DFFE & SAWS 2020/21 Quarter 4 performance; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

03 September 2021
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

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The Committee met virtually to receive briefings from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the South African Weather Service (SAWS) on their fourth quarter performance reports.

The Committee was not impressed by the low targets that had been set by the Department, and their 68% level of performance. They were urged to strive towards a 90% achievement level against their targets, especially when they were given sufficient funding. The Committee would help and hold the DFFE accountable for reaching their goals.

The Committee asked the DFFE to prioritise hiring people living with disabilities, especially at the senior management level, and also to give priority to the finalisation of all the environmental legislation in the pipeline. They said the Department needed to get into the habit of establishing timeframes for achieving their objectives, such as the Operation Phakisa management plan. Owing to time constraints, the Chairperson listed a series of further questions which would require a written response by Friday.

The SAWS had achieved a 73% performance rate and a clean audit. The Committee was concerned about the air quality monitoring in Durban, and asked what it would take for the area to be classified as a priority area. SAWS said that the Minister could not declare the affected area in Durban because it was within the province, therefore according to the legislation the responsibility rested with the provincial MEC. The declaration from the MEC must be accompanied by a proof of exceedance of minimum emission standards. The SAWS was advised by the Committee to find ways of buying equipment locally, but responded that most of their equipment was high-tech and could be sourced only overseas

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

The Chairperson told the teams from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the South African Weather Services (SAWS) that the Portfolio Committee had gone through their presentations, as submitted. They could all agree that the 2020/2021 financial year had challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There were notable areas of improvement in their presentations which included intergovernmental relations, integrated planning, implementation, reporting and monitoring.

She said the Committee was worried about the low targets set by the DFFE and its entities in the last three quarters. Achieving 60 % was not acceptable, especially when all the targets set had received adequate funding. She stressed that the Department and its entities should strive to achieve all their set targets at the 90% level if they were not 100 % achievable. She was not happy about the non-compliance by the DFFE with the required financial and accounting practices. It was not correct for it to rely on the Auditor-General to help sort out its financial statements every year and not get a clean audit.

She said that contract management was an issue at the DFFE and asked the Chief Financial Officer’s office to foresee and plan to find service providers for the required goods and services. She added that she was hopeful, because the Minister had made an undertaking to improve the Department's performance and accountability. She stressed that it was equally the Portfolio Committee’s responsibility to ensure that the DFFE and its entities adhered to their commitments.
 
She handed over to the Minister to brief the Portfolio Committee.

Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of the DFFE, and the Deputy Minister, Ms Maggie Sotyu, made introductory comments, and handed over to the Director General to make the presentation.

DFFE: Third quarter performance

Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala, Director-General (DG), said the Department would brief the Committee on the DFFE’s third quarter performance. She said she would do the introduction and each Deputy Director General (DDG) would present on their respective programmes.

The programmes presented by the respective DDGs were:

Programme 1: Corporate Management Services; Acting DDG - Ms Pretty Luphondo.
Programme 2: Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring; DDG - Ms Vanessa Bendeman.
Programme 3: Ocean and Coast; DDG - Ms Judy Beaumont.
Programme 4: Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development; DDG - Dr Thuli Khumalo.
Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation; Acting DDG - Ms Skhumsa Ntshanga.
Programme 6: Environmental Programmes; DDG - Ms Nonhlanhla Mkhize.
Programme 7: Chemical and Waste Management; DDG - Ms Mishelle Govender
Programme 8: Forestry Management; Acting DDG - Ms Pumeza Nodada
Programme 9: Fisheries Management; DDG - Ms Sue Middleton.

In the fourth quarter, the Department achieved 88/219 (68%) targets.

Performance highlights per programme included:
Programme 2: Legal, Authorisation, Compliance &   Enforcement
-254 enforcement notices issued for non-compliance with environmental legislation
-39 criminal cases were finalised and dockets handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority
-910 officials trained in environmental compliance and enforcement to build capacity

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts
-Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy gazetted for implementation
-Annual Report Card on key Essential Ocean and Coasts variables/indicators compiled
-Peer-reviewed scientific publications: 21 scientific publications (including theses and research policy reports) were  peer-reviewed
-three relief voyages to SANAE, Gough and Marion Islands successfully undertaken.

Programme 4: Climate Change, Air Quality & Sustainable Dev.
-Low Emission Development Strategy submitted to Cabinet for approval
-Report on GHG emission reductions compiled, indicating achievement of planned GHG emission range ( updated GHG inventory indicates GHG emissions are at an estimated 512 Mt which is below the 2017 target by 56 Mt and within the 398-614 Mt PPD emissions target range)

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation
-South Africa’s conservation estate increased from a baseline of 15.74% to 16, 08% (19 615 823, 46 ha/ 121 991 200 ha) hectares of land under formal conservation
-Biodiversity entrepreneurs: 175 Biodiversity entrepreneurs trained
-22 strategic water sources delineated, and 1 wetland (Ingula Nature Reserve) of international significance (Ramsar site) designated

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes
-19 613 Full Time Equivalent jobs created (equivalent to one year full time jobs)
-58 652 work opportunities created,
-Wild Fire Management: 100% (1 791/1 791) wild fires suppressed

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management
-157 Municipal councillors and officials trained on waste management
-7.79% (5 261 819.00/67 522 816.32) of waste diverted from landfill sites.
Programme 8: Forestry Management
-2 118 of jobs created by the Department in the forestry sector
-40 398 trees planted outside the forest footprint

Programme 9: Fisheries Management
-5 886 compliance inspections conducted in the six priority fisheries
-295 verifications of right holders conducted.
-Small-Scale Aquaculture Support Programme Implementation Plan developed and approved.
-Alternative Livelihood Strategy for fishing communities developed and approved

Key performance challenges
Four programmes recorded a much lower annual performance which is below the average 68% Department performance. The challenges which resulted in delays on planned outputs include the following:

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts
-Finalisation and approval of the Ocean Economy Master Plan: Dependency on industry stakeholder consensus. Stakeholders raised constraints and issues which required resolution. This resulted in extended consultation
-2 Draft Management Plans for Marine Protected Areas developed (Amathole and Aliwal Shoal) - delayed due to restriction to undertake public consultation with rural communities during lock-down Q1 and 2 with virtual consultation not practical

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes 
-Participants on accredited-training programmes declared competent: External dependency on relevant sector training  authorities (SETAs) to finalise accreditation.
-Rehabilitation of degraded land: Additional project planning and procurement processes relating to health and safety issues due the Covid pandemic resulted in most teams resuming implementation in the 3rd quarter

Programme 8: Forestry Management
-Hectares of land under silvicultural practice: Logistical and security challenges impacted on this target not being achieved. Bids to resolve these challenges will be prioritised in the 2021/22FY
-Refurbishment of nurseries: Security challenges impacted on the achievement of this indicator. Bids to resolve the security challenges to be prioritised in the 2021/22FY

Programme 9: Fisheries Management
-Aquaculture Development Bill / Act: Delays related to additional comments received from the industry which needed to be considered and responded to by the Department.

(See attached presentations for details)

Discussion

Ms C Phillips (DA) asked how many positions at DFFE were filled by acting people, and how many vacancies it had in senior positions. What was a "biodiversity entrepreneur?” How did one train a local magistrate to deal with environmental offences in smaller towns? She said that it was highlighted on slide 30, that one of the jobs was to oversee air monitoring stations. Did municipalities have air monitoring stations? Did the Department oversee those monitoring stations? On the unachieved building targets highlighted in slide 44, she asked the Department what had happened to the budget. What action had been taken against people for not submitting the business proposal highlighted in slide 45 on time? She had noticed that the fines on slide 12 in financial performance report had gone down a lot. She asked if it was because the DFFE was not collecting the money for fines, or if people were adhering to the regulations.

Ms A Weber (DA) asked for an update on Aquaculture Bill.

Ms T Mchunu (ANC) asked about the disapproval of business plans. What plans did the DEFF have to ensure that supporting documents were submitted on time to enable the approval of business plans? Regarding the green economy, she asked the Department about the Environmental Monitoring System (EMS) educators' programmes. She believed that they were basic programmes that assisted in transferring green economy knowledge to younger children. What were the plans to ensure that such programmes were implemented? Did they have pilot projects? Could the DFFE assure the Committee that they would have an unqualified audit? She asked how the Department advertised vacancies for people living with disabilities. Were the adverts not specific on disability in terms of the Employment Equity Act?

Ms N Gantsho (ANC) asked what the implementation status was of the projects that were in the President's stimulus programme for Programme 7. Where were the waste pickers and asbestos programmes located? Programme 8 had exceeded the plans for job creation -- how long in duration, and what kind, were the 2 118 jobs? How did the Department plan to resolve the targets that were missed due to the inability of some officials to travel and interact with stakeholders due to co-morbidities?

Mr P Modise (ANC) asked if the DFFE was happy with the qualified audit outcome. Had it foreseen the possibility of not meeting the set targets before they were even implemented? Did it set them up just because they were requirements by law? He said that the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, the National Forest Act, the Climate Change Bill and the Agriculture and Development Bill, were always "under way." The Committee was always told that they were in process, and they were coming -- but they never arrived! He did not believe they would even end their term and these bills would still be in the pipeline, and he did not think that this was acceptable. It was wrong to get a report at the end of every financial year that these bills were not finalised. Could the Department give clear timeframes on when would they act on the challenges and corrective measures specified in the presentation? What was the timeframe for municipalities to set targets to deal with non- compliance under the National Air Quality Indicator? What about estuary management strategy? When would the Tourism and Development Plan be finalised? Did the responsibility for that lie with the DFFE or the Department of Tourism? He said that the application for small scale fisheries was not in the spirit of those who they were representing and had met when they undertook an oversight visit to Hout Bay.

Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said that she had a problem with the 1.7 % target for employing people with a disability, highlighted in Programme 1. The number had not increased -- the Department could not even move to 2 %. How was it assisting municipalities in Programme 2 in cases where the municipalities did not have environmental management inspection officers to enforce compliance? She said accredited training was an issue under Programme 6. There were universities such as the University of North West working with the Department and municipalities on training, and giving stipends to undergraduate students to work with government on waste and environmental programmes.

She needed assurance that all municipalities were compliant with the air pollution monitoring and standards. How do the DEFF link its data collection with the emitters (industries) to ensure that they emit within air quality standards? She was worried about the 7.7 % of waste diverted to landfill sites. Almost all of the landfill sites in South Africa were almost full because of the waste that was not separated at source. What was the Department’s strategy on implementing the separation of waste at source to comply with the waste management hierarchy strategy and the new Waste Management Act? What had happened to those buy-bag centres? Were they still operational? What was the Department doing to support them and ensure that they did not collapse?

The Chairperson asked the Department to break down the 1.7% of disabled employees at management and lower levels, as highlighted by Ms Mbatha, so that the Committee could have a clear understanding. She said that when one was engaging with people living with disability, they were always complaining about the government not employing them. She asked at what stage the implementation of the turnaround strategy to deal with the modified cash standard at the end of the fourth quarter was. How did the DFFE plan to resolve all the missed targets that arose from officials' inability to interact with stakeholders? What role had the DFFE in Programme 2 slide 19 taken to inform their legal contractors that they must meet their targets? The responsible DDG needed to find another reason, other than the legal report had been delayed. What had the DFFE done to make sure that rural and coastal communities were consulted and contributed to the Ocean Economy Master Plan draft?

The Chairperson said she was worried that there was no timeframe in the Operation Phakisa management plan draft, and wanted to know the reason. She asked what the Department’s plan was to address the targets, apart from the co-morbidity target. The High Panel Report had not been finalised since 2018, and somebody needed to admit that they had dropped the ball and not just leave it there. She would like to see the draft being revised and be told that the bill would be prioritised for further processing in the next financial year. Why had the DEFF mentioned COVID -19 restrictions for the unmissed targets on training learners on game meat processing? There had been a time when the country was at level 1, so had they just decided to shelve everything until the next financial year?

How did the security management get prioritised ahead of the refurbishment of nurseries? How did this impact the poor people in those communities that had expectations that they would get jobs from refurbishing the nurseries? What mechanisms had the Department used to resolve this issue and to what extent were the security challenges? She urged the DEFF to remember that the key deliverables for the government were poverty reduction and unemployment reduction. If nurseries were refurbished and fully functional, the community would be getting jobs and benefiting from them. With regard to the business plans under the Environmental Programme, the Chairperson asked if it took a whole year to approve documents that could be even be submitted online.

DFFE Responses

Deputy Minister Sotyu asked all the DDGs to respond according to their portfolios.

She added that the Cabinet, as mentioned, had approved the positions of Chief Financial Officer and DDG for Regulation and Compliance. The interviews for DDG of Biodiversity and Conservation had taken place yesterday, and there was a recommended candidate. The process would be finalised by November. The vacant post for Forestry and Management had been advertised.

The Deputy Minister reminded the Committee that there was a new constitutional rule that stated that people living with disabilities must submit medical certificates to verify their disability. The new law caused delays, and the Department always encouraged people living with disabilities to apply for job posts. This was an issue experienced across all national departments, especially with the senior positions. She said that if it was up to the DFFE, the Climate Change Bill would have been passed a while ago, but it had to go through a lengthy process.

Minister Creecy said she grew up in a very strict family and had a strict mother. While she was happy to get 50% for a subject, her mother would say, “the pass mark for this house is 80%.” She always tells her officials that if she does not get 80 %, she is not satisfied. She acknowledged that there would always be external factors that would deter one from achieving 100 % of their objectives, an example being the Climate Change Bill.

There was an extensive process with the National Treasury to ensure that the carbon budget aligns with the carbon tax. The Minister had said a 60% to 65% target was not adequate. The DFFE had discussed this internally and considered the inhibitors which might prevent them from achieving "the 80 % pass mark," and think that if they work together with the Portfolio Committee in a constructive manner, in due course they would achieve an 80% performance.

Ms Luphundo (Programme One) said that the vacancy rate was currently at 8.7%. There were 333 vacancies. There were nine senior management service (SMS) acting positions, and below the SMS level, there were 33 acting posts. The 1.7% breakdown would be sent in a written format to the Portfolio Committee after the meeting.

DG Tshabalala conceded that the DFFE were not happy and proud of the audit outcome. The previous audit opinion had been concluded in December 2020, and they had only three months to deal with corrective measures before the audit for the current year was starting. It was critical that they conclude their audit in time, which would enable them to run the normal auditing cycle and complete interim financial statements. The interim statements would allow implementation of corrective measures and improve the control environment before the end of the financial year.

Regarding the issues around modified cash standards, the Department had to comply with circular 21 that was published by National Treasury. They had to reclassify expenditures because they were transferred, and this had not in been compliance as the DFFE could not account for how the funds were transferred and utilised. She added that the procurement processes and recipients were not captured on their site. The funds had to be classified as goods and services and be within the control of the Department.

The Department had to undertake a lot of supply chain management (SCM) processes. They were in the process of dealing with some of the structural issues in relation to the supply chain, and would increase the SCM capacity.

She said the DFFE was planning to have an effective audit plan in place, as the AG had extended the conclusion to the second or third week of September. They would deal with the issue of many contracts that dated back to 2017, and were procured irregularly. The staff and officials were going through training with the School of Governance, and she hoped to see positive results in the next two or three years.

Ms Bendeman (Programme Two) said that judicial members were trained through the South African Judicial Education Institute, which was within the office of the Chief Justice. They were supported by the DFFE through the hosting of colloquiums, sharing manuals and printed materials.

The Forestry Amendment bills were delayed because they were out of the DFFE’s control. The National Forest and Fire Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament and had been withdrawn by the previous Minister. The National Environmental Management and Biodiversity Act was delayed due to important policy positions that needed to be addressed and clarified prior to it being finalised. The Aquaculture Bill had come from the previous Department of Agriculture, and required further consultation. The completion of targeted objectives needed to take into consideration the externalities that would be required, especially financial provision and legal advice.

Ms Bendeman said the Department offered training to capacitate the environmental management inspecting officers at different municipalities. The DFFE would engage further with the municipalities to evaluate their capacity.

Ms Beaumont (Programme Three) said that the Department had had a very detailed consultation around the Ocean Economy Master Plan. There were five working groups for each subsector of ocean economy-- marine manufacturing and repairs; marine transport; aquaculture; fisheries; and offshore oil and gas. All these working groups had representatives from organised labour, business, industry, academics, communities, government and state-owned entities (SOEs). The small-scale fishing sub-group had asked for an extensive and inclusive engagement with the fishing communities on the ground. The Department and the fisheries team were aiming to conclude the process of setting up a series of consultations by September. She added that the Ocean Economy Master Plan draft would be completed by November.

The onsite consultations for both marine protected areas at Aliwal Shoal and Amathole had been concluded at the end of the financial year. There were two management plans, and they were now finalised and were in the process of approval. She said the estuaries were very complex areas of engagement and the estuary management plan required inputs from several different departments. She stressed that some of the inputs were within the control of the Department, while others were under the control of other departments and stakeholders.

The DFFE had restructured their targets in a manner that enabled them to make sufficient progress on the estuarine management implementation plan, but there were still compounding issues outside the DFFE’s responsibilities. It had been a difficult discussion, but they had found a way of proceeding with this work in a manner that enabled them to conclude on matters that were within their responsibility. They were also keeping the pressure on the other involved sectors and departments to finish the plan.”

Dr Khumalo (Programme Four) said that the Climate Act Bill had been tabled in the Cabinet, and they have another meeting where they would be presenting to the Cabinet. The Minister had instituted a programme called the National Air Quality Stations Indicator Project for a five-year period, and funds had been allocated separately to focus on 43 monitoring stations across the country that reported to the National Air Quality Indicator. During the five-year period, the DFFE needed to ensure that they had capacitated all of the municipalities with stations. The National Air Quality Indicator was a policy indicator that ensured the efficacy and effectiveness of the air quality interventions.

The DFFE had a Working Group 2 on air quality management that reports to Mintek with a detailed work plan that has clear municipal and provincial interventions to reduce air pollution. She would share the specifics of the Working Group 2 work plan to reduce the particulate matter and emissions with the Committee. They would share the map of South Africa that indicates areas with monitoring networks, but stressed that not all municipalities had monitoring stations. Some of the industries had monitoring stations and report to the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS). She added that that the industries must monitor and report compliance according to minimum emission standards. This monitoring was part of the atmospheric emissions licence management systems. The information was supplied directly to licensing authorities, which were the municipalities and provinces.
Dr Khumalo said they have started the Air Quality Management Plan for the Highveld priority areas, and they were progressing well.

Ms Ntshanga (Programme Five) said that the biodiversity entrepreneurship programme was part of the broader biodiversity economic programme aimed at increasing business ownership and providing an opportunity to address exclusion to the majority South Africa's previously disadvantaged groups. The programme would ensure that the custodians of the Department’s genetic resources, rich diversity and holders of traditional knowledge were fully able to benefit from the tangible natural heritage that they possess. The intention was to get them involved in the value chain of biodiversity business. The programme, in collaboration with the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) would prioritise youth and women-led small. medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the value chain. The three main areas of focus were the wildlife economy, bio-prospecting and ecotourism.

Ms Mkhize said that there was project that could not be completed on time due to under-expenditure. The Department had not been able to renovate the buildings because they could not secure an occupancy certificate from ESKOM to achieve the buildings' target. The business plans for infrastructure projects needed to meet compliance requirements that had to be secured before the business plans could be authorised. Some were statutory requirements, while others were related to the building environment sector, which was outside the Department’s control.

The Department also needed to ensure that there was proper engagement with the municipalities in cases where there were open spaces. When the infrastructure was of benefit to a municipality, they commit to integrate this into the integrated development plans (IDPs).

She added that they were looking at strengthening the relationship with higher institutes of learning with regard to accredited training, particularly on the youth environmental services programmes. The delay in accredited learning was because they had not acquired a certificate from the sector education and training authority (SETA) to declare the participant’s competency. The buy - bag centres were still receiving support, and the Department was also considering an entrepreneurship model.

Ms Govender (Programme 7) said that they had evaluated the waste pickers' tenders, and recommendations had been made to the internal decision body within the Department. There had been some questions raised with regards to procurement, and these would be dealt with within the next month.

An asbestos strategy had been developed by the Department and was out for comments. The strategy outlined the responsibility of all the departments and what they needed to do. The Department was exploring the "polluter pay" principle to deal with the asbestos issue.

There were multiple avenues the DFFE were looking at to address the issue of diversion of waste. They had developed a guideline on how separation at source should operate. The reality on the ground was that many municipalities were not coping with waste collection, as adding separation at source would be expensive, and funding was an issue. The Department was now doing an assessment across the country to establish what kind of separation of source was being used, and where it was happening. This would help the Department to have a model to offer to the municipalities. They acknowledge that not all the work should be done at the municipal level. The Department had developed producer responsibility regulations to target some sectors to come up with a plan of dealing with their post-consumer waste. The largest waste stream was organic waste. The Department had developed two sets of norms and standards on organic waste. The first was encouraging composting of organic matter across the country. The other one dealt with a process wider than just composting, which could be used to deal with organic waste.

Ms Nodada (Programme Eight) said that the jobs created through the expanded public works programme (EPWP) amounted to about 230 working days per annum. In terms of the refurbishment of nurseries, they had experienced an increased level of vandalism during the lockdown. There was not enough capacity in their branch to guard the nurseries, which were far apart, so it was difficult to get everyone into those areas when they were needed. The money for the refurbishment of nurseries had instead been used for security.

Ms Middleton (Programme Nine) said that the Western Cape small scale fisheries process was under way. The branch had contacted service providers to assist with a review of the process and the verification of small-scale fishers. The branch had augmented the capacity within the directorate of small-scale fisheries through short term projects. In the interim, the branch was ensuring that the small-scale fishers could continue to fish. Fishing rights had been allocated in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The branch was in the process of rolling out Phase Two of cooperatives' training.

Chairperson's follow-up questions

The Chairperson said she would give the DFFE team homework, since there was no time left. They could submit the responses in return format by Tuesday. These were her questions:

Ms Middleton had partially responded to Mr Modise’ s questions. It was evident from the performance report that the DFFE had missed their fishing rights allocation targets for 2020/21. How realistic was the 31 December 2021 deadline when considering the pending finalisation of the total allowable effort (TAE) appointments among the sectors? What about the outstanding mackerel appeals? What about the unfinalised policies that were yet to be submitted to the Cabinet? What about the unverified developing of online systems and staff constraints? What was the status of processing online fishing rights and permits?
The primary existence of the environmental programmes was to assist the government in alleviating poverty and upliftment of households. How did the Department plan to effectively and efficiently use the reduced budget to address unemployment?
Ms Ntshanga needed to explain how, and what exactly, the DFFE delivers on capacitating stakeholders such as community property associations (COAs)? Where were the identified emerging wildlife entrepreneurs and farmers?
She asked Ms Beaumont to what extend did the process of developing management plans include socio-economic data? What were the livelihood outcomes of the adjacent communities? How many of the declared Operation Phakisa protected areas had management plans? How were those without plans managed -- were they managed exclusively by SANParks, or in partnership with provincial or local authorities?
Ms Bendeman was asked about the financial regulations to the mining sectors which were gazetted for public comments. What were the key elements of these financial regulations?
She asked the CFO why funds were shifted from Programme One during the fourth quarter? How many departments had been held to account in terms of consequence management? What was the role of the accounting officer? How had they allowed some financial incompetence?

Minister Creecy said that they would be able to respond to the Chairperson’s questions before the end of next week.

The Chairperson extended the deadline to 16:00 on Friday.

South African Weather Service (SAWS): Fourth Quarter Performance

Ms Nana Magomola, Chairperson of SAWS, congratulated the new Chairperson of the Committee, and said that the entity was looking forward to working with her. She was putting the CEO under pressure to hire women to augment the executive team at SAWS.

SAWS had achieved a 73% performance against its targets, and the team was committed to achieve above 80%. She was disappointed by its black economic empowerment (BEE) performance, and assured the Committee that the board would prioritise the matter.

The presentation on the SAWS performance was given by Mr Ishaam Abader, the CEO, and Mr Norman Mzizi, the CFO.

The following performance per programme was reported for quarter four:
-programme one (Weather and climate services): 100%
-programme two (research and innovation): 100%
-programme three (infrastructure and information systems): 62.5%
-programme four (administration): 60%

Financial performance
- Total actual revenue amounted to R430.11m against the budget of R420.33m resulting in a positive variance of R9.78m for the year.
-The Capex Grant allocation amount for the financial year 2020/21 of R140.63m was converted into operational grant to assist with loss of income from aviation, non-regulated commercial revenue, and government grant budget reduction.
-Regulated commercial - aviation revenue is R1.4m above the budget of R31.11m (actual: R32.51m).
-Non-regulated commercial revenue amounts to R25.02m, which is 0.63% below the revised budget of R25.18m.
-Total expenditure incurred for the year (excluding depreciation and amortisation) amounts to R401.25m which is 1.0% below the budget of R405.33m.
- Administrative Expenditure amounted to R7.28m which is below the budget of R9.54m by 23.67%.
-Operating Expenditure year is 2.93% (R3.74m) below the budget of R127.80m (actual: R124.06m).
-Compensation of Employees is below the full-year budget of R268m by R2.15m (actual: R265.85m).
-Year-to-date actual expenditure for the period is at 100%.

(See the attached the presentation for details).

Discussion

Ms Gantsho asked how many air quality monitoring stations the country had. How many of these stations were owned by the government and industry? Which air quality stations were not operational at Umhlanga, and were they industry or government-owned?

Ms Phillips asked for an update on the disciplinary and criminal cases at SAWS. What had happened to the huge radar contract that had been issued before her tenure? She asked about operating air conditioners and hydrogen generators. Could the Committee have the case numbers for criminal charges involving vandalism on slide 14?

Ms Mchunu asked what it meant when South Africa failed to deliver on the objectives of the Global Atmosphere Watch Programme. How did SAWS plan to achieve the 40–50 % broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) procurement target through level seven? Why were problematic air and pollution industrial hotspots not declared as air quality priority areas? What would it take to declare the south Durban industrial base a priority area?

Mr D Bryant (DA) emphasised the question of air quality management and monitoring in Durban and the surrounding area. Was SAWS confident that the air quality monitoring was effective in the south Durban area?

Mr Modise appreciated the performance of SAWS, but said they must pull up their socks. What was the role of SAWS in respect of the air quality monitoring stations? What level of pollution had been picked up during the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal? How often were the air quality monitoring stations serviced? Were they privately serviced, or did the government service them?

The Chairperson asked SAWS for their prognosis of the audit outcome.

Responses from SAWS

Dr Khumalo (DFFE Programme 4) said that there were 137 air monitoring stations that were owned by the different spheres of government. 100 of these stations report to the SAAQIS hosted by SAWS. She did not have the number of private stations from ESKOM and SASOL, but would revert to the Committee with the numbers. 17 stations were operated by SAWS as national declared priority areas. She would submit a detailed report that mentioned the name, owner, locations and functionality of the stations. 47 of the 137 stations were meeting the standard emission requirements. Only 37 of them were not operational, while some stations operated intermittently.

She said the Minister had declared three priority areas. The Minister could not declare the south Durban area on her own accord, because it was located within a province. Only the Members of the Executive Council (MEC) could do that according to the legislation if there was a proof of exceedance of emission standards. The monitoring network in Durban was not owned by SAWS. The SAWS projects the information on the SAAQIS website and provides support to the municipality where there is a need. The responsibility to ensure that the stations were operational rests with the owners – the eThekwini Metro.

She would provide more information on whether there were different quantities of emissions in Gauteng or Durban during the unrest.

Mr Abader said he had reported during the last meeting with the Committee that the DFFE had requested additional feedback from South African Police Service (SAPS) in relation to two officials who had criminal cases. Two more criminal cases had been opened against ex-employees in relation to consequence management involving some of the issues that had occurred in the past. One of the individuals had passed on, but the case for the other one was still running.

He said SAWS had not purchased radar specifically because it was expensive equipment.

Referring to BBBEE, he said that they were seeking guidance to improve the procedure. SAWS had started a process to procure local equipment. However, the Committee should note that most of the equipment required at SAWS was high-tech and could not be sourced locally.

He said SAWS tried to keep some of the interns from the internship programme in permanent posts. However, there had been some constraints to retaining them due to budget cuts, especially for the compensation of employees.

Mr Mnikeli Ndabambi, Executive, SAWS, said that the entity had a problem of ageing equipment and serious budget constraints. The air conditioners had been fixed during quarter two this year, while the procurement of hydrogen generators had started.

He said that the Global Atmosphere Watch Station was one of the few in the world to monitor greenhouse gas emissions at Cape Point. The instrument that was under threat due to ageing was the one that monitored ozone. SAWS had prioritised the repair of that within their small budget, which would impact the monitoring records.

Mr Abader added that SAWS had received an unqualified audit.

The Chairperson congratulated the SAWS team.

Committee minutes

The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of 18 and 24 August 2021.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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