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ARTS CULTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 September 2003
BRETT KEBBLE ART AWARDS; DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CASE STUDIES AND ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson Mr S Dithebe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Brett Kebble Art Awards Department of Science and Technology on technology transfer case studies (awaited)
ARTS CULTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Department of Science and Technology Annual Report 2002/2003.
PMG was unfortunately not able to cover the first two hours of this meeting on the Brett Kebble Art Awards. Complete minutes from the Committee clerk are awaited.
Ms Majorie Pyoos, General Manager of Technology Transfer, and Dr Adi Paterson, Chief Operating Officer from the Department of Science and Technology, briefed the Committee on the progress and developments in technology transfer case studies, and the department's first annual report, respectively.
It was reported that there was great demand for tenancy in Godisa and Thumisano. Godisa was about start up incubator projects, and Thumisano was dealing with existing, small to medium technically based businesses. The DST Annual report submitted to the Committee for consideration showcased a number of achievements. Members decided they would engage
Ms Pyoos's technology transfer focused on the Godisa and Thumisano cases. The last two to three years had seen much programme development and they were only now focussing on deliverables. The Godisa project had begun and the Thumisano ones were expected to take off shortly. Both looked at the critical aspects of small businesses. Dr Paterson explained that the report had been published and was available. It met all the prescripts of the Auditor-eneral. Mr SL Dithebe, in his capacity as Acting Chairperson, said Committee members should engage with the report in their various study groups
Several Portfolio Committee members expressed their enthusiasm for the department's achievements.
Mr Cassiem (PJC) said people would like a speedy help. He asked if the Department had a Help Desk.
Dr Paterson, Chief Operating Officer of the DST, explained that they did not have Help Desks but calls were channelled to relevant sections. Types of enquiries received had now been listed and answers published in a brochure. There was also the e-government initiative that would further strengthen assistance. He added that they were a networker and not a funder, so should not be the first 'port of call'.
Ms H Mpaka (ANC) expressed concern that the figures reflected on the Thumisano programme were not equal to the number of SMMEs assisted. Thumisano highlighted the selection of the companies and said nothing about women.
Ms Pyoos, General Manager of Technology Transfer (DST), explained that they had struggled with gender issues and at times the Previously Disadvantaged Individuals also reflected women involved. In the automotive component, female-owned businesses in this engineering industry had not been found. The point was well taken, and the fact that students were involved gave the Department hope.
Prof. I Mohamed (ANC) referred to the White Paper's emphasis on creating niche products. He wanted to know where this issue was being addressed and what kinds of programmes were being developed.
Ms Pyoos pointed out that technikons were geared up for technology research. Some technikons were being merged with universities or with other technikons. Education Minister Asmal had said that in future, they would all be called universities. The private sector had also joined in by contributing resources.
Mr S Dithebe asked whether the Department was involved in the chemical initiative in Sasolburg. If so, would it take into account black economic empowerment? He also referred to small-scale mining, saying that the Free State had had a number of shafts closed down with resulting lack of employment. Was small-scale mining being dealt with in the rural areas?
Ms Pyoos explained that the DST was a facilitator and sometimes initiatives were integrated by government. The chemical city was struggling to get off the ground. Business needed to operate close to their resources and the DST focussed on their technological needs. The national tooling initiative was currently owned by elderly people that were predominantly German. The Department was currently working with the National Skills Fund and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to address the shortage of skills in the tools industries.
The Department of Public Works was rolling out an emerging contractors' programme. It would be in partnership with DST to use Godisa to ensure quality. This would be extended to transport and health so that projects were not dependent on the infrastructure of Public Works.
Mr Cassiem felt the Department needed to hear about local and provincial technological developments through Imbizos. Particularly, this would also be an opportunity for business technology role models to share their stories.
Mr Cassiem (PJC) questioned how the stocktaking failure had occurred.
Dr Paterson confirmed that the Auditor-General had emphasised this and the Department of Science and Technology accepted it. The Auditor General would still qualify the audit. There had been a proper sign off register in place and strong action to address the issues raised by the Auditor General.
Ms Mpaka proposed that the DST send the Committee detailed information on transfer payments.
Dr Paterson said they would ensure full description in the next budget.
Ms Mbombo (ANC) asked whether and where people with disabilities were involved where.
Dr Paterson said that there was a unit within the programme that dealt with gender and disabilities. They had made sure that the Bureau of Standards had sat in on all the disability meetings and there were research programmes that addressed disabilities. These would be assessing and sensitising programmes. Research Councils would also look to strengthening research that supported people with disabilities. Work was at its early stages and the scope of the Science Council would be widened.
Mr Dithebe asked when they could expect the Science and Technology for Competitiveness vacancy to be filled. He also as the Department to speak to the Department of Trade and Industry about cotton so that all direct foreign investments would be geared towards the same goal under Godisa.
Dr Paterson explained that he was presently acting in the post. The Minister and Director General had felt that the matter should not be reviewed until November in order to give stability to the new Department employees.
Ms Pyoos encouraged the Portfolio Committee to visit some of the programmes.
Mr Dithebe said that they looked forward to having a meaningful partnership and relationship with the Department in its oversight work.
The meet was adjourned
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