Environmental Affairs Department Budget: briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


25 May 2004

Acting Chairperson:
Rev. P Moatshe (ANC)

Relevant Documents
Introduction to DEAT Strategic and Business Plan for 2004/2005
Overview of the 2004/5 Budget Figures
Programme 1 - Administration
Programme 2 - Environmental Quality and Protection
Programme 3 - Marine and Coastal Management
Programme 4 -Tourism
Programme 5 -Biodiversity and Conservation
Programme 6 - Poverty Relief and Expanded Public Works Programme
Department Budget: Vote 28

Department delegation: The Department was led by Ms P Yako - Deputy Director General and consisted of Mr. T Bouwer, Ms J Yawitch, Mr H Kleinschmidt, Dr P Matlou and Mr F Mketeni.

The Departmental gave its budget presentation to the Committee outlining the Department's achievements and its activites and objectives for 2004/5. Discussion covered the following topics, amongst others:
- pollution and the deferment of the Air Quality Bill
- the Department's job creation and poverty alleviation activities
- the promotion of domestic tourism and outreach to the rest of Africa
- the dominatation in the tourism industry by people in the first economy
- the level of black participation in the tourism sector
- strategies in place for Black Economic Empowerment
- development of co-operatives in tourism to maximise participation by the second economy
- the removal of the fence at the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique
- staffing transformation in the Department
- the 96% expenditure of the 2003/4 budget
- Aqua-culture as an alternative measure to preserve the country's fishery reserves.

Overview of 2003/4 and strategy for 2004/5
Ms Yako stated the Department's vision, mission and key focus areas (see presentation on DEAT Strategic and Business Plan for 2004/2005). In outlining some of the Department's achievements, Ms Yako noted that there has been an increase of 5.7% in international arrivals and that 1700 SMMEs have been assisted. This development has resulted in the creation of 10 000 jobs. The second environmental court has been opened at Port Elizabeth and Mapungubwe has been declared as South Africa's 5th World Heritage Site. The amalgamation of Golden Gate and Qwa-Qwa is in its final stages. The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Bills have been passed by Parliament. In the fishing industry about 2200 rights have been allocated: 77% of these are SMMEs (Small, Micro, Medium Enterprises) of which 60% are Black Economic Empowerment-based. An additional 859 subsistence rights have been awarded to communities in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

In the critical area of poverty relief, Ms Yako noted that R667m has been spent on 398 community programmes, 78% of which are rural based. DEAT is among those departments that have been receiving the Special Poverty Relief Allocation in the previous financial years (2001/2/3/4). This facility has helped to create 34 632 temporary job opportunities during the project implementation phase. The project involved the following groups: 45% women, 22% youth, 2% disabled, 1024 SMMEs. There were 268 920 training days and 2 324 permanent jobs were created. Funds have been planned to contribute to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and support delivery in the rural and urban nodes. The goal of the EPWP is to alleviate unemployment for a minimum of one million people in South Africa between 2004 and 2009.

Dr P Matlou, Deputy Director General, outlined the strategic objectives of this Directorate (see presentation).

Biodiversity & Conservation
Mr F Mketeni outlined the purpose of the programme, its achievements for 2003/4 and its activities for 2004/5 (see presentation).

Marine and Coastal Management
Mr H Kleinschmidt, Chief Director: Marine and Coastal Management, spoke abvout its achievements for 2003/4 and its activities for 2004/5 (see presentation).

Environmental Quality and Protection
Ms J Yawitch, Chief Director: Environmental Quality and Protection, explained this programme's mandate and policy approach in aiming to reverse a legacy of environmental degradation, inadequate legislation and weak enforcement measures. She then outlined the programme's medium-term strategic objectives (see presentation).

Mr Mzizi (ANC) wanted to know what the Department is doing about the acute pollution problem at the Sasolburg chemical facility.

Ms Yawitch admitted that the Sasolburg emission is problematic but blamed the existing weak enforcement mechanisms for the Departmnet's lack of action. She said that the Department is currently working closely with provincial authorities to carry out a strategic assessment that would help draft effective legislation to deal with this kind of menace.

Mr Mzizi (ANC) asked the Department to align their budgetary estimates with the objectives outlined in the President's state of the nation address.

Dr Matlou explained that the Tourism Enterprise links smaller and bigger players for effective partnership. This enables the smaller players to participate in Tourism fairs globally and that it is another avenue for job creation, which was the main theme of the presidential address.

Mr Oliphant (ANC) asked if the Department has so far identified the four notorious pollutants in the Western Cape region. How far has the Department taken its case with the Caltex Oil company?

Ms Yawitch replied that no particular pollutants have been identified as such but that the Department has identified certain sectors that are marked as potential pollutants.

The Chair wanted to know what percentage of the 10,000 jobs that were created through the poverty alleviation programmes were sustainable, what type of jobs were they and how many were for women?

Ms Yako said that this is a detailed question that would call for proper research by the Department. She promised to furnish the committee with a detailed written reply.

The Chair wanted to know the effect of the postponement of the legislation that was to deal with the recurrent menace of environmental pollution, the Air Quality Bill.

Ms Yawitch noted that the deferment of the legislation has had the effect of delaying the setting of quality standards in production. She hoped that the law would be in place by August at the latest. In the meantime the Department would engage stakeholders with a view to making a report back on the implementation mechanisms.

Mr Mack (ANC) asked if the Department has put in place mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the quality of plastic bags.

Ms Yawitch replied in the affirmative. She noted that the Department is effectively monitoring the production of plastic bags. There had been a notable decline in the consumption of this product and there had been a marked price reduction.

Ms Dlulane (ANC) commented that Members of Parliament should be involved in the Department's job creation activities in order for them to help create the necessary public awareness.

Ms Yako agreed with Ms Dlulane that parliamentarians should play a role in the departmental poverty alleviation activities. She added that the Department is committed to this important partnership.

Mr Oliphant asked if the Tourism Council has extended its outreach to the rest of Africa. What is the Department doing to address the exorbitant fees that are levied by players in the tourism industry - with a view to promoting domestic tourism? Further how many, if at all, local people have been assisted in their tourism ventures and what the Department is doing to curb the current high rate of attrition in the tourism sector particularly among the small-time players?

Dr Matlou noted that out of the 5.6 million visitors that came to South Africa, 75% were from the African continent particularly the SADC countries. The Tourism Council has taken its marketing campaign to far-flung countries like Nigeria and Kenya. It is part of the Nepad programme for African countries to work together to build an efficient tourism sector. The campaign to promote domestic tourism was effectively launched at a recent tourism indaba. It was true that many black people are disadvantaged and this is a major challenge for the Department. The Department was going around the problem by creating different products within the sector. The Department planned to conduct a survey through its social responsibility programmes to measure the level of black participation in the tourism sector.

Mr Mzizi wanted to know if the Department is involved in Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programmes and if so what strategies have been put in place to this end.

Ms Yako pointed out that the BEE programme within the Department is working on the basis of the new Act. She promised, subject to an invitation by the Committee, to make extensive presentations on this subject at an appropriate date. The Department would then utilise that opportunity to unpack some of the programmes it is currently involved in. She added that Public Works programmes were part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and that this is an integral part of the tourism promotion exercise.

Mr Tau (ANC) pointed out that in one way or another the Department would be involved in infrastractural development. He asked to what extent the Department has moved beyond micro enterprise into developing co-operatives in tourism as a tool to maximise participation by the second economy in this vital sector.

Ms Yako said with regard to Co-operatives, there is a Co-operatives Bill on the table, which once finalised would help streamline these measures. The Department said it would wait to determine how these new legal structures could work for tourism. The Department has already started talking to banks about funding but they are still hesitant in that they view tourism as a very risky venture.

Ms Yako invited committee members to intervene and help to educate big business to understand the need for economic empowerment in the tourism industry. The industry was currently dominated by people in the first economy to the effective exclusion of the second economy.

Ms Dlulane noted that members have been flooded with an avalanche of important information but due to time constraints it was next to impossible for them to meaningfully engage the Department. She asked for the Chair's direction.

The Chair said that the Committee would work in its party study groups and then compile one paper upon which it would engage the Department. As for now members should prioritise what is of critical value in order to save time. It was also important for the Committee to plan its programme in such a way that there was room for familiarisation tours to some of the areas the Department had identified in its presentation.

Mr Mzizi asked how the Department would ensure that with the removal of the fence at the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique wildlife is not exposed to unchecked poaching in these countries.

Dr Matlau explained that the dropping of the fence would preserve the Eco-system of the expansive park. The fence was artificial and hence an impediment to the natural animal migration patterns. The three countries have formed joint task forces to monitor animal movements and so far no incidents of poaching have been reported.

Mr Tau asked what strategic plan the Department had in place to address the needs of the second economy.

Mr Yako agreed with Mr Tau that there was a need to integrate the first and second economy so that the two work in tandem and not away from each other.

Ms Dlulane complimented the Department for confining its expenditure within the allocated budgetary estimates. She asked the Department to furnish members with the full list of its staff complement so that the Committee can be satisfied that transformation is indeed on track.

Ms Yako reported that for the past four financial years the Department has spent 96% of its allocated budget and hopes to maintain this feat. She pointed out that overall the statistics show that the Department has a 60% - 40% ratio of men to women employees. She however expressed concern that there were few women holding managerial positions.

The Chair asked if the Department had adequate resources to ensure compliance and whether there were plans to introduce Aqua-culture as an alternative measure to preserve the country's fishery reserves.

Mr Kleinschmidt explained that the Department had sufficient funds at its disposal to enforce compliance measures. However the Department worked on the basis of building consensus rather than compulsion - noting that people are willing to comply with measures when made to understand the benefits. He reported that Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) lays great emphasis on employing women especially in the area of fisheries, compliance and the Inspectorate. He added that a sum of 4.5 million had been set aside to fund members of Operation Neptune. The Department had also opened five new well-equipped stations for the officials. South Africa was famed for its well-preserved and managed fish diversity. He agreed with the Chair that there was a need for Aqua-culture noting that 50% of the fish species in Chile was raised through this programme.

The Chair was worried that aquaculture falls within the competency of the Department of Agriculture and not the MCM yet it seems the latter do not have the technological know-how to rollout this programme.

M Kleinschmidt agreed with the Chair that the MCM is the lead agent and work together with the Department of Science and Technology. He said that there was a dire need for the relevant departments to move rapidly to Aqua-Culture.

The meeting was adjourned.


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