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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 August 2006
SANPARKS QUARTERLY REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
Documents handed out:
SANParks Budget for 2006/7
SANParks Quarterly Performance Report for April-June 2006
SA National Parks briefed the Committee on its quarterly report for April to June 2006 and cash flow projections for 2006/07.
Members raised questions about HIV/AIDS treatment for SANParks employees; safety and security at national parks; management training and project management; the cost to revenue ratio and gender representivity in SANParks’ management.
Briefing on 2006/07 Financial Cash Flow Projections and Quarterly Report by SA National Parks (SANParks)
Mr S Soundy, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), of SANParks presented its quarterly performance report to the Committee. He briefed the Committee in some detail.
The Chief Financial Officer, Mr T Mabilane, then took the Committee through the Cash Flow Projections of SANParks for the year 2006/07. (See document attached)
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked for clarity on the HIV/AIDS treatment that SANParks gives its employees; does treatment mean that SANParks is providing anti-retrovirals and who is paying for it if this is the case?
She further asked which 5 parks were given a low score when measured for safety and security.
Mr A D Mokoena (ANC) stated that communication between the Committee and SANParks needed to be improved. The Board members of SANParks need to occasionally attend the meetings of the Committee to ensure the flow of information between the Board, the executive employees and the Committee is the same.
He also asked for the whereabouts of the Gold Plated Rhino that was in the news a while ago. He felt the target that SANParks set for child visits to parks was too low. What are the possibilities that this number can be improved upon, maybe with more efficient marketing methods?
In the Free State there was a case where people were killed by lions in a park, and some of them were the rangers who were supposed to guard the lions. Who did SANParks report to in relation to health and safety compliance?
Mr R Shah (DA) asked for clarity on the management programme that was stopped due to lack of participation of the employees. Who were the employees that the programme was meant for and why did not participate if it was a mandatory training session?
Mr Shah asked what was being done about the lack of clear policy on project management? He questioned the incentives given to the recently appointed restaurant operator in the Kruger National Park in order to comply with the regulations since the last one was released for not complying. He concluded by enquiring about the safety of visitors and assets in the parks.
Mr M Swart (DA) raised a concern about the cost to revenue ratio of the organisation. He stated that without funding from outside sources, SANParks was running at a loss and asked whether management was doing anything to improve the ratio.
Mr Soundy explained that the primary objective of SANParks is nature conservation and not to make profit. They intended finding ways to increase their income and lower costs, but the Committee should bear in mind that they could never be self-funded. HIV discussions are still in progress to help with the funding of medication and lifestyle skills management courses for the infected employees.
Mr Soundy did not know the details of the five parks whose safety measures were investigated. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT0 was responsible for liaising with the Board Members of SANParks. The Department could be asked to invite the Board to have a meeting with the Committee.
Mr Soundy had no knowledge of where the rhino is kept. He further felt that the present target of 45000 children visiting parks a year is a reasonable number considering the time consumed in one visit of a group of children.
SANParks only deals with the private parks that are contracted to them with respect to compliance regulations. The other parks have to report to the Department and it is the Department’s responsibility to ensure that they followed the regulations.
He explained that the programme that was terminated was meant for middle management and was voluntary and not mandatory. It was terminated because of lack of participation.
Some of the management policies were initially not in place, but they were now. The objective of project management is to manage the different divisions in an objective manner.
The present restaurant operator is not really incentivised in any way because they are retained on a temporary basis. The management of the park felt that it would be too long to wait until the end of the year, which is the reason why they took in a temporary operator for the rest of the year.
The South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Department are responsible for the safety and security measures that are beyond the responsibilities of the rangers.
Mr I M Cachalia (ANC) asked whether SANParks were making plans in conjunction with the Department for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. He also asked what percentage of the budget is spent on research and development.
An ANC Member expressed her concern at the limited number of women in SANParks management and asked if they had strategies to improve this situation. She mentioned that St did not have any blacks in management positions.
Mr J J Combrinck (ANC) asked if SANParks had any plans to combat the high cost of air travel which is a stumbling block in attracting more visitors to the country. He also wanted to know if SANParks were co-operating with the Department of Public Works (DPW) to improve roads in parks.
Ms C N Zikalala (IFP) inquired if SANParks is doing anything about poverty reduction and the employment of non-skilled and non-educated communities around the parks.
Mr M Kalako (ANC) asked whom the wildcards were targeted at.
Mr Soundy explained that promotional projects with the DEAT were already underway and that they used SA Tourism offices to market the parks.
Funds have been set aside for research and development. Some of the funds came from the National Lottery and the Mellon Foundation.
St Lucia is not part of SANParks as it is privately owned. Some of the management at the parks is white, but employment equity requirements have been met.
SANParks could not deal with the high cost of air travel; it is an issue for the airlines.
Wildcards are meant for everyone as they are not too expensive.
Mr Mokoena asked about the free access cards into the parks that Members of Parliament used to have.
Mr Soundy was not aware of this, but promised to look into the matter.
Mr Shah asked when last SANParks did an audit of their assets.
Mr Soundy explained that an audit is done every year and reflected in the balance sheet.
Mr Swart requested that the management look into other ways of reducing costs to save as much money as possible.
The meeting was adjourned.
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