The Portfolio Committee for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, during an oversight visit to the Kruger National Park (KNP), was briefed on the Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans (APP) of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) and SA National Parks (SANParks).
The Department said it will introduce performance improvement plans for branches to address the systemic issues of human resources, operations, and contract management, within its programmes.
The Department said the 2021/22 APP aims to continue with implementation of its approved Strategic Plan. The APP was developed within the context of constrained delivery environment since the Covid-19 Outbreak, declining economic climate which resulted in a reduction of operational budget and employee budget. There would be implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package and key interventions in line with post Covid-19 Green Economy Recovery Plan. Interventions would be repriortised focusing on departmental priorities and measures to address negative socio-economic effects of Covid-19.
The Committee asked about the Biodiversity Management Plans (BMP), specifically asking about the proposed date for public comment for the issues regarding the black rhino, white rhino, and lions. The Committee also asked for the published list of protected trees, and prosecutions for people who illegally cut down trees. The Department said it will submit the list with the number of prosecutions to the Committee.
Members asked about climate mitigation factors for communities; asked if there is any assistance for farmers at the Mfolozi floodplain area; and asked if nurseries about to be refurbished are currently functional, and if so, where it is located.
Members noted concern about the new supplier for radiosonde, who has no experience with the technical aspects of the equipment; asked about the Isimangaliso Wetland Park team, and why the operating budget of R83.4 million is so much higher than the following year’s operating budget of R39.6 million.
The Committee asked how the Department plans to improve engagements with private farmers at KNP.
MLRF was asked how much money it generates from revenue flowing from confiscated abalone.
The Committee asked the government to introduce compulsory tender documents which reflect how the construction companies will deal with its waste. Members asked if DEFF is doing enough to educate society about climate change, its impacts, ramifications, and solutions.
SANParks said its 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget is set within a context of an uncertain economic environment exacerbated by the devastating impact of Covid-19 on tourism revenues. International travel restrictions, lockdowns and discovery of new Covid-19 strains are expected to continue to have a negative impact on tourism revenues over the medium term. (Tourism revenue constitutes over 76% of SANParks total revenue). In light of the above challenges, SANParks initially projected a deficit of R645.058 million which was further reduced to R488.723 million by delaying certain infrastructure and land development plans. As a schedule 3A public entity SANParks is not allowed to budget for a deficit unless approval is granted by National Treasury (SANParks is still awaiting such approval from National Treasury).
The Committee said SANParks must put more effort into its skills and development programmes.
The Chairperson invited the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, to introduce the team from the Department and the Ministry.
The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted an apology for the Deputy Minister, Ms Maggie Sotyu. The Minister said the Deputy Minister is abroad tending to other departmental affairs. The Minister excused herself from the following day’s meeting and said Deputy Director-General (DDG): Biodiversity and Conservation, DEFF, Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, would stand in on her behalf.
DEFF APP 2021/22
Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala, Director-General, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), thanked the Chairperson and the Minister for a warm welcome. Ms Tshabalala opened the presentation for DEFF and said the DDG from each sector will present on its programmes for the various sectors. The DDGs are: (1) Administration, DDG Ms Limpho Maphike, (2) Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring, Acting DDG Ms Vanessa Bendeman, (3) Oceans and Coasts, DDG Judy Beaumont, (4) Climate Change, Air Quality Management, and Sustainable Development, DDG Dr Thuli Khumalo, (5) Biodiversity and Conservation, DDG Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, (6) Environmental Programmes, DDG Ms Nonhlanhla Mkhize, (7) Chemicals and Waste Management, DDG Ms Mamogala Musekene, (8) Forestry Management, Ms Pumeza Nodada and (9) Fisheries Management, Acting DDG Sue Middleton.
The 2021/22 APP aims to continue with implementation of its approved Strategic Plan. The APP was developed within the context of constrained delivery environment since the Covid-19 Outbreak, declining economic climate which resulted in a reduction of operational budget and employee budget. There would be implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package and key interventions in line with post Covid-19 Green Economy Recovery Plan. Interventions would be repriortised focusing on departmental priorities and measures to address negative socio-economic effects of Covid-19.
[Please refer to the DEFF’s presentation for more details on key objectives of each programme].
The budget was presented by DEFF: Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mr Rannoi Sedumo.
MLRF APP 2021/22
The MLRF Annual Performance Plan (APP) was not presented to the Committee because of time constraints. The Minister asked the MLRF team to deliver the budget only.
See attached presentation
Ms C Phillips (DA) said if her questions cannot be answered, she would be happy to receive it in writing. She asked if the verification of ivory and rhino stockpiles were for private purposes or for public purposes. She asked for an explanation on the dumping of permits reflected on page 23 of the DEFF presentation. She asked what kind of dumping it is.
On climate mitigation factors for communities reflected on page 27, Ms Phillips asked if there is any assistance for farmers at the Mfolozi floodplain area. She asked which date is set for the proposed public comment on the three Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs), and asked if it is related to the black rhino, white rhino, and lion.
On the nurseries about to be refurbished, Ms Phillips asked if these nurseries are currently functional, and if so, where it is located. She asked for a published list of protected trees; and asked where prosecutions take place against people who cut these trees down.
Ms Philips said she is concerned about the new supplier for radiosonde, who has no experience with the technical aspects of the equipment. She asked the iSimangaliso Wetland Park team why the operating budget of R83.4 million is so much higher than the following year’s operating budget of R39.6 million. She asked why the last few slides of the budget of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was sent via email, are missing from the presentation.
Mr D Bryant (DA) thanked the Minister for the commitments made in the High-Level Report presented on the Sunday, thanked the Ministry for behind the scenes work put in on the terrible Cape Town fire, and thanked the Ministry for investigations lodged.
Mr Bryant asked where the 13 events which are intended to be hosted, as set out in the presentation from DEFF, will take place. He asked if it will be physical. Going forward, he suggested public meetings to enable the community members to participate. He asked DEFF how it plans to improve the engagements with private rhino farmers, especially at Kruger National Park (KNP). He said he is struggling to find any reference in the presentation, to an intention to reduce the poaching of crayfish and perlemoen. It has a major impact not only on the fisheries, but affects crime levels in the surrounding communities, and affects the youth. He said he is not seeing enough emphasis on it, he is only seeing references to inspections, which is different to combating the illegal trade and poaching of perlemoen. Mr Bryant said it is crucial to focus on alien vegetation clearing, as it has major consequences for available water resources. He asked if the Department is considering the introduction of home composting under programme seven.
Regarding the 650 000 trees, he asked what percentage of those are fruit trees; and asked if the Department is confident Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) will be completed in the current calendar year. It is good to see there are steps taken to complete the project. Mr Bryant asked South African National Parks (SANParks) why its amount for 2020/21, 2022/23, and 2023/24 budget cycles vary. He asked the MLRF how much of its money is generated from the revenue sales resourced from perlemoen poaching.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) said DEFF made reference to addressing the negative effects of the pandemic. He asked what exactly those negative effects are, and how it will be addressed. He also asked how the DEFF will stimulate economic growth, as highlighted in slide seven. Regarding Programme Three creating 3950 jobs, he asked if the Committee would start seeing inspectors at the shore, monitoring the catches, especially at the bigger corporations. He also asked if the Department is going to include the manufacturers who use plastic as part of the Extended Producer Responsibility programme.
Regarding the 31 cooperatives in the Western Cape, Mr Paulsen asked how many individual fishers it includes. The last time very few were recognised, and he hoped this time the situation will be remedied for legitimate fishers.
Mr P Modise (ANC) said he was hoping the Minister would have taken an opportunity in her opening remarks to brief the committee on the change from DEFF to DEFF. As the presentations were ongoing, he noticed the acronym changed to DEFF, meaning there is a new name for the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. The Chairperson will bring the Committee up to speed towards the end of the presentation to announce if the Cabinet has approved the new name. Mr Modise said most of the targets from last year, 2020, were not met, and it was understandable, considering the Department was operating under the new social conditions relating to COVID-19. There is a strong rumor of a third wave of COVID-19 hitting. He asked if the Department has plans to surpass a third wave, should it hit, or if the Portfolio Committee will meet again and be told some of the targets could not be met, once again, because of COVID19.
Mr Modise said, on 14 May, the Committee will debate the Budget Vote in Parliament. Ocean and Coasts, Air Quality and Sustainable Development, Chemical and Waste Management, Fisheries and Forestry Management, has been giving the Committee sleepless nights from time to time, even with the current APP, which is appetising.
He said he is not convinced the branches are ready to meet the targets. He wants DEFF to tell the Committee what to do as a Committee, if the branches do not meet their targets. Mr Modise said, during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2020, the President listed biodiversity and conservation as a priority. He is not sure if the DEFF remains of the same view regarding biodiversity and conservation being a priority. Mr Modise asked the Committee to what extent it is accelerating the efforts to ensure biodiversity and conservation targets are achieved, without setting up the President of the country for failure.
He asked about the aging infrastructures in the Department’s entities. Mr Modise asked the CFO of DEFF if there are allocations for infrastructure on the budget. He asked if the Department is convinced the allocations made for the entities will be able to change the state of the infrastructure without any inconsistencies.
The Chairperson said the Committee Members are public representatives. The Committee Members should be the ones who demand more regarding targets, on behalf of the people of South Africa. The Chairperson handed over to the Minister.
The Minister thanked the Chairperson and the Members of the Committee. She said for most of the questions asked, it will be appropriate to allow the individual DDG’s to reply to the particular area of the DDG’s expertise. The Minister said she will answer three questions, and she suggested the other question will be answered by the DG.
She apologised for the name change of the Department, saying yes, the name has been changed from Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) to Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE).
There are a lot of complexities around the name issue, and in the previous year the Department had two names, due to lockdown and gazetting.
There were aspects of the DEFF’s work which continued under level five restrictions, because many of the Department’s activities were essential services. The Department learnt a lot over the past year on how to operate under these conditions. It learnt different ways of working with staff, regarding rotational issues. The Minister said the Department was fully functional during the first and second wave, and it was only rarely during the very strict lockdown period in April and May 2020, which really undermined a lot of the work.
The Minister said she agrees with Mr Bryant. The DEFF can have face to face contact meetings if possible, but the Department has developed all kinds of interesting hybrids to contact meetings. The Minister used the Masifundise national stakeholder meeting as a case study on its ability to connect members in small venues across the country, which linked together in a big virtual imbizo.
Lastly, the Minister told Mr Modise he can ask all the DDG’s of DEFF regarding his performance, his pass mark is 80 percent. He does not find it acceptable for people to perform at a level of less than 80 percent. He said the Committee can ask about the pressure he puts on the Department. The Committee is also welcome to put as much pressure as it likes. The Minister said the DG will brief the Committee on how the DEFF managed to improve performance amid COVID-19 challenges, and filled many vacant major leadership positions within the organisation. The Minister excused herself and the DG and the DDG’s answered the remaining questions.
The DG said she works very closely with the departmental executives to find ways to improve departmental performance. The Department ensures there is a close relationship between what the Department commits to in the form of an APP, which is tabled in the Portfolio Committee, and what it contracts the individual DDG’s to do. On a monthly and quarterly basis, the DG can monitor and manage DDG’s performance. There is an issue of mainstreaming risk management in the Department, because when one is performing, there are possibilities of risk which one needs to put in place for mitigation measures. The element of COVID-19 and the potential third wave is a risk. The DG said the Department looked at the individual performance for the past two years, and the DEFF identified some branches as unable to meet its targets. Therefore, the Department was introducing performance improvement plans for branches to address the systemic issues such as human resource, operations, and contract management, within the branches.
Concerning the economic stimulation programmes, the DG said the presentations highlighted environmental Phakisa programmes as one of the programmes which incorporate Chemical and Waste, Biodiversity and Conservation, and Ocean and Coasts branches. The Department is planning to work with its sister entities on the Phakisa programmes, to facilitate economic growth and address unemployment.
The DG invited the DDGs to reply.
Ms Middleton said reducing poaching, illegal abalone trading, and lobsters, is a key focus for the operational Phakisa programme. In a technical response regarding FRAP, Ms Middleton said the Department calls it FRAP 2021 because the rights expired in December 2020, and has been extended by an exemption until 2021. Although things are tight, the Department is committed to ensure rights are allocated by the time the exemption expires on 31 of December 2021. Ms Middleton said the Department did not sell much abalone (perlemoen) in the previous two financial years. There is a misconception about the MLRF operating on the proceeds of the sales of confiscated abalone.
Ms Middleton said for the past eight years, the contribution of sales of confiscated fish products to the revenue budget, has not exceeded ten percent. It is very difficult to say upfront how many of the small-scale fishers were reallocated fishing rights. The Department needs the new process to be fair and transparent. In the previous round in the Western Cape there were over 8000 applications. Many were not identified as small-scale fishers.
Ms Nodada replied to Ms Phillips, saying the four refurbished nurseries which are targeted for the 2021/22 financial years are in Limpopo, Free State, North West, and Western Cape. The nurseries are currently functional, but its production has to increase so the trees can feed into the green programmes. Ms Nodada said the published list signed by the Minister for protected trees will be provided to the Committee. Regarding prosecutions, she said the Department is privileged to have Programme Two within the Department. It deals with regulatory matters and the Department is working to encourage joint enforcement to curb issues related to illegality. She said she would submit the published list of trees, with the number of prosecutions. Ms Nodada said 60% of the 65 thousand trees will be fruit trees, and will form part of the household to increase food security for the community. The other portion will go into medicinal plants and indigenous trees planted on the streets of the municipal areas.
Ms Musekene said the Chemical and Waste branch is working closely with the municipalities on separation of waste from source. The branch also works with the environmental programmes to support some of the municipalities regarding home composting.
She said the Extended Producer Responsibility, specifically the inclusion of plastic manufacturers, was for March 2020. In November 2020 the Department published a notice which specified listed plastic products covered by Extended Producer Responsibility. This includes polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, polystyrene packaging, polyvinyl chloride, multilayer plastic packaging, and other single use plastic products. The work underway includes monitoring to achieve targets with regards to the plastic products. With plastic carrier bags, a different regulatory framework, a levy, is applied to enable the introduction of mundane recyclable content as part of the bag’s design.
Ms Mkhize said part of the Phase One of the presidential stimulus programme is to focus on natural resource management and to support a certain aspect of work executed by entities. Phase Two intends to continue with Phase One work, which includes infrastructure maintenance and construction road networks of the entities.
Mr Munzhedzi said Ms Bendeman will deal with the issue of verification of rhino horn stockpiles from a compliance and enforcement perspective. He said the three BMP’s are anticipated to be ready for public comment by the fourth quarter of this financial year. The branch is currently going through the intense review and recommendations suggested by the High-Level Report, which will involve stakeholder management. The Department wants it to be ready as quickly as possible, without compromising quality.
Ms Beaumont said 3950 jobs within the ocean economy are in the aquaculture sector. There are other job creations within the broader ocean economy, but the aquaculture is within the control of the branch.
Dr Khumalo said the Department does not have projects around the Mfolozi floodplain area. Most projects are donor funded. The Department is continuously looking for funds to expand the coverage. The stations for air quality are only monitored by DEFF and some of the challenges include vandalism.
Ms Bendeman said verification of the rhino horns stockpiles includes both the private and public stockpiles. The verification of the work done by the provinces is discussed each year. Regarding private stockpile, the Department verifies at least ten percent of public stockpile for the last three years. On consultations with private rhino owners, Ms Bendeman said there will be extensive public engagements for all stakeholders. She said the Department does not issue permits for dumping and she is not sure if it is with Chemical and Waste branch.
The DG said the Department did not capture the dumping permits question properly. She asked for clarity and said the question will be addressed in writing.
Mr Sedumo said the sharp decrease in the operating budget of iSimangaliso Park, from R83 million to R39 million, was due to budget cuts and the decline of revenue generated by the public entity, which was all influenced by COVID-19 uncertainties. Public entities, such as SANParks, decrease in budget is due to an absence of international visitors. Mr Rannoi said because of revenue shortfall, iSimangaliso asked to shift about R45 million from the infrastructure budget to the operations budget, to survive the current year. The infrastructure budget from iSimangaliso for next year is higher than the operating budget for the upcoming year. Mr Sedumo agreed there is pressure on infrastructure in the public entities.
The Department is not happy with the amount it allocated to infrastructure, and also with the trend of borrowing from infrastructure allocations because the Department needs to keep the public entities running.
Mr Sedumo said the variability of the SANParks budget is also because of the pressure in the allocations. The budget cuts have also affected the public entities. In the previous year the Department did everything in its power as DEFF to avoid reducing the public entities allocations.
Ms Maphike said the six of the 13 events planned by DEFF will be conferences. The intention is to host four of the conferences virtually, and two using hybrid methods. These conferences will be the Air Quality Lekgotla, Chemicals Conference, the People and Parks Conference, Waste Kgoro, Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla, and the Plastic Colloquium. The other community outreach will be physically conducted taking COVID-19 regulations into consideration.
The DG thanked everyone and said the other questions will be replied to in writing.
The Chairperson asked for any follow up questions.
Follow up discussion
Ms Mbatha said she is happy the Chemical Waste Management team is dealing with a mercury management plan. She asked if the mercury in dental amalgams was included in the Department’s plans. She hoped the plan will phase out light bulbs which contain mercury. She asked if it is not there, if the Department can include how it will deal with it, especially in most government institutions.
Regarding regulations, policies on pesticides, oil, and batteries, she said in most cases batteries fall under e-waste. She asked if the Department is separating these batteries from the e-waste management. It will be good if the DEFF introduces training on how to deal with construction and demolishing waste. Government must introduce compulsory tender documents which reflect on how the construction companies will deal with its waste. Regarding food waste, Ms Mbatha asked the DEFF if it has plans to reduce food waste. She asked if the Department can come up with a system where food from companies, which is due to expire, is donated to non-government organisations. One cannot throw away food while many South Africans are suffering. The ten percent target for e-waste is too little, considering it is one of the Department's priorities. Most of the government and private sectors are dealing with e-waste.
Ms Mbatha said the DEFF needs to find ways to redirect waste which goes to landfills. She said she is happy to see many shops selling recycled clothing. It is very important to train the youth on how to recycle waste into clothing to address unemployment. She is also pleased about the fruit trees which will be planted. She asked if the Department can look at planting these fruit trees at schools to reduce hunger. Ms Mbatha closed by asking how much revenue was generated in the past year and the current year. She said the Department needs to disclose the amount it gets from the government, national treasury, and revenues generated from each entity.
Mr Modise asked if the DG thinks the Department is doing enough to educate society about climate change, its impacts, ramifications, and solutions.
The DG said the CFO will reply regarding revenue, and the individual entities within the Department will report on how much revenue it generates.
Ms Musekene said her branch prioritised phasing out dental amalgams which contain mercury. The consultations reflect there is ongoing research, development, and progress regarding alternatives to the mercury dental amalgams. The lower percentage of e-waste is due to non-existing voluntary schemes by producers. The Department has to put in place a system by producers. It must have producer responsibility organisations, to agree on increasing the targets as the Department progresses. Ms Musekene said a notice was gazetted and the Department is working with the trade industry to consider a circular economy of textiles, namely, the clothing sector.
Dr Khumalo said the Department is planning to have further education programmes at South African Weather Services in relations to climate education. The aim is to go to municipalities to educate them. She agreed that there is a room for improvement.
The DG said that she has taken note of the areas that they will need to be responded in writing and will provide the Portfolio committee with responses in that regard.
The Chairperson said the Committee expects the written responses by Thursday because they still need to adopt the report before the debate on 14th.
SANParks APP 2021/22
The APP for SANParks was delivered by the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Fundisile Mketeni.
Regarding challenges, these included the continued impact of Covid-19, especially on the return of international visitors to SA, revenue impact, financial sustainability, stakeholder engagement and maintaining good relationships; maintaining a good reputation, wild life crime and employment equity targets
Regarding the budget, the 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget is set within a context of an uncertain economic environment exacerbated by the devastating impact of Covid-19 on tourism revenues. International travel restrictions, lockdowns and discovery of new Covid-19 strains are expected to continue to have a negative impact on tourism revenues over the medium term. (Tourism revenue constitutes over 76% of SANParks total revenue). In light of the above challenges, SANParks initially projected a deficit of R645.058 million which was further reduced to R488.723 million by delaying certain infrastructure and land development plans. As a schedule 3A public entity SANParks is not allowed to budget for a deficit unless approval is granted by National Treasury (SANParks is still awaiting such approval from National Treasury).
Conservation as the core function of SANParks is allocated an amount R4.262 billion over the MTEF to provide leadership in biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation. For Tourism operations an amount of R1.244 billion is allocated over the MTEF. R483.736 million is allocated over the MTEF to ensure sustainable socio- economic development programme. • An amount of R2.713 billion is allocated over the MTEF for HR, ICT, and Finance components.
See attached presentation for further details.
Mr Bryant thanked the presenter and the CEO for the detailed presentation. He said he will not do justice to the questions if he asks it now, therefore, he will submit it in writing at a later stage.
Mr Modise said he hoped SANParks was going to provide the Committee with methodologies on how SANParks is planning to achieve its targets. He asked the SANParks team how it is going to raise the R75 million as part of the resource mobilisation plan, and why it is doing it this year. He asked why SANParks could not raise this money during the previous financial year, and how it will do things differently from last year. He asked how SANParks is planning to include women, disabled people, and youth as part of the management team. Mr Modise asked the CFO for financial projections on the income and expenditures for 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22, 2022/23, and 2023/24. He asked what tools of analysis one uses to arrive at such conclusions.
Ms Mbatha congratulated the KNP on social transformation and poverty alleviation programmes. She said she is very interested in the green energy implementation plan because it is important to look at alternative energy mix options. She asked if SANParks is creating awareness and skills for the community. Ms Mbatha asked how the 39.3% of women in management correlate with the statement made by Mr Modise, regarding there being only two women in the management position, and considering the world has more women in it than men. She asked if one can increase the number of previously disadvantaged women represented at SANParks.
She also wanted to know if the number of people living with disabilities can be increased. In this regard, the people do not have to work in the offices, but at any area where the person is comfortable, and can be monitored. SANParks is not putting more emphasis on the skills and development of its employees. She said she is very impressed with the work SANParks did by distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) to the communities.
Ms N Gantsho (ANC) asked SANParks to put clear timeframes on the assessments which will be conducted on climate change. It cannot say only this year. It needs to be specific on the months in which the assessment will be completed. She noted SANParks assisted the communities with PPE, but advised it to engage the local municipalities to combine efforts.
Mr Mketeni said the entity looked at trends under the resource mobilisation plan, therefore the R75 million figure was noted. SANParks did very well in the past two financial years, especially under COVID-19 restrictions.
On the matter of green energy, Mr Mketeni said SANParks are working on a plan to build a solar plant and share the energy with the municipality and the community. The plan will also introduce independent power producers. Areas of awareness and skills will be refined.
The two-women Mr Modise alluded to are present at the current meeting.
He said the entity raised funds with SASOL, the Siya Kolisi Foundation, Wilderness Foundation, and got support from other funders. SANParks will continue to mobilise resources to assist with funding. It will consider local municipalities in its PPE donations.
Regarding Mr Paulsen’s comment, he said Parliament will be holding a meeting on Thursday with the land claimants.
Mr Dlamini said the R75 million was a target for resource mobilisation plans. R113 million was raised through fundraising in the 2019/20 financial year, while in 20020/21 SANParks raised R68 million, against the target of R75 million.
SANParks is confident, through the strategies approved by the Board, it will be able to raise R75 million. In reply to the question posed by Mr Modise on the financial figures presented in slide 22, Mr Dlamini said the figures were prepared in accordance with the goals of the organisation. The amounts are different from slide 24. The figures are driven by the APP and activities which will occur in the particular financial year. Addressing a comment by Mr Modise, he said he agrees with Mr Modise regarding slide 24, it can be overwhelming. In the future he will put more narratives to explain numbers in a simpler language, other than in financial terms.
Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operating Officer (COO), SANParks, said when SANParks presented its original APP and strategic plan for the year 2021, it presented its plan to achieve 40 - 50 percent employment equity, according to the Employment Equity Act, for women by 2023/4. It aimed to achieve two percent for people with disabilities, by 2023/4.
It is unfortunate, but it had to amend those targets and downscale it because of the severe budget cuts which took place when COVID-19 started. The human capital budget was directly and indirectly reduced by almost R250 million in the past financial year. Ms McCourt said the trend was carried to the current financial year and SANParks therefore cannot fill the vacancies and recruitment ambitions, such as women in management positions and people with disabilities. The entity altered its plans to achieve those targets three years later than originally anticipated. She assured the Committee if the entity manages to improve its revenue situation in the interim to grow human capital cost, SANParks will achieve the targets.
The entity is hampered by the loss of black women. Black women do not stay longer than two years. There is a low turnover rate of males, meaning there are no vacant positions which are open and available to be filled by women. Women in management not only refer to the executives, but everybody on Level D, E, and F. The Women’s forum is to address issues associated with employment and to equip women to deal with matters such as gender-based violence. Skills development is one of the areas where SANParks had to cut substantially, based on the budget cuts. SANParks found alternative ways of creating skills without using too much money through e-learning and involving its partners.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for participating in the meeting and apologised for going over time. He said further questions must be submitted in writing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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