The Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by the Department of Transport (DoT) on a request for the consideration of the Charter establishing the Southern African Development Community Aviation Safety Organisation in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996. SASO was established to enhance the safety of civil aviation within the SADC region, due to lack of technical expertise and the need for technical staff to fulfil safety requirements. It will accomplish this by assisting SADC member states in meeting their safety oversight obligations and responsibilities. To operationalize SASO, the SADC Council of Ministers (SADC Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs) approved the SASO Charter. The SASO Charter therefore provides an institutional framework for the establishment of SASO. The Charter will enter into force upon signature by two/thirds of the SADC member states
The Committee welcomed the report.
Members asked about the number of women serving in the Committee of Ministers responsible for Civil Aviation from Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. Members also asked for clarity on what would happen to SADC Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO) assets should the body dissolve. Questions were raised about the relationship between the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill and the Charter; regional and global operational bodies similar to SADC Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO) and the reason behind pushback about signing the charter from other member states. Lastly, Members expressed concerns about the open-endedness of article 15 which states "any other source of funding may be contributed as the Minister see fit" and whether South Africa is solely responsible for the funding of the Charter
The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members to the virtual meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to consider adopting the Charter establishing the Southern African Development Community Aviation Safety Organisation in terms of section 231 (2) of the Constitution, 1996.
The Committee Secretary, Mr Hlupheka Mtileni, noted apologies from Mr T Apleni (EFF, Eastern Cape), the Minister and the Director-General of the Department.
DoT Presentation: Charter Establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO)
Adv Adam Masombuka, DoT Acting Chief Operation Officer, introduced the team.
Ms Elizabeth Mpye, Chief Director: Aviation Unit and Regulation, DoT, gave a presentation on the background of the Charter establishing the Southern African. She emphasised on the objectives of the Charter, the need for signing it, parties consulted, articles to the Charter and a request to the committee to adopt the Charter.
She said SASO was established to enhance the safety of civil aviation within the SADC region, due to lack of technical expertise and the need for technical staff to fulfil safety requirements. It will accomplish this by assisting SADC member states in meeting their safety oversight obligations and responsibilities. To operationalize SASO, the SADC Council of Ministers (SADC Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs) approved the SASO Charter. The SASO Charter therefore provides an institutional framework for the establishment of SASO. The Charter will enter into force upon signature by two/thirds of the SADC member states. The following SADC member states have not signed the Charter to enable full operationalisation of SASO: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, and United Republic of Tanzania.
Objectives of SASO charter:
-Promote the safe and efficient use and development of civil aviation within and outside the member states;
-Assist the member states in meeting their safety oversight obligations and responsibilities under the Convention on International Civil Aviation signed in Chicago on 7 December 1944 and its safety-related Annexes and Documents;
-Promote the implementation of industry best practices within the member states; and
-Develop a regional system and assist member states in aircraft accident and incident investigation
South Africa by signing the Charter will ensure that she continues to meet her international obligations in the civil aviation arena. During the 23rd SADC-CAC Meeting, CAC recommended to Ministers to urge the remaining member states (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, and United Republic of Tanzania) to consider signing the Charter to enable full operationalisation of SASO. One signature from the states mentioned above will operational SASO. South Africa will be honoured to be the tenth state to sign the Charter.
Members were taken through the articles of the charter.
The Select Committee was asked to consider and adopt the Charter for further transmittal to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for approval.
Please see presentation for further detail.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) started off by saying that she welcomes the presentation and had a follow-up question about the number of women who are part of the Committee of Ministers responsible for Civil Aviation from SADC member states.
Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) said that he believed the Department of Transport were dealing with a process matter which he thought required the Committee to rectify impasse and because of that, he expressed his support for the Bill to be adopted.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) also expressed his support for the Bill and asked for clarity on what would happen to SADC Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO) assets should the body dissolve because the Charter does not state anything about that. He also asked on clarity of what the relationship between the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill and the Charter is.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) raised concern that, according to his research, SASO was trying to re-invent the wheel and operate outside of other regional and global bodies in Africa so, what level of operation is there within global and regional spheres that are similar to SASO?
Secondly, Mr Brauteseth raised his concern on the lack of enthusiasm by other member states such as Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania to sign the Charter and wanted to know whether there was a fundamental reason behind that or whether there was just a lack of interest.
Thirdly, he asked about who is paying for the Charter and how much are they paying? Are other member states piggybacking on South Africa or are they also contributing a fair amount?
Lastly, article 15 states that "any other source of funding may be contributed as the minister see fit" which Mr Brauteseth referred to as "very open-ended" because the Minister could put whatever number he sees fit which could result in mismanagement of funds.
The Chairperson noted that the Department had referred to the fact that there had been a few issues raised by the Global and Continental Affairs Committee (GCAC) that had been settled by 28 September, so he was curious to know what these issues were. He explained that he was asking this because of a shared interest with the Committee Secretary in wanting to know why there was a delay in signing the Charter when it was first signed in 2015 and the Charter only came to be approved by the Portfolio Committee on Transport (PCOT) on 13 November 2018 followed by the approval of the National Assembly on 27 November 2018 – why is this issue only being dealt with now?
Mr Levers Mabaso, Acting Chief Director: Aviation Safety, Security, Environment and Search and Rescue, DoT, said the issue of how many women are part of the Committee of Ministers at a time is dependent on whether or not they have been appointed by the different member states and because things are constantly changing, the Department does not keep track.
On the issue of the delay, Mr Mabaso explained that this Charter is a Treaty that comes into force once there are definitive signatures to bind the state which makes it different to other Treaties where a signature is just an indication of being a member. After the negotiations, finalisation and approval by Council of Ministers responsible for justice in the SADC states, the Charter was sent back to the Minister of Transport for their signature. When the Department was underway to having the Minister of Transport authorise the President signing the charter, it was then advised by the state laws that they needed to backtrack and get approval from Parliament because it binds the state upon signature. The Department had to start the process again because they first had to get approval by cabinet, the National Assembly then the NCOP.
The issue raised with the Global and Continental Affairs Committee (GCAC) was the aforementioned processing issue which Mr Mabaso attributes to the inability of clear articulation in the Cabinet memo the Department received. When the Charter went through the process again, it was approved by the National Assembly however the Department was not informed about this decision. It made efforts to reach out but none of those efforts yielded results up until early this year when they were given proof of the National Assembly approval - that was when they started the process to have the matter presented to the NCOP.
On funding, the Department has adopted the SADC formula so South Africa is the main funder of SADC and the SASO Charter. Further, Mr Levers said that there as far as Article 15 goes, the clause is not anything to worry about because there is a rigorous process which starts from the technical level down, is then approved by the Civil Aviation Committee which is made up by a number of experts from various member states who then make recommendations to the Minister/s of Transport about the most suitable source of funding. For instance, upon examination, the Department learnt that the passenger levy will make flying expensive especially to South Africa because out of all the member states, it has the majority of SADC members. Because of this, the Department felt it would not be beneficial for the development of the aviation industry in South Africa so, any source of funding is examined by technical experts before a recommendation to the Minister is made for consideration. As for how much SA is contributing to the Charter in comparison to other member states, Mr Levers said he would follow that up with his colleagues and have them look into it.
Regarding the relationship between the Charter and the Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Board, SASO's main role is to provide training to the accident investigators that helps them keep abreast of the latest developments. In the meantime, the Safety Investigation Board is not dependent on SASO. There are accident investigators who need to be trained, and this training is ongoing.
Concerning the notion of reinventing the wheel, it is not the case. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has realised that to effectively implement standards and recommended practices, it needs to organise itself so that when ICAO looks at the safety of states, they do not just look at one state and stop there, they look at the states collectively. For instance, if you fly to South Africa just to make sure that flying there is safe, you have to consider the airspaces you will be passing over before entering the airspace of SA, so you cannot fly from another continent without having flown over other SADC member states. If any of the other SADC member states are unsafe to fly, then the next country will be affected, since the aircraft has to pass through the other country's airspace. This is why regional coordination is so important. The Department has a process called the Regional Safety Oversight Organisations (RSOOs), in which ICAO primarily deals with safety in different regions.
Mr Levers mentioned that the DoT has yet to sign the charter, but it is paying its membership fees. It has not yet signed the charter, but it is paying dues due to the fact that the interim SASO is up and running and will become SASO when the charter gets its tenth state. To get the benefits of regional coordination, it was agreed to continue with the processes leading to the signature of the outstanding state, then proceed to the other states such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and the islands -- they initially indicated a lack of interest in joining SASO, mainly because Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) also provided similar services. The SADC assembly, however, would not allow the DoT to exclude any member states that had indicated they were not interested in joining so it now has to ensure membership is available to all SADC member states, which is why it is actively pursuing the member states to sign as well.
In the case of states like Tanzania, there are minor issues since they fall under both SADC and East African Community jurisdiction - these states also have their own regional safety oversight organisation, even though they are not signatories.
Because SASO is within the SADC structure, its assets are managed in terms of the SADC structure but as for why they have not been covered as such. Mr Levers expressed that he does not have the answers or knowledge of the practical details of the management; he only knows that they are not managed with regards to the Charter.
Report of the Select Committee of Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure on the Charter establishing the South African Development Community Aviation Safety Organisation.
The Chairperson indicated to Committee Members that the report will be processed in terms of rule 105 (2)(b) which requires Members to vote in terms of their provinces. It also states that the report needs to be supported by at least five provinces in order for it to be adopted.
The Chairperson asked that the Committee Secretary take Members through the report.
The Chairperson asked Members to cast their votes using the hand function on Zoom.
The number of Members required to constitute a vote had been reached.
The Report was adopted.
The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of 25 August 2021.
The Chairperson asked if Committee Members received indication from the State Law Advisor on the issues that were raised by Mr Rayi on the composition.
The Committee Secretary answered that the State Law Advisor responded and he emailed the response to the Committee Members the morning of the meeting. He asked if Members received the mail.
Members confirmed this.
Mr Rayi went on to suggest that they deal with the issue after all the processes and once they have deliberated on the Bill instead. He also suggested that the Committee Secretary ask the legal unit of Parliament about what the legislation says with regards to institutions whose boardroom members are appointed through the National Assembly processes.
The Chairperson agreed with Rayi's approach.
Mr Brauteseth seconded Mr Rayi's suggestion. He also said that the Committee should decide whether they want to be involved in the interview process of the Civil Aviation Board or whether they would rather delegate that duty to the National Assembly (NA).
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Brauteseth but, suggested they park the matter for the time being.
The meeting was adjourned.
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