SANParks manages 19 national parks and 67% of state owned terrestrial protected areas. SANParks not only helps with conservation and biodiversity but also plays an important part in achieving economic and social objectives. Their location in the rural areas is equally important because they are in most cases an important resource base for those communities. The parks provide much needed jobs and an income stream opportunity for those poor rural communities. All in all, 14% of indicators were off target for Quarter 4. The key challenged faced is how to maintain financial stability and sustainability
SANBI managed to achieve all targets except in upgrading existing buildings in the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden and in the number of beneficiaries who participated in the ‘Kids in Gardens’ Programme in Quarter 4.
The National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria reports to SANBI.
Amongst the questions raised, Members asked if SANParks is aware of the net number of rhinos in Kruger Park and whether the number is going up or down and if the country is winning or losing the battle against rhino poaching. They asked why so many SANBI officials are working in an acting capacity and if National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria is an effective educational model to raise awareness amongst learners of the biodiversity richness of South Africa.
Overview by the Minister
Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy tendered apologies for the key staff that were not available due to their attendance at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting currently taking place in Geneva. She was privileged to visit the Kruger National Park during the World Ranger Day celebrations which gave her the opportunity to interact with the CEO and Head Ranger of the park and to receive a report on all the matters relating to their forward looking plans. All the issues discussed with them are contained in the Performance Plan that will be discussed today. The real issues faced by all the entities are how to maintain their financial stability and sustainability. Members will do a great deal in interrogating the plans to ensure that we are all focusing on important priorities. At SANParks, we have a significant natural resource that not only helps us with conservation and biodiversity but also plays an important part in achieving our economic and social objectives.
Ms Joanne Yawitch, SANParks board chairperson stated that the relationship between the parks, management, board and Parliament is very important and the organisation regularly reports to Parliament. SANParks has twenty parks around the country and they are all an important national treasure in terms of biodiversity and their location in the rural areas is equally important because they are in most cases an important resource base for those communities. The parks provide much needed jobs and an income stream opportunity for those poor rural communities. The question for SANParks is how it has to maintain the parks because of their tourism potential. The board is hoping that there will be an opportunity for the committee to also interact with the host communities to learn firsthand the unbelievable potential the parks hold for our collective benefit. Also important is that the Committee gets acquainted with the financial challenges and risks faced by the parks and the communities so that it can in its wisdom also proffer solutions. Looking forward in terms of the APP, we are trying to look at good solutions to the challenges and hope that Parliament will offer a critical view and assert if they are a right fit and also assess our performance in relation to our targets.
Mr Dumisani Dlamini, Acting SANParks CEO thanked the Committee for the opportunity to appear before them and restated that SANParks is pleased to present its APP for 2019/20 today as well as the Q4 performance report. The organisation is looking forward to the guidance of the Committee of the 6th Parliament and happy to report that it enjoys the support of the minister and the board which lightens the task. We also pledge our support to the Committee as it discharges its oversight mandate.
Ms Lize McCourt, SANParks COO, spoke of the SANParks vision to have a world class system of sustainable national parks reconnecting and inspiring society. SANParks manages 19 National Parks of 4 million ha and 67% of state owned terrestrial protected areas. Amongst our sustainable conservation goals is the effective management of the transfrontier conservation areas (TFCA), effective management of all national parks and management of fossil fuel generated energy and water consumption within national parks.
SANParks Quarter 4 performance 2018/19
All in all, 14% of indicators were off target for Quarter 4. The unachieved targets were discussed:
• Reduction in water consumption
SANParks experienced a 1.64% increase on baseline for percentage reduction in water consumption at Kruger and the reasons for this under-achieved target are:
- The high temperatures and low rainfall figures during October to March 2019 caused the large camps and staff villages to exceed the previous baselines.
- The lack of adequate awareness amongst guests and staff about saving water is the main cause of this under-achievement.
KNP is piloting a different approach to the creation of awareness with the assistance of the research department. Should the outcome be successful, it will be rolled out to all camps. The water tariffs were reviewed as a mechanism of ensuring the reduction of water consumption by staff and clients.
• Total Number of Park Management Plans reviewed and submitted as per annum:
- The revised Mapungubwe NP, Management Plan has been submitted to DEA for technical review.
- The Garden Route NP Management Plan is in progress.
- Due to the October/November wildfires in the Garden Route, staff were unable to complete the lower level plans. This influenced both timelines and the requirement to revisit certain components in light of the changed post- fire context. A request for an extension of the timeline was approved by the Board
• On number of rhinos poached per annum in 6 rhino parks (other than KNP)
- 3 rhinos poached.
- 2 x White rhino in Marakele and 1 White rhino in Mokala
Reasons for non achievement
- Poaching pressures have increased in and around parks significantly. Poachers arrested close to Mokala come as far as Mozambique.
- Staff remain committed to the cause of rhino protection and work hard to ensure that poaching minimised.
- Two of the poaching incidents around Marakele were possibly opportunistic as the animals poached were very close to a public road.
Continued implementation of the rhino Protection Plan
• On the percentage implementation of the Annual Elephant Plan
74.0% (20 out of 27) activities were implemented
Reasons for non-achievement
- Developing best practice interventions about disturbing elephants at local scale. Although the intervention proposal to mimic zones of increased vigilance created by historic people in Kruger National Park are well advanced in development, evaluation of mechanisms and options are unresolved as considerable analyses are required to confirm the predicted mechanisms for each area of concern.
- Exclusion of elephants from sensitive riverine forest and cultural heritage sites in Mapungubwe. Park management has re-aligned fences, but have challenges finding funding to implement the changes to infrastructure required.
• Implementation of the annual elephant plan
The sourcing of two elephant bulls from Tembe elephant park managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to Addo elephant NP did not take place in Q4. Revision of the original target, which was to assist with an elephant management approach for the Associated Private Nature Reserves, delayed the process.
- Developing best practice interventions about disturbing elephants elephants at local scale.
- One enclosure to protect sensitive sites in Mapungubwe to be re-constructed
- Translocation of bull elephants to Addo elephant National Park (AENP) from Tembe elephant Park has been approved by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and is scheduled for 2019/20.
- Development of a broader Greater Limpopo elephant Strategy to be incorporated in the 2019/20 elephant implementation actions.
• Decrease of 75.5 % in fines from the previous year
The Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) fines show a major decrease of 75.5 % from the previous year and this is due to traffic fines no longer being recorded. A legal opinion was received indicating that SANParks should stop issuing traffic fines in terms on National Road Traffic Act. They are permitted to issue fines for environmental crime in accordance to the Protected Areas Amendment Act (NEMPAA).
• Air Wing strategy has been developed; however, the final approval stage has not been completed
• Total Number of Visitors to National Parks: Number of visitors decreased by 7.74 % at 6 464 305.
Reasons for under achievement:
- 2017/18 was a bumper year that saw the target exceeded by 7.5% due largely to an influx of visitors to the Cape Parks (Table Mountain, West Coast, with a total of 23% increase tear on year). In 2018/19 the visitor numbers decreased by 7.74%
- According to the Tourism Business Index (TBI) of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) 2018 has been the worst year for business performance since the inception of the TBI in 2010. The last time the industry performed above “normal” levels was in quarter four of 2016.
- The major contributions to this is the domestic economic conditions such as VAT increase and increases in the cost of commodities such as fuel contributed to the decline, although international visitors also declined.
- Differential conservation fees were implemented at TMNP in November 2018 resulting in an increase in revenue while contributing to a marginal decline in visitors.
- Emphasize enablement of Tourism function by improved service from internal support functions – maintenance (reduction of period inventory is out of service), SCM (increased efficiencies)
- Ensure corporate tourism targets are realistic
- Equip operational management with enhanced skills for hands-on monitoring & management
- Enhance sales & marketing
- Provide value for money product (state of infrastructure in parks)
- Become more customer-centric.
- A concerted programme to implement innovative means to attract visitors to national parks, including marketing and promotions, is being implemented.
• Total Number of Accommodation Unit Nights Sold
569 803 Unit Nights Sold during 2018/19 but only 445 735 achieved.
• Beneficiation package implemented as per land claim identified
Beneficiation scheme was drafted and submitted to the Board for noting. The beneficiation scheme could not be approved as it is still awaiting valuation.
SANParks 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan
Among its action plans is to redress the historic exclusion of previously disadvantaged people from the game farming industry and in 2019/20, implement 95% implementation of the SANParks Wildlife Economy and Sustainable Use Programme for this group. SANParks has seen an increased percentage growth in Tourism revenue year on year to 4% (7 000 000) and occupancy rate average in park accommodation is at 73%.
Risks, consequences and mitigating factors
Mr Dlamini identified some of the risks, the consequences and mitigating factors for the risks identified.
• Inadequate financial resources to implement the organisational strategy with these risk consequences:
- Inability to execute organization’s mandate
- Inadequately funded mandate
- Inability to generate more revenue
- Inability to financially sustain the organisation
Risk mitigation plan: Implement tourism strategy to sustain revenue generation, ccontinued maintenance to sustain revenue potential, continued liaising with stakeholders, generate income to subsidise mandate, develop and implement fundraising strategy source finance to invest in infrastructure.
• Diminishing numbers of guests to parks with these risk consequences:
- Loss of revenue
- Reputational damage
- Loss of social capital.
Risk mitigation plan:
- Expand product diversity to attract new domestic markets
- Grow younger international markets
- Create tailor made products
- Educating the youth on conservation values
- Include other interest groups such as adventure, trails, other leisure markets.
See document for more APP details.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) referred to the rhinos in Kruger and asked if the net number of rhinos is going up or down. Are we winning or losing the battle against poaching? Do we know how many rhinos are left in Kruger? How are they counted? Does SANParks still undertake an aerial census in Kruger? If not why not? There is an academic paper backing the sale of rhino horns; what is the status of that paper and SANParks thinking on that? Are the elephant and rhino management plans still available and can we see them or where do we find them? It is gratifying to see increased arrests of poachers. Are there figures for the number of such arrests that lead to convictions? Are there facilities for rhino orphans at Kruger? What culling is currently taking place there and what happens to the products from animals culled? Is the botanical makeup of Kruger being tracked and by whom? On the transfrontier park shared with Mozambique, what length of the fence has been dropped between the Kruger and Mozambique side of the fence? Are protests around Kruger about the park and how much support do the local communities have for the park’s existence?
Minister Creecy suggested that rhino statistics can only be discussed with Committee members alone. What we do not want to do is to provide information to persons with ulterior motives. On the legal trade in rhino horn, one has to understand that our position is governed by the CITES Convention which of course does not support legal trade in rhino horn. While trade might be legal in a country, it is illegal internationally. Convictions do not fall under the Department’s control but under the Department of Justice. All current cases have been brought to the attention of the present Minister of Justice. On the protests, when we visited the area, it was brought to our attention that it had nothing to do with Kruger Park but rather has to do with the municipal supply of water.
Ms H Winkler (DA) asked the actual figures with regards to the rhino horns stockpile. How frequently are they audited? According to information emanating from government, it stated that 25 000 tonnes are held by government and this came to 15 003 horns. However, the average weight of a horn is 4kg, but if we divide the figures it comes to 1.8kg per horn. So there seems to be a discrepancy in the figures provided by the Department? Have there been any mining applications in the protected areas or within one kilometre boundary of a protected area last year?
Mr N Singh (IFP) thanked the Minister for her presence and the presentation. He was interested in the social cohesion and equity models and asked about successful equity models and in which areas? To win the war on poaching, communities living around wildlife park areas must be empowered and must benefit from them because they are our eyes and ears. What cooperative links do we have with other wildlife agencies? The delays in dealing with cases of poaching must be addressed. A case in point is the case of a man called Gwala, an alleged rhino kingpin, whose case is still going on for three years and counting. After attending his last court hearing, Mr Singh sensed collusion between him and people working in our system such as the police and others. Perhaps we need specialised wildlife courts to deal with matters swiftly. On budget, you stated that the bulk of our income comes from tourism; can we have an idea of the occupancy rates where we have accommodation? Which are doing well and which are not? It is of interest that the rangers are not allowed to issue traffic fines in the parks. He was issued one while driving 25km per hour in one of the parks many years ago.
Mr P Modise (ANC) said that SANParks are responsible for 19 parks and has 4 400 permanent employees; that is too vague and ambiguous. It would be better for this to be broken down to the number of rangers, air wings, and every other unit that comprise this number so as to assess if they are contributing to job creation. On targets, the annual employment target for 2019/20 is 5 451 and in 2023/24 there will be reduction to 4 371. That is a problem because we are serious about increasing jobs not decreasing them. On SMME participation in the economic mainstream, are they assisting us in job creation?
Ms T Mchunu (ANC) asked what the plans are for SANParks to have SMMEs as partners in mentoring, evaluating and monitoring their progress. Why is the emphasis only on rhino and not on elephant poaching? What is the percentage allocated in the total budget for depreciation of assets recorded in the asset register? On the inability of SANParks to have 50/50 parity in representation of women as a result of resignations, what are the reasons for the women resigning? Can it be corrected? Is there a plan to deal with this?
Ms A Weber (DA) asked what the impact of the coal mine to be opened at Kruger will have on effective and sustainable management of the ecosystem. The holder of that licence DM Witbank has been closed for the past two years, who is responsible for giving that licence? Is the land around Kruger Park not designated as agricultural land? From January to 31 August 2018 58 elephants were killed; that works out to five a month or one per week which is a lot. What level of protection do we have for our elephants? How do the poachers gain access to the Park to be able to kill one elephant per week? On revenue generation, is revenue generated only through tourism?
The Chairperson said there was little talk about integrity of systems but rather much talk of plans. There should also be a sense of general control of one's assets and protecting them from theft. As you said that you are a mini state as the sun sets in the parks, extrapolating that to what we are facing in our country, the parks too should be prepared because of what is happening to state assets in general.
Mr Lorimer said he realises that the Kruger Park earns its own money, but how many more tourists can Kruger take and how do you work that out? You spoke of radical interventions to increase tourism; who runs the SANParks online booking site? That site logs a lot of complaints and it is an awkward website.
Mr M Paulsen (EFF) was keen to know the tourism benefits derived by communities dotted around Parks.
Ms Winkler asked why cash-strapped South Africa sent a delegation of 55 to the current CITES conference taking place in Geneva. Why is it that SA has the biggest delegation to that meeting and is the number correct?
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) asked if the EPWP is only dealing with water or does it include other issues such as waste management and conservation of natural resources? What is the role played by traditional health practitioners in the promotion and preservation of indigenous species since they use animal skins and parts in their ritualistic practices? How do you manage environmental pollution when fossil fuel is burnt for energy in and around the parks?
Mr Singh asked if there is management of marine protected areas at SANParks and are there regulations in place? What is the status of land claims within our Parks? What safety measures are in place for tourists within the Parks?
The Chairperson requested more information on the lowering of the fence between private game reserves and the Parks proper.
Ms Yawitch replied that SA has nineteen parks with huge biodiversity value that are important ecological assets for the country. However, not all the parks are positive revenue generators. A lot of cross-subsidisation takes place, especially four of them cross-subsidise the others and this is unlikely to change. We see the long term sustainability of our parks integrally linked to the benefits they provide for the communities in the areas they operate and to the country as whole. In terms of tourism, these parks assets attract quite a lot of tourists to our shores. Looking at the APP submitted today, you can see that socio-economic beneficiation takes centre stage which was not the case previously. This is one of the core pillars in how we now run the parks. The Kruger Park has been extended over the years by way of taking down boundaries of the private game reserves to extend the range, length and width of the park. Also the provincial game reserves adjoining Kruger have seen their fences taken down and integrated into the park proper. The law prevents any hunting in national parks but provincial legislation does allow hunting on private land. On whether the botanical makeup of Kruger Park has changed over years, yes, it has changed substantially. Looking at series of photographs from the 1960s, one can see that the way the Park looked then has changed a lot in part because of the scheme of a closed system, having more animals in one area, that never used to be so and because we have been very meticulous in our system of culling.
Ms McCourt replied that South Africa is winning the war on poaching. The aerial census is continuing but the latest census has yielded some confusing results. That is why it has not been released yet as the department is currently studying the mortality number and low fertility rates due to the drought. However, in Kruger we are still within the sustainability range for rhinos. As signatories to CITES, the country is committed to sustainable use of animals for both consumptive and non-consumptive purposes. Culling does take place sometimes via a supply chain process as one done recently on ostriches in one facility in the Northern Cape as it was not viable to remove them. In that case an opportunity was given to an upcoming meat industry upstart to cull and remove the meat, skins and bio products. First choice is to sell and make money and that money is then ploughed back for park development and purchase of more land to expand the park. No elephant culling has happened because the elephant norms and standards that the department is developing have not been finalised. Meat processing does also take place at an approved only site at Skukuza for game such as Impala. Culling also takes place for drought purposes for animals like hippos. The rhino figures will be discussed behind closed doors with the Committee as it is very sensitive due to the risk associated with the figures.
On the coal mining applications, we cannot give an exact number but there have been no mining applications in any of the Parks as it is currently illegal. In terms of mining within one kilometre radius of the Parks, there have been some applications in Namaqua, West Coast National Park, around Kruger and a couple of other places and the exact number will be responded to in writing.
Elephant poaching year to year is down and in our parks; fewer were poached in the last financial year.
On female resignations, in their exit interviews, most of them resign because of SANParks inability to attract expert black women due to the salary we offer and because of lifestyle choices. The most problematic gender representation is in Ranger corps that is currently 98% male.
Mr Dlamini replied that empowering the communities around the parks forms part of their core functions and SANParks has been divided into core areas which are: conservation, tourism and social economic transformation. The move is now away from development to that of economic transformation for the communities living around the parks. Certain allocations have been made for them, for instance, any job opportunities and procurement opportunities available in parks are reserved for the people located alongside the parks. Even land claimants are given opportunities that arise and the Skukuza lodge has a 10% stake reserved for the communities around there.
Tourism occupancy rates for accommodation in the top five Parks are Kgalagadi 87.2%, Kruger 80.9%, Addo Elephant Park 77.8%, Mountain Zebra 74.6% and Marakele 59%. On the envisaged reduction in jobs in 2023/24, it is not job reduction but the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and in this particular case is not a reduction but a move. The jobs related to this function will move and in the latter years will not be reported under SANParks. On the percentage of depreciation in relation to SANParks overall budget, the percentage for 2019/20 is 7% which is slightly higher than the previous year which was 6%.
Ms McCourt replied that in terms of tourism at Kruger, it can be expanded but in northern part of the Park not the South. Radical tourism means attracting more black young middle class to visit the Parks. The online booking site is the process of being replaced as it is fifteen years old. The EPWP is not only working on water but there is also work on erosion, working on the wetlands, working on fire, coast and the eco-furniture programme.
Minister Creecy replied that the figure of 55 sent to CITES is definitely not true. There is no way she would have approved 55 people to go to one event.
South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) briefing
The SANBI board chairperson, Ms Beryl Ferguson, stated that SANBI’s vision is biodiversity richness for all South Africans and its mission is to champion the exploration, conservation,sustainable use, appreciation and employment of South Africa’s exceptionally rich biodiversity for all people.
Key mandate deliverables are reflected in the five-year Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP), Annual Performance Plan (APP) and achievements are documented in the Annual Report. It has a Governance Protocol agreement with DEA. A progress report on the APP is done quarterly and analysed and approved by DEA.
SANBI's Foundations of Biodiversity (its herbaria, DNA bank, Millennium Seed Bank, and the National Vegetation Map) are built on by means of collections, taxonomy, inventory, maps and classification of ecosystems and species.
SANBI APP 2019/20 and Quarter 4 performance
Ms Carmel Mbizvo, SANBI Acting Chief Executive Officer, noted that SANBI obtained a qualified audit opinion in 2018/19 but aspires to get an unqualified audit during this financial year. It saw a 2% increase on own income in plant sales, rental, admissions and other income and it hopes to increase to 4% on own income generation in 2019/20 and 15% in five years.
SANBI achieved most of its targets except for the following where partial success was achieved;
- Behind Schedule on improvement and upgrading of existing buildings in the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden: not achieved
Corrective measure: Service provider appointed through open tender on 20 February 2019 for prioritised upgrading and improvement of existing buildings in the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden. Planned work scheduled to be completed in 2019/20.
- Number of beneficiaries who participated in ‘Kids in Gardens’ Programme. Only 13 355 beneficiaries were reached during Q4, instead of planned 13500. The target was not met due to cancellations from schools for various reasons such as exams and a shorter quarter in school calendar.
- Number of general visitors reached through visits to the National Zoological Gardens (NZG). The 432 000 target planned for the quarter was not achieved as the zoo had only 336 664 visitors. The NZG has not been able to achieve this target. Although there is a general increase in the visitor numbers to the NZG it has not been able to achieve targets. This can be attributed to economic pressures, safety concerns relating to the NZG location and lack of product innovation resulting from limited capital investment.
Examples of successful target achievements included:
- 100 black biodiversity professionals participate in structured internships and postgraduate studentships according to targets for 2018/19
- 15 universities who participated in the University Biodiversity Careers Programme aimed at attracting young people into the biodiversity sector. They are University of Western Cape; Central University of Technology; University of Limpopo; University of Venda; Sefako Makgatho Health Services University; University of South Africa; University of Stellenbosch; University of Free State; Sol Plaatjie University; Durban University of Technology; Walter Sisulu University; University of North-West; University of Johannesburg; University of KZN; Vaal University of Technology; Fort Hare University
- 9 environmental theme days celebrated. Two environmental theme days; World Wetlands’ Day and World Water Week were celebrated as per the set target.
- Number of research papers in journals accredited by the Department of Higher Education. 36 papers were published against a target of 35 for the year in Programme 7 on the biodiversity of wild animals.
SANBI Financial Report
Ms Lorato Sithole, SANBI Chief Financial Officer, provided a comparison of costs for Quarter 4 with the previous financial year. Due to the new NZG operations, there was an R89m increase (43%) in personnel costs. The increase without NZG would have been 12%.
Total Revenue 721 676 545 702
Total Assets 819 677 173 758 535 000
Personnel costs 415 337 290 511
NZG achievements from April 2018 to date
- An agreement concluded with organised labour – Ring-fenced for maximum 24 months.
- Function shift that meets legislative requirements.
- Representation on SANBI Governance and other forums.
- Agreement with DST for sustainability funds.
- Migration of ICT Systems.
- Deployment of a payroll system.
- Transfer of the staff members of the SANBI Pension Fund.
- Initial analysis of harmonisation costs.
- Secured R18m from National Department of Tourism (NDT) for tourism upgrades
- Secured R2m funding from NRF for animal collection
- Infrastructure upgrades - DEA
- Master Plan development through NDT funding
- Contributed to SANBI Research Strategy
- Phase 1 adoption of SANBI branding and incorporated into marketing strategy.
The NZG action plan was discussed and the SANBI APP (see presentations).
Ms Winkler (DA) asked about the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, if there has been research on how effective the educational objectives in successfully raising awareness amongst learners of the biodiversity richness of the country?
Ms Mchunu asked the reason for SANBI’s qualified annual audit opinion. What is difference between moving from marketing to communication platforms? Do we have a research report on indigenous plant species? She questioned the baseline of 31 research papers published, with an annual target of 30 and a five year target of 30. Why is there no budget for maintenance of depreciating infrastructure in the zoo? What is the total number of employees at SANBI? How are you faring in meeting your 50/50 target for female employees? What are your plans to entice more previously disadvantaged female and youth employees to SANBI?
Mr Modise asked why all the officials at SANBI are working in an acting capacity? How many branches do you have at SANBI? He requested an organogram of the organisation and the demographics of the employees. There are some problems in the targets and performance indicators such as the number of research papers published in research journals accredited by the Department of Higher Education which has a baseline in 2016/17 of 31, with 30 in 2019/20 and five year target of 30. There is a problem there if there is a reduction in your five year projection. The same goes for the number of learners reached through visits to the zoo which is 160 000 as the same projection applies in five years; this defies logic. The concern is your marketing strategy. How are you going to increase these performance indicators?
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said that there are some unachieved targets and how long will this go on for? Unachieved targets must be removed and not recycled every year because your MTSF is being monitored by Treasury. It is gratifying to know that you achieved your visitors target but do you have safety plans in place to protect them because it is your responsibility for any injuries sustained on your premises? How do you deal with air pollution control? How can we access some of your published journal papers?
Ms Mbizvo replied that SANBI will certainly take stock of the comments made by members today especially on how it presents information. On board membership, the Acts stipulates that the board should consist of a minimum of seven members and maximum of nine which should include a department representative and the CEO. Currently there are board resignations and term of the present board started on 3 October 2018 and is appointed for a period of three years which means their term will end on 30 September 2021. There are three resignations currently from the board. There are four females and three men serving on the board. The process is in motion to fill the vacancies and the minister has published an advert for the vacancies.
On equity targets, there are two targets which are on increased number of females appointed as staff which was exceeded last year and it achieved 46.6%. In new APP that target has been increased to 47%. Going forward in five years, this will be increased to 50%. The other target is females in top management; this was slightly exceeded at 51.7% and is being watched carefully. On what SANBI is doing to develop the skills of young females, internships are being offered especially to female rural youth. On marketing, we had a target of 102 marketing activities and the board felt it was more of a shopping list of media articles and interviews and SANBI was asked to come up with more strategic targets and that explains the move away from marketing activities to marketing platforms. The emphasis is now on print, electronic and social media platforms. The board is putting more emphasis on strengthening our marketing as we are working towards commercialisation and generating more revenue. A new draft marketing and commercialisation strategy is being drafted as we speak.
Ms Ferguson replied that there is a debate currently raging about whether zoos have a place in our communities. In most cases that is the only time children may be able to interact and see any kind of animal and it is great idea to take the kids to the zoo. While not always possible, the zoo still has its place as the opportunity for our kids to see a real lion. The spaces are been constantly opened in our zoological and biological gardens for our young children to visit them. On why so many officials are in an acting capacity, the former CEO’s term ended last week. Within the next month, adverts will be out for the appointment of a new CEO hence the current one is in acting capacity. We hope that the interviews and appointment process will be concluded within six months. Mr Mutshinyalo, Acting MD of National Zoological Gardens comes from our SANBI stable. We needed someone to oversee our National Zoological Gardens so we moved him there in August to hold the fort. The advert has gone out and hopefully that will be concluded soon. Ms Mpolaise still holds her position as well as Acting as the COO as our previous COO has gone on early retirement as he was unwell. The acting status of the staff is a child of circumstance and will be addressed speedily. The board has approved a new organogram in our last meeting on 15 August and it will be sent to the Committee as it is populated.
Ms Portia Mpolaise, Acting Chief Operating Officer, in response to the question on baseline targets on infrastructure said that it is as result of the guidance in place taking into consideration the budget for the financial year. In every financial year, to ensure that infrastructure does not fall behind, five targets for improvements on our gardens and two on corporate areas are set. In the financial plan, we have an infrastructural budget of 9% and it is inclusive for the zoo. The budget therefore is not separate for the zoo infrastructural maintenance. We do have a fixed asset register in place and it is reconciled properly and 1% is spent on maintenance across the entire organisation.
On employee costs and staff strength, we have 1 001 staff and the demographic breakdown will be submitted in writing. SANBI spends R418m on employee costs. On depreciation, SANBI does not budget for it given that it is more of an accounting recognition of the use of an asset over its useful life so we tend to focus on infrastructure. On employee costs versus operating expenses, there is no guidance from National Treasury even though it is looked at closely to ensure that SANBI is not over-committed on compensation of employees.
Mr Thompson Mutshinyalo, Acting Managing Director of National Zoological Gardens and formerly Director: Conservation Gardens and Tourism, on marketing platforms as opposed to marketing activities, explained that this relates to marketing initiatives not as an activity but using media and online platforms as opposed to marketing activities such as using people, cars in promotions. Research on indigenous plants is ongoing and there is a lot of research currently taking place at SANBI. As a result of new DNA technology, some plants identified previously we might find they are something entirely different so research around plant species is a continual exercise. On safety of visitors, SANBI has a fully fledged functional safety programme in place that complies with safety standards. On the role of traditional healers and their use of animal products for their practice, we do not dispose of animal products for them to use because we might run the risk of being sued if someone gets sick using them. On waste management around the parks, there is a waste management plan in place in our facilities and in some places a community driven practice is in place especially in Mamelodi where the function of disposing waste is given to the community to sort, collect and sell or dispose. In places like Kirstenbosch Gardens, we have a take-in–take-out policy where visitors have to ensure that they take home their own waste so no dustbin can be seen there.
The Chairperson thanked the organisations and was pleased with the answers provided.
The meeting was adjourned.