Antarctica and Extended Continental Shelf; Working on Fire deployment in Canada

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

08 November 2016
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The South African programme on Antarctica involves the Department of Environment, the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Defence, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, tertiary Institutions, and the National Research Foundation. However, South Africa has no comprehensive National Antarctic Strategy and no National Research Strategy to guide and direct efforts. Therefore the country, the only in Africa involved in the Antarctica Treaty and one of only five gateways to Antarctica, is lagging behind in terms of benefiting from its investments there. Suggestions made by the Department to rectify this and create more awareness about the Antarctica are the creation of an Antarctic Centre and the establishment of an African Polar Institute.

A briefing was provided on the Extended Continental Shelf which explained that the United Nations Law of the Sea allowed coastal states to claim as exclusive economic zones the area 200 nautical miles from the coast into the ocean. Beyond 200 nautical miles, all resources in the water, on and under the seabed belong to that country but not those in the water, such as the fish. Petroleum Agency SA had submitted claims.

The Committee agreed that a strategy is long overdue as South Africa has been long involved in the Antarctica. It requested a presentation on a possible strategy as an important next step.

The Working on Fire programme, an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) under the Department of Environmental Affairs, reported on the fire fighters deployed to Canada this year where incorrect media reporting led to an uncomfortable situation between the two countries. The Committee raised questions about the model of deployment used and the impression created about labour relations in South Africa especially the amount of money that ended up in the workers' pocket. A different remuneration regime was needed. A government to government agreement had to be in place before this happened again. The Committee heard that a fighting force across all the provinces has been established and about the positive effects of the programme in terms of socio-economic transformation

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted that details for the attendance of the Climate Conference (COP22) in Marrakech were still being finalised. Today's meeting was being held amidst interesting developments, some depressing, some exciting. The excitement was that the Paris Agreement came into force on the 4 November. The Chairperson noted that the Eiffel Tower was lit green in Paris. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, held a ceremony. It was fortunate that South Africa could submit the instrument of our ratification of the Paris Agreement before it came into force. The Committee had been told by the Minister that the country had managed to do this.

The other issue was the report released by the previous Public Protector, a subject of intense commentary by society. The matter in that report that affects the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs is the mine rehabilitation funds. This will have to be followed up. The Committee needs to get closer to that matter and have an engagement on it. He handed over to the Director General.

Antarctic Treaty and South Africa: Past, current and future plans
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, DEA Director General, introduced the Chief Director for Integrated Coastal and asked him to deliver the presentation.

Dr Jonas Mphepya, DEA Chief Director: Integrated Coastal Management, commented that Antarctica was the coldest, driest, windiest place and the continent with the highest average elevation in the world. In summer the continent had a population of 10 000 and in winter just over 1 200. The distance between the closest country (South America) and Antarctica is 1 000km. Also, it was a fact that if Antarctica should melt there would be a rise of about 76 meters in the global sea level.

In 1957-58, South Africa was invited to participate in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition as part of the celebration of the International Geophysical Year. This led directly to South Africa’s active involvement in Antarctic research and the establishment of a research station that is staffed year-round. Ten years before that, in December 1947 the Marion and Prince Edward Islands were annexed by South Africa. This was after World War 2 when there was a fear that the Soviet Union might occupy Marion Island and establish a base for whaling activities as well as use it as a springboard to take possession of that part of Antarctica directly south of SA and launch a rocket attack.

In 1959 the United States initiated negotiations that led to the Antarctica Treaty that covers five areas:
• All testing of nuclear weapons and the dumping of radioactive waste is forbidden in Antarctica.
• Countries that sign up to the Treaty are free to carry out scientific research and must share their results.
• Claims to slices of Antarctica by individual countries are set aside so long as the Treaty exists.
• No military activities are allowed in Antarctica – the continent must be used for peaceful purposes only.
• The Treaty promotes Antarctica as a place to undertake important scientific research.

In addition, there are four other agreements that now make up the full “Antarctica Treaty System” which are:
• Agreed measures for the conservation of Antarctica fauna and flora (1964)
• Convention of the conservation of Antarctic seals (1972)
• Convention on the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources (1982)
• The Protocol on environmental protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1998)
 
Also mineral exploitation is prohibited until 2048 and overturning of the prohibition requires a majority of 75% (there is talk of making it 100%).

The international interest in Antarctica is currently rising. Non-original Antarctic Treaty countries have increased their bases (for example China, South Korea and India.) Iran and Turkey have said they intend to build bases in Antarctica and Pakistan has approved an Antarctic expansion. Countries undergoing austerity measures such as the United Kingdom and Australia are building new polar research vessels and Australia, Russia and Norway (who just released a White Paper on Antarctica) are renewing strategies.

Also there are disputes over proposals for a new marine protected areas and conflict between anti-whaling groups and the Japanese government over whaling.

The question regarding increased interest is: “Is this just science or might there be other interests?”

As far as South Africa - the only African country in the Antarctic Treaty - goes, the DEA stated the country is not fully utilizing the investment made in Antarctica and the Marion and Prince Edward Islands. This includes the SA Agulhas 2 (an icebreaking polar supply and research ship owned by the DEA) and bases on the islands and Antarctica, as well as scientific infrastructure.

Another problem is that South Africa has no comprehensive National Antarctic Strategy and no National Research Strategy to guide and direct efforts. The South African Programme on Antarctica is fragmented between the DEA, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Department of Defence (DOD), the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), tertiary Institutions, and the National Research Foundation.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are key to the global weather systems, a major carbon sink, vast marine resources and great potential for bio-prospecting. Reasons for South Africa not using our proximity to the fullest extent are a limited number of renowned scientists and we should develop long term partnerships with countries leaving from here to Antarctica.

“We need to come up with a business case to close the gap between our investment and the benefits we receive,” said Dr Mphepya.

The Department proposed the creation of an Antarctic centre and the establishment of an African Polar Institute.

The creation of an Antarctic centre will provide enormous scope and potential for awareness-raising education, job creation, grass-roots skills generation and it will emphasize South Africa’s commitment to Antarctic research. Dr Mphepya said that such a centre can offer visitors the “look and feel” of Antartica. New Zealand has such a centre and a strategic location for ours will be Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.

The establishment of an African Polar Institute will provide a “one-stop shop” for the coordination of polar expeditions. The intent is for the institute to be located in a centralised local and serve as a secretariat for African Polar initiatives. A strategic location for the institute could - for example – be close to the University of Mpumalanga and Antarctic science, polar law, polar politics, cold climate and remote medicine and expertise in Antarctic trades and operations could be studied.

Extended Continental Shelf briefing
Mr Ashley Naidoo, DEA Chief Director: Oceans and Coastal Research, explained that the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS-1982) exclusive economic zones (EEZ’s) are established that cover 200 nautical miles (a nautical mile is 1.8km) from the coast into the ocean. All resources in the water, on and under the seabed belong to that country. UNCLOS allowed coastal states to claim the ocean areas beyond 200 nautical miles. This is the extended continental shelf and all resources on and under the seabed belongs to the country but not those in the water, such as the fish.

The Petroleum Agency South Africa submitted a twofold claim – firstly the area around South Africa and secondly a joint claim with France where they are claiming the area around the Crozet Island and SA the area around Marion and Prince Edward Islands - in 2009. This claim is undergoing evaluation this year and an outcome is likely to be reached in February or March 2017. Present feedback from the Petroleum Agency is that while there is confidence on the major areas of the claim, additional data may be required for some areas, but more data will not necessarily guarantee the claim. There is a joint claim for a Discovery Ridge between the islands, which is not completed yet.

Ms Ngcaba explained that Petroleum Agency SA was an entity under the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) with offices in Cape Town. She said we have different neighbours in the ocean than on the continent. Thus we have France, Norway and Germany as neighbours with cooperation requirements in this geopolitical sense. The whole Antarctica programme was being relooked at in the context of the Oceans Economy. The Minister would like the Committee to reflect on that context. Taking into account a previous full presentation on Oceans Economy the key question remains: what is the plan for Antarctica? Are the Committee and the Department going to form a policy or a strategy and what are the balancing forces?

The significance of the presentation is: In the context of climate management, carbon dioxide control and the influence of planet patterns - the more data collected by scientist the more we contribute to world, especially in respect of resources and climate change over time.

She said there was cooperation amongst the departments, especially the Department of Science and Technology (DST) whose contributions are normally indicated in the financial statements. The DEA spends a lot of their budget on logistics (to move scientists from various universities, the Weather Service and atmospheric scientists based at the University of Pretoria.)

When the Minister has taken Cabinet through the strategy of the White Paper, the Department will be able to present factually what will then have been resolved as a way forward.

Lastly she said that South Africa’s weather station on the UK owned Gough Island may perhaps migrate to a site that has been identified – but investigation and negotiation of the proposal are still being made.

Discussion:
Ms J Edwards (DA) asked: Is there a way to guide the Committee to get to - or just to start getting to the point of an integrated instead of the fragmented management of the South African Antarctica Programme? Tongue in the cheek, she asked what the theory/hunch/idea is on the increase in global interest in Antarctica. It cannot just be science? What are the implications for us and our research?

Mr T Hadebe (DA) asked: Has the Department done any speculative work or marine spatial planning for if we are successful in the expansion claim? What resources are we expecting to get? How is it going to cooperate with Operation Phakisa?

Ms H Nyambi (ANC) asked what the rationale was to say that mineral exploitation will be prohibited until 2048, and what will happen after 2048?

The Chairperson wanted to know the likely “post-2048” scenario. Is there any possibility that there will be a move to start mineral exploration? How long will further claims on Antarctica still be entertained?

Ms Ngcaba replied that they are doing the best they can to co-ordinate activities. The old SA Agulhas was co-ordinated between themselves and Fisheries and the DST. The Department then went on and asked if the function should be kept in the DEA. But there was a programme under the National Research Foundation that was aligned with the function. Also research on exploring the role of South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is not concluded yet. For now the DEA can still co-ordinate the functions within the departments and enable cooperation with various institutions - although it is not easy. The DWS was not keen for the function to be with them because of all the maintenance involved. The legal authorisation branch sends scientists to go and access and do environmental impacts reports. Data is collected and the footprint is analysed. There is a lot done on protection, responsible research, applied science and functions. Maybe tourism can be promoted more. There are economic activities that have not been thought through and aligned, therefore there is potential for Operation Phakisa.

Ms Ngcaba said that a future institute will still need co-operation between departments to enable the harmonisation of activities and alignment.

She said there is a global growing acknowledgement of the role of the oceans. It is already understood that more than 70% of the world economy happens at sea, in the past that was not emphasized. If the Suez Canal were to close, South Africa will be a very important hub for shipping activities and the movement of vessels.

Her sense was that, because of politics and Antarctica being a “peace island” the mineral prohibition will still pertain even after 2048. Though, the modelling and options (a hybrid for example) had not been done between the countries yet.

Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director General (DDG): Oceans and Coastal Research, DEA, said that he met one delegation - he won’t name – who told him that there is no difference between geological research and mining research. Therefore, although it was quite clear that this delegation was to go beyond geological research they said they were doing geological research. There is a delegation from Norway that is very strong with catching krill – as an important compound for future medicines. Patagonian Toothfish and crabs are of interest. It can be said that SA is not participating as fully as other countries, especially the newcomer countries. Mr Mayekiso agreed with the DG's comment that the moratorium on mineral exploitation will not be lifted in 2048.

He answered Mr Hadebe that, for a variety of reasons, South Africa had not explored the current 200 nautical miles yet and said that when exploration starts, it will be explored fully.

The Chairperson asked if he understand rightly that the first 200 nautical miles is for fishing and the second 200 nautical miles not for fishing but, for example, to explore for oil.

The DG affirmed and added for pharmaceutical purposes too. She asked Mr Mayekiso to explain what is happening in Antarctica with regards to whaling.

Mr Mayekiso said the “normal opponents” (Japan, Norway et cetera) opposed having the Southern Ocean as a whale sanctuary and it was lost. The National Whaling Commission is polarised with the Japanese continuing to do what they call “scientific research” and peace seems impossible.

Ms Ngcaba said that South Africa does not support the catching of whales and the Department can come back to present why they hold that position. She said the new parties on Antarctica subscribe more to the activity of whaling.

In closing, the Chairperson said that the time for questions has passed. He said a detailed interaction on the oceans is needed for Members' understanding and appreciation for the work that is done. The need for a strategy is long overdue. It has been many years that South Africa has been involved in Antarctica. A presentation on a possible strategy is therefore an important next step.

Working on Fire briefing
Mr Trevor Abrahams, Director, WoF, said he met Mr Kim Connors, the executive director of the Canadian Inter-Agency Forest Firefighting Centre (CIFFC) at the 5th Global Wildfire Conference at the Sun City Convention Centre in 2011. Mr Connors indicated an interest in bringing the WoF fire-fighters to Canada to assist when disaster fires outstrip their domestic capacity.

In May 2015 the Assistant Deputy Minister of Forestry in Canada, Mr Glen Mason approached Mr Abrahams, who then served as the Secretary General of the World Forestry Congress, at the UN in New York. He expressed the same need. It was then decided that a government-to-government agreement on such an exchange will be pursued at the World Forestry Congress, which was to take place in September 2015. However by July 2015, the fires in Canada had exhausted capacity and a team of 49 fire fighters and 3 members of an Incident Management Team (IMT) were deployed to Canada - based on a 2015 operating plan agreed upon between WoF, CIFFC, and the governments of Alberta and British Columbia.

The 30 day deployment was a huge success and the fire fighters were formally rated as being the best among the teams. They received all their domestic payments due to them and an additional overseas allowance of CAD$50 per day while deployed for this assignment. Some used the “windfall” to pay for education, building accommodation and one former fire fighter started his own small business.

After the outbreak of the disaster, the Fort McMurray fire in Alberta Canada, WoF received another request on 20 May 2016 to come and assist. The request was for 294 crew and seven agency representatives (management) for a total of 34 days.

The 2016 Operating Plans allowed for WoF to submit a budget proposal covering a range of expenses reduced to an average “flat rate” per fire fighter. This “flat rate” per fire fighter does not equate the actual remuneration received by any of WoF personnel, but represents a per capita rate for the 294 fire fighters CAD 172,88 per day and CAD 450 per day for the seven management.

This covered all anticipated costs surrounding the deployment, including;
• Remuneration and associated benefits to crew
• Comprehensive medical, personal injury, compensation and death insurance
• Mobilisation and demobilisation costs
• Supplies
• Training
• Local travel and vehicle hire
• Personal Protective Clothing
• Equipment
• Incidentals and Contingency.

The nature of the deployment is such that this is not necessarily the final figure and is subjected to reconciliation at the end of the deployment. Only then is 85% of this amount paid over to WoF, three months after the return of the deployees and the remaining 15% within 3 months thereafter. Per day a fire fighter was to earn R780 - this included the current average stipend per day, the current domestic away from home base allowance/day and an international out of country allowance per day (the CAD$50). They left on 29 May and started fighting the fire. But there were two things unfortunate things that created a great false hope and confusion among the fire fighters (who came from all nine provinces of the country). The first was a newspaper article in the “Toronto Globe and Mail” on the 2 June 2016 that claimed that the remuneration had increased to CAD$21/hour. The second was an ECNA broadcast on 3 June that featured an interview of the Canadian High Commissioner, while a station announcer did a voice over announcing that the salary had indeed been increased from CAD$15 per hour to CAD$21 per hour. There was no basis for this but because the fire fighters could see the ECNA broadcast on YouTube they believed it.

According to Mr Abrahams the WoF fire fighters were encouraged by their Canadian counterparts to demand the increase. The Alberta Premier joined the debate on pay for WoF fire fighters and said they should receive the CAD$21 per hour. On the 8 June the local WoF management gave the fire fighters a day off. They did not go on strike, as stated in some media reports.

At the same time, the Minister of Environment Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa dispatched Mr Abrahams as a mediator .When he arrived in Canada on the 10 June the weather had improved (in terms of the fire danger) and the Fort McMurray fire was under control. Plans for the demobilization of foreign fire fighters was put in place. The team returned safely to South Africa on 14 June. They returned to their own provinces the same evening and confirmed the money due to them was indeed deposited.

WoF has since submitted a claim to the Alberta Department of Agriculture and Forestry for reimbursement of the costs related to deployment at the flat rates agreed upon. The invoice reflects:
• The claim for the days of actual deployment, at the previously agreed flat rates for crew and IMT members.
• An addition arising from the intervention of the Premier of Alberta, applicable to the six days the teams worked on the fire line.
• A credit for the CAD$50/day, which was replaced by the Premier’s determination for the 6 days.
• The additional costs of transporting the firefighters back to South Africa.
It is a total of CAD$ 2 046 696.42 or R24 560 357.01

WoF has received correspondence which indicates that the Canadian authorities are planning to draw on them again should their fire season result in disaster fires which exceed their capacity.

The lessons learnt from the deployment are:
• The failure by WoF to mount a timeous and strong media rebuttal was critical. In the future WoF must have a coherent and responsive media strategy.
• The management team which were dispatched with the firefighters were not sufficient to the task of managing so large a team abroad.
• WoF would need to spend a greater effort in explaining the addendum (covering their overseas allowance) to the employment contract which is signed prior to disaster emergency relief deployment abroad.

Working on Fire – overview of general expenditure
Dr Christo Marais, Chief Director: Natural Resource Management, explained that currently the most resources have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and the least in North West (WoF is trying to improve that).

WoF income comes from different sources. The resources are still funded by the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). That does not mean that other institutions do not allocate resources to integrated veld and forest fire management. More work can be done to unlock third party resources.

The fires attended to during 2015/16 were lower than in 2014/15 which was a very dry year. On the surface it could be expected that dry years should have more fires than wet years, but this is not necessarily true. Long term ecological research has shown that the years with the biggest and most severe fires are associated with at least two years of above average rainfall during the wet season. 2014/15 was a very disastrous year.

This year, up to September, a substantial area of fire breaks has already been burnt. This should contribute to the ability of land users to contain wildfires during the next fire season.

Significant strides have been made by WoF in the fight against unwanted wild fires in South Africa. WoF covers nearly all naturally fire prone areas of the country and is making significant contributions to the successful implementation of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). In the process more than 5 000 young people are being given employment and training opportunities every year with more than 30% of them women - greater than any other fire management programme in the world.

Discussion
Mr M Shelembe (NFP) asked why the inaccurate media reports were made. Was it intentional or an innocent mistake?

Ms J Edwards (DA) said there was a big gap between the figures asked for and the CAD$50 and asked if all the costs were accounted for in the financials. She said the CAD$21 per hour rate is very random. How did the reporter come up with that? Are we looking into that or is the case closed? She said that the Alberta Premier was up for re-election when she added to the confusion and “everything went up in flames". But did we do anything to correct her misinformation? She said she read one WoF media statement at that time. “It was a very weak response. We could have handled it better,” she said.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) said because fire fighters were mobilized by the Canadians and the foreign Premier to fight for CAD$21 - and because they ended up getting that - there is now a greater challenge. Precedence has been set. The sooner the agreement between DEA and DIRCO is finalized the better. Why did the management fees go down from 11.5% to 9%? He asked if the model that is being used was researched. Is it best practice? How did we figure out a model of deployment that works for us? Other countries we engage with have their own scientifically worked out model.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) reminded the DEA of a previous discussion about legislation that was needed to establish WoF as an entity. The Act referred points to DAFF. It is not a bad thing to do projects, to create job opportunities is good thing. But we need applicable legislation.

The Chairperson said that this time the report is detailed. This should have been done the first time already. The Canadian deployment of WoF did some damage to South Africa internationally - in particular how the country treats labour relations. The narrative that emerged is that we are mistreating our own employees. Now CAD$50 to workers versus a “flat rate” of CAD$172 fits into that narrative. What formula is used to come to CAD$50? It does create serious discrepancy. When one looks at the management fees - it was R1.7 million compared to around R600 000 for the previous deployment. Why such a substantial increase? Looking at the figures the Department has to be careful about the narrative on negative labour relations finding traction.

The Chairperson said that a presentation on all “Working For” programmes in the Department is needed. He said the Committee does not want to hammer one programme when the principle is across all programmes. He said they might have to organise an oversight visit for early next year.

Mr Abrahams answered Mr Shelembe that on the ECNA broadcast it was a very subtle voice behind the High Commissioner (who the fire fighters knew because they were sent off by her) that said their payment was raised from CAD$15 to CAD$21.There never was mention of either amounts before then. Mr Anton Harber said the reporter could not say where he got that information from. The reporter was given a final written warning. The newspaper report was jointly written by a reporter in South Africa and one in Canada and again it could not be said from where the wrong information came. Even in Alberta fire fighters are paid only CAD$11.

“Mea Culpa,” said Mr Abrahams. The WoF response to this was inadequate and definitely not timeous. We only responded publically on 9 June when this came out on 2 and 3 June. WoF was thinking it could be managed quietly and that it will go away. But the local managers had no standing against the High Commissioner face and the voice in the back. A fundamental lesson was learned. It does not help to fight with the media. One has to work with them through it.

About the cost, he answered that it the CAD$172 was estimated using the costs mentioned in the report. The camp was for 394 fire fighters that were transported to the camp from all over the country and the costs were covered. The SARS income tax brackets were used to come up with CAD$50. Most fire fighters are not in the tax bracket. The audited figures are contained in the financial statements and gave the page number.

Mr Abrahams said the Premier of Alberta is honourable and she has a long track record of working in labour. But her gesture of goodwill was quite problematic because it is more than the Canadians were getting. It was an attempt to placate the situation. This had created a precedent, but there is a lot of regret among the fire fighters because their end-game was not to get CAD$21. Many said they would have preferred to continue and get the experience of fire fighting rather than CAD$21. The addendum that was signed by the fire fighters held no ground against the YouTube clip and therefore more preparation in a solid beforehand agreement is needed. Mr Abrahams said this is not a lost cause, but the odds were stacked against the local management who went with the group. He explained that the 11.5% was for a short term contract and the 9% a long term contract.

Mr Abrahams said the positives were that a firefighting force across all the provinces has been established and the transformation of peoples’ lives must be appreciated. The disciplines fire fighters learn change how they rear their kids. Single fire fighter moms can put kids in crèche. This breaks the cycle of poverty. Therefore when speaking about a model, he answered Mr Makhubele that there is a lot of social transformation to take into account. Many fire fighters go on to become police officers and work in other government organisations. He would love to have the Portfolio Committee visit them and invited them to a Crew Leader Graduation Ceremony. Those are moments you really see the social transformation process happening.

Ms Ngcaba said that EPWP wages are often content for very difficult labour disputes. She mentioned a previous situation where EPWP labourers received between R30–R35 per day whereas farm labourers received R20–R25 per day. There is a ministerial determination that exempts EPWP from following labour law. One of the things to take into account is not to attract people who are formally employed. There have been very difficult labour disputes in the 15 years since the programme has started but it is less often now.

She said she can imagine how the WoF wages dispute could have happened: if you are in Canada and someone earns less than you, while there are labour laws to protect them, people talk and these things happen.

She answered Mr Makhubela’s question about the model of deployment saying that the model has failed the Department. Due to an implementing agent being used, the Department could not “stop the train” when they wanted to stop it. The Minister was concerned about that before the departure, she asked what would happen if anyone got hurt, for example. The key message is that - if this was public entity the Department would have an approved beforehand revenue structure, the CFO would have set the parameters and that which is needed – but this is an area of untested waters. Lessons learned must be used in the future or else the Department must say up front that there will be no international deployment for EPWP staff. A few years ago a study was undertaken that raised questions about a socio-economic approach and some of those findings can be incorporated into the model going forward.

Ms Ngcaba answered Mr Hadebe’s question on legislation, saying that when the programme started there were little resources from conservation. The different programmes were first tested in national parks. But since the programmes are now more permanent, the question of whether they can be financed other than through the EPWP, can be looked at. There are enough lessons through the years in the different programmes. On the law reform aspect, it is a good idea to perhaps look at the Biodiversity Act and incorporate fire fighting requirements for conservation purposes in it.

The Chairperson said the Department must come to the Committee with suggestions on the way forward. Firefighting legislation is administered by DAFF. Therefore the angle of biodiversity is an option but the Department has to formalise it. As it is new, it is an anomaly. As a government department you have to be empowered by legislation to do anything that you do. If there are ambiguities, these must be corrected. The Committee appreciates the capacity but the Department is spending more than R600 million on a function if there is not sufficient delegation by legislation.

The Chairperson said he was not sufficiently convinced about the ratios yet. When you deploy workers and they get CAD$50 out of CAD$172 and the rest go to costs and then almost 1.7 goes towards a management fee that becomes a sufficient basis for concern – even in the media. A different model of international deployment is needed. To get more than 100 and a worker getting only 50 is not justified. Some committee members have an activist background. “Really when you see something like this you see some level of exploitation. And it is provided for by law”. A lot of money accrues. A different engagement might be needed. Before a next deployment this must be looked at. EPWP must create employment for our people; it is not to make a profit internationally. He said his personal proposal is that a different remuneration regime is needed. Also a government to government agreement, even interim, is needed before WoF goes to Canada again. He said the Committee will do oversight and would like to interact with the fire fighters who went to Canada

Ms Ngcaba asked the Committee to remember that they came from the old department with water affairs and forestry and that most indigenous forests are by now transferred to DEA from DAFF – but other things are still in transition. Both departments are involved in law reform. DMR make decisions about mine reform, for example, without the DEA. Remaining legislation between DEA and DAFF and linkages between DWS and DMR have to be clarified. It is understood that there will be joint sittings to clear those matters. The relevant Ministers have reached an agreement about the draft Bill (that was registered the previous night) for forests and that must still be shared with the Committee.

The Chairperson said that before you do something you must be empowered by law. We understand the transition, but let us try to come up with something. The National Macro Organisation of the State Project (NMOS) does create situations.

He reiterated that the Committee would like to have a discussions with all the “Working For” programmes. Also another session is needed to further discuss the formula used to pay workers.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: