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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM AD HOC COMMITTEE
1 June 2004
DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)
Department Strategic Plan presentation
Department Strategic Plan
Poverty Relief presentation
Department Budget Vote
The Department of Environmental Affairs came and presented its strategic and business plans and budget proposals for 2004/05 financial year. The Director General took this opportunity to indicate some of the success stories of the Department in the last year and he reflected on future challenges as informed by the budget allocations.
Introduction by the Minister
The Minister, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, congratulated the Chairperson on her election. He noted that the Committee is composed of senior MPs. He thanked his predecessor for the work well done. He further recognized the importance of the Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism. He mentioned as well that the Committee is an important source of information to the public. He reminded MPs that this is the National Environment Week. He informed the Committee that the Department this week has declared 4 Marine Protected Areas. He told the committee that the State of the Nation Address and the recent Lekgotla had drawn up the vision for the next decade of freedom. " We need to prioritise previously disadvantaged and coastal communities. We need checks and balances to put integrity to the process. We will approach you with amendments regarding the legislation. We also need to deal with tourism challenges in the next weeks. There will be opening of new fisheries as a long-term investment ".
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his presentation and highlighted that they may be some areas where there are disagreements. Mr Mokoena (ANC) asked the Minister if the Department has offices at local level doing some tourism work. The Minister responded that the system of MINMEC is to ensure coordination with provincial counterparts. SALGA also participates. The annual Tourism Indaba also provides opportunities for local government to get more involved. The DG also elaborated that they are a relatively small department with two offices in Cape Town. But, the Department does not have country wide local offices.
Presentation by the Director General
Dr C Olver congratulated the chairperson and members of the committee. " On a multiparty basis, the Department has worked well", the DG said. He also mentioned that South Africa is a founding member of Antarctica Treaty. There are plans to build Cape Town as a gateway to Antarctica. There will be a formal opening of the Ice runaway that was built by Norway early January next year. He invited Members of the Committee to join the trip and meet with the Queen of Norway. **For the full details of the presentation, please see the document attached**
The Chairperson noted that they wanted a two-day session in order to engage more with the Department. Reacting to the invitation to Kirstenbosch, she indicated that there were members who were interested to attend the function at Kirstenbosch.
Mr Arendse (ANC) wanted to know the percentage of communities given fishing rights.
Mr Kleinschmdt (MCM) responded they are working with bodies in the fishing industry - he noted the need to check issues of ownership. 'The question is how do we apply ourselves in rights allocation" he said.
Mr Arendse also wanted to know why the Department is going after 6 polluters, not pollutants.
Ms Yawitch (DEAT) answer was that 6 is a arbitrary number. "We are clear on what these polluters are. But, we need to check where those occurrences are acute. We have ideas about where problems are and to look at geographical areas. We therefore need to analyse this information", she said.
Mr Arendse continued to ask how the Department deals with the issue of GMOs within the Biodiversity Act.
Mr Morgan (DA) wanted clarity about Extended Public Works Programme. He wanted to know how the figure of 63 000 was arrived at.
Dr Matlou responded there is an overall target of 1 million jobs. "We worked on how much each department would contribute. The overall sector is expected to contribute R200 000.
Mr Morgan also wanted to understand about the situation in Theta.
Dr Matlou explained that the line functions fall under the Department of Labour. He further informed the committee that Theta had gone through 3 CEOs. "We don't sit on the board directly. We have sent departmental delegation in various standards generating board. People are trained but no certification. We are applying to the Minister of Labour to give an extension of 3 months. "But, we will try to work with Theta". The Committee was told that one of DEATs officials contributed a chapter in natural sciences for a school textbook. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Kids to Parks Programme with SANParks and NBI.
Mr Morgan enquired about 290 vacant positions shown in the presentation. He wanted to know if these are new positions struggling to be filled due to transformation or lack of capacity.
Ms Yako replied that the major contributor was that in 2002 -03, there was Resolution 7 which declared a moratorium on the filling of the posts till the process of dealing with excess personnel was completed. This affected the possibility of filling these positions.
Ms Salmens (DA) wanted to know about how long would people stay in their short-term jobs.
Ms Yako responded that the jobs take about six months and some exceed 2 years.
Ms Salmens also wanted to know how much interns are being paid.
Ms Yako's response was that the NEDLAC process determined that the wage rate will depend on the area in the country. The current salary is R35 - R60.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) wanted clarity from MCM about their source of funding for the environmental courts.
Mr Kleinschmidt responded that the money comes from MLRF. The Department of Justice contributes with magistrates and prosecutors and it ensures that there is enough prosecuting capacity. "We have trained officers, magistrates and enforcers. There is a 70% success rate. Cases brought to the court are dealt with within a year".
Ms Chalmers wanted to know about the policy on forfeited goods.
Mr Kleinschmidt replied that they have agreement with police and they take those goods back to MCM and the MCM uses them.
Ms Chalmers wanted to know how the issue on Marine Protected Areas would be dealt with.
Mr Kleinschmidt responded that policing is critical. For Pondoland MPAs, there is a base for 3 offices with equipment.
Mr Durr (ACDP) commented on the structure of the Department and suggested that this should be reflected on an organogram and include the names of the people. He also raised that the Biodiversity Act seemed to have thrown the issue of GMOs out of the window. He viewed this as the abdication of responsibilities which threatens sustainable agriculture.
The DG responded that the committee has been concerned about GMOs. He clarified that DEAT has engaged with the question of GMOs which under law, falls under the Department of Agriculture. " The GMO Act establishes the GMO Council to review and approve application. A Registrar is there for documenting and tracking GMO use. DEAT is represented. All GMOs need to go through risk assessment. DEAT has no regulatory powers. When the Biodiversity Bill was looked at, the clause in the Act allows the Minister to require to through EIAs. "I don't agree that we deal with GMOs irresponsibly".
Mr Durr also stated that the country is in violation of Cartagena Protocol as far as GMOs are concerned.
The DG indicated that South Africa has signed the Cartagena Protocol and he promised to invite Agriculture Dept officials if the committee further details.
Mr Durr elaborated that the experience is that laws are wonderful and implementation is often a problem.
Mr Mketeni responded that there is a need to develop norms and standards. Protected Areas Managers must develop management plans. Issues of tourism, management and governance will be part of the plan. The Biodiversity Bill requires that the development of alien invasive species need to be gazetted.
Ms Johnson (NNP) wanted to know if there are enough law enforcement officers.
Ms Yawitch responded that compliance, monitoring and authorisations is a new section in the Department. "We are in the process of advertising and recruiting staff to fill positions. We will have more staff and the compliance systems will work within existing capacity and in conjunction with provinces and local government".
Mr Moss (ANC) wanted clarity about the number of landfill sites, both those that are licenced or unlicenced.
Ms Yawitch did not have correct figures. She admitted that there was a backlog with regard to landfill site permitting. "We need to collect accurate information and look at categories of legal and illegal sites. Waste management has got the potential for jobs, but there are huge risks associated with picking landfill sites.
Ms Ndzanga (ANC) asked if the grading is in line with international market needs.
Dr Matlou said that grading is a voluntary process. "If there is a need for change, we will get back to the Portfolio Committee". He encouraged the use of graded properties. "Figures are low and we set 70% target. We've got to find a strategy and what is graded is based on capacity. We need to ensure that conferences used are of quality and standard'', he told the committee.
She also wanted to understand when the monitoring of tourists takes place.
Dr Matlou replied that they do monthly surveys. The data is released on quarterly basis from the Department of Home Affairs.
Mr Mokoena (ANC) wanted to understand the level of cooperation between DTI and DEAT.
Dr Matlou' s response was that they are working closely with DTI. He further said that DTI has oversight over Ntsika and Khula.
Mr Maja (ANC) was eager to find out if tourism was considering introducing programmes aimed at encouraging the study of tourism at school.
Dr Matlou responded that tourism has been approved as a matric subject. Theta has developed standards. The Welcome Campaign has created opportunities in tourism.
Mr Greyling (ID) asked if MCM would be willing to work with the committee to deal with the problems in fishing.
Mr Kleinschmidt was pleased to work with the committee.
Mr Greyling asked about bio catch and raised his concerns with targeted catch. He wanted to understand the mechanisms for monitoring this.
Mr Kleinschmidt conceded that targeting is a complicated issue. " We may have separate industry for red herring".
Regarding Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiave, Mr Greyling was keen to understand the vision of DEAT when it relates to tourism development.
The DG replied that for many years, they have been working on a strategy for ecotourism. He conceded that there are competing mining and agricultural interests. "We are convinced about creating assets that work for communities. We cracked down illegal cottages. We have also embarked on an initiative with other conservation agencies to conserve biodiversity in Pondoland including establishing Protected Areas".
Mr Kalako (ANC) felt that DEAT was too loaded with information and requested to have a specific presentation for each programme. "We need to clearly understand the role and contribution in EPWP and also to align policy decisions with realities", he said.
Mr Kalako suggested looking at environmental prioritisation for previously disadvantaged communities.
Mr Greyling wanted to know how of the EU funding has been funded and how the Department would deal with the issue of a toll road.
The DG responded that he would get back to the committee with the correct figures. "There were delays initially and the impact of the toll road is designed to fit within broader strategy of Wild Coast development. There is critical debate about the future of Pondoland. We need to check whether we can take ecotourism to scale. The challenge is to access and accelerate conservation strategy.
The chairperson thanked the Department for coming and presenting to the Committee.
The meeting adjourned.
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