The Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the Industry Waste Plans and on the performance and expenditure reports for Quarter 1 and 2, 2019/20.
In her opening remarks, the Minister said she had held meetings with waste industries on how to improve the state of waste management in the country.
The presentation gave a background of industry waste management plans and the concept of “extended producer responsibility’. There is and the increasing waste challenge at local government. Several municipalities do not have licensed land-fill sites. 35% of households in the country do not receive regular waste collection services.
The Redisa plan for the management of tyre waste was also mentioned. Members expressed concern on the legal dispute between the Department and the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa in the Supreme Court [where the Minister had lost the appeal]. Members asked if there was a solution that would allow for the two to work with each other in the future. Minister Creecy indicated that she has to apply her mind on this matter and believes that she will have a response for the Committee before the end of the year. It was suggested by Members that she should rather brief the Committee on her decision in March 2020.
During the briefing on the Department’s performance in the first and second quarters, it was mentioned that there has to be drastic change in the Department as the Auditor General had reported that the internal control situation has worsened. Irregular expenditure had ballooned from R115 million 2017/18, to R604 million in 2018/19. The Minister has set up an independent forensic investigation to address the issue of irregular expenditure. Members were particularly concerned about the underspending reported across the Department. 36% of allocated funds had been spent in the first half of the year, against a benchmark of 50%. Members said that money is allocated to the budget so that the Department is able to carry out its functions, and so it must be spent. Concerns were raised about the possibility of National Treasury deciding to take unspent funds of the Department and the consequences this will have for the Department’s performance. Overall, the Department had achieved a 64% success rate in meetings its targets. Officials of the Department were not satisfied with this performance but indicated that improvement will be seen at the end of the financial year.
In a previous meeting, officials had indicated that the transferral of Forestry and Fisheries to the Department would be completed in October 2019. The Department had missed this target. Officials admitted that the target of October was overly ambitious on their part, but there were other reasons for this delay. The Department had to wait for the budget allocation for Forestry and Fisheries to be transferred from the former department of agriculture forestry and fisheries. This will happen in March 2020. The new departmental organogram should be finalised by November 2020.
Another issue of concern to Members was the vacancy rates in key areas, particularly fisheries scientists. No vacancies could be filled, across the Department, until it was finally determined which and how many posts would be transferred.
Outstanding reports to the Committee on the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Marine Living Resources Fund would be scheduled for a future meeting.
The Chairperson indicated that this meeting was dedicated for the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to brief the Committee on its 1st and 2nd quarter performance 2019/2020. He proposed that the Committee adopt the agenda.
The agenda was adopted.
Industry Waste Plans
Mr Mark Gordon, Deputy Director General: Chemicals and Waste Management; Climate Change and Air Quality, gave a brief background of the various industry waste management plans. He indicated that industry waste management plans are premised on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The industry waste management plans are provided for by various provisions within the Waste Management Act. EPR is a global approach which takes into account the waste produced by industry and the mechanism used to deal with the products used by industry that become waste. With the increasing waste challenge at municipal level, industry waste management is a vehicle to manage the products when they reach their lifespan.
The Minister published a Section 28 Notice on 12 September 2016. There were representations made by each industry for the extension of the submissions of the plans. This extension was provided for. There were further interactions with industries to resolve some of the issues raised from the comments that emanated from the gazetted notice. Amendments were made to the notice, and the Minster published the final notice on the 6th of December 2017. This brought together the three sectors: paper and packaging; electrical and electronic industry waste sector; and the lighting industry, to prepare and submit industry waste management plans. These plans would include how the three sectors would deal with waste created within each of their sectors. The due date of the plans was the 5th of September 2018 and most were received on this date. Fifteen plans were received in total: nine plans from the paper and packaging sector, five plans from the electrical and electronic sector and one plan from the lighting industry. Two of these plans were submitted late and were not accepted due to the requirements. In total, thirteen plans were received before the closing date.
The plan for the management of tyre waste submitted by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) was approved in November 2012. This was not a Section 28 plan but a tire regulation plan in terms of tire regulations under the Environment Conservation Act. In March 2017 there was a call for the waste tyre sector to submit waste tyre plans for the management of waste tyres in terms of Section 28. These regulations were published in September 2017 and on the 30th of September 2017 the Redisa plan was withdrawn.
Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, indicated that she had a meeting with the tire industry to discuss what the industry can do to improve the collection of tyre waste. She felt that the Department must embark on a fresh process for the collection of industry waste and decided to set up a team that would include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department and Treasury. This would also include other representatives.
Mr N Singh (IFP) mentioned that some of the issues are long-standing. He recommended that there should be legislation that governs the collection of waste in all of the sectors. He asked if such legislation exists. He also asked what industry is doing with the waste and if they are complying with the requirements.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) asked when the industry plans will be finalised. He asked what went wrong with Redisa, and why did its operation collapse; and does Redisa feature in the Department’s plans in the future?
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) indicated that, based on the data on research on waste removal in South Africa, there is little that has been done with e-waste. She asked that the Department explain to the Committee what Sections 28 and 29 of the Waste Management Act prescribes.
There are few industrial waste management plans submitted by the three sectors mentioned. She asked how the Department will ensure that the biggest generators of waste comply with the waste management legislation. She mentioned that in the new Waste Management Act, e-waste has been listed as hazardous and must be dealt with. She asked what mechanisms the Department has to monitor waste generated by government institutions, as they contribute a significant amount of waste. She also asked whether there is specific legislation that focuses on government waste.
Ms H Winkler (DA) asked why the Redisa plan was withdrawn. She asked about the relationship between Redisa and the Waste Bureau in terms of tyre waste. As the Supreme Court overruled the liquidation of Redisa in January 2019, she asked what the dispute was between Redisa and the Department; and if there are plans to prevent such a dispute arising again.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) stated that the Department needs to educate citizens on waste disposal and recycling methods. He suggested that this should be taught to children in schools. There also needs to be monitors within the Department which measure the effectiveness of the plans of each sector for waste management.
Ms Creecy mentioned that it is important to have a common understanding on how to deal with waste management. She suggested that the Committee receive presentations on two matters. The first should be on the revised and updated national waste strategy of 2018. This would lay the foundation for the conceptualisation of the circular economy and the involvement of all peoples and sectors. The second must be on the state of waste management in the country. She indicated that 35% of the households in the country do not receive regular waste collection services. One of the reasons for this is that several municipalities do not have licensed land fill sites. But all the metros have household waste separation programmes as well as buyback programmes. It is important that the Members must have a broad understanding of all the issues within waste management.
She also recommended that the Members should analyse the Waste Management Act, which outlines ways in which waste management can be done. It is important for all industries to come together and create one single plan. This would assist for example in accessing tax that is available. For example, in the case of tyre waste, every tyre produced or imported has a tax that is collected by National Treasury. The purpose of the tax is to facilitate the expanded producer responsibility.
Responding to Ms Mbatha’s question, she indicated that section 29 of the Act states the state itself will guide industries on a single industry waste management plan. This is possible in the case of tyre waste as the industry has not been able to produce a single plan.
To have an efficient industry plan, it is important that all stakeholders and role players must buy into the plan. It must be established who will play the role of the project office (to control the plan), and to what extent is the project office an objective coordinator.
She added that there were several issues in Redisa, which was meant to play the coordinating role similar to the project office. Once Redisa’s contract had expired in 2017, Redisa ceased to manage the national tire waste. Section 28 of the Management Act states that you must reapply to be eligible for managing tire waste, which they did not do. Currently the Department is in discussions with the entity to determine who is owed and how much is owed to that party.
Whether Redisa will be a part of the Department’s plans is something that the Minister must apply her mind on, which is line with the prescripts. She mentioned that she cannot give the details on all the variables she must consider but she will try and come to a decision before the end of the year.
Mr Gordon indicated that e-waste is managed by voluntary programmes within various product responsibility organisations that collect e-waste, recycle and then dismantle it. He mentioned that E-waste is usually not disposed, as this waste is valuable. Instead, it is usually recycled.
Referring to government stockpiles, he indicated that this was dealt with comprehensively in the Phakisa programme, which deals with the waste recycling economy. Operation Phakisa includes National Treasury, Industry and other stakeholders. An initiative was discussed on methods to deal with government stockpiles. This initiative is still in progress and the details can be shared to the Committee.
Mr Singh suggested that the Minister should consider communicating her decision to the Committee in March of the next year, as Parliament is in recess soon. He added that it is important to establish whether there has been compliance by the industries, as this has severe consequences on the citizens.
Ms Mbatha said that the separation of waste at the source is not being done. It was tried in the City of Tshwane, but was not successful. She said that Sections 27 and 28 of the Waste Management Act outline the industrial waste management plans and other requirements for waste management. It is important that there is compliance with this piece of legislation.
She indicated that the responses given by the Minister on waste separation and single industry waste collection were incorrect. She mentioned that globally E-waste is a problem as it has hazardous within but these substances can be used as a resource. She added that any industrial management plan must be specific per industry. Within government there is a lot of waste that is generated, such as electronic and electrical waste.
The Chairperson indicated that there must be a common understanding on waste management. The presentation from the Department on the Minister’s decision next year will assist in minimising the disagreements on technical issues. He added that the late submission of documents had made it difficult to engage on the issues facing waste management.
Ms Limpho Makotoko, Deputy Director General: Corporate Management, presented the 1st and 2nd Quarter report of the Department for 2019/20.
Ms Makotoko mentioned that there has to be drastic change in the Department as the AG has reported that the internal control situation has worsened. This is in regard to the entities, audits and the ballooning irregular expenditure from R115 million 2017/18, to R604 million in 2018/19. The Department has prioritised good governance to change this matter. A drastic decision has been made with the Minister shifting monies to priority areas. An independent forensic investigation has also been set up by the Minister to address the issue of irregular expenditure. There are three underperforming programmes, Fisheries, Environmental Programmes and Forestry. There had been underspending here.
Programme 1: Administration
The Department has developed a turnaround strategy to deal with the challenges that the Department currently faces. Currently the Department is in the process of implementing its control measures which will be tested when the Department does internal audits later in the financial year.
With the macro re-organisation of government, combining the Forestry and Fisheries functions with Environment meant that there may be a possibility of excess posts. Of the 210 vacancies in Environmental Affairs, 180 are in support functions. The Department will inherit 300 support functions from Forest and Fisheries. Vacancies cannot be filled until the Department has established whether there is excess personnel. This is envisaged to end in November in 2020.
Another issue is the gender parity within senior management. Currently there are 154 posts in senior management, of which 68 are filled with females. With the number of existing vacancies, the Department will not be able create a 50% split between the two.
The Department did not meet its target for local government support interventions. She explained that the Department supports local government interventions around capacity building on environmental projects or functions that they embark on. It also partners with them on integrating their environmental priorities in their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). There is a schedule that the Department has for which district municipalities it must visit each year.
Programme 2: Legal, authorisations, compliance and enforcement.
Ms Makotoko explained that administrative enforcement instructions relates to industry complying with the notices issued to them. In the first quarter, the level of compliance was low and the Department did not meet the targets, however that has picked up. Corrective measures have been instituted by the Department. 19 criminal cases were finalised during this period – against the target of 24. A panel of high-level advisors were appointed to observe the breeding, hunting and trade of elephants and lions, leopards and rhinoceroses. The submission of the National Waste Management Strategy was delayed as it had to be taken through the various government clusters before it had been finalised. This was finalised in the second quarter.
Programme 3: Oceans and Cost
There were delays in the development of coastal management guidelines for the natural environment.
The Department could not finalise the development of the Antarctic strategy, which looks to strengthen the role of South Africa in the implementation of the treaties that it currently has. The strategy has been amended and is ready for processing. For the Marine spatial plan the Department decided that the DG’s of the different Departments should come together to review the different parts of this plan. Constituting this Committee has caused delays for the implementation of this plan. New Marine Protected areas have been declared. The responsibility of the Department is that once those areas have been declared they must be effectively managed. Part of the tools for management are the management plans. By the end of the financial year, the Department is intending on finalising 4 plans. The Department is considering budget shifts to programmes with low budget allocation.
Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality
The Department planned for stakeholder consultations in quarter two and three but this could not be done, as it is dependent on the finalisation of the Climate Change Bill. Once this is finalised, the Department will continue with the consultations. Greenhouse gas inventories have not been published yet as it is still with the Cabinet. Potential socio-economic implications was missing but has since been amended by the Department and will be submitted to Cabinet.
Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation
She indicated that there is a national coordinating body that deals with conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This body assists the Department with advocacy and awareness. There were challenges in signing an agreement with them. To minimise costs, the Department decided to do this internally but solicit advice from this body. This was the only target not met.
Programme 6: Environmental programmes.
In this programme, the Department was only able to achieve 3 of the 14 targets that were set. The challenge in this area is that this is the branch were programmes are implemented and if there is a delay in the finalising of the countries, it will affect other projects.
Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management
The Department had planned to do a cost-effect analysis on mercury management which was not finalised in quarter one but was finalised in quarter two. The Department does not have adequate processing and recycling capacity in the country. Seven service providers were contracted by the Department and in the first quarter, only six were operational. A service provider closed down in August and the Department now only has five service providers. A recycling enterprise support programme was initiated by the Department to create jobs. There has been progress in the second quarter.
Whilst the Department did not table the plan with Fisheries and Forestry, as the Portfolio Committee does not yet deal with that, it has been included in this report. The Department is yet to resuscitate the Aquaculture Act; which it wants to be processed. There has been delays in the registration of small-scale fishers. Some of the fishers have been advised to form cooperatives by the Department. The allocations of rights to fishers have been done partly in KZN, and plans to be in the Eastern Cape soon. There had been disputes in the lists, which has led to delays in the Western Cape. Within Fisheries research critical posts were not filled. The Department has looked to collaborate with the fisheries researchers and the oceans and cost research unit to update the scientific data. She said that there has been challenges with compliance. The Department is considering the integration of all compliance and enforcement work under programme two to ensure that there is capacity. Fishery patrol vessels have been underfunded, which has been a challenge. This has an impact on the fishing industries.
Forestry and Natural Resource Management
In the last engagement, the Committee requested information on what this programme is about. The document containing the information is ready and will be circulated to the Committee. The Department was not able to recommission the Western Cape state forest plantations. Transactional advisors were believed to be appointed in the second quarter but there has been subsequent advice indicating that before their appointment, there needs to be a full needs assessment; to determine the scope and terms of reference of the transactional advisors. Overall, the Department has had a 64% success rate in meeting its targets.
Ms Esther Makau, Chief Financial Officer presented the Environmental Affairs Quarter 2 expenditure Report, 1 April – 30 September 2019
Ms Makau outlined the expenditure per economical classification. In total the Department had spent an average of 36%, of its budget of R7.5 billion, in the first half of the financial year. A contributing factor to this low percentage, is the low expenditure seen in the Environmental Affairs programme. Chemical and waste is also low as these are the programmes that have projects which the Auditor General (AG) indicated have had irregular expenditure. She mentioned that the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) have been combined with goods and services and the total amount spent on EPWP totals R4 billion of the Department’s budget. The Department has discussed the AG’s findings on the objectivity criteria that are used by the Department with National Treasury. This includes the measuring of functionality where the Department awards tenders. Discussions are to clarify where the Department has gone wrong on these matters. The Department decided to speak to the Department of Public Works (DPW), as well as the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) in order to attain the right framework for awarding tenders for infrastructure management. The implementing agents (IA) of environmental projects have been submitting the statements of accounts of the Department. The statement of accounts indicates where the implementing agency has spent the money and how much was spent. Some of the IAs did not comply with submitting the statements of accounts, thus the Department had to withhold transferring funds for the entities. The bulk of the money in goods and services is from work done by consultancy agents that are used by the Department.
Mr Lorimer asked why it has taken time to register small scale cooperatives. He also asked how many of these cooperatives are functioning efficiently. He also asked why the vacant posts in the area of research had not been filled for 10 years. What happened to the scientists and what is being done to replace them?.
Ms Winkler asked how the individuals on the high-level panel on the hunting trade were appointed. She asked if the Department had considered that there needs to be a balance of perspective on this matter. She asked why the recommendations from the colloquium were not sufficient and why was it necessary to appoint a panel of experts.
It is well known that South Africa is a water scarce country so it is important that the spread of invasive species must be taken seriously.
According to the report, there were thirty six individuals who had failed to comply with administrative enforcement instructions that have been issued. She asked for the Department to provide the Committee with a list of these individuals.
Since the Department has fallen short in its performance targets for recycling, she asked whether there is a programme within the municipalities to support waste picking cooperatives. She indicated that an expansion of this must be considered.
Referring to small-scale fishing rights, she indicated that interim rights were granted to certain female individuals who had applied to be incorporated on the final fishing rights list. She asked how the Department is addressing this issue.
Mr P Modise (ANC) mentioned that in the first meeting between the Department and the Committee there was a discussion on the merging of the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Forestry and Fisheries. The Department said this would be completed by October but it still has yet to do so. He asked for reasons why this has not occurred. He also asked why the financial components of Fisheries have not been mentioned. There are a number of targets that have not been met. He indicated that the Department has not mentioned what corrective measures have been put in place to deal with these issues.
It is well known that infrastructure in Hout Bay has collapsed. He asked if the Department could confirm whether there had been engagements with DPW on addressing the infrastructural challenges. The Committee will be presenting the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) to Parliament on the 19th of November and since it was mentioned that the Department’s entities have surpluses, there will be no request for extra money. He asked if the Department has confirmed with the entities on the status of money in their accounts.
There was a significant increase in spending, especially in regard to Q1 and Q2 compensation of the employees. He asked if this indicates that there has been an increase in the employment of individuals within the Department.
Ms Mbatha said that it is troubling that both the recycling and jobs targets were not met. She asked how the Department hopes to address these challenges.
She suggested that the Department consider forcefully removing some of the males within the senior management positions and replace them with females.
She asked why the Department is using consultancy agencies, as this is not a cost-effective measure. She suggested that the Department stop using them. The Department must focus more on the environmental programmes, as the projects within the programmes are used to support the municipalities and create awareness. If the spending in this programme is low, the Department will not be able to carry out these functions. The Department should consider shifting funds to other focus areas of the Department, as it has reported underspending across its programmes. If this is not done, National Treasury will take funds away. She proposed that there should be one meeting where the CFO, the Department and the entities present at the same time. This will help correct some of the issues highlighted.
She asked for clarity on the number of individuals monitored within DPSA Greenfield. Has the Department evaluated whether there has been an impact from the programmes they have initiated? Why are. the professional bodies paid a subscription fee?
Mr Singh agreed with Ms Mbatha that National Treasury will take money away from this Department, as the recorded spending of 36% for the two quarters is far too low (against the expected 50%). Budget cuts will affect certain projects that empower communities and this should be a concern.
On the slides of the presentation, it was indicated that the entities are spending more than they are receiving. Whilst Ms Makau in her presentation stated that there is a surplus in the entities. There is a clear inconsistency.
He asked who the contractors were for the Amsol and the Waste Bureau lines of expenditure and what the terms of the contracts were, as a large sum of money was spent on both. It is also concerning that the implementing agencies are not meeting their obligations, such as submitting financial records. If the current ones are not complying, then they should be removed and replaced with new IAs. He asked why some of the Department’s entities have not submitted the infrastructure plans.
The Chairperson indicated that the underspending in environmental programmes is a major concern for the Members. He asked for clarity on why the implementing agents have not submitted their financial records. How has the Department come to the point of appointing service providers for matters they themselves do not yet understand? He indicated that he is unsure if all the answers given are true. He suggested that the Department should deal with people who are the cause for the underperformance recorded.
Ms Maggie Sotyu, Deputy Minister: Environment, Fisheries and Forestry, indicated that the President made mention of a waste management program (the Good Green Deeds) earlier this year. The program was launched in March and will attend to waste management in all provinces. It became clear to the Department that issues of waste management have not been taken seriously. As a result, the Department has deployed its officials to work with municipalities so that the funding allocated for waste is used specifically for waste. Responding to Mr Modise, she indicated that the Department was ambitious in setting the target of the transfer of Forestry and Fisheries functions by October this year. Recently the Department of Agriculture wrote a letter to Minister Creecy to indicate what functions in Forestry and Fisheries would be transferred to her Department. There has been disputes between the two Departments on this matter. But the primary cause of this delay is that the Department had to wait for the budget allocation and the number of posts that would be transferred from the former Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the new Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. Once the number of posts that will be transferred is known, the Department will be able to know how many vacancies are there. Responding to Ms Mbatha, she indicated that forcefully removing an individual from their job is illegal and the Department would not be able to follow that route.
Mr Gordon mentioned that it was indicated earlier that in KZN and the Eastern Cape the rights to small-fishers have been granted already. Western Cape is outstanding currently. In the research branch, the Department is looking to amalgamate the science functions between the oceans and coast branch. This is to better capacitate that area. Due to the fact there are four hunting species to consider, the appointment of a high-level panel had to be made. This panel will also investigate how the country’s resources are used. There was a public call for members to be nominated for the panel. A shortlist was drafted and has been published. The Department will provide the Committee with an administrative enforcement list that includes the non-compliant individuals referred to in the question from Ms Winkler.
Ms Makotoko said that part of the call for nominations was to ensure that the Department had individuals within the high-level panel that had specific skills and were from different backgrounds. On recycling capacity, she indicated that there is a difference between waste pickers and waste collection. The challenge is not with the collection of the waste, it is with the recycling capacity of waste. This is a national issue. Of the nine companies that the Department contracted with to deal with recycling, only six were operational. Currently the Department is engaging with the other three to understand what the challenges they faced were. To push the recycling quantities, the Department has engaged with the existing companies, to review whether they will be able to have higher quotas for recycling targets. She added that the pilots on waste picking are still running. She admitted that it is a challenge for the Department to deal with waste. The Department has made a call for entrepreneurs to collect waste.
Scientist capacity is a challenge that emerged in the fisheries department before the transferral. Due to a lack of funding of research within fisheries, it has been difficult to fill vacant posts. The Department is leveraging on the capacity it currently has by using the current scientists who deal with fisheries. This is an ongoing project.
On the transferal of functions, she said that because the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and Treasury had also indicated that they would try to finalise the transfers to the Department in October, the Department provided the Committee with that timeframe. The November  timeframe set is for the finalisation of the organogram of the Department. Allocations of funds will only be done in March 2020. Responding to Mr Modise, she indicated that there is a financial presentation for Forestry’s that has been prepared.
Mr Gordon said that one of the challenges for cooperatives has been that the municipalities have a shortage of funding for infrastructure dedicated for them. But there are buy-back centres run by local government. Currently, the Department cooperates with the Department of Small Business Development, DTI and COGTA to leverage support and funding. With the limited budget cuts, only 12 or 13 SMME’s are supported, and each of them employ four people. There are few avenues to boost the economy for SMMEs. But through other programmes of the Department, with increased budgets, more recycling and job targets can be met.
Ms Makotoko corrected her previous statement and stated that the Department only analyses quarter one of the entities, and there were shortfalls and not surpluses. This is due to the entities only accessing their funds in the second quarter.
On the bank balances of implementing agencies, she mentioned only once they have submitted their bank statement can the Department analyse the balance. As the Department uses a comparative method, comparisons of statements across the years is done. The submission of the financial statements and documents is a requirement of the contracts signed by the IAs with the Department. For those who did not submit the required documents and statements, the Department did not transfer money.
She indicated that because the EPWP is a large programme, with several projects underway, the Department has to use consultants. She explained that the process of contracting IAs, is similar to a tender process in that the Department evaluates the IAs and then provides the funds for the completion of the project.
Responding to Mr Singh on money spent to the Waste Bureau, she indicated that there are several IAs that deal with transporters, individuals dealing with waste tyres. The Department has signed a contract with Amsol [African Marine Solutions]; and Amsol has been paid. Part of the payment includes the voyages that Amsol undertakes [such as to South Africa’s scientific bases in the Antarctic].
Ms Suzen Liseke, Acting Deputy Director General: Forestry, indicated that the presentation for the Marine Resources Fund is ready and the Acting CFO can do the presentation today.
She indicated that the registration process of small-scale fishers is tedious and lengthy. From the time that the Marine Resources Act was promulgated in 1998, the category of small-scale fisheries was not recognised within the Act. A Constitutional Court ruling in 2007 declared that the Department must amend the legislation to recognise this category. This was done, and in 2016 this Act was promulgated. He explained that after this, the Department had to identify communities that engage in small-scale fishing and once that was done, it had to identify the particular individuals who fish. Once they were identified, these individuals were invited to apply to the Department to evaluate whether they qualify as small-scale fishers. Once this is done, they must be organised in the form of cooperatives. They must be trained and apply for their rights. This year, seven cooperatives were awarded fishing rights in KZN. Thirty seven cooperatives have registered with the Department from KZN and thirty six have applied for their rights. On the 16th of November the Minister will travel to the Eastern Cape to award more small-scale fishers rights. There have been delays in the Western Cape due to contention about who should be on the list. To resolves this, the Department has appointed an independent firm to verify the registration process of the small-scale fishers, particularly those in the Western Cape. Their objective is to see if the process was fair and followed the legislative requirements. A report is forthcoming.
Interim relief is supposed to cease to exist once the small-scale fishing kicks in. This season the interim relief will continue whilst the Department brings in the new small-scale fishers. The two processes will run parallel. The independent company mentioned previously will verify who should be on the list.
On vacancies, he mentioned that there are 740 positions in the Fisheries Department, of which 575 have been filled. In the past nine years 93 posts have been removed in Fisheries. The position of CFO has been vacant for the past nine years, and there had been various acting CFOs. So it is not just the research department that has had an issue of vacancies. Even though Fisheries had good scientists, there was no depth. If one person resigned, there was immediately a gap. Building the capacity will take some time.
Hout Bay harbour infrastructure has three challenges. The first is that there has been a natural depreciation of the infrastructure and the equipment. This is the responsibility of the department responsible for public works and infrastructure. The second challenge is that there were riots in Hout Bay during which much of the infrastructure was burned. The DPW has contacted several contractors who will assist with fixing the damaged infrastructure. DPW has managed to source, through the Coega Development Cooperation, service providers to remove the sunken vessels in the harbour. This project, in addition to the general maintenance of infrastructure of harbours will continue in the foreseeable future. The third challenge is the security of the harbour.
The Chairperson indicated that earlier it was mentioned that there was underperformance reported in the EPWP report and asked if the Members wanted to hear the presentation.
Mr Singh suggested that this report should be done in another meeting, as this is an important matter.
Ms Mbatha indicated that since the officials did not respond to some of the questions posed by Members, they should provide written responses.
Ms Winkler said that there is an inconsistency as one of the officials indicated that there is no money for cooperatives, whilst it has been indicated that the Department has surpluses. She asked for clarification.
She also asked if the recommendations from the colloquium on lions forms a part of the discussions of the high-level panel and is not being treated as a separate issue.
She clarified that earlier she was referring to recycling at the source and not at the collection points. There are cooperatives who separate waste at the source and she asked why there has not been support given to them.
Ms Sotyu indicated that it is not possible for the Department to respond to the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) document that must be presented to the Committee, as the monies of the fund still belong to the Department of Agriculture. This is the first time that the Department has been briefed on this matter.
The Chairperson indicated that due to this issue, there will be no discussion on this fund.
Mr Singh asked that the Minister to provide the details on this report. After reading through the report, he recognised that there were significant variances in the budget, which shows that there were problems in formulating the budget of the fund. He asked that the Department in the next Committee meeting explain how this budget was compiled.
Ms Mbatha proposed that there is a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee of Agriculture, so that both Minsters can be present and give the Members the opportunity to gain clarity on issues that the officials of the Department could not provide.
Mr Guy Preston, Deputy Director General: Environmental Programmes, asked the Chairperson if he could answer the questions on the EPWP programmes.
Ms N Gantsho (ANC) indicated that since this report cannot be discussed in this meeting, there was no purpose for Mr Preston to answer any of the questions.
The Chairperson said that the EPWP presentation will be done at a later stage.
The meeting was adjourned.
- DEFF - 2019/20 2nd Quarter Performance Report
- Isimangaliso - Quarter 1 & 2 2019/20 Progress report
- DEA Vote 27: Environmental Affairs Q1 & Q2 Expenditure Report
- DEA Vote 27: Environmental Affairs EPWP Expenditure analysis
- DEA Vote 27: Environmental Affairs Quarter 2 Expenditure Report
- DEFF - 2019/20 2nd Quarter Performance Report Dashboard