Minister on granting permission to mine in Mabola Protected Environment; SANParks, SAWS, Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, SANBI Quarter 1 & 4 performance

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

12 September 2017
Chairperson: Mr M Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The purpose of the meeting was to seek an explanation from the Minister on the comments expressed in a press release following the granting of permission to Atha-Africa ventures to mine in the Mabola Protected Environment (MPE). The Committee was also briefed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and its entities -- SANParks, the South African Weather Service , the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park Authority and the SA National Biological Institute -- on their quarterly performance reports.

The Minister indicated that issue around the granting of permission to mine in the MPE was subject to court proceedings, so her explanation would be restricted to the DEA’s media statement, which had been issued to correct the inaccuracies in the article. The Committee acknowledged the DEA’s right to clarify matters in the media, but stressed that this should have been done without undermining the integrity of Members, or casting aspersions on the Committee. The Minister accepted responsibility for the media statement, and apologized, saying it was not intended to undermine the Committee. The Committee accepted the apology, and expressed the hope that such an incident would not be repeated.

After the DEA had reported on the achievement of 81% of its targets during the 2016/17 financial period, and provided reasons not meeting targets, Members asked about the status of funds for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) work on climate change research issues and the United Nations Environment programme, as foreign aid; why the hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) management regulations been postponed by one year; and the number of jobs created or lost in the waste management sector. The Committee congratulated the DEA on the payment of contractors within 30 days, expressed concerns on the progress of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA), and asked about the status of the Waste Bill.

SANParks reported it had achieved a 94% performance level, and had experienced a growth in visitors. The ratio of black visitors had risen to 6%. However, it described challenges with its environmental education programmes, the impact of ailing tourism infrastructure, and the need to revamp its infrastructure. The Committee encouraged the entity to strengthen its anti-poaching activities.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) said the upgrading, expansion and optimisation of its radar infrastructure project had not been achieved due to a delay in procurement processes, Eskom power problems and data communication challenges. This had affected the availability of radar data, but SAWS had recorded improvements in the first quarter of 2017/18 on this project. The Committee raised questions about the Eskom power issues, the entity’s dual career pathway programme review, its revenue targets and the vacancies in the organisation.

After Isimangaliso Wetland Park had provided a concise performance review, the new Board Chairperson confirmed that he was following-up on stakeholder engagements.

The South African National Biological Institute (SANBI) said it had undertaken an aggressive marketing strategy to showcase its botanical gardens, which had led to an increase in visitors during the period under review. It had also achieved a clean audit during the year. The Committee asked it for clarification about an article that had alleged that the Kirstenbosch branch was not addressing transformation issues.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the first agenda item was an explanation by the Minister following the press release on the granting of permission to Atha-Africa ventures to mine in the Mabola Protected Environment (MPE) in Mpumalanga. This explanation had been postponed earlier, because the Minister had wanted to present it herself. He appreciated the Minister insisting on clarifying the statement herself, despite challenges.

Explanation by Minister

Ms Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, said the reason why she had not asked the Director General (DG) to explain the situation, even though the request had been addressed to the DG, was that she and the Deputy Minister felt it was not the DG’s area of duty. She asked if the Committee had received her response to its letter.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee had received her response.

The Minister stated that she believed that her response was sufficient for the Committee. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) had addressed the wrong impressions created through media releases and opinion pieces. Media releases had been made from time to time to correct wrong impressions. All authentic press statements were issued by the DEA through Mr Albi Modise, Chief Director of Communications, with the backing of the Deputy Minister and Minister. The matter surrounding the granting of permission to mine in the Mabola Protected Environment was in court, so she would be restricted to the media statement.

She highlighted the events concerning the matter in a chronological order, the action taken by the DEA and the reasons why. The media release had been a response to correct inaccuracies contained in the Business Day article of 10 May 2017, which had created the impression that awarding the licence to mine at the MPE would create a bad precedent. The article also alleged that the Portfolio Committee and the DEA were on a collision course, which was not the intention. Robust engagements were necessary, however, and parties needed to be sensitive to ensure that the issue was not picked up and used to create wrong impressions. The issued media statement was to clarify inaccuracies reported by the media. She assured the Committee that the DEA remained committed to work with it in accordance with its oversight roles.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her explanation, and said that the Committee did not want to get into the details of the decision because the matter was already with the courts. He expressed concerns that an engagement that had occurred within the Committee and had not yet been concluded, was being reported on negatively. The oversight visit had not been concluded because the matter was in court.

He highlighted the statements that were of concern to the Committee. There had been confirmation that the Committee was briefed on the issue, and Members had raised concerns on why the licence had been granted, given the sensitivity of the area. The statement that the DEA noted with regret the sentiments expressed in the Committee, was of concern. The opinion of the Committee was that issues were supposed to be thrashed out within the confines of the meeting. The capturing of statements of Members as ‘illogical’ and ‘regrettable’ was not right. When Members made comments, or asked questions that were incorrect, the DEA had an obligation to address those comments and questions immediately. Although the DEA had the right to refute misconceptions, it was out of order to express statements contrary to the comments of the Committee. The meeting to explain the issue had been scheduled to contain the issue, and to indicate that such issues should be corrected without casting aspersions on the Members or the Committee itself.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) supported the view of the Chairperson, and said that the remarks had attacked the integrity of Members and the Committee. During discussions, the Committee relied on delegates to give it the true picture. Members questions and comments to seek clarity were made for a reason. However, if the parties took the minutes to misrepresent facts and allege negative things without engaging Members to find out why they had posed the questions, it was not right to take it out on Members. He hoped that such events would not occur in the future.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) expressed appreciation to the Minister for coming to explain the issue in person. However, it had been an unacceptable and negative development which had undermined the integrity of Members. Members were not ignorant, but if they expressed views that were incorrect, they should be corrected during meetings. However, they had a duty to speak out if they felt the environment was going to be compromised.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) acknowledged that the matter which had continued for some time should be settled during the meeting. He observed that the Minister had taken responsibility for the statement and had clarified how media statements had been made by the DEA. Although the DEA had the right to clarify issues, it should not be seen to be attacking the Committee or its Members when clarifying issues. He suggested that it would be better if issues were clarified early. to ensure that tensions did not develop. Issues should be resolved as soon as possible.

The Chairperson remarked that the view of the Committee was that DEA had a right to clarify matters in the media, and he would not dispute that. If certain incorrect matters came out as a result of meetings, they should be corrected. However, the Committee did not want situations where the DEA cast aspersions on the Committee or attacked Members. Stating that the Committee’s arguments were illogical had been an insult, but the Committee did not think this should define the relationship between itself and the DEA. In future, when statements were released to clarify issues, the DEA should cease from referring to the Committee in such a manner. The Committee recognised the matter was controversial and sensitive, and the issue was still in court. The language had been regrettable, but the Committee accepted the Ministers’ explanation that the media statement had been given on her instruction.

The Minister said that she understood the sentiments of the Committee. She apologized, and said the media statement was not intended to undermine the Committee. She pleaded for sensitivity on both sides because different conclusions would be drawn when the actual statements were discussed. For instance, even the heading of the article itself was problematic. In robust discussions, sensitivity needed to be applied because matters could be picked up by parties that had different interests. She clarified that the DEA approved mine licences on scientific basis. The fact was that although licence to mine MPE had been granted, another area might not be granted a licence for scientific reasons. She apologised for the use of the word ‘illogical.’

She asked for advice in dealing with a personal matter that had been reported in the media. The report had stated that she had failed to attend a meeting for the third time, and had outraged Members. She asked for assistance in dealing with allegations that she was an irresponsible Minister. The reason she had missed the meeting was because her son had been shot and needed to undergo an operation.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee accepted the apology of the Minister, and hoped that the situation would not arise again. The matter had been addressed at the meeting because the Committee did not want to respond in public. The report by the journalist had not been factual. The Chairman had expressed displeasure at receiving the apology of the Minister only 30 minutes before the meeting. The Committee had only stated that if the apology had been received in advance, the agenda would have been restructured to ensure that other matters would be discussed. The entire South African Weather Service (SAWS) board had been called to discuss sensitive issues, which was why the Minister had asked to attend. That meant the whole meeting had been wasted, which was why the Committee had made the point that apologies should be received well in advance. The Committee had asked the SAWS board to prioritise the meeting scheduled by the Committee, but a meeting had now been scheduled to engage with them during the next Parliamentary period.

The Minister said she had suggested that the Committee and the DEA needed to be sensitive on both sides. The Chairperson needed to deal with the facts about the language. She clarified that the area being discussed was not a protected area. Secondly, she wanted the Committee to deal with the anticipation that her son would be shot at, at night, and she would not be present at the meeting. The operation had been an emergency, but the public had labeled her an irresponsible Minister. She asked for directions to deal with the matter.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had not concluded its deliberations on the matter of Mabola, because it had not concluded its oversight and still needed to receive documents on the matter. The DEA could clarify wrong impressions without impugning the integrity of its Members. The Committee would always protect the right of Members. He had explained the circumstances of the meeting, so the matter should be dropped.

DEA Fourth Quarter Performance

The Minister introduced the Acting DG, Mr Ishaam Abader, the Board Chairpersons and the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the entities present.  She said that the DEA had a recorded an achievement of 81% during the 2016/17 financial period, and asked the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to make the presentation.

Ms Limpho Makotoko, COO, DEA, stated that the DEA had 135 targets, and 81% had been met or exceeded. The 12% of partially achieved projects ranged between 80%-99% completed, but major delays had been experienced in 9% of the projects. The DEA had managed its vacancies very well. She highlighted the projects that had been partially achieved and the programmes that had experienced major delays, and provided reasons for the performance.

Ms Veronica Steyn, Chief Director: Budget and Financial Management, DEA explained the variances in the 2016/17 expenditure, and reported that the DEA had achieved an overall performance of 99% with its expenditure on all programmes. She highlighted the expenditure by economic classification and current expenditure, and referred the Committee to the annexure detailing the consultants, contractors and agency services. She indicated the payment on capital assets, allocations and transfers, foreign aid assistance received by the Department and the revenue and expenditure status as at 31 March, 2017. The DEA had been able to pay its contractors within the mandated 30-day payment period. The DEA’s payments had been between seven and 11 days.

Discussion

Mr Hadebe asked DEA to clarify if the state attorney had billed the DEA through the Department of Justice (DoJ). He asked about the status of the R500 000 paid on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) work on climate change research issues. He also asked for details of the funds allocated by United Nations Environment Programme as foreign aid.

The Chairperson indicated that the DEA would still brief the Committee on its annual reports, so Members would still receive a briefing on the status of projects.

Ms J Edwards (DA) asked about the targets not met in the Dangerous Goods and Standards programme. She expressed concern that although 100% of the budget on the programme was spent, only 73% achievement had been recorded. She also expressed concern on how the corrective measures on the chemical and waste programme would be implemented. Why had the hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) management regulations been postponed by one year? Why had the target on waste tyres not been achieved, and how was the target monitored? Where had the DEA gone wrong with the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA)? She asked for the number of jobs created within the waste management sector, its present status and how many jobs had been lost. She also asked the DEA to brief the Committee on the status of the court case.

Mr R Purdon (DA) observed that the target of three environmental campaigns was low. He asked for an update on the stewardship site established, and for more details on the consultants, contractors and agency services and current payment expenditure. He congratulated the DEA for achieving payments to contractors within 30 days.

The Chairperson expressed concern on REDISA issue, and asked for an update to be provided in the next Parliamentary term. He also asked for the status of the Waste Bill.

DEA’s response

Mr Mark Gordon, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Chemicals and Waste Management, said that the DEA’s regulation was more stringent than that of other countries, so it had had to re-address the benchmark. It expected funding on the multi-lateral protocols. It would make a presentation on the status of REDISA later. The delay on import-export regulations was because of requests from the provinces, and the DEA was consulting with the Department of Trade and Industry and its entities that had control on import and export regulations. The engagements had just been concluded, and the Waste Phakisa would be factored in when the DEA completed the draft legislation.

Ms Makotoko said that the plan for the dangerous goods and standards was supposed to have been concluded in 2016/17, but the DEA had accomplished it in August 2016, so it did not have to wait for one year to complete it. The 100% expenditure had been expended during the consultation period of the programme. She gave updates on the stewardship programme, and stated that it was in the Western Cape.

Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Oceans and Coast, said that the research on INDC was publicly available and could be presented to the Committee.

Mr Abader said that the DEA’s legal counsel was employed directly from DoJ, and it billed the DEA. In this case, the amount billed had been R2 8 million.

The Minister commented that there were still some responses that the DEA had not given. They included the funds allocated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for training, programmes that had low targets and annexures not visible. She said that the DEA would brief the Committee after judgment had been given in the REDISA case.

The Chairperson asked when the judgment would come out.

The Minister said that the argument had been concluded, but the DEA was waiting for the court judgment.

Ms Makotoko said that the DEA had chosen topics to deal with, but this did not mean that it had chosen only three topical issues.

Ms Steyn said that the annexure sheet had different compartments, but only the summary sheet had been printed. The DEA would print out the other Excel sheets for the Committee. She explained why the DEA had achieved only 73% performance and had expended 100% of the funds on the Dangerous Goods and Standards project. The UNEP expenditure was being finalized, but the DEA still had to make payments on it.

Mr Hadebe (DA) asked for a breakdown of case where it had been billed R2.8 million.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would take the brief during the scheduled brief on litigations.

He asked the Minister to introduce the members of her team that the Committee was not familiar with.

The Minister introduced:

  • Dr Moshibudi Rampedi, the new CEO of the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI);
  • Ms Nana Magomola, the Chairperson of the SANBI Board
  • Mr Fundisile Mketeni, the CEO of SANParks;
  • Mr Jerry Lengoasa, the CEO of SAWS;
  • Mr Lulama Gumenge, Acting CFO of SAWS;
  • Professor Anis Karodia, Interim CEO of Isimangaliso;  and
  • Mr Buyane Zwane, Board Chairman, Isimangaliso.

The Chairperson said that Isimangaliso Wetlands had not informed the Committee that the CEO had resigned.

The Minister said that the DEA had no obligation to report the resignation of the CEO, but asked the Chairperson about the reporting structure. She informed the Committee that the positions of Board Members at SANBI and SANParks had been advertised.

The Chairperson said that a note would be enough. He discharged the Minister and invited the SANParks CEO for his brief.

SANParks: Briefing

Mr Mketeni, CEO: SANParks introduced a Board member, Ms Beryl Ferguson, and apologised for the absence of the Board chairperson.

The Chairperson said that the Committee preferred written apologies.

Mr Mketeni acknowledged the Chairperson’s remark, and introduced Ms Busisiwe Mazibuko, Senior Manager Corporate Affairs, and Ms Liz McLeod, the Acting CFO.

He said that the entity had achieved a 94% performance level, and had experienced a growth in visitors. The ratio of black visitors had risen to 6%. However, SANParks had experienced challenges in terms of achieving equity targets. The total number of participants in the environmental education programme had reduced because schools did not want to release children to visit SANParks during school terms. The entity was looking at inviting pupils during the holidays. He highlighted the other targets not met and indicated that the entity had over-expenditure in some programmes. It was looking at integrated approaches to fund raising. The challenges facing SANParks were the ailing tourism infrastructure, the need to revamp its infrastructure, and poaching activities.

Ms Mazibuko indicated that a surplus had been recorded due to projects that took more than one year to accomplish. The entity had received land purchase and infrastructure grants, and the money received had been used.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that the increased of elephant poaching was worrisome. He observed that the trend had started with rhinos, and asked about the strategies to combat the crime.

Mr Mabilo said that the turnaround of SANParks after 2015 had been encouraging. The education department was correct to discourage its pupils from visiting zoos, so the entity needed to find better ways to meet this target. He asked for the interventions to improve the male-female equity ratio in its workplace. What were the timelines to reduce delays in the skills development programme? He asked the entity to address over-expenditure issues. Why had the entity classified the grants as a surplus, since the funds had been engaged? He also asked for the revenue collection targets.

Mr Purdon expressed concern about taking children to zoos during the holidays, as teachers would not be committed. He asked for updates on fund-raising, and advised the entity to consider raising funds from outside the country.

Mr Makhubele remarked that although Parliament gave a staff equity target of 50% women, SANParks should have stated that although this was difficult to attain, it was trying to achieve it. He asked for more information on the approaches to combatting wildlife crime activities. He asked the entity to clarify its statement on ailing infrastructure.

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked for the actual amount collected on game sales, and what the entity used the funds for. She also asked for a breakdown of the countries that the people arrested for wildlife crimes came from.

SANParks’ response

Mr Mketeni said that the poachers targeted both elephants and rhinos. The poachers shifted base every time, but the approach was to deploy mobile rangers to combat them. The entity needed to align with the school syllabus. He agreed that SANParks needed to improve its fundraising strategies and take advantage of agencies that wanted to fund parks. Revenue targets were determined by five year trends, but the economic downturn had affected revenue. There had been an improvement in the revenue uptake in the last two years. The brief had only highlighted the recommendations of SANParks to the Committee. The approach needed to combat wildlife crime activities required pro-activeness in terms of working with the communities outside the park. The approach also needed cross-border alliances with governments, the private sector, and border operations in Mozambique. These strategies were part of the integrated rhino strategy approved by Parliament, which SANParks was implementing. It had compiled a document on its ailing infrastructure and forwarded it to the risk and audit department of the Board. SANParks was developing an integrated model for tourism infrastructure. The amount collected on game sales in last financial year was used to expand the conservation estate and operation activities.

Ms McLeod  saidthat the over-expenditure on human resources was due to the implementation of the Labour Relations Act’s requirement of equal pay, equal work strategy for staff in the lower cadres. She agreed that the target to achieve 50% of women in leadership positions was difficult, except where staff were retrenched. This had led to an increase in the vacancy rate to above 6%, but the entity was aggressively pursuing the target. Situations occurred when posts were advertised and females did not apply, or the females who applied did not have the required qualifications. The new strategies were targeting internal development through preferential treatment and dedicated bursary programmes for black females. The entity had received external funding for training and skills development, and the timeframes were being discussed.

Mr Hadebe expressed concerns that efforts to combat rhino poaching were not integrated because non-government organizations (NGOs), the private sector and Government officials did not optimise the use of resources. He asked that the SANParks strategies should ensure that all financial and human resources were harnessed to curb rhino poaching.

Mr Mketeni agreed that there were elements of non-integrated efforts, but SANParks’ strategy had been to assist provincial offices. In this regard, a member of staff had been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Free State to assist in integration efforts.

Mr Abader said that at the last DEA presentation, the roll-out had been highlighted.

The Chairperson remarked that the issue of poaching had been raised continuously in the Committee, and it expected drastic measures to be taken against poaching. It also advocated strong legislation. The Committee would engage with the DEA to get information on the new coordination efforts, and to propose strong deterrents against poaching.

South African Weather Service (SAWS): Briefing

Mr Jerry Lengoasa, CEO: SAWS, said that the targets not achieved in the fourth quarter had been achieved in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, 84% of projects had been fully achieved, 13% were partially achieved and 3% were not achieved. The upgrading, expansion and optimisation of the radar infrastructure project had not been achieved due to a delay in procurement processes, Eskom power failures and data communication challenges. This had affected the availability of radar data, but SAWS had recorded improvements in the first quarter of 2017/18 on this project.

He highlighted vacancies in the entity with the high-level organogram. The dual career pathway programme had been partly achieved because SAWS needed to train current lower cadre staff to transition from manual to digital operations. The assessments and reviews of criteria to train younger individuals had been completed, but were still under review. The overall stakeholder satisfaction rating had also been partially achieved. Partial achievements had also been recorded under secure regulated commercial income from aviation, because it was movement driven. Employment equity statistics showed deviations below targets in certain instances, but in some cases SAWS had exceeded the year’s targets.

Mr Lengoasa said that since his return to SAWS four months ago, the entity had had a strategic review. Members would soon see improvements based on scientific, technical and service-driven Interventions.

Mr Lulama Gumenge, Acting CFO, said that SAWS had exceeded its revenue targets by about 9%. Total expenditure was 5% below budget, and it had realised an under-expenditure on employment costs and exceeded revenue targets. The aviation revenue target had not been achieved for the quarter, but this had been exceeded at the end of the financial year by 22%. The non-regulated air commercial revenue target had been exceeded by 63% due to the work done on air quality maintenance and infrastructure in municipalities such as Emalahleni and Tshwane. SAWS had a few vacancies that needed to be filled and these were being addressed in the strategic reviews of the entity. He also provided an analysis of the SAWS’s financial report.

Discussion

Mr Hadebe expressed concerns over the radar data availability, and asked the CEO to expand on his comments on data communication challenges due to the Eskom power failures. An explanation was needed, because the country had not had any load shedding experiences during quarter four.

Mr Mabilo asked why the SAWS dual career pathway programme had had to be reviewed, and to indicate if the programme had elements of poor planning. He asked why SAWS had indicated that it had had a partial performance on the overall stakeholder satisfaction rating, when it had 84% achievement. He asked if its targeted revenue was too low, because it had exceeded its targets. What was the purpose of its surplus?

The Chairperson asked about the vacancy rate in terms of the high level organograms. He asked the CEO to indicate the substantive and acting posts.

SAWS response

Mr Lengoasa said that the high level organogram had been changed and re-structured in the first quarter of 2017/18. The positions that had been vacant had been filled with people in acting capacities. The CFO post had been filled by the Acting CFO, and the General Manager (Commercial) position had been filled by the Senor Manager (Commercial).

The Chairperson asked the CEO to give an update on the current situation.

Mr Lengoasa responded that the entity had had engagements with the Board, and the general manager positions had been reduced from five to four. The positions were CFO, Services Executive, Technical and Infrastructure Systems, and Human Capital and Regulatory Affairs. The full executive structure would be in place by the beginning of the new financial year.

The Chairperson asked for the status of the four posts.

Mr Lengoasa stated that two incumbents were already general managers in their respective portfolios, while the CFO and Executive Services posts were undergoing the recruitment process.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the four posts in terms of the new structure.

Mr Lengoasa said that the CFO post was being advertised and was under recruitment. The General Manager: Operations had been given the responsibility of the Technical and Infrastructure Systems division. The General Manager: Human Capital Development now headed the Human Capital and Regulatory Affairs division. The Services Executive position was being evaluated and would be advertised soon. SAWS intended to go to the Board in November to optimise how the positions would be filled, based on the finances. He had re-assessed the skills gaps, hence the dual career pathway programme was being used to train staff to migrate from the manual to the digital platform. The dual career pathway programme was being aligned to the scientific, technical and service-driven Interventions. The re-assessments had been done to fine tune the skills, so quarter four’s targets had not been achieved, but improvements had been recorded in the first quarter 2017/18.

He said that SAWS had highlighted the partial achievement in overall stakeholder satisfaction rating because there was still room for improvement in service delivery to South Africans that depended on its services. Challenges with radar data availability had been due to an interrupted power supply due to voltage fluctuations, because SAWS did not have plans to deal with this in place. Supply chain issues were under review to improve data availability. The approach was to have the radar network in the right areas and to optimise radar data. This approach included a robust management plan, and a senior manager had been employed to play the role.

Mr Gumenge explained why revenue targets had been exceeded. SAWS had applied to National Treasury through the DEA to retain the surplus for capital expenditure -- a super computers upgrade.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee would have an opportunity to engage SAWS on its annual reports in the next term. He observed that the new CEO had an impressive vision and plan for the entity, and wished him luck in implementing the plans.

Isimangaliso Wetland Park: Briefing

Ms Terri Castis, Business Director, stated that Isimangaliso Wetlands Park had missed five targets and achieved 26 during the fourth quarter. In the first quarter, it missed had four targets and achieved 27. She indicated the targets not achieved during the period, and the reasons why.

Ms Abeeda Kadir, CFO, addressed the operating results based on the financial statements. The entity had experienced over-expenditure during the period.

The Chairperson remarked that the presentation had been brief and to the point, and observed that Members did not have any questions for the entity. The Committee would engage the entity when it presented its annual reports, and he wished the interim CEO, Prof Anis Koradia, good luck. He asked the Board Chairperson to clarify if he was following-up on the stakeholder engagements.

Mr Buyane Zwane, Board Chairperson confirmed that he was following-up, and updated the Committee on the steps taken so far. He said that the entity was on track, and would give the Committee a full update at its next meeting.

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI): Briefing

Ms Nana Magomola, Board Chairperson, said that SANBI had achieved 87% of its 38 targets during the 2016/17 financial year. It had a fully integrated social media which had set it up for the digital age. The entity had undertaken an aggressive marketing strategy to showcase its gardens, which had led to an increase in visitors to the botanical gardens during the period under review. SANBI had also achieved a clean audit during the year.

Dr Moshibudi Rampedi, CEO, said that all targets were achieved in programmes one, three and five. In programmes two and four, two targets in each were partially achieved, and in programme six one target was partially achieved. The rest of the targets in programmes two, four and six were fully achieved. She gave the reasons and status of the targets that had been partially achieved in programmes two, four and six.

Ms Loratho Sithole, CFO, reported a surplus of R38 million in the fourth quarter. SANBI had exceeded its budget by 52% due to an unexpected additional income in the form a bequest donated to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. She analysed the financial performance during the fourth quarter. The entity was solvent, with total assets exceeding total liabilities. She indicated the progress on asset findings from the asset register in 2015.

The Chairperson said he appreciated the Board Chairperson for her leadership of the entity, and commented that the new CEO was inheriting a good system. The entities were performing and there were no major concerns. He asked for clarification on an article he had read, which indicated that the local botanical garden was not addressing transformation issues.

The Board Chairperson indicated that SANBI would present an extensive report on the issue.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee did not need an extensive report, but only wanted SANBI’s opinion regarding transformation at the botanical garden.

Ms Lebogang Ralepeli, Director: CEO Office & Board Secretary, SANBI informed the Committee that the Botanical Society of South Africa was a strategic partner that assisted SANBI at all its branches. The society had a branch in Kirstenbosch. SANBI was aware that the current council was dealing with the matter. However, because it was an NGO, SANBI was not directly responsible for its transformation, but was aware that that the society was introducing new strategies to improve the situation. The local branch had been disbanded and was being maintained by the headquarters. SANBI still had a good relationship with the headquarters of the society.

The Chairperson expressed appreciation to the team, and invited all to attend the colloquium on 23 September.

The meeting was adjourned.

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