Department Strategic Plan and Budget: briefing


02 June 2004
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

This report was produced by the Contact Trust -

2 June 2004

Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)

Relevant documents:
Medium Term Expenditure Framework presentation
Administration in the Department presentation
Biodiversity and Conservation presentation
Environmental Quality and Protection presentation
Tourism presentation
Department Budget Vote

The Department presented its medium term expenditure perspective. The Deputy Directors General presented their plans for each of their directorates.

Medium Term Expenditure Framework presentation
**For the full details of the presentation, please see the document attached**
Dr C Olver, Director General, indicated that they would be launching the Domestic Tourism Market Strategy on the 10 June in Langa Township, Cape Town. He told the committee that the MTEF expenditure perspective was for the period between 1 April - 31 March 2005. He further highlighted that the Department Budget includes massive changes and there is an increase in the tourism budget.

The DG made the comment that if there is any matter that the committee would like to discuss with the Department, the Committee must call and the Department will come.

Presentation by Pam Yako: Chief Operations Officer - DEAT
** For the full details of the presentation, please see the document attached**

Presentation by Mr Mketeni: Deputy Director General - Biodiversity and Conservation
**For the full details of the presntation, please see the document attached**

Ms Salmens wanted to know if the section on compensation of employees covers the retrenchment package.

Mr Bouwer (Chief Financial Officer: DEAT) replied that the figures were based on old expenditure compensation of personnel.

Mr Kalako (ANC) wanted to know the areas where bursaries were awarded. He was also interested to know the progress, particularly the breakdown on gender, race.

Ms Yako responded that in the last financial year, they had recruited students in areas where there are gaps. The MCM collaborated with universities and they call for students to apply. "For the coming year, we need to work with universities and technikons". She explained that there are 4 students with MCM, 2 with Pollution and Waste Directorate and 3 with Tourism. She emphasised that they are looking for more students and she promised to provide the gender breakdown later.

Mr Greyling (ID) asked how the staff shortage affected the capacity of the Department to render services. He wanted to know the amount spent on consultancy and the strategies to deal with the problem of staff turnover.

Ms Yako responded that they have not done the analysis on consultancy. "We are busy with an institutional review and there is a study looking at options on whether to have staff as contract, full time or to continue using consultants. She told the committee that the turnover figures are improving. She further said that the question is how to stabilise the turnover. The other reason she mentioned was that people move as a result of better career prospects. "We met the provinces to address the problem. We spoke with SETAs to create learnerships".

Ms Chalmers (ANC) wanted to know the contribution of MCM in enhancing research capacity.

Mr Greyling commented that he noticed that the staff are leaving the Department of Environmental Affairs because of the opportunities provided by international environmental agencies paying large amounts. He further stated that the problem of using consultants is that the information stays with them and does not filter through to the Department.

Ms Chalmers wanted to find out if the Department has done a financial assessment of WSSD. She wanted to know the benefits of the National Parks.

Mr Mketeni responded that the control of the game movement is a challenge. Management plans are critical.

Ms Chalmers commented that timeframes for United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) would need to be advanced.

Ms Yako responded that the Department has taken too long to deal with UNCCD. She however mentioned that it had accelerated last year. It was presented to MINMEC towards the end of last year and once finalised, would be taken to Cabinet for approval since it has some financial implications and would require coordination.

Mr Kalako wanted to know if there is money allocated for public awareness programmes.

Mr Mketeni replied that the statutory bodies are responsible for some of these functions.

SANParks has established a People and Conservation programme. "We are looking at kids in urban areas".

Mr Greyling raised the issue of dropping 18 km of the border fence and indicated that there was a problem with this from some communities in Mozambique. He therefore wanted to know the developments regarding this.

Mr Mketeni responded that there is consultation with Mozambique taking place. There is a joint management board looking at a joint consultation strategy.

The Chairperson wanted an explanation on the sale of ivory.

Ms Yako replied that in 2002, they went to CITES and in terms of the latter, elephants are listed as endangered species. "We had stocks in the Kruger National Park. We went to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to engage on ivory sale. We marked the stock but the CITES process is slow", she said.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) posed a question about whether the problem of overgrazing is related to parks.

Mr Mketeni replied that in terms of the National Action Programme (NAP) of UNCCD, there is a consultation process to collect information. Once the NAP is finalised, it will be looking at issues like overgrazing.

Mr Moss (ANC) wanted to know if the Department will reach the target that was set for land that needs to be under protection.

Mr Mketeni responded that the World Parks Congress indicated that countries needed to reach certain targets. It was also raised that 10% of the country's surface should be under protection. Currently, South Africa is at 5,6%.

Ms Yako elaborated that these are terrestrial targets and this does not refer to marine targets. The targets are confined to state land and if the private land were to be included, the percentage could go up. "We need to look at what the Property Rates Act provides. Some provinces prefer to use their provincial ordinances and some prefer to use the national framework. The Department will set norms and standards and bioregional plans will identify biodiversity hotspots".

Ms Ndzanga (ANC) wanted to know if poverty relief projects are sustainable and how they are being evaluated.

Ms Yako replied that they did that last year by commissioning the UNDP to look at the impact of poverty relief projects. "We can do a full briefing on poverty and the UNDP report".

Mr Greyling noted that there were some concerns about the drawing of the NAP since the process was not truly participatory and there were problems associated with consultation. He suggested that the process must be seen to reach as many people as possible.

Ms Chalmers wanted to know if South Africa as a signatory to UNCCD qualifies it for GE (international organisation) funding.

Ms Yako responded that they started last year to include desertification as a funding portfolio. "We have started the national scale project to apply for funding. The name of the project is the Desert margin and is run by Pretoria University".

Mr Durr (ACDP) commented that he was happy that there is alignment with provincial ordinances. He suggested that they should also align it with local authorities as well because they have the constitutional right to take action.

Mr Greyling wanted to understand the process that was followed regarding the AP process.

Ms Yako answered that they can do the full briefing to the Committee regarding this matter.

Ms Ntuli raised concerns about some critical functions delegated to provinces.

Ms Yako responded that this is a bigger issue relating to the political system. "The framework was developed when drawing up legislation and whether its working or not, is a matter of debate".

The Chairperson commented that the thrust of the question was about coordination and implementation. "Local government is part of the system of governance".

Mr Durr argued that the difficulty is that these three spheres of government are autonomous. "We have to work by agreement, leadership and rational argument".

Presentation by Ms Joanne Yawitch (DDG - Environmental Quality and Protection)
**For the full details of the presentation, please find the document attached**

Ms Ntuli wanted to know the provisional arrangements about protecting poor people from asbestos.

Ms Yawitch responded that there is no more mining of asbestos in South Africa. Companies use other fibres, not asbestos. The problem is that Zimbabwe continues to produce asbestos and transports it to Durban. But, she said, the rapid closure may lead to job losses. Manufacturers will be exempted for specific period of time. There was a study done by NEDLAC about the impact of asbestos.

Ms Ntuli asked the view of the Department regarding issue of plastic bags.

Ms Yawitch replied that they want to see a reduced amount of plastic bags used. "We need to prevent cheap imports. We need to put enforcement systems in place to look at thinner bags. The Section 21 Company will do an awareness campaign".

Ms Chalmers wanted to know if the issue of landfill permitting involves chemical waste.

Ms Yawitch responded that its all waste. "These are regulated by DWAF".

Ms Chalmers wanted to know if its still policy for sewerage pipes to go to the sea.

Ms Yawitch told the committee that pipelines are meant not to affect coastlines. The Coastal Management Draft Bill will deal with this problem.

Ms Greyling raised the problem of the relationship between the company and the consultants. He wanted to know how the Department would protect the integrity of the process.

Ms Yawitch replied that consultants doing EIAs sign declarations of their independence. "This creates a level of liability and a way of addressing the issue of conflict of interests" . The government does the review and exercises a degree of regulation.

Mr Greyling wanted clarity on whether ESKOM needs to do an EIA.

Ms Yawitch indicated that power stations are listed activities.

Mr Greyling asked whether the Department has got the secretariat and capacity to implement Climate Change Strategy.

Ms Yawitch responded that the issues are very big. "This is a long term process. We have some science under control and we need to consult other departments. We do have some capacity constraints".

Mr Moss wanted to understand the timeframes set for the transferal of landfill sites and the Thor clean up.

Ms Yawitch responded that the issues involve negotiations. She however stated that the clean up process will not be completed in this financial year. She told the committee that there is a consultant working on the site. There is a need for great attention to protective clothing.

Mr Moss raised the concern that when you go to townships, you are greeted by rubbish and waste. He wanted to know whether DEAT is contemplating introducing waste guidelines.

Ms Yawitch responded that waste management or the removal of rubbish is a local government function. "This problem is as a result of years of neglect and the servicing of informal settlements is a challenge. The Waste Management Draft Bill will deal creatively with ways to deal with landfill waste. Putting in norms and standards is a priority", she said.

The Chairperson wanted to find out the Department plans for making less use of consultants.

Ms Yawitch replied that they would have a level of reliance on consultants. "People in universities are dealing with some of the things. We need to ask consultants to contribute to skills transfer".

The Chairperson noted that the prefabs are equally dangerous. (reference to the asbestos issue)

Mr Greyling wanted to know the extent to which DEAT is engaging Labour Department regarding issues of safety and health.

Ms Yawitch replied that the Department of Labour has drafted regulations regulating the use of asbestos and that DME had banned the mining of asbestos. A one-stop shop has been opened to deal with compensation claims. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has included minimum standards for the use of asbestos. " We are building a stronger relationship with Labour", she said.

Ms Mangena (ANC) wanted to know if the Department is able to monitor landfill sites.

Ms Yawitch told the committee that this is the responsibility of DWAF. Provincial Departments need to do landfill evaluations. The transfer to DEAT will be done next year. "We will then move away from the crisis situation. It would be illegal to mix landfill waste and domestic waste. The Waste Bill will impose penalties. Enforcement is the key. Minimum standards would not allow people to collect scrap without protective clothing".

Ms Johnson (NNP) wanted to know if the Department is looking at streamlining and dovetailing with existing legislation.

Ms Yawitch told the committee that dovetailing would be difficult and this would need the government internal systems to be sorted out. "The EIA may collect information that you would use for everything else", she said.

Mr Greyling wanted to know if the Department is looking at any study regarding the Radio Active Waste.

Ms Yawitch conceded that they have not yet done anything.

Ms Ntuli wanted to know the possibility of having timeframes to remove waste from the sight of communities or to have a separate site.

Ms Yawitch said that in the business plan, there are detailed timeframes and key performance indicators. "Once finalised, we will distribute them".

Ms Ntuli further commented that the problem of poor air coming from SAPPI in Durban does not only affect workers, but surrounding communities.

Ms Yawitch replied that the passage of the Air Quality Bill is relevant here. The Bill will set ambient air standards and these will force industry to control air pollution.

Ms Salmens wanted to know what would happen with existing products.

Ms Yawitch replied that there are problem areas. She said that her personal view was that the Department of Public Works must put programmes in place to remove asbestos.

The Chairperson commented that people are still inhaling asbestos and there is a need for interim interventions to deal with the issue of asbestos. "The priority is to save lives".

Ms Yawitch told the committee that, among others, rural schools are facing asbestos problems.

The Chairperson further raised that education is an important and DEAT should play its role, so should members of the committee.

Ms Yawitch replied that its not something they have control over. She mentioned that the Department of Housing has a role to play in its urban development. "Its something worth taking it up".

Presentation by Dr Matlou (Deputy Director General - Tourism)
**For the full details of the presentation, please find the document attached**

Ms Salmens reiterated what Minister van Schalkwyk said about the problem of less visited provinces. She further mentioned the problem of accessibility. Regarding the problem of tour guides, she wanted to know if it relates to licences.

Dr Matlou responded that in 2001, the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee met in Khayelitsha. He further mentioned that the then Minister of Arts, Culture, science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, had a nuclear meeting in Khayelitsha as well. He encouraged the present committee to look into ways of promoting local tourism and the businesses. He further mentioned that the plan impacts on what they are going to do next year. The MINMEC meetings will be moved around the country.

Ms Salmens asked if the Department has looked at the issue of price differentials. She mentioned that SANParks has cards.

Dr Matlou responded that the issue was raised on a number of occasions. He raised that it is not a popular matter because some tourists have a perception that they are being ripped off. "This is the matter worth investigating".

Mr Ellis (DA) asked how successful the regional and NEPAD tourism initiatives are.

Dr Matlou responded that a year ago the SADC protocol on tourism was ratified. Article 5 deals with the issue of visas and how tourism should be made easier. He mentioned that ECOWAS provides for a process where there is free movement of people in West Africa without visas. He also raised that there is a NEPAD Tourism Action Plan and the White Paper that serves as the blueprint was drawn up by South Africa.

Mr Greyling raised the need to promote regional tourism. He further mentioned that museums have not been fully utilised. He believed that there is a need for a Pan African Museum. He suggested establishing an Information Centre that provides information for tourists to the rest of the African continent.

Mr Greyling went on to ask if there has been any study done to look at blockages in promoting ecotourism.

Dr Matlou told the committee that one issue is the registration of tour guides and some are not aware of this requirement. The other problem is the cost involved. "Tour guiding is seasonal".

The Chairperson once again thanked the Department for their thorough presentations and informed the Committee that the next meeting was on Monday, 7 June.

The meeting adjourned.


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