Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Budget: Committee Report; Committee Quarterly Performance Report

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

11 May 2021
Chairperson: Mr F Xasa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

 Tabled Committee Reports

The Committee met virtually for the consideration and adoption of minutes of previous meetings, the Committee Budget Vote 32 report, the oversight visit report on KwaZulu-Natal, and the consideration and adoption of the second and third quarterly reports.

On the budget vote, concerns were raised regarding recommendations about the translocation of rhinos to other African countries, and the fact that not all issues raised by the Committee had been responded to. Members said the Department's entities should achieve all their respective set targets. It was poor planning when budgets which were directly linked to performance targets were exhausted, yet many targets remained

On the oversight report, Members noted that stakeholder engagement was not as complete as it should have been.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members to the virtual meeting.

He began by asking if there were any questions, and asked if there were any apologies,

The Committee secretary said that Ms S Mbatha (ANC) would join later, Mr D Bryant (DA) had sent his apologies, and Ms T Tongwane (ANC) was off sick.

The Chairperson asked for the adoption of the agenda.

The agenda was adopted.

Report of the Portfolio Committee On Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plans (Apps) 2020/21 and the Budget Vote 32 of the Department Of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (Dffe)

The Members went through the report page-by-page.  

Mr N Singh (IFP) apologised for being unable to join the previous meeting, as he had other engagements, but said that everything was achieved during the visit to Kruger National Park. He had been reading all the documents, even though he had not been at all the meetings. He had a few recommendations for the recommendations section. A few were grammatical, but others were substantial. On page 26, the first issue was that the Department's entities should achieve all their respective set targets. It was poor planning when budgets which were directly linked to performance targets were exhausted, yet many targets remained. He proposes they remain either unachieved, were off target or were partially achieved.

He added that he wanted a rephrasing of the third bullet point to prevent proposing that poaching was acceptable at any level. He suggested that the Department and SANParks should provide responses as to why antipoaching efforts had not achieved the desired results in the Kruger National Park, despite the huge allocation of resources to this cause. He added that the Committee must take out “brought to levels,” and remove “as by.” “To appreciable levels” and “commitment” must be removed. He further asked what “are we banking on their shoot to kill policies” meant, in the second last line of the second bullet point.

The Committee content advisor, Dr S Watts, explained the greater Limpopo trans frontier park embraced three countries -- South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique -- and there was a plan under way to translocate rhinos to Zinave National Park. The main issue was Zimbabwe’s shoot to kill policy -- if one was found in the park and should not be there, they shoot one at sight. He therefore wanted to know what the thinking on translocating the rhinos was. Rhinos had been translocated to Chad, but the president of Chad had been shot, and there was no guarantee that the rebels would not overrun the park where the South African were. If one looked at wars and the impact on ivory, the links were very obvious. There were many resources in the Kruger National Park, yet animals were sent from Kruger to other African countries which did not have the resources which the Kruger National Park had. Was the Department counting on more aggressive measures?

Mr Singh cut in, and said that they should not start a diplomatic war with other countries. Instead, they should rephrase the phrase. The Department must provide a response on the efficacy of translocating rhinos into other African countries where national parks were reportedly poorly resourced, and make that the statement. The Department could then provide a report to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the Committee could make a recommendation instead of asking a question here. If there were trans-frontier parks, South Africa had got into this agreement while understanding the implications. Countries were different. This platform could not be used to raise questions about those countries’ resources. Diplomatic issues could not be discussed on this platform. That should be considered as part of the policies that should constitute these trans frontier parks.

The Committee content advisor responded that these points were noted, and he had no further comments. He would run his sentiments by the Chairperson and Mr Singh once the meeting had been adjourned.

The Chairperson asked for any other recommendations.

Ms C Phillips (DA) raised concern about the fact that when they raised issues in a specific area, this happened in more than one category and paragraph. The Committee would raise ten issues, but only got seven replies to the ten. She proposed that the Committee go back to the Department, to note that when they were given ten issues, ten replies were required.

The Chairperson noted this, and asked for any further comments.

Mr Singh said that on page 27, the first bullet points Dr Watts should be reworded. They should first start with, having noted the court challenges the Department should present the audit report in relation to the small scale fishers’ allocation. There should be a comma between "challenges" and "the Department." They also need to add an “s” after permit, to change it to “permits.”

He claimed to have more recommendations, but said it would be unfair to bring them up as he had not been a part of previous meetings. Although there were a number of recommendations around wildlife issues, he had no problem with them because the Chairperson had been at the park. Still, there were no recommendations around pollution and waste management, and he was not sure if these had been discussed by the Committee. There were unacceptable levels of pollution in Mpumalanga and waste management issues, and although he was not saying these issues must be added, they had to be addressed.

The Chairperson responded that they had focused only on the Kruger National Park in previous meetings, but this could have been mentioned. He agreed that the air pollution in Mpumalanga was “bad”, so it should be added. He was unsure if the issues of air pollution and waste management had been discussed in previous meetings, and the other Members could say so if they were, but there was no problem with adding them as challenges. There may also have been talk about waste management, and if drafters wanted to add that, they could look at previous meeting and then do so.

The Committee content advisor added that the issues raised in oversight and engagement with the Department and relevant entities were captured under the relevant programmes. The issue of pollution should be captured under the climate change mitigation project. The recommendations were not only limited to the engagement, but all issues of priority concern to the Committee could be carried forward under recommendations. Recommendations involved those issues the Committee wanted to carry forward in its work. He agreed with Mr Singh and said that air pollution should be added, as it covered the entire scope of the Department and its entities.

Mr Singh moved the adoption of the report.

He was seconded by Mr P Modise (ANC).

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) stated the EFF's objection of the report.

Ms A Weber (DA) said that the DA would like to reserve its rights.

The Chairperson noted the objection and the reservation.

The report was adopted.

Consideration and adoption of minutes and reports

Committee minutes of meetings dated 4 May and 5 May 2021

The Chairperson goes through the minutes, and asked for any comments or notes.

The minutes were adopted.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on an Oversight Visit to KwaZulu-Natal Province from 03 to 05 February 2021

Ms Phillips raises concern about the iSimangaliso visit. She said Members did not get to interact with the community or the small scale and large-scale farmers, and this proved that there had been a problem brought to her attention after that engagement. The stakeholder engagement was not as complete as it should have been.

The Chairperson asks the drafters if they could accommodate those sentiments

The Department replied and states that this had been added to the recommendations and the Committee observation.

The Chairperson added that on page 8, he knew there was an issue over the adoption of the recommendations when they postponed their adoption.

The report was adopted.

Committee Second and third quarterly report

The report was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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