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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 November 2004
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT: HEARINGS
This report was produced by kind courtesy of Contact Trust: www.contacttrust.org.za
Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department Annual Report 2003-2004
The Committee questioned the Department on its 2003-2004 Annual Report, as well as presenters from the Hout Bay Heritage Trust and the Anglican Church Environment Network.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked the Department to update the Committee on the progress of projects in the Eastern Cape, particularly the botanical garden. The presenter explained that the Department was discussing ecotourism projects with the local and provincial governments, in the Eastern Cape, and it hoped to have more concrete reports very soon.
Ms Chalmers also asked the reason for the budget rollovers. The presenter explained that budget allocated to the Department had not been made available on time, so they had not had enough time to make full use of it. He assured the Committee that this would not happen again in the future.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked about progress in the infrastructural development of the Transfrontier Park in Limpopo. The presenter explained that they did not have enough supporting documentation on this topic. From South Africa's perspective, there had been some progress and a border gate was being developed. They were still in discussions with other governments and departments to develop the project on a wider scale.
Mr M Ellis (DA) asked what the Department was doing in terms of the budget rollovers, and financing the Transfrontier Park project. The presenter pointed out that these details could be found in the Annual Report. Their greatest challenge was coming to agreements with other countries' governments. The Greater Limpopo Park was in its development stage, but there had been significant progress.
Mrs J Chalmers asked for a measurable assessment of the Department's Poverty Relief Programme. The representative explained that the programme was structured with some assessment on sustainable tourism. The Department was focusing on its marketing and the training of personnel.
Mr G Morgan asked about the programmes on biodiversity conservation. The presenter promised that the Department would submit a detailed written answer to this question.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) asked about the programme banning free plastic bags. The presenter replied that this programme had been developed in the context of environmental quality. He would come back to that question at another time as he did not have much information on the topic.
Another Member asked about the programmes on biodiversity conservation. The presenter replied that he would come back to the question at a later point.
A Member then expressed concern that so many questions had been deferred. The presenter assured the Committee that many of the answers to its questions would be found in the report itself. Nonetheless, they would be better prepared in the future.
Hout Bay Heritage Trust
Mr D Cowley introduced the Hout Bay Heritage Trust's plans to promote the heritage of South Africa and to further develop tourism in lesser known areas of cultural and historical importance. He suggested promoting many more sites throughout South Africa that had the potential to be developed. He supported a National Heritage Organisation that would promote South Africa's cultural site tourism.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) commented on the very small number of sites in the presentation that pertained to 'black history'. Most of the sites mentioned pertained to 'white culture'. Township residents might not be able to identify with this, or with any other programme that did not include black history and heritage. Mr Cowley replied that they did recognise the importance of black heritage. Their point was to emphasise the importance of promoting this very fact, that South Africa was culturally rich and should be utilised for wider tourism.
A Member commented that he recognised that colonialism and the sites mentioned were part of South African history. He understood that the presentation attempted to inspire all South Africans to celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that made up South African culture.
Mr D Olifant (ANC) asked the presenters to explain their relationship with their Department and the Department of Arts and Culture, and what obstacles they faced when working with these departments. Mr Cowley commented that these departments had shown interest in participating in the programme. However, they were under-resourced and this limited their potential participation.
Anglican Church Environment Network
Bishop G Davies (ACEN Chairperson) discussed the value of ecotourism. He focused on the importance of planning road-building in places where it most benefitted communities, and not just governmental organisations. He discussed the impact of the toll roads and emphasised the importance of research before building roads.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked for comment on the level of consultation with communities and municipalities before the building projects began in remote communities. Bishop Davies asserted that there was insufficient consultation. Traditional leaders had always expressed concern regarding this issue. It created tension and more conflict between communities and government departments. Moreover, the little consultation that was taking place was badly arranged and not adequate.
Mr M Kalako (ANC) commented on community gardens. He believed that this promoted community unity. Such projects were crucial for the improvement of communication within and from outside communities throughout South Africa.
The meeting was adjourned.
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