the Department and Committee could get through only programme one (administration) of the plan. At this meeting, the DEA took Members through the remaining programmes -- legal, authorisations, compliance and enforcement, oceans and coasts, air quality and climate change, biodiversity and conservation, environmental programmes, and chemicals and waste management.

On programme two, legal, authorisation, compliance and enforcement, Members questioned the staff numbers and targets for personnel in the programme, and discussed interventions targeted to reduce wildlife crimes, especially the scourge of rhino poaching, to bring the matter under control. Other queries related to balancing economic activities -- looking at mining in relation to environmental issues -- and how the Department would deal with mining appeals. A key point of discussion in this programme was making it clear that targets should match outcomes. Members felt that implementation on its own was not an outcome but a means to an end.

On programme three, oceans and coasts, Members asked which sphere of government was responsible for the protection of oceans and coasts. and expressed the need for the Committee to get to know this programme more.

Turning to programme four, climate change and air quality, the Committee questioned baselines and the number of provinces targeted for 2015/16 and 2019/20, for climate change risk analysis and adaptation studies. An interesting discussion was held on whether the Department had aspirations to make projections on when pollution in the air could be attributed to particular sources, for them to be punished. Linked to this was the measuring of the negative impacts of air pollution on human health and wellbeing. There was a question around decommissioned energy producers, given the current situation of energy sources in the country.

With programme five, biodiversity and conservation, some engagement was held on why only 40 municipalities were targeted for the “Let’s Respond” toolkit in 2015/16 and 2019/20, the focus on Bushbuckridge for community-based interventions to promote access to natural resources, and the Department's plans to increase the number of black visitors to parks.

In programme six, environmental programmes, Members asked about the huge increase in the number of trees targeted for planting, which jumped from a baseline of over 50 000 in 2015/16, to three million in 2019/20, There were also concerns around the working conditions for those employed in the “Working For” programmes.

In the final programme, chemicals and waste management, a fascinating discussion was held on how waste tyres were dealt with, how to deal with recycling, and the health risks of landfill sites close to residential areas.

Meeting report

Chairperson's Introductory Comments
The Chairperson thanked Members for their attendance at this early Friday meeting. It was initially planned to meet with the Department and the entities today but as tomorrow was Human Rights Day, and with the funeral of the late Minister Collins Chabane, the Committee would only attend to the Department, as Members needed to catch flights. The entities would be attended to on Tuesday. These entities were the SA Weather Service (SAWS), which was returning after the Committee was not pleased with what had been presented at the last meeting, the SA Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Isimangaliso. SA National Parks (SANParks) would be dealt with at a later stage, as there was a transition of boards and a new CEO. The Committee was doing well for time as the budget process needed to be initiated only when the Committee returned from the constituency break in mid-April. There was enough time to call back any entities with which the Committee was not satisfied. The entire process was very important, as Parliament had just passed the Division of Revenue and Appropriations Bill, which appropriated budgets to departments and entities. It was the job of the Committee to find out what the Department and entities were planning on doing with the allocated funds in terms of targets and strategic plans, in order to pass the budgets.

DEA Medium Term Strategic Plan 2014-2019
Programme 2: Legal, Authorisation, Compliance and Enforcement
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, DEA Director-General, took the Committee through the programme, noting illegal wildlife trafficking was the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually – the capacity of the Department was not adequate enough to even touch this. This illegal activity was controlled by dangerous crime syndicates where the wildlife was trafficked much like drugs or weapons and these criminals often operated with impunity, making the trade a low-risk/high-profit business. Wildlife crime involved the illegal killing, collection and smuggling of a wide range of animal and plant species. Illegal killing and the subsequent illegal trade in wildlife had a significant impact on the survival in the wild of some of SA’s most valuable animal and plant species. Species of national concern included rhino, reptiles, birds, cycads and predators.

In terms of improved compliance with environmental legislation, a number of interventions had been implemented in support of the integrated strategic management of rhino populations. One intervention was implemented for the safety and security of wildlife, including rhinos, and the target for 2015/16 was to implement four interventions in cooperation with international institutions in dealing with transnational crimes. There was also a target for multi and bilateral interventions, collaborating jointly with law enforcement and key security agencies and to develop a database/wildlife information system framework to make it easier for the Department to work across the border and internally with enforcement agencies.

There were a number of performance indicators relating to administrative enforcement actions resulting in compliance, issuing environmental administrative actions, finalising criminal cases and handing dockets to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), inspecting environmental authorisations for compliance and conducting campaigns to promote environmental compliance, creating awareness and contributing to behavioural changes in public and private institutions, local government and municipalities. The baseline number of officials trained in environmental compliance and enforcement was 260, while the target for 2015/16 was 280 and 1 540 in 2019/20.

Ms Ngcaba looked at the objective for a coherent and aligned multi-sector regulatory system and decisions, and said the indicator for the number of interventions for streamlining environmental authorisation and management had been developed. The 2015/16 target was for the development of four Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) instruments and for regulations to be adopted, while the target for 2019/20 was the development of six IEMs. Another target for 2015/16 was to develop the draft sensitivity map for the aquaculture strategic environment assessment (SEA).

In terms of the number of interventions for streamlining environmental authorisation/management developed, the 2015/16 target was for ten draft corridors to be identified for the Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP) 10 electricity transmission and to prepare the draft site protocols for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), as there were a number of aspects of infrastructure requiring environmental authorisations. Another target for 2015/16 was around the number of environmental sustainability policies reviewed, and to develop an environmental sustainability policy action plan.

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts
Ms Ngcaba took the Committee through the programme, beginning with the first strategic objective to manage threats to environmental quality and integrity. The first key performance area focused on the national coastal management programme interventions implemented with the 2015/16 target, to develop a draft national guideline on coastal rehabilitation and developing draft national norms and standards for coastal management setback lines, which was crucial for increased sea levels associated with climate change variability. The 2015/16 target was for the finalisation of stakeholder consultation for designated coastal access for three priority areas. For the development and implementation of ocean and coastal management strategies and plans, the baseline was the national plan of action (NPOA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based sources of pollution, while the 2019/20 target was to complete the development of the national guideline on coastal rehabilitation and to develop and implement the norms and standards for coastal management setback lines. With the ocean and coastal management strategies and plans developed and implemented, the 2015/16 target was to develop a draft Antarctic strategy for the work and activities undertaken by the Department on islands, and to have the national framework on spatial planning approved and the marine spatial plans for South African oceans approved in 2019/20.

For the objective to strengthen the knowledge, science and policy interface, for the number of peer-reviewed scientific publications (including theses and research policy reports), the target was to have 20 publications peer-reviewed for 2015/16. Turning to the marine top predator population estimates and ecological studies undertaken, the baseline was to have seabird population estimates, for annual seal pup counts to be undertaken, and to undertake the evaluation and refining of methods of whale population estimation appropriate to SA and adjacent to the high seas. For 2019/20 the target was for four top predator ecological studies to be conducted per annum for cetaceans, whales, sharks and turtles. For the indicator to undertake ocean and coastal research, surveys and monitoring projects, the 2015/16 target was to complete the national plankton monitoring protocol, finalise the terms of reference for the study on the effectiveness of marine protected areas, include one additional survey of the new priority habitat, resurvey two areas and for there to be three moorings deployed along the observation line. There was also a target in 2015/16 to undertake three relief voyages per annum, bearing in mind cost escalation impacts in terms of fuel and the vast amount spent on food to sustain the researchers for up to three months.

The last objective in the programme focused on ecosystems being conserved, managed and sustainably used where the 2015/16 target was to develop two additional estuarine management plans, increase the percentage of exclusive economic zones under marine protected areas, and to develop and implement the national oceans and coasts water quality monitoring programme in one priority area – Port St Johns.

Ms T Stander (DA) asked how many staff officials there were in programme two currently and how many the Department planned to have by 2019/2020. With wildlife crime and trafficking, how many interventions was the Department aiming at over the next five years – with the scourge of the crime and the seriousness of it, given the rhino poaching, what was the Department’s plan to stop it? When did it foresee this kind of crime being brought under control given that, specifically for rhino poaching, numbers were increasing every year? How did the Department ensure there was a balance of development and that one economic activity was not encroaching on others (like those important to food security, for example) when referring to mining activity, with the province of Mpumalanga totally taken over by mining? How did the Department deal with the appeals coming from mining applications? She highlighted a coal mine that was to be established, where the application was received from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on about 20 January 2015. The application had been accepted but had not been put out for public participation yet. This was supposed to happen within 30 days – how would the Department deal with such cases?

Ms Ngcaba replied that there were interventions for which the Department was responsible, but the Department did not report on the work of SANParks, otherwise there would be double reporting. It needed to be clear what DEA did with its own resources and what capacity it had. In the Department, the Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement (LACE) branch was relatively new, with the structure approved two or three years ago when there was a split of departments. The structure was then funded organically over time, because there were no resources. The branch now had chief directorates for compliance (36 posts), enforcement (54 funded posts) and integrated environmental management. The capacity of the Department was very much for facilitation and coordination. The targets related to training rangers and environmental management inspectors to be deployed to SANParks and provincial and local authorities. SANParks looked after parks, so this was where it was important to have capacity and rangers and this was why DEA had increased the allocation of rangers for combating wildlife crime and poaching specifically. The inspectors kept within the DEA did spot checks and monitored pollution of land, air and mines. It was still expected that each agency should have its own capacity for compliance and enforcement. In terms of the new system, Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) had some environmental inspectors itself while the DEA also had its own cohort of inspectors in different areas including mining in various areas doing unannounced visits. The Department had increased its funding allocation (for rangers and operations) to SANParks, which was seen in the strategic plan. The Committee would be engaged on this further when it met with the agency on Tuesday.

Mr Ishaam Abader, DDG: Legal, Authorisation, Compliance and Enforcement, DEA, added that with the current officials in LACE as of the end of 2014, there 1 915 environmental management inspectors (EMIs) and this was inclusive of grade five (rangers), all the way to grade one. There were different institutions, each with its own capacity. The EMI network did not include only the DEA, but all provinces and parks and in this was way, collaboration and facilitation was important for the Department to blend national, provincial and local authorities. The Department received funding from the USA to develop a training programme for rangers specifically. Not only did the DEA train SAPS, but there was also a three-week basic training followed by specialised training. An advanced training course was being developed for rangers specifically, with the training conducted in different languages because the rangers were not that sophisticated, so it was more effective for enforcement if the training was conducted in a home language.

With mining, there was a specialised unit in DEA to only deal with appeals. The rationale behind the unit was for it to be independent, although it sort of reported to the LACE branch. The ultimate appeal decision was dealt with by the Minister if it involved environmental issues. The capacity of the unit had been increased specifically to deal with appeals on mining issues. There were reactive and proactive approaches to dealing with compliance and enforcement and these approaches then informed indicators around coordination and facilitation, as the matters were quite complex. Specifics were in the annual plans.   

Ms Skumsa Mancotywa, Acting DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation, DEA, said there were clear legislative guidelines for mining in sensitive areas. Section 48 of the Protected Areas Act prescribed that no mining was allowed in legally declared protected areas unless the declaration took place after mining was already authorised. The matter highlighted by the Member was a provincial one, but both the Ministers of the DEA and DMR had put together a guideline in 2013 which prescribed the various classifications for protected areas, sensitive areas and outside of these areas, so there was clear guidance. The guidelines were balanced to ensure conservation and adherence to sustainable development.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) was concerned that some performance indicators did not evaluate the actual outcome of a target. For instance, some targets centred on coordination but it was not further explained what the intended outcome of the coordination was for. He thought it was a problem that the indicator did not speak to the actual intended outcome. For example, an outcome might be to have water but it was not explicitly stated, although the target was around implementation of taps – the taps were a means to an end for the services provided and number of people who accessed the water. Implementation on its own was not the actual outcome and for some of the targets this was not indicated. On the target for the number of criminal cases finalised and dockets sent to the NPA, he thought that the number of cases and dockets should decrease, the more effective the strategies of the Department were. It was not pleasing that the target was to increase the number of cases and dockets finalised. Perhaps the thinking of DEA should be slightly different in this regard.   

Ms Ngcaba said the APP was a high-level document where each programme, chief directorate and directorate had detailed plans. The outcomes were outlined on the basis of the objectives, with input and output indicators. The objectives framed the outcomes. The indicators were based on Treasury and auditor guidelines – the whole schedule of how indicators were measurable and specific was on the Department’s and Treasury’s website, and the indicators could be evaluated from there. With the indicators for strategic rhino management, some of the actions were “doing,” and others were coordinating. With the target around the number of cases and dockets finalised -- this was a double edged sword. There was a current escalation of criminality, where the message for dealing with the crime needed to be clear through stiff sentences. It was hoped that once this message was received, criminality would decrease. 

Ms H Kekana (ANC) questioned if the local, provincial or national government was responsible for the protection of oceans and coasts.

Ms Ngacaba responded that national government was responsible for implementing the integrated coastal management plan, regulated and set norms and standards, but provinces and municipalities also had to execute.

Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) asked if there would be culling if there was an overpopulation of seal pups. If there was, how was the culling conducted and who did it?

Dr Monde Mayekiso, DGG: Oceans and Coasts, DEA, explained that seal pups were counted in order to understand the environment. If seal pups were few, it meant the environment was threatened in some way, making reproduction difficult. Seal pups were not culled in SA, but this answer hid the challenges SA faced with seals. Fishers were complaining fishing was poor when seal numbers increased and seals were now seen as threatening or killing important sea birds. In Namibia seal pups were culled.  

The Chairperson thought reference to “strategic government departments” needed to be clear when looking at the interventions implemented in support of the integrated strategic management of rhino populations, because the Committee would not be able to assist the DEA if it was not exactly clear who was being referred to. If the Committee did not know, it could also not hold the Department and “strategic government departments” accountable for the end outcome, which was also not specified. He agreed that the actual outcomes behind targets needed to be clearer. He asked why the baseline for the percentage of administrative enforcement actions resulting in compliance was 75%, with the 2015/16 target being 80% and then 75% targeted again for 2019/20 – why would the Department not like to achieve 100% compliance? When the presentation said “baseline not applicable,” what did this mean? Did it mean the indicator was not attended to?

Ms Ngcaba indicated the strategic government departments were the SA Police Service (SAPS), Justice, State Security, Home Affairs, the SA Revenue Service (SARS) and Intelligence. This was contained in the strategy itself. For the baseline on compliance, she wished she could write down 100% as the target, but with the resources the Department currently had, she could not commit to 100% - it was just not possible. N/A meant the baseline was not yet determined, but would be established after the first year of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

Ms Limpho Makotoko, Chief Director: Business Performance Management, DEA, added that an analysis was done on current trends and capacity. With the current capacity, there was not a lot of administrative compliance but it was intended to increase action and this would mean a bit of decline in non-compliance.

Mr Abader added additional enforcement would also come from recent amendments to Acts.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) pleaded for the Department to notify Members of where and when public participation would take place because they represented constituencies, so when the Committee did not know, it looked like they were not doing their jobs.

Ms Ngcaba said she would be guided by the Committee itself around this notification, because most programmes involved public consultation and participation. She was sure it was beneficial to notify Members of such consultations for involvement, contribution and facilitation. The DEA was not against the involvement of Members.

Mr Makhubele thought the presentations should contain more detail of what was in the APP and strategic plans for accountability, so that words like “coordination”, “develop”, and “implementation,” were not just thrown around, but that actual outcomes were explained.

Ms Ngcaba said it had been indicated to the Committee that the Department was, in the main, a regulator that also facilitated implementation. The Department could demonstrate how this coordination took place -- which was what she thought was discussed when the Committee was briefed on wildlife crime and rhino matters with other agencies. Ordinarily it was not the job of the Department to get people arrested, but because of the nature of the problem, focus had been shifted while recognising there were other agencies with legislative responsibility. The Department even needed to develop bench books and capacitate officials at ports of entry to recognise horns and detect them. Even in courts, with the earlier sentences for wildlife crime, people kept getting bail but these gaps had now been closed because of coordinating work. The DEA was even involved in intelligence and even she herself, as a biochemist by profession, had had to learn to make the work easier. Facilitation was an important tool to improve compliance with environmental legislation in particular.

Mr Alf Wills, DDG: Environmental Advisory Services, DEA, added that monitoring and evaluation occurred on two levels – at the one level, the question was did the Department do what it said it would do, and did it actually work, while at another level there was a bigger question or problem which explained the intent behind the target. The bigger question involved other role-players. The DEA did not focus on just implementing its own programmes but also had to try to persuade others to implement programmes which contributed to the real solution. This gave rise to the environmental outlook report, which was the instrument the Committee needed to look at to evaluate whether the DEA was achieving the bigger objectives.

The Chairperson said this would have to be looked at, particularly in relation to the indicators stipulated. He asked which four priority areas were designated for coastal access. One area the Committee was not closely involved with was that of oceans. Members needed to reflect on this for the Committee to get to know the programme better and get closer for oversight.

Ms Ngcaba clarified that when priority areas were referred to, the Committee did not prejudge the areas but identified possible threats in the implementation of coastal management and outlined non-accessible areas for transformation. There was first a process to engage provinces and municipalities, and then prioritisation occurred. Four areas was the minimum target. Environment was rooted in cooperative governance. The Committee could benefit from a detailed briefing on the oceans and coasts and some site visits could be undertaken on the SA Agulhus when it was available at the Waterfront in Cape Town. Members could then meet and see the scientists, for them to explain exactly what they did and how they did it.

Mr Hadebe sought a commitment from the Department to report quarterly so that Members could hold it accountable in terms of the APPs.

The Chairperson said this was not needed because he could be assured that the Department was called to report before the Committee every quarter. The Committee needed to begin with a full briefing on the oceans and coasts programme, looking at scientists, collaboration and funding currently and what the future plans were. From there, Members could decide on where to pay an oversight visit.

Ms Stander added that it would be helpful if the Committee was briefed on which programmes the Department was working with other departments, and the challenges and objectives in this collaborative space in regard to legal compliance and enforcement, mining EIAs, climate change and air quality, wildlife trafficking etc.

The Chairperson noted there was agreement on this, and it was a briefing which also spoke to coordination in ensuring compliance and enforcement of laws in the movement to a low-carbon economy with all spheres of government. These were very important strategic matters for discussion. The Committee was in for a very busy year.

Ms Stander asked that the Friday meeting be made a permanent fixture. Other Committees met on Fridays and almost every other day of the week, but environment was the most important portfolio because without it there would not be anything else.

The Chairperson said this was something to look into. The Committee needed to work smarter in the available time to be able to do everything it planned. Briefings were important, but physical interaction was also critical.

Ms Stander suggested the Department put together a flash disk, because she hated print-outs, with a folder per programme within which there were the relevant legislation, plans and strategies for Members to read and make for more informed questions in meetings. She was sure the Department answered the same questions every five years when new Members arrived.

The Chairperson indicated this was something to look into, although information was readily available on the Department’s website. It was important for Members and Parliament to be more informed of the work of the DEA.  

Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality
Ms Ngcaba said the first strategic objective was to manage threats to environmental quality and integrity and the first indicator was to develop and implement the climate change regulatory framework and tools. The 2015/16 target was to publish the discussion document for the National Climate Change Response Bill while the 2019/20 target was to develop and implement the National Climate Response Act. The next indicator was to develop and implement the National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS), where the baseline was to develop the roadmap for the NFCS. The 2015/16 goal was to have the NFCS finalised and facilitated for implementation in key climate sensitive sectors in 2019/20. For the indicator related to implementation of the provincial and local government climate change adaptation programme, the baseline was for two capacity-building and three adaptation climate change awareness events to be conducted per annum. The target for 2015/16 was to roll out the “Let’s Respond” toolkit in 40 municipalities and for this to be maintained until 2019/20. There were also targets in 2015/16 to develop the Resilient Cities programme and develop three provincial climate change adaptation response plans/strategies. Another indicator in this objective was to conduct sector mitigation potential and impact studies, with the target in 2015/16 to complete two studies (finalise Phase One of the National Carbon Sinks Atlas and update the mitigation potential analysis), while three studies were targeted in 2019/20 (national carbon sinks atlas, update the carbon sinks assessment and update the mitigation potential analysis). With the indicator measuring the number of climate change response policy initiatives being implemented, the 2015/16 target was for two interventions to set the terms of reference for updating the Desired Emission Reduction Omissions (DEROs) and carbon budgets and to get the pollution prevention plans for carbon budgets approved.

Ms Ngcaba discussed the objective related to minimising the negative impacts on health and wellbeing, noting there were indicators to develop, implement and facilitate the national adaptation strategy, finalise, implement and facilitate a number of sector adaptation plans and conduct a number of climate change risk analysis and adaptation studies. With this last indicator, the baseline was to complete phase one of the long-term adaptation scenario for five sectors -- water, agriculture, biodiversity, marine fisheries and health -- for the targets in 2015/16 to conduct climate change risk analysis for two provinces and to finalise the provincial climate change situation analysis and needs assessment. Other indicators in the objective included improving the national air quality indicator, increasing the number of air quality monitoring stations reporting -- to 100 government-owned air quality monitoring stations reporting in 2015/16 -- and increase the percentage of facilities with atmospheric emission licences reporting to the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System. Also in this strategic objective was to develop and implement the air quality regulatory framework for a draft section 23, to declare small scale charcoal plants as controlled emitters, targeted in 2015/16, and to implement the annual plans for three priority areas (Highveld, Vaal Triangle Air Shed and Waterberg-Bonjanala) in 2019/20. The last indicator was to develop and compile reports on the framework for reporting on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by industry, with the 2019/20 target to develop the 2000 – 2016 GHG inventory.    

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation
Ms Makotoko took the Members through the programme beginning with the first strategic objective, to ensure that ecosystems were conserved, managed and used sustainability, where the first indicator was to increase the percentage of land under conservation. Here the baseline was for 10.67% land to be under conservation and the 2019/20 target was to increase this percentage to 13.7%. The next indicator was to increase the number of additional biodiversity stewardship sites established, with the 2019/20 target being to have three additional stewardship sites established. For the indicator related to the percentage (above 67%) of area of state-managed protected areas assessed with a Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT), the target in 2019/20 was to have 91% of state-managed protected areas assessed with a METT and for the number of tools for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity developed and implemented. The 2019/20 target was to have six biodiversity management plans for the African Lion, white rhino, bontebok, Pickergill reed frog, Cape Vulture and Cape Mountain Zebra.

The next objective was improving access, fair and equitable sharing of benefits, where the first indicator was to increase the number of community-based interventions to promote access to natural resources. Here the 2015/16 target was to establish the Bushbuckridge project management unit and to have five community-based projects implemented in 2019/20 as part of the Bushbuckridge master plan. Another target for 2015/16 was to host the sixth People and Parks conference. With the indicator related to the number of National Biodiversity Economy Development Strategy (NBEDS) annual targets implemented, the target for 2019/20 was to implement two NBEDS. Other indicators in the objective was to increase the number of benefit sharing agreements concluded and approved, and to increase the number of natural resource-based enterprises established in support of the wildlife economy vision 2024, with 50 sustainable natural resource-based enterprises established targeted for 2019/20. For the development and compilation of reports on the framework for reporting on GHG emissions by the industry, the 2015/16 target was to identify and conduct research into the Second UN Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (UNDLDD), while the last indicator was to increase the number of research/science-based policy recommendations finalised.

Mr Makhubele asked why there was no baseline for the indicator looking at the number of air quality monitoring stations meeting minimum data requirements. He asked if there were any projections of when pollution in the air could be linked to a particular source – it may be difficult, but it should be possible and something the Department should aspire to, think about and budget for.

Ms Mokotoko explained this was a new indicator which had not been measured before, which explained why the baseline was N/A – the element of data recovery had not been assessed before. The minimum data recovery was 80%. As it stood, the Department did not assess if this minimum requirement was being met, which explained why the baseline was N/A at the moment.

The Chairperson said that the confusion came in with the way the indicator was framed.

Ms Ngcaba said that next year, when the strategic plan was reviewed, there would be a baseline for this indicator after knowing exactly what it took to make the indicator happen. It was encouraging that the Committee was this thorough.

Mr Makhubele said the indicator needed to be clear that the target was an assessment. He was pleased he now understood what the indicator was referring to.

Mr Wills said the attribution of the source of a particulate pollutant needed to be done through monitoring at source. The particulate matter could be monitored and captured for a detailed analysis which would be able to say if the matter came from coal fire, wood fire, or some kind of process. This would indicate the category of pollution. Because air was blowing all over the place, it was very difficult to attribute a sample exactly. The attribution needed to be done with the identification of the category of pollution and what process it came from, through monitoring at source. This was why the law stated each and every holder of an air emission licence had to report on its stack emissions. The data gathered from remote monitoring stations needed to be combined with source emissions. The important part of the work was that the problem was not only industrial pollutants, but indoor pollution, domestic waste burning and multiple sources. This contributed to the health and wellbeing question, where there was a multiple approach to air quality management for industrial emissions, household emissions and the various sources of pollutions.

Mr Bonhomme asked why only two provinces were being targeted in 2015/16 and 2019/20 for the number of climate change risk analysis and adaptation studies conducted.

Ms Deborah Ramalope, Chief Director: Climate Change Mitigation, DEA, explained that given the capacity of the Department, only two provinces could be done per year, which added up to nine provinces by 2019/20.

Ms Kekana questioned why the biodiversity management plans were focused on only certain wildlife.  

The Chairperson wanted to know why only 40 municipalities had been targeted for the rollout of the “Let’s Respond” toolkit in 2015/16 and 2019/20 under the provincial and local government climate change adaptation programmes implemented. How often did the Department measure negative impacts on health and wellbeing, as it was one of the strategic objectives under the climate change and air quality programme? How could the Department mitigate if it did not measure? How often were dipstick studies conducted? He asked why no other projects, except the one for Bushbuckridge, were targeted in terms of the indicator to increase the number of community-based interventions to promote access to natural resources. There was no problem with Bushbuckridge, but he thought not only one community should be targeted for the next five years.

Ms Mancotywa said that with Bushbuckridge, the programme was borne out of the idea to expand benefits from hotspots, like the Kruger National Park, into neighbouring communities, hence the Department developing a master plan for longer-lasting and expanded benefits through integrated plans. The Department would learn lessons from Bushbuckridge when piloting to other municipalities. The DEA also identified a number of other areas to adjacent hotspots to reap the same level of benefits as with Bushbuckridge. The DEA then wanted to develop a catalogue to use as a basis for investment from the private sector for the promotion of conservation.

Ms Ngcaba added the plans referred to could be submitted to the Committee from time to time. The first pilot would be taking place in Bushbuckridge, but the DEA outlined other areas as well, resources permitting.

Ms Ramalope responded that most municipalities had started implementing the “Let’s Respond” toolkit so a further 40 municipalities were chosen based on the vulnerabilities and capacity the municipalities had. The intention was to get the municipalities to implement the toolkit themselves, to mainstream climate processes in policy rather than stand-alone climate change strategies or policies. It was better for streamlining in by-laws.

Mr Wills said the question on the measurement of health was an epidemiological one, where the expertise lay with the Health Research Council under the Department of Health. The Department received specialised studies from epidemiologists and toxicologists to assist on assessments of various impacts. The general monitoring of health and wellbeing was the responsibility of the Department of Health and the DEA engaged with it in trying to set agendas for priority monitoring. The Department of Health did a regular survey on the impact of lead pollution, asbestos etc. Specialised studies were also conducted on individual priority areas.   

Ms Stander said she knew the country was in a situation where energy was scarce and this was unlikely to change in the next five years. Certain energy producers were supposed to be decommissioned between 2022 and 2024 and there was a situation where these producers said they would not be decommissioned because of the situation the country was in now. Furthermore, these producers said the investment required for retrofitting was far too expensive and they would just have to continue supplying energy because there was no alternative, and would just apply for rolling postponement applications. What was the Department’s strategy to ensure there was no harm to the public’s health in those areas where this was the situation? What was the Department’s plan in the next five years, noting that the polluters in the high priority areas would just continue? She saw a decline in the number of black people able to visit SANParks in general - what was DEA’s plan to promote, improve and encourage more access to natural resources for people to develop a connection with nature.

Ms Mancotywa highlighted the successful People and Parks programme, which came from the World Parks Conference which SA hosted ten years ago. The programme ensured there was access by local communities who lived in and around parks, not only for access to nature and infrastructure but cultural aspects, as some parks had graves inside them so this overarching programme for access was critical. Every year the Department met with these communities to agree on priorities and targets going forward. The DEA also worked with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on benefit access to protected areas in terms of land restitution and core management agreements. The Department had a robust programme called “Kids in Parks”, working with the Department of Basic Education and Pick n Pay to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds were made aware. SANBI also had access programmes in place. It was important to ensure people were part of the decision-making in terms of parks.

Ms Ngcaba responded that with the decommissioned energy producers, the Department did not yet have a plan to deal with this, but the sense was that there was still an opportunity to think about it when the licences were renewed. Decommissioning was a whole process and the Department would need to think of how best to manage it. The likelihood was that it would be linked to source attribution. The emphasis was that the air would not be worse off than it currently was, and it was hoped that some would make the right investments for cleaner technology. The Department would return with a more thorough answer because it was difficult to pre-empt, and she could not make a judgement call on that.

The Chairperson requested the last question of the Member be reserved for when the entities (SANParks and SANBI) came before the Committee on Tuesday.

Mr Bonhomme asked if access into protected areas was free.

Ms Ngcaba answered that children entered these areas for free, even in SANBI. There was still a decline in visitor numbers because visitors were considered the paying ones. Stats showed the behavioural change had not quite yet materialised. It was hoped that investing in children would teach them an appreciation of parks. Environmental issues were part of the school curriculum, but the fact was that black visitor numbers were not increasing and DEA hoped the parks were a source of joy for the citizens of SA.

Mr Makhubele thought more work needed to be done, because even if all polluters/industries met standards by 2020, people would still be affected by air pollution and health hazards to some degree. The guilty companies could not be punished unless the contribution was known. Because of wind, the likelihood that people were affected by air pollution was certain, even though the industries tried to shift the blame to household pollution. Unless government could pinpoint companies in certain areas for pollution, they would not be able to be punished and would get away with murder, because legally they could not be found guilty. Although the Department’s legislation assisted and there were plans, he questioned if there were aspirations to link the source to the pollution. If there was no answer yet this was fine, but then work was needed.

Ms Ngcaba highlighted that at a previous briefing with the Committee on air quality, it had said it was trying to explore best practice in this regard. In the initial stages, there would need to be a research project with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) or academic institutions. In the Vaal priority area, the Department was already in talks with the University of the Witwatersrand to look at matters around accepting the limitations of the science (not possible to have direct source attribution), but for proxies to be done in a legally defensive manner. It was clear the DEA could not take any company to court on these matters. The issue was on impacts – how it was controlled, and the extent of compliance was monitored also for small plants. The Committee would be briefed when the Department had more structured plans on the way forward and budgets. The DEA would need to work with partners in the science sector in this regard, especially DST and the Department of Health.

The Chairperson noted compliance issues by companies under the Air Quality Act, yet they were not included in the indicators for this programme.

Ms Ngcaba clarified that all compliance related issues were covered under LACE: Programme Two.  

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes
Ms Makotoko said the strategic objective was improved socio-economic benefits. In this objective, one of the indicators was for a number of full time job equivalents to be created. Here the baseline was16 706 and the Department hoped to grow this baseline to 191 673 in 2019/20. With the number of work opportunities created in these programmes, the target for 2015/16 was 50% women, 65% youth and 2% people with disabilities. These targets were aligned with the country’s employment equity standards. With the indicator for the percentage of young people in exit opportunities, the target for 2015/16 was 75%. There were also indicators relating to the number of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) used or empowered and the number of buy-back and/or recycling facilities created.

Moving to the next strategic objective in the programme -- to restore and maintain ecosystems -- the 2015/16 target for the number of wetlands under rehabilitation was 120, increasing to 150 wetlands per annum in 2019/20. There was a target to plant just over three million trees in 2015/16, for 25 116 hectares of land to be under restoration or rehabilitation in 2015/16, and 110 726 hectares in 2019/20, to have 118 community parks created or rehabilitated in 2019/20, and for 2 113 kilometres of accessible coastline cleaned steadily from 2015/16 through to 2019/20.

With the objective of managing threats to environmental quality and integrity, the baseline for the number of environmental monitors trained and deployed in conservation areas was 907, while the 2015/16 target was 1 441, to be maintained through to 2019/20. There were targets around the number of emerging invasive alien species targeted for early detection, the number of sites where biological controls would be released to manage invasives, the number of initial hectares treated for invasive alien plants and the number of hectares followed up, and the percentage of wildfires suppressed (provided there were no more than 2 000 wildfires) was targeted at 90% for 2015/16.

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management
Ms Ngcaba said the first strategic objective was to manage threats to the environmental quality and integrity, where the first target was around the number of industry waste management plans reviewed per annum. The baseline was to have the integrated industry waste tyre management plan approved by the Minister and the 2015/16 target was to have three of the plans reviewed for e-waste, lighting and paper and packaging. The baseline for the number of unlicensed waste disposal facilities authorised per annum was 15, while the 2015/16 target was 57, and 259 for 2019/20. There was a target for the number of chemicals and waste management instruments developed and implemented with a specific target to finalise a study on the impact of the Minamata Convention to manage the mercury chemical stream. The baseline for this indicator was to implement multilateral environmental agreement action plans.

With the strategic objective to minimise negative impacts on health and wellbeing in respect of citizens, one of the indicators was for the number of hectares of land to be remediated for asbestos contamination, with the 2015/16 target being to remediate five hectares, and 20 hectares in 2019/20. The 2015/16 target for the percentage decrease on Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) consumption was 10% (4 284.3 tonnes), while the baseline was for the HCFC phase-out management plan to be finalised, and the 2019/20 target was a 35% reduction, or 3 094.2 tonnes.

For the growth in industries that depend on environmental services, the 2015/16 target for the number of jobs created within the waste management sector was 576.

Mr Bonhomme said he had always wanted to know how waste tyres were dealt with.

Mr Mark Gordon, DDG: Chemicals and Waste Management, DEA, said recycled tyres were used in a number of products. The recycled tyres were chopped and ground up to make a rubber crumb which was in big demand in many parts of the world. The crumb was used to make indoor gym mats, rooftops in Manhattan, astro-turf for hockey fields, etc, but some of the tyres went back into the making of tar and bitumen which went back on to the roads. Another initiative that was taking off in SA was cooking the waste tyre without a flame and gases were released, so that fuel and electricity could be made after the gases were cooled down. There were even projects to make petrol from waste tyres. The recycling potential for tyres was huge in SA and there was quite a big backlog in terms of stockpiles.

Mr Makhubele questioned the target for the number of trees planted for 2015/16 of over three million, which was a giant leap from the baseline of over 50 000. Was there a particular plan for how this would be done? He appreciated the ambition of the Department and was not trying to undermine its capacity. Why was there no baseline for the indicator dealing with the increase in the percentage of waste diverted from landfills? He hoped the target was not just a thumb suck. He wanted to know what the measuring instrument was for the 25% of waste tyres in terms of this indicator, and whether it could be verified. 

Mr Gordon replied that SA had a stockpile of something like 60 million tyres around the country and around 11 million tyres were produced per annum just for vehicles – more than 40 000 new vehicles were on the road per year. The baseline was 4%, but N/A was stated because the baseline for 2014/15 was not yet finalised, but in the third quarter the Department was on 12%. With the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (REDISA) being up and running for just over a year now, there was quite a comprehensive monitoring system in place which was computerised, where all manufactures and producers were listed so the Department knew the exact numbers of production. The Department also knew exactly how many tyres were imported and some illegal consignments of waste tyres being brought into SA were already picked up, but the Department was on top of this. This meant there was quite an accurate amount of monitoring in terms of numbers, but the 25% target was quite ambitious for 2015/16, and the 90% in 2019/20. The target for REDISA was 100% of all tyres produced being collected, recycled and reused in whatever way. The answer was that there was a verifiable and accurate measuring system.  

Ms Kekana asked how waste management could be made more attractive for studying. Were the landfills close to residential areas not a health risk?

Mr Gordon said a lot of the sites were illegal dumping sites, and the programme was to close them down. The long-term vision of the Department was to move away from landfills through waste diversion to recycling, reuse, waste minimisation and compost while creating jobs for communities. Health effects on communities close to landfill sites was a real problem and in many of the metros, houses were coming closer to landfill sites, but the idea was to work with the metros to close down sites and find new sites, but more to push them into recycling centres. The Department had a major programme around buy-back centres for people to take recyclable materials to get paid. Landfills currently were the cheapest option, but the idea was not to perpetuate the use of these sites. With the studies, there were a number of programmes the Department ran itself for broad education, with a key focus on the local government level. For the first time this year, there was an undergraduate degree in waste management from the University of KZN and North West. This would produce artisan engineers to get involved in waste management technologies and treatment.

The Chairperson agreed about the big increase in the target for number of trees planted from the baseline – was there a good explanation for this? It was logical that a greater target was expected for 2019/20. Where would these trees be planted? He wanted to know why there was no baseline for the indicator looking at the number of eradication interventions on emerging invasive alien species. Was this work not done before? This did not seem possible, as it was a large sector of the environmental programmes and projects. He asked what HCFC was. He was concerned about the working conditions of people in the “working for” programmes. Issues relating to payment were raised from time to time, which might not be different from other Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects. He fully understood the benefits the programmes provided to people who otherwise might not be employed, but were there plans to improve the area for people who worked in the programmes for many years -- even risking life in the case of Working for Fire -- or some means of progression in this work environment?

Dr Guy Preston said the trees to be planted this year, around 50 000, were those used in the greening programme -- mature trees used in parks and lining of streets etc. The target had been increased because the DEA was looking at trees planted for rehabilitation purposes, where there was degraded land. The approaches were firstly, to get poor people to plant the trees and the Department would buy them back for ownership and job creation, and secondly to rehabilitate areas with Spekboom which had wonderful properties in terms carbon, water, social erosion etc, especially in the Eastern Cape where the Spekboom was indigenous. Not all of the Spekboom survived, because the elephants in the parks liked eating them, but nonetheless this was the target. The target was not increased for 2019/20 because of budget, otherwise the Department could plant many more trees through the “treepreneurs” who grew trees on behalf of the Department. A whole lot of tree planting work which had not been captured was now being recorded.

The DEA used a very specific definition of eradication, which was complete removal so that the species no longer occurred in the country, while control was controlling the species in the country. So far on mainland SA, only one species had been eradicated -- a snail introduced at a harbour which had been killed before it could spread. The country did not have a good track record with eradication, because it was extremely difficult especially plants whose seeds lay in soil, surviving for many years. This was why eradication attempts were referred to, but good work was being done in the area.

With the “Working For” programmes, he recognised the concern of the employees in Working for Fire and notes had been prepared for the Minister on this. It was important to bear in mind that in the end, the “Working For” programmes were part of the EPWP. The Working for Fire had done incredible work in Cape Town recently and deserved all the praise, but it had been no more difficult or dangerous than the other programmes. When Working for Fire was on a scene, people came out with donations of cookies etc, but when Working for Water was out, people complained about the noise. In fact, Working for Water contributed to the removal of thousands of invasives which burned at ten times the temperature that indigenous plant did, and this stopped the fires in Cape Town being the catastrophe it could have been – it was wrong that this was not acknowledged.

All the programmes needed to be treated with extra respect at the end of the day. The Department did not set the tariffs, and the Committee as political leaders set the wage levels. The difficulty was that people could be paid more but then fewer people would get paid more – the decision was whether to pay more people less, or fewer people more. A Working on Fire employee earned R23 600 in their pockets, excluding training, clothes and other benefits. The EPWP had been set up so that it would not interfere with the market and was an option of last resort, so wages were competitive in this respect. He was disturbed that it was quite populist to say these people were not paid enough and should be getting more, but this had a potential impact on the sense of work the people had. He interacted with them all the time, and the employees had such pride, discipline and fitness which was remarkable. There was a real sense of accomplishment which should be lauded, rather than people suggesting they were unhappy with the working conditions. The Department was doing its very best within the EPWP rules and provisions. These workers, specifically those from Working for Fire, were in great demand. There were 320 staff managing Working for Fire and of those, 180 were former fire-fighters who had worked themselves up to management and this was exceptional.

Mr Gordon said the HCFC were Hydrochlorofluorocarbons -- basically man-made chemicals used as refrigerants, in aerosol cans and insulation foam. They were dangerous chemicals which harmed the ozone layer, causing global warming. The Montreal Protocol had taken a decision that these chemicals must be banned and phased out, so this was what the Department’s target was based on.

Closing Comments
The Chairperson noted the Committee would go through the finances of the Department on Tuesday when the entities were also discussed, because the finances included the entities. This would be best. The Committee would keep scrutinising the Department and holding it to account for the targeted good plans. The more regularly the Committee interacted in this way, the more Members could learn. The Department was happy with what the Department had presented.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: