SANBI & SAWS Annual Plans; Climate Change COP22 Conference & Legislation; Marine Spatial Bill; North West game donation

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

03 May 2017
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The South African Weather Service briefed the Committee on its Annual Performance plan (2017-18); the issue regarding the former CEO and the current status of Senior Management in the organisation.

The CFO, presented the financial strategy of the organisation, linking goals to expenditure showing that total expenditure for 2017/18 was R396 619 million; for 2018/19, it was estimated at R369 815 million and 2019/20 it was estimated R392 111. The SAWS had increased their revenue by 16% from R341 million to R396 million.

Members asked about the kind of support if any was given to municipalities; bursary allocations to staff members; for a definition of ‘decent employment; aviation tariffs and how they were promulgated; how accurate weather predictions were and monitoring air quality.  The regulatory group was due to meet with and explain to the Committee how levies worked. The Committee was very upset about the situation with the CEO who had left and tasked the SA Weather Service Board with providing reasons why it should not pay the money paid to the CEO as part of the settlement. This was fruitless and wasteful expenditure the Committee.

The South African Biodiversity Institute briefed the Committee on its Annual Performance Plan 2017/18. Members felt that employee spending was too high, but the Institute disagreed with this as the organisation was knowledge based with some employees having rare skills. The Institute was asked to look at containing expenditure over the medium-term period so that it could be below 50%.

The Committee was briefed on the Marine Spatial Planning Bill [B 9-2017]. Members asked for clarity about the legislation around territorial waters and South Africa’s application for an extension of its territorial waters, and if there was a common understanding of ‘consultation’ among all parties involved in the implementation of the Bill. The Committee planned to host a detailed workshop on the Bill and framework before and preparation for the public hearings.

The Department briefed the Committee on the COP22 Conference in Marrakech and progress made so far towards a regulatory framework for climate change. 18 companies had so far committed to a carbon budget and the Department would work hard and fast to get the legal framework in place and into Parliament.

As the Committee did not reach a quorum, it could only look at the Bill, and would only be able to adopt next week. Adoption would be postponed to next week. The Committee was very interested in the legal framework and was on its submission to Parliament.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted apologies that had been received from the Minister and the Deputy Minister.   

Ms Ntsoaki Mngomezulu, Chairperson of South African Weather Service (SAWS) introduced the team from the SAWS and handed over to Ms Mmapula Kgari to do the presentation.    

South African Weather Service’s briefing on its Annual Performance Plan (2017 – 18)
Ms Mmapula Kgari, Acting CEO, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) reported on the Strategic Goals and Objectives of the organisation:

  • Strategic Goal 1: Provision of Products and Services. The impact of climate change is resulting in an increasing number of extreme weather events, which impacts on food security, lives and property. This calls for the development and provision of innovative products and services for both commercial and public good purposes that enable a weather- smart nation;
  • Strategic Goal 2: Capability and capacity developed. A shortage of skills in weather and climate related sciences make it difficult for SAWS to consistently deliver on its mandate and achieve its vision. This requires building a talent pool both in-house and on a national basis whilst extending and upgrading our current infrastructure;
  • Strategic Goal 3: Engaged Stakeholders. SAWS functions in a complex scientific and service environment where it is essential to maintain and manage stakeholder relationships to the benefit of all parties. Through the activities supporting this goal SAWS is committed to effectively partner, collaborate, manage and leverage its key stakeholder relations to deliver on SAWS' mandate and objectives and to ensure its sustainability;
  • Strategic Goal 4: Research, Knowledge and Intelligence creation. SAWS is mandated to innovate and provide products and services that are designed to solve real life weather related challenges. This requires ongoing research to maintain its technological edge in meteorology and related disciplines; and
  • Strategic Goal 5: Growth and Sustainability. SAWS is an essential element of South African public life, contributing to both the country's economic activities and safety of life. In order to grow while also ensuring that it remains sustainable, SAWS must establish sustained and high value sources of revenue to fund its operations.

Mr Lulama Gumenge, Acting General Manager and CFO, presented the financial strategy of the organisation, linking goals to expenditure showing that total expenditure for 2017/18 was R396 619 million; for 2018/19, it was estimated at R369 815 million and 2019/20 it was estimated R392 111. The SAWS had increased their revenue by 16% from R341 million to R396 million.

 (See Annual Report)

Discussion
Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked the Department when it said it was implementing 20% of its doctoral programmes, how many people were being spoken of.

Ms Julia Mphafudi, Acting General Manager: SAWS, replied that the Department aimed to increase the number of its own staff registering for Masters as well as PhDs; currently there were seven staff members registered Masters students; five PhDs were registered. Most of SAWS PhDs were sponsored by universities. The Department hoped to increase to 10 the number of personnel registered for PhDs.

Ms Kekana asked what kind of support was given to municipalities, and if any, which municipalities were given support.

Mr R Purdon (DA) referred to Slide 10 on page 5, Outcome 4 Decent Employment, and asked for a definition of ‘Decent Employment’.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General, replied that government had 14 Outcomes. The DEA contributed to Outcome 4 which was framed as ‘Decent Employment’ which was taken directly from the President’s Medium Term Strategic Framework of government, so all the outcomes were formulated by the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). The DEA contributed to temporary employment in maintenance of the infrastructure, as well as permanent work functions of the organisation. This was how the link was made in terms of strategy.

Mr Purdon referred to Page 12 where it was said that 60% of bursars were absorbed. He asked if the DEA could indicate where the bursaries were awarded, and how many were awarded per year.

Ms Mphafudi said a total of 65 bursaries were provided, 35 of which were for full time student employees. 30 were for part time students at university from undergraduate level up to completion of an honours degree. Once students completed their studies, they were absorbed into the Department as full-time employees.

Mr Purdon referred to page 20 and asked for an explanation about the monies which were raised for the aviation tariffs and how the tariff was promulgated

Mr Gumenge replied that public goods comprised of 60% of the SAWS’ total revenue; 28% was aviation revenue and 12% was commercial income

Mr Ndabambi Mnikeli, General Manager Operations: SAWS added that the economic outlook for the forthcoming year was looked at by considering things like GDP and inflation. SAWS also looked at how the airline industry was going to perform and how much it would cost SAWS to provide the service to the airline industry. There was a built-in model which took all these factors into consideration. Then a meeting would be held with the regulating committee of Meteorological Services, - which was the Committee which governed the aviation tariff - and a meeting with the Airlines Association of South Africa, which represented the major airlines, then finally a meeting was held to deal with these negotiations so the tariff could be determined. Should the actual revenue be higher than the projected revenue, it would be considered as an over-recovery; then it would be recovered over two years through a lower tariff.

The Chairperson said that this explanation was not easy for the Committee to understand.

The DG said the SAWS Executive did not run the tariff determination process. In terms of the South African Weather Services Act there was a regulatory Committee appointed to run that process. She recommended that the SAWS ran a full briefing and invited the Committee to see what the process entailed.

The Chairperson checked with the rest of the Committee to see if this was acceptable. This position was accepted by the Committee.

Mr Purdon referred to projected income and donor funds where it was stated that the Limpopo Agricultural Department was contributing. He asked what the situation was in this regard with other provinces

Ms Kgari said that SAWS currently offered advice services to other Provinces like Limpopo.

Mr Mnikeli replied that as a weather service they promoted awareness and then each province or municipality then made a decision as to what area they would like to focus on and how it should be approached. All provinces were involved; it was just that Limpopo decided to use the consulting services of the SAWS. SAWS was now working with the Free State University because the farmers there had a need for an early warning system. An inclusive process was underway because the early warning system would be developed with them.

Mr Purdon added to his earlier question about bursaries, that the Committee was not told what the recipients of bursaries were studying.

Ms Gumenge replied that mainly meteorological studies were being pursued. This included those who were pursuing full time studies.

The DG added that in terms of the areas of study for which bursaries were awarded, meteorology was the broad area. A breakdown of all the areas of study would be sent to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the whole question about commercialisation had to be unpacked, to be able to understand what was being charged, what service was being provided and what the process was of imposing that levy. So, as the DG was saying it would be useful for that regulatory group to come and explain the situation to the Committee. He referred specifically to Mr Purdon and asked that the SAWS do a briefing for the Committee on issues like the R51 tariff.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) said slides 10 and 18 talked to the community products available now which ensured a response to severe weather conditions. The most vulnerable communities were in the rural areas where farming was engaged in for sustenance;

Mr Makhubele referred to Slide 21 which showed the high cost of an aging infrastructure. He asked if the SAWS was sitting on a time bomb and would get caught without being ready. He asked if we were in a comfort zone, for how long would we be able to sustain this?

Mr Mnikeli replied that the SAWS was not in a ‘comfort zone’. It had deliberated on the matter this year and had developed a business case which was looked at by a special Board Committee that looked at operations, and it was recommended that that be presented to National Treasury to see if funds could be obtained from the infrastructure national budget. SAWS was actively communicating that as a country it needed to be proactive, which was why it was putting across a business case.

Mr Makhubele referred to Slide 31 on Growth and Sustainability. He asked how much the amount would have to be raised if actual recovery was needed.

Mr Gumenge said the amount budgeted for cost recovery was R130 million; mainly due to the volumes projected for the forthcoming year.

Mr Makhubele asked about spending patterns and if more was spent on public goods.

Ms Kgari said in terms of the variables that made up the non-commercial revenue, the SAWS sold mainly weather data – that came out of the infrastructure - like the lightning and radar data which included hail, wind, and all the weather variables that were also for the business sector, and state owned enterprises. SAWS also provided a lot of technical and maintenance support on behalf of municipalities and also gave advice services to key sectors like the agro sector. So, there were four key revenue drivers in the commercial sector. The SAWS also sold instruments like automated rainfall stations. Instruments were also sold outside of South Africa.

Mr Mnikeli replied that with the SAWS the bias was towards commercial farmers and they were already gaining from the technological advances that had been made. The project the SAWS was involved in with the University of Technology was only focusing on small scale farmers.

Mr Makhubele said that it appeared that there were a lot of resignations. This report on slide 22 regarding staffing contradicted the intention of the organisation.

The Chairperson said that slide 7 on the organisation structure mentioned that the current organisation structure was under review. A deeper explanation about the reasons for the review was not given.

Ms Kgari replied that the organisation undertook an organisational design exercise in the previous year due to the emergence of a phenomenon that occurred in the labour. The findings showed that there was a lot of animosity from some of the areas because of a lack of accountability and the solution was seen as re-aligning the whole structure to fit with the new strategic direction of the organisation. It then looked at what capabilities were required of the new strategic direction. An evaluation was done and the whole organisation participated in this. This exercise also looked at lowering the span of control of some of the executive. This would be submitted to the Committee on completion.

The Chairperson asked the Acting CFO to unpack the commercial aviation income (similar to Honourable Purdon’s question) and provide a breakdown.

The Chairperson referred to Cyclone Dineo coming from Mozambique and said that predictions were not very accurate. He asked how accurate weather predictions were.

Mr Mnikeli replied that the results were showing that the SAWS did very well in this area. In this country, they were referred to as tropical cyclones which were by nature difficult to predict. The SAWS monitored the tropical cyclone, and in two days were able to be prepared for it.

The Chairperson asked about the role the weather service played in monitoring air quality. The monitoring stations in all provinces were not all functioning. He asked for more information about this.

Mr Mnikeli replied that the role of SAWS was to maintain air quality stations and to monitor the air quality. The Department was busy building the enforcement part of the air quality monitoring.

The Chairperson thanked the SAWS for the presentation.

The issue of the CEO of SAWS and the current status of Senior Management in the organisation
Ms Mngomezulu said that the matter was confidential; Members did have the report in their packs.

The Chairperson asked her if she was aware that all matters in Parliament were open to the public.

Ms Mngomezulu said on the 2nNovember 2016, the Board of SAWS took a decision to release the former CEO from her contract. The reason was that the CEO sent the SAWS a letter from her attorneys. The Board resolved to release the former CEO from her contract. It was noted that a letter had been sent from her attorneys outlining the intention to take legal action against the Board in respect of the conclusion of the CEO’s contract. The CEO’s contract was coming to an end on 31 March 2017, but she was querying that the Minister had appointed her up to 2018. The SAWS said that this was actually not correct. The SAWS tried to engage with her around what their understanding of her situation was and they even took the matter further and tried to write to the Minister to get clarity about the letter that all Board Members had received in which was included the date August 2018. She did not want to accept this and instead took the Board to attorneys. Hence the Board resolved to release her from her contract. She took the matter to the CCMA. This matter was heard on 27 March 2017 and was resolved. A settlement was reached with her and the two parties have parted ways amicably.

The Chairperson asked what the settlement amount was.

Ms Mngomezulu said the settlement was confidential but it stated that she was going to stop her litigation, and the SAWS paid her a two months or three months’ salary.  

The Chairperson asked when the Committee had met with SAWS for the presentation of the Annual report. He checked if it was in October after the Board had met.

Ms Mngomezulu said the Board had met in November. It had received a letter from her attorneys on 1 November. The Board met on 2 November.

The Chairperson acknowledged that there were many questions about this but maybe the other presentation on ‘the current status of Senior Management in the organisation’ should first be heard and then both issues could be discussed.

Ms Kgari said the status of senior management and the executive staff was as follows: the organogram presented showed only tier one and tier two that reported to the Chief Executive Officer and executive management respectively. The blue shaded columns showed all positions already filled. The red coloured areas showed vacant positions. On table 1 vacancies, the Chief Executive one had already been referred to by the Chairperson of the Board. The period of vacancy was currently six months from November up to the end of March when finalised. The recruitment process was still in progress. The General Manager (GM) of Corporate Affairs resigned in December and finished off then. There was an Acting role which was Mr Mark Majodina, Senior Manager International Relations, who was now looking after both roles which included strategy, stakeholder and communication functions. This position has been vacant for the last four months. The GM Corporate Affairs resigned due to better offers elsewhere. He has been a good support from a commercial perspective because the Supply Chain Manager resigned at the end of March and this position was vacant for the last month and there was an acting role. The SAWS have appointed an additional resource to assist in the finance environment to look after both the senior manager finance role and the SCM1 on a fixed term contract of six months. The Senior Manager Technical Services has been vacant for almost a year. The reason for this was the kind of incumbents attracted to this position were coming much higher package than SAWS could afford, so two offers had been rejected due to the packages and that process was back at the recruitment and selection process.  

Two litigation processes were in progress. One was about the CFO who was suspended at the beginning of January due to misconduct. At the hearing the parties jointly agreed to go to pre-dismissal arbitration and the arbitration was sitting next week from the 8 to the 10 May. The other litigious matter concluded was the Senior Manager ICT who was dismissed last year November from a case that was ongoing for almost seven months. This person, after dismissal, took the matter to the labour court that rejected his urgent application to be reinstated. He has taken the matter to the Appeals court. The outcome of this was still unknown. This area has been capacitated with an Acting CIO who was also on a six-month fixed term contract. These roles could not be filled because the organisation was undergoing the organisational redesign process spoken of earlier.

The Senior Manager Stakeholder Relation’s contract expired in September. This role has been filled.  The Senior Manager Corporate Communication’s contract expired, and the Senior Manager Human Capital Development resigned. These were some of the roles delayed for appointment to allow for the real organisational structure to be finalised.

The Company Secretary resigned. All these resignations were related more to the incumbent’s personal decisions as the SAWS also could not match the offers made to the offers received from the market. The Company Secretary position was at the stage where the position had to be finalised. In conclusion Annexure A indicated the contract terms of all executive managers and all senior managers. The executive positions were all fully capacitated except the CFO case, which was still pending, and the GM Corporate Affairs position which would be filled as well because the process of recruitment started late last year.  

The Chairperson asked for details about the CEO who was dismissed in November and the issue of the six months. He asked further what the settlement detailed.

Ms Mngomezulu said the settlement from the CCMA stated that the CEO should receive three months’ salary.

The Chairperson said then it would amount to six months plus three months.

Ms J Edwards (DA) asked for clarity about the termination of the CEO because in the report it was stated that her contract was terminated and she received a salary, but if a contract was terminated then one should not get a salary. She asked if the CCMA had ordered that the CEO get paid for the six months.

Ms Edwards asked further about the signatures as hers looked different. Page 3 was copied twice and the signatures looked different.

Ms Edwards asked where the SAWS was in the process of recruitment of a CEO.

The Chairperson asked how much money the CEO was earning.

Ms Kgari said that the CEO was on a total salary package of R2.8 million per annum.

The Chairperson asked what the gross monthly salary of the CEO was.

Ms Kgari replied that it was R233 000.

The Chairperson said that seven people of the senior manage team were lost as a result of differences between the Board and the CEO. This for him constituted a crisis that the Board had plunged the organisation into. And it was lucky that the Board was left with competent people. It was unacceptable that the Board presented the Annual Report for which they received accolades, without even raising a hint that there was an issue between themselves and the CEO in October. It appeared in the newspaper that the CEO had basically been fired six months before the expiry of her contract. The Board could at the least have briefed the Committee about the difficulties it was experiencing. This was totally unacceptable.

One does not fire someone in order to resolve a dispute. This former CEO has been paid for nine months for not doing anything, and this at a salary of R2.8 million per annum. This was wasteful and fruitless expenditure. Who is going to be responsible for this? This was like giving someone a golden handshake with money that should have gone into the operations of the South African Weather Service. Public money was used in a very reckless way. He asked whether the Board should pay this money because no services had been rendered by this person.

Mr Makhubele asked what charge was rendered against the CEO.

Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG DEA asked if she could contribute as a shareholder board member. There was a slow process of a relationship breakdown which took place over a period of time. The Board was doing everything in its power to hold the process and manage the organisation under difficult circumstances. So yes, the annual report was presented and the problems with the CEO were presented in the media as if separate, but there were many reports of irregular practices at the SAWS and the Board was trying to manage this systematically. There were full investigations each time and this was taking a lot of effort and a lot of time. She wanted to make it clear that this was not a process that happened in one day, it took place over a period of time and the Board was faced with a decision on what was the best way forward for the organisation. The Board then came to the decision to release the CEO without prejudice to her contract. This was at a time when there was a four-month period on the contract of the CEO. The organisation then attempted to stabilise the situation with the appointment of the Acting CEO and making the necessary appointments. With regard to the other resignations, one or two of them might have been related to the conclusion of the work of the CEO, but there was no indication of direct linkages between the other resignations and the loss of the CEO. The organisation was in the process of stabilising and was in the process of appointing a new CEO.

The Chairperson said the problem with what was just said was that the problem of a relationship breakdown was not in the Annual Report. When there was a meeting between the Committee and the Board there was not even a hint of the problem between the Board and the CEO. There should not be an attempt to spin things when one is found in this kind of situation. This situation has undermined the Committee as there was ample time to notify the Committee of the situation with the CEO. The question of Mr Makhubele as to what the problem was has remained unanswered.

Ms Mngomezulu said that they had thought as a Board that they would handle the problem of the breakdown in the relationship in the most disciplined way. But when the matter went to the attorneys, the Board felt that the relationship did not exist between the parties because the CEO was responsible for running the organisation and in that meeting, she had been asked to address an item, but instead of coming to address the Board a letter from the attorneys was sent to the Board. She agreed with what Ms Beaumont was saying in that the Board was dealing with a very difficult situation and felt that the best way to stabilise the SAWS was to release the CEO from her duties. She apologised for not coming to the Committee with all the issues.

The Chairperson said the Committee would request reasons from the Board why it should not resolve as Parliament that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure that had been incurred in this instance had to be paid individually by the Board members who took this decision. This matter was being taken very seriously. The Board therefore had three weeks to make this submission to Parliament.   

Ms Mngomezulu said the meeting was in three weeks’ time and therefore might not be enough time. She asked for an extra week.

The Chairperson agreed and said in four weeks’ time a response would be expected from the Board on this matter.

Mrs Nana Magomola, Board Chairperson of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) introduced the team from the organisation.

South African National Biodiversity Institute’s briefing on its Annual Performance Plan 2017/18
Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO SANBI said that SANBI’s strategic goal was that it was positioned to lead the biodiversity sector of South Africa and was recognised as the first port of call for knowledge, information and policy advice on biodiversity.

SANBI’s Programmes:

  • Programme 1: Render effective and efficient corporate services;
  • Programme 2: Manage and unlock benefits of the network of National Botanical Gardens as windows into South Africa’s biodiversity;
  • Programme 3: Build the foundational biodiversity science;
  • Programme 4: Assess, monitor and report on the state of biodiversity and increase knowledge for decision making including adaptation to climate change;
  • Programme 5: Provide biodiversity policy advice and access to biodiversity information; and support for climate change adaptation; and
  • Programme 6: provide human capital development, education and awareness in response to SANBI’s mandate.

Mr Moeketsi Khoahli said that some of the Strategic Objectives (SO) and accompanying Strategic Risks per programme were as follows:

For Programme 1 SO 1.2, the strategic risk was: Implement an effective, efficient and transparent supply chain and financial management system as regulated by PFMA. The mitigation plan was that SANBI had to put in place financial policies which were aligned to regulations.

 

For Programme 2 SO 2.1, the strategic risk was: Lack of sufficient resources to manage the existing network of national botanical gardens and their associated living collections. The mitigation plan was that the DEA’s allocation of funding to SANBI’s existing and new National Botanical Gardens (NBGs) was required in order to ensure the maintenance of high standards and enable them to meet their required own income targets. SANBI’s strategic relationship with the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership will need to be supported by SANBI in terms of resources made available to undertake essential field work and maintain the gardens’ living plant collections.

 

For Programme 4 SO 4.1, the strategic risk was: Dependence on short term funding for key areas of the mandate. The programme continues to rely on short term project funding for key parts of the SANBI mandate.  The mitigation plan was to identify risks associated with the current set of donor funded projects and identify funding opportunities to ensure continuance of key projects. Another important thing to do was to also motivate for core SANBI funding for those critical areas where donor funding is not appropriate.

 

Ms Lerato Sithole, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), reported that the budget estimates and overall spending were as follows:

Gardens                                                                        R195 635

Research, Policy & Knowledge Management                    R240 414

Administration                                                               R84 912

Group                                                                           R28 075

Total Opex                                                                    R549 037

                                                                                           (See Annual Report)

 

Discussion

Mr R Purdon asked with regard to invasive species, whether SANBI employed etymologists and people working on biological control.

 

Dr Abrahamse said their role was to provide the science and evidence based for better and more efficient control. The DEA still continued to be the major driver of the actual control. The SANBI had as one of its major strengths the ability to harness the capacity of other institutions through managed networks with those institutions.

 

Mr Purdon asked whether SANBI was involved in specific EIA (Environmental Impact Assessments) applications.

 

Dr Abrahamse replied that the SANBI did not get involved in specific EIAs but did however have a vested interest in making them more efficient and effective. So, the SANBI’s information which it developed like maps for example, was for public consumption. The SANBI had been asked by the DEA to be involved in the development of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Instrument (SEAI) that they were developing for the Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP).

 

Mr Purdon said he felt that 52% employee funding was high.

 

Dr Abrahamse said she disagreed about the 52% spent on employees being too high. The organisation was knowledge based and some of those skills were rare and there was lots of competition in this area. The SANBI had actually come down with its employee costs over time. The SANBI also did a lot of labour intensive work in 11 gardens in 12 places in the country. She suggested that the organisation could provide a history of its involvement in this work. This could show justification for the employee figures.

 

The Chairperson supported this and encouraged the SANBI to submit such a report to the Committee.

 

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked about the worms that were seen in the North-West Province, what their names were and how they affected SANBI or rather local farmers.

 

Dr Abrahamse said the army worm was an invasive species and had reached some parts of South Africa, but had definitely ravaged Zambia and Malawi. SANBI was working with the ARC (Agricultural Research Council) on disaster response mechanism. 

 

Ms Kekana asked if SANBI experienced poaching of some of the specimens in the botanical gardens. If yes, she asked further, which gardens were affected?

 

Dr Abrahamse said that there was some poaching in their gardens. There were some cycad poaching incidents in Kirstenbosch around Christmas time.

 

Ms Kekana asked why the SANBI had not included reduction of ‘death of specimen’ as a performance target.

 

Dr Abrahamse replied that the reason the organisation did not do this was because it was not in its control as it was best to have a key performance indicator that one could control.

 

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) asked if SANBI had investigated the impact of climate change on biodiversity in country.

 

Dr Abrahamse replied that all its gardens were based within the national sphere and there were ongoing relationships amongst the hosts.

 

Mr Makhubele asked if the botanical gardens in other provinces were also being maintained along similar standards as the National ones.

 

Dr Abrahamse said that some time in the future the SANBI would and present a special report on this to the Committee.

 

Mr Makhubele said the 3% target on visitor numbers was very low.

 

Dr Abrahamse agreed that 3% was too low and the organisation was a little bit risk averse.

 

Mr Makhubele said SANBI normally reported on the discovery of new species and plant life; however, this time this did not happen.

 

Mr Makhubele commended the SANBI on the number of peer reviewed publications it offered in the field.

 

The Chairperson asked that the SANBI look at containing the expenditure over the medium-term period so that it could be below 50%.

 

Ms Magomola felt she should say a bit about the CEO, Dr Abrahamse, leaving. It was a very sad loss for SANBI and government as well. Passionate and inspiring Tanya was and had been running SANBI in a very professional way. She said having Tanya had certainly made her job easier. The SANBI was a victim of its own Act as the terms of office of a Board member was for five years and could only be renewed only once. The Board has made a decision on a new candidate and it was in the process of communicating this to the Minister.

 

Marine Spatial Planning Bill

The Chairperson said the DG of the Department of Environmental Affairs apologised for her absence but had informed the Committee that it would be safe surrounded by legal eagles of the Department.

The DDG of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Monde Mayekiso, said that it was with excitement that the Department would present the first piece of legislation following the Oceans Phakisa process started in 2014. The two branches present here today were Oceans and Baskets, including the legal team from the DEA.

The Department of Environmental Affairs’ briefing on the Marine Spatial Planning Bill [B 9-2017]

Advocate Radia Razack, Director Legal Services: Department of Environmental Affairs, said Marine Spatial Planning was a new concept and South Africa was one of the few countries in the world that had developed legislation in this area. It was a governance process managing the space in the sea, the times at which they travel and how they interact with each other and to achieve in this way ecological, economic and social objectives, looking at protection, conservation and benefits. The benefits of Marine Spatial Planning were to unlock the economy as terrestrial resources were becoming more strained and looking for more opportunities in the ocean; and there was an awareness that there was life in the sea that could yield benefits but we also need it to be done in a sustainable way so as not to destroy the ocean and its environment at the expense of short term economic gains. To contribute to good ocean governance and the way to do this through the Bill and the available instruments was through ordered and systemic planning and prioritisation and the knowledge of why it had to be done with greater understanding.

The purpose of the Bill in the context of what had already been outlined, was really to give the legal status to this kind of planning across government. It was the first time a piece of legislation that was pioneering, integrated and coordinated planning in such a huge space which was larger than the country’s territorial space and what it managed. So, while there was a lot of potential out there and therefore also a lot of potential for conflict so it had to be ensured that it was done in the most coordinated way.

Cabinet approved the Bill for introduction on 1 March 2017. Other departments involved were the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Telecommunications and the Department of Mineral Resources. Marine area plans were the final component of this in the process flow. Interaction of the Marine Spatial Planning Bill [B 9-2017] with other sector legislation was facilitated by the fact that individual sector departments implemented their own laws but in line with the broad spatial planning priorities.

In terms of a clause by clause description of the Bill the following were the most prominent areas:

  • The Objects of the Act;
  • The Application of the Act Clause 3;
  • The Conflicts with other legislation, Clause 4 just talked to the fact that no other piece of legislation on marine spatial planning like for example fisheries or mining would take precedence over this Bill;
  • Principles and criteria for marine spatial planning, Clause 5, were very carefully developed by the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Group and dealt with sustainability, management of resources and the identification of economic opportunities. In reference to Clause 5(2) if there was a conflict the idea was to maximise resources as much as was possible;
  • Clause 6 dealt with all the steps in the marine planning system, some which had been discussed in earlier input. The implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the marine area plans were of course on going;
  • Knowledge and information system, Clause 7 zoned into all the kinds of things that had to be submitted by the sectors in order for proper decisions to be made. This was specific but also as broad as possible and was subject to the Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000);
  • In Clause 8, Consultation, the key stakeholders and consultative bodies have all been included;
  • The Directors-General Committee, Section 10 comprises of Directors-General from departments responsible for defence, energy, environmental affairs, fisheries, mineral resources, planning monitoring and evaluation, science and technology, telecommunications, tourism, transport, rural development and land affairs. The workings of this committee were also included in this section;
  • Publication, Clause 12, here it was important that with these plans and their accompanying legal status, that they were published in a gazette. Because of the layering of data involved in the publication of maps of marine spatial area plans, it was important that they were made available to any interested person through a secure electronic platform;
  • Regulations, Clause 13, was a critical section because all departments involved were not absolutely ready with a sector plan that had everything in it, but they had to work with the best available information, so this was the best way to start the process by leaving space for regulations with the nitty gritty details; and finally
  • Clause 14 which dealt with Review of plans was a cyclical iterative process and had to be reviewed every five years but it had to account for the possibility of amendments between.

(See attached Marine Spatial Planning Bill [B 9-2017]

Discussion

The Chairperson said he thought that this presentation would have included some explanatory memorandum where each clause was explained.

Mr R Purdon (DA) asked for clarity about jurisdiction in South Africa because there were territorial waters which were 12 nautical miles, so he asked if a country could make legislation outside their nautical waters.

Ms Razack replied that the country had different rights and obligations up to the 200-nautical mile radius, so it had rights over allocating resources within those areas. South Africa’s 200 nautical mile area was similar to other countries’ and gave it sovereignty over that area. This also meant that the right to innocent passage could be denied to other countries. However, when plans were made in an area, the plans were made according to what South Africa was allowed to do in that area.

Mr Purdon asked if any area plans had been drawn up.

Mr Gcobani Popose, Director Oceans and Coasts Branch, DEA replied that the development of the Marine Special Planning Framework had been completed and should be gazetted in the next few days. It had been published for public comments last year and since then the Minister had to make the necessary changes which had been published in the Draft Framework. In the next few days it was going to be gazetted for implementation.

Ms Razack said the plans had not been drawn up yet but the groundwork was in progress. Departments were currently operating in silos with regard to this and interdepartmental clashes were evident.

Ms Edwards asked what changes the Bill would bring about.

Mr Popose replied that initially every sector was planning on its own and unexpected consequences were evident, so it was important to have a legislative framework and a planning process in place in order to expand the economic contribution of the ocean sector in comparison with other countries with similar ocean space and coast line. This therefore necessitated co-operative planning of the marine spatial system.

Ms Edwards asked how the Bill would affect South Africa’s application to extend its territorial waters.

Ms Razack responded that the wording might have to be relooked at because it might sound like this Act did not apply to anybody else’s intentions or activities. What was intended under the application was that it applied to marine spatial planning on anything in South African waters. This answer would also provide some clarity to the Chairperson’s question. The Maritime Zones Act was the Act that gave effect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the key international agreement or treaty that allocated sea space to different countries. South Africa also controlled Prince Edward Islands as well as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the territorial waters around those islands, so this increased the territorial span that South Africa had jurisdiction over. The planning could only happen within the existing legal framework.

Ms Kekana asked, regarding Clause 8 of the Bill, if there was a common understanding of ‘consultation’ through government.

Ms Razack replied that there was a piece of legislation called the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), which prescribed minimum consultation processes, and that represented the common understanding of ‘consultation’ amongst government.

The Chairperson asked Ms Razack to return to the explanation of the ‘200 nautical mile radius’

Mr Popose explained that first there was the territorial waters - a 12-mile zone that belonged to South Africa (SA) exclusively. Then there were 200 miles that were called the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ). This was the territory in which SA could exercise its economic interests. Other vessels were not excluded from the 200-mile zone, but they could not take any resources from there without permission from SA.SA had now made an application to extend the 200-mile zone to 350 miles. However, that area would not be treated in the same way as the 200 mile EEZ where one owned both what was at the bottom or under like the fish or other animals in the water column. In the extended area, SA could benefit only from mining, or what was called geological interests.

Mr Purdon explained that the EEZ was a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, stating that a state had a special right regarding marine services including energy production from water and wind. The territorial waters came from a 1982 Convention where it was stated that the territorial waters of countries would be 12 nautical miles or 22.2km from the baseline or low water mark.

The Chairperson said that the only difference with this application was probably that it was anticipated that mining would be done there. He asked if there was time between now and the public hearings to accommodate a much more detailed workshop on the Bill and framework.

The DDG said that this was definitely possible.

Mr S Makhubele asked how this Bill would be equitable regarding conflicts.

Ms Razack replied that when dealing with coastal management it was particularly important that emphasis was placed on knowledge, data and documentation across all sectors because all interests had to be balanced. The stronger the information was that was received, the better equipped the National Working Group would be to be able to make informed decisions. With regard to conflicts and relocations, relocation referred to relocation of activities and the bigger areas where this would be an issue. The key areas that had not been sorted were really the more off-shore areas. When one spoke about equity in this context, one was talking about balancing competing interests in the best possible manner. If communities were involved and there was beneficiation, critical data informed the variables at play because sometimes short term benefits outweighed long term economic benefits

Mr Makhubele said that on page 3, the Objects of the Act under 2(d), he thought that this was obvious.

Mr Makhubele said in Clause 7(b) Directors-General Committee, which talked of the ‘consideration of an instruction’; this was unclear because in his understanding an instruction told one what to do.

Ms Razack replied that what was intended there was the understanding that the National Working Group was a recommending body, but the Director-General’s Committee did have oversight over that group and that was why it could send it back. For example, it could mean saying ‘you were instructed to reconsider or to look at the aspects that you had not looked at before’. This clause would have to be reworded to convey the proper understanding. The only people who could reconsider a matter were the National Working Group because they were the ones who did the work on the ground. This was a very useful remark and the Clause would be reworded to convey the proper meaning.

The Chairperson ended the session and said that before a full steam commencement on the Bill process, the Committee would host a 2 hr workshop in which an explanatory memorandum on the Bill would be prepared before the public hearings on the Bill.

Report of the COP22 Conference in Marrakech
Ms Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director-General: DEA said that the background was well known to all Members, Marrakech COP22 of the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change took place in Morocco in December last year. It was an important transitional moment after years of negotiating the Paris agreement to the start of implementation. It was therefore called the COP of Action or Implementation.

The main task of COP22 was to agree to a work programme that would guide all parties for the implementation of the Paris Agreement Rule Book, so called because that was the multi-lateral set of rules that would enable the implementation of the Paris agreement.  The Paris Agreement was only to be implemented from 2020 as it was a post climate 2020 climate regime so therefore Morocco also dealt with enhancement of pre-2020 action with a high level ministerial dialogue about this Act.

South Africa’s priorities going into COP22 were fairly succinct and clear. It wanted to ensure inclusiveness in the multi-lateral decision making process. The key question then was how to ensure inclusiveness of decision making in the remaining work that needed to be done noting the multi-lateral rule making process and to ensure that that process enabled the greatest number of parties to continue participating. Ms Beaumont said they also wanted to ensure that there were further discussions on modalities, procedures and guidelines of the Paris Agreement, and they wanted to promote South Africa’s contribution to climate change.

In short this meant that the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention continued the process of overseeing the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The outcomes of the work programme would be forwarded to the resumed first meeting of the meeting of the parties in 2018. What was also important was that the Conference of Parties mandated the ad hoc working group on the Paris Agreement to finalise the issue of the adaptation fund of the Paris Agreement. Here there were modalities and operating procedures that had to be finalised and negotiated to enable that to take place.

Finally, on the pre-2020 work stream, the high level ministerial team on enhancing the Africa adaptation initiative, presented a progress report on the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, obviously to support Africa adaptation planning processes; and secondly to support renewable energy programmes on the continent. South Africa was finally engaged in the next steps which included starting to look ahead into COP23 which was taking place in Bonn this year at the end of November.  It would be chaired by Fiji. Fiji had indicated that their focus would be on delivering support to those nations that were at risk like low lying vulnerable countries. There had been a basic meeting between China, Brazil and South Africa that took place on 11 April, the purpose of which was for the basic countries to really strategise around the preparation for COP23 and to look at collective support of Fiji to ensure that COP23 was an effective conference of the parties.

The Chairperson said that the presentation on the legislative framework would be done first and then discussions would proceed on both topics.

Towards a Regulatory Framework for Climate Change: briefing by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG DEA explained the process thus far to give effect to certain elements of the National Climate Change Response policy. The two most important objectives in the process were:

  • To provide for the co-ordinated and integrated management of the impacts of climate change by all spheres of government in accordance with the principles of co-operative governance; and
  • Effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain SA’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency capacity.

Ms Beaumont said South Africa was way too ambitious in achieving the first objective as from the discussion with MINTEC in March it had gone back into a cycle of tightening the objectives and discussions of forms of legal frameworks.

The timeframes for these objectives were:

  • Stakeholder consultation on discussion document outlining content for climate change response legal framework by the end of March 2017; and
  • Climate change response legal framework gazetted for public comment by the end of March 2018.                          

Ms Beaumont emphasised that the Department was really at a very early stage in this process  (See attached document)

Discussion
The Chairperson said there was nothing wrong with being ambitious as one had to be ambitious to progress in this area. He was worried about the process as there seemed to be a lack of ‘appetite’ for this legislative frame work.  It was quite clear that industry was not going to ‘come to the party’ with regard to climate change. This was seen by the Committee on its oversight on air quality where it was clear that most of the companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions were not going to invest to the extent of reducing the carbon foot print. South Africa was one of the biggest emitters of greenhouses and should therefore try to lead by example in the African continent. There was a strong need for legislation.

Ms Beaumont said she would like to offer comfort in that the Department was working as fast and as hard as it possibly could to get the Bill to the Committee. It had to get buy-in from sector departments, from provinces and stakeholders. At the same time and in parallel with that work, the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) had been finalised so the Nationally Determined Contribution that was on the UNFCCC website was South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution. This was therefore SA’s commitment for 2025 and 2030. There were a series of commitments for adaptation and emission reduction. The targets for reduction were between 398 and 614 megatons between 2025 and 2030.

What was in place was Phase 1 of SA’s emission reduction strategy where industries had to commit to carbon budgets, as well the National Adaptation Strategy.

The Chairperson asked what industry’s commitment to the carbon budget was.

Ms Beaumont replied that 18 companies had so far committed to a carbon budget. Phase 1 was at this stage based on current operations so that we get the system functional; and Phase two was on the basis of the legal framework. It was very important to have the legal framework in place. She offered comfort again that the Department was working as hard and as fast as it could to get the legal framework in place and into Parliament.

The Committee Assistant Secretary advised that Committee did not reach a quorum, so it could only look at the Bill, and would only be able to adopt next week.

The Chairperson checked the number of Committee Members present and said that adoption would be postponed to next week. The Committee was very interested in the legal framework and was on its submission to Parliament.

Committee programme
The Chairperson asked the Committee if they were fine with the Committee Programme which was circulated yesterday.

Mr Makhubele said that yesterday and today there were issues that needed to be factored into the Programme. The adoption of the document on Marrakech – the climate change  -   had to include discussions outside of Parliament as well with stakeholders and departments.

The Chairperson said that maybe it was a blessing in disguise that this meeting did not have a quorum because now there was time to factor in the report that came from the Department so that it could become a country report.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: