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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 October 2006
TRANSFORMATION OF TOURISM INDUSTRY PUBLIC HEARINGS; PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE TRANFSFORMATION OF THE FISHING INDUSTRY: DISCUSSION
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Khanyanjalo (History and Purpose)
Due to the paucity of the response to the Committee’s call for submissions for public hearings on transformation in the tourism industry, with only three respondents, members decided to reschedule the hearings for early in 2007. In addition to advertising for submissions, individual invitations would be sent to stakeholders. The possibility of having provincial hearings to facilitate greater accessibility would also be considered. Khanyanjalo, a Durban based organisation aimed at empowering community women, youth, the elderly and people with special needs with the knowledge and skills to participate in the tourism industry, made the only submission. Members raised questions around how the organisation would go about achieving its objectives, what the desired outcomes were and what the organisation’s immediate operational requirements were.
The Chairperson reported that public hearings had been scheduled for the following week into transformation in the fishing industry. The Minister of Environmental Affairs had requested a postponement until such time as the fishing quota allocation process had been completed so that the Committee could have a comprehensive picture around which to assess the level of transformation within the industry. Some members expressed disquiet that planned public hearings should be cancelled, believing that it was the Committee’s right to continue, that there were other issues to be discussed, that they would give the opportunity for broader comments on the process, and could inform some of the policy decisions. Some believed that since the process was virtually complete, nothing would be gained in postponement. The view was also expressed that the Committee would suffer a loss of credibility if it were to postpone. Other members expressed the view that the Committee needed full information on the allocations in order to make definite decisions, and that because the Department was the principal player in the transformation process its request should be given due regard. There was some concern that the public hearings would degenerate into complaints about the allocations being made. It was stressed that the hearings would examine issues relating to conditions of work, points of entry, consolidation of the industry, fronting and social plans for declining local economies. After substantial discussion the Committee agreed that a postponement should be allowed, but it should be clear that the Committee had not bowed to executive pressure, but believed rather that all stakeholders must have the full opportunity to explain matters fully. For this purpose also hearings would be decentralised so that fishing communities could express their views. The hearings would be postponed until early in January 2007.
It was noted that the Minister would in the coming weeks brief the Committee on the alleged mismanagement of funds by Marine and Coastal Management.
Committee’s opening remarks on the poor response to the call for public submissions
The Chairperson informed members that despite the hearings having been advertised timeously, in both the Sunday Times and the Sowetan, only three stakeholders had responded. In light of the poor response the Committee would not be able to justify the hearings to the taxpayers. He suggested that the hearings be rescheduled for early in 2007. The Committee would have to do a far more detailed mobilisation of stakeholders so that the hearings would be fruitful.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) shared the Chairperson’s sentiments but felt that the three respondents should be given the opportunity to make the submissions they had prepared so that the Committee could then respond to their concerns. The hearings should not merely be postponed but members should also develop a decentralised model that would provincialise the event and make it much more accessible to the people. He speculated that the paucity of response could perhaps also be ascribed to lack of resources. Capacity related issues were part of the reason why there had been a call for hearings on transformation within tourism industry.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would have to prepare far more detailed advertisements and would have to send individual letters of invitation to the hearings. The Committee hoped that stakeholders were indeed interested in briefing the nation around their activities and trusted that the scarcity of response did not betray an unwillingness to share what they were doing to transform the industry.
Mr Lucky Zungu made the submission on behalf of Khanyanjalo, which was a newly formed Durban-based non governmental organisation. The organisation would be aimed at empowering women, youth, the elderly and people with special needs within the community with the knowledge and skills to participate in the tourism industry. Khanyanjalo felt that the sections of the community it targeted had traditionally been marginalised despite the fact that, given adequate opportunities, they could have been meaningful contributors to the economy.
Mr M Shah (DA) was very impressed with Mr Zungu’s enthusiasm and requested more information about him and his organization. Mr Zungu had shown his seriousness by coming all the way from Durban, while other major stakeholders failed to respond at all to the call for public hearings. He asked what expectations he and his organisation had of Government in terms of addressing some of the issues around transformation (especially as related to women, youth and people with special needs) that his presentation had highlighted.
Mr Zungu responded that because Khanyanjalo was new and could be considered amateurs in the field they felt that Government could help them by providing expertise. An entity could not be successful if it lacked the necessary expertise. The organization would also at times require funding.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) agreed that the presenter showed commitment by coming to the hearings. She asked him to elaborate further on his organisation’s activities, its management structure and its future plans and objectives. She also asked who the organisation’s main target group was.
The Chairperson urged members to be more precise in their questions and to bear in mind that that Mr Zungu was a medium term entrepreneur, who could not be interrogated along the same lines as, for example, the director general of a department.
Mr Zungu said that Khanyanjalo consisted mainly of mainly women members; and he was the only man in the organisation. They operated from their homes because they had no funds with which to acquire office space. The organisation would cater for youth, women and people with special needs. Each person within the organisation had a task that he or she would perform.
He said that as someone with a physical disability he knew what people with special needs required. They were often perceived as people who should be given things but this was not the case. People with special needs wanted to contribute to the country. Currently people with disabilities were given employment but no opportunities to advance in their positions. This situation was not empowering. He wanted, through education, to show people with special needs that they could do the same things as those people who were physically fit.
Mr Shah requested Mr Zungu to forward details of the projects his organisation was currently handling and hoped to be engaged in. He said that when South African Tourism appeared before the Committee members should ask them whether they were creating opportunities for organizations such as Mr Zungu’s.
Mr Mokoena commented that the Committee should feel “fortunate and vindicated” that Mr Zungu had come from so far. He asked how he had financed the trip to Cape Town.
Mr Zungu responded that he had paid for the trip from his own pocket.
Mr Mokoena wondered whether parliamentary protocol permitted any refunding for public hearings was concerned. While it was clear that officials from departments and magnates from the business sector were able to afford such trips one could not be sure that community members could do the same. He wondered whether Parliament could, in Mr Zungu’s case, assist with funding, without creating a precedent, especially given the exceptional circumstances of that day’s hearings.
Mr Mokoena further felt that the Committee should decentralise the public hearing process and, with input from MECs, plan provincial public hearings. A database of all the organisations at provincial level should be created. The Committee should engage SA Tourism on the matter. Such a database would make it possible to uncover useful information that would assist in the 2010 campaign. Public hearings afforded the Committee the opportunity to create such a database.
Mr D Maluleke (ANC) requested clarity on whether Mr Zungu’s project was a company or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Mr Zungu explained that Khanyanjalo was an NGO and not a company. Its aim was to educate people and not to make a profit.
Mr Maluleke wondered what Khanyanjalo would do to assist in ensuring that communities were encouraged to participate in activities related to tourism, and in particular activities pertaining to the training of tour guides. Local people were best placed to share the histories and other aspects of their own communities and thus made idea tour guides.
Mr Zungu explained that his organisation could contribute by educating and training locals in his area. They would be given more of the information that they were currently lacking. He pointed pout that at grassroots level people knew little or nothing about the opportunities the industry held for them.
Mr Maluleke asked Mr Zungu to make his organisation’s constitution available to the Committee. Mr Zungu responded that it was still drawing up its Constitution.
Mr M Swart (DA) said that Mr Zungu had given the Committee and idea of the objectives that his organisation hoped to achieve. Members could concur with those objectives. He was however concerned about the practical implications of how the envisaged transformation would be achieved. He wondered what the organisation would, in practical terms, require from Government so that the transformation could be started. Training was important but he felt sure that the required training was already available. Khanyanjalo probably simply needed to be guided as to how they could best access it. He suggested that since there would be further hearings Mr Zungu could perhaps, in writing, let the Committee know what practical assistance they needed.
Mr Zungu responded that Khanyanjalo required an office, training material and funds that could be used to employ people who would be able to do the training. It would also require transport for the guides. He and other members of the organisation would also be involved in training.
Mr S Rasmeni (ANC) thanked the presenter for coming all the way from Durban and honouring the public hearing process. He wondered what the purpose of the training would be that the organisation hoped to give. He asked whether the training would be aimed at equipping the target group with the necessary skills to eventually enter into the mainstream industry and economy or whether the trainees would be trained specifically for the NGO sector.
Mr Zungu responded that he would like to see that the people who would benefit from the training contributed to the country and participated in the mainstream economy as well as participating in educating others.
Mr Shah pointed out that inasmuch as the presenter’s sentiments and motives were good, educating and training others required capacity to do so. The organisation needed to have the relevant knowledge. He said that there were already organisations who were involved in training and education around tourism. He asked whether the organisation had already engaged with these relevant authorities in an attempt to acquire some assistance. He emphasised that to impart knowledge one needed to have the capacity to do so.
Mr Zungu explained that he was a certified trainer as well as a facilitator and felt that these qualifications made it easy for him to share knowledge. He felt that bigger institutions would not be able to offer the opportunities Khanyanjalo could because they were far too expensive.
Ms Ntuli said that it was clear that Mr Zungu still needed much assistance from the Department of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Parliament and local government. It was good that he had come to make his organisation visible so that they could be identified and so that the Committee could link it with other institutions. She suggested that the Department of Labour (DOL) could undertake the training while Khanyanjalo would only be expected to attend to the coordination. She again thanked Mr Zungu for coming forward.
Mr Zungu responded that he felt very privileged that the Committee had invited him. He had already gained a great deal from members’ questions and suggestions. He thanked the Committee for the opportunity.
The Chairperson summarised that the hearings would be rescheduled and Mr Mokoena’s suggestions to have provincial hearings would be given serious consideration as parliament had to be accessible. The Committee would show more rigour in the planning of the hearings and would try to develop a database of the stakeholders within the tourism industry. Stakeholders would receive letters inviting them to the hearings and if they failed to respond sterner action might have to be taken.
Postponement of Fishing Industry Public Hearings: Discussion
The Chairperson reminded members that according to the Committee’s programme hearings on the fishing industry should be held the following week. He had had a discussion with the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk about the hearings. While the response to the invitation had been quite good the Minister was of the opinion that it would be improper to have the hearings until the fishing quota allocation process had been completed as the Committee did not have a comprehensive picture around which to assess the level of transformation within the industry.
The Chairperson reminded members that the Department was the principal stakeholder as far as the transformation of the industry was concerned. He pointed out that the Committee had no powers as far as the fishing quota allocation process was concerned and thus could not influence this process, which was led by the Ministry and Marine and Coastal Management (MCM). He suggested that the following week’s hearings be postponed and that a comprehensive hearing be held early in January 2007.
Mr Maluleke felt that neither the Department nor the Minister could tell the Committee what to do. As far as he was concerned the hearings would reveal much information that the Department might not necessarily voluntarily share with the Committee. Members wanted to have a sense of what was happening within the industry and it was within the Committee’s rights to invite anyone who could provide insight. This would enable stakeholders to share how they felt about the allocation process despite the fact that it was still in progress. It was incumbent on the Committee to be aware of concerns and issues related to these matters. He was sensitive to the suggestion that the hearings be postponed to 2007 to ensure that the Committee had a broader picture of all the issues involved. He added that the response from the fishing industry had been much better than that from the tourism industry and was also concerned whether it would be possible to timeously inform respondents that the process had been postponed.
Mr Mokoena did not agree with any suggestion that hearings be postponed. He felt that the Department had had enough time to complete the quota allocations. In terms of its oversight role the Committee needed to interrogate the problems delaying the process. He had coincidentally, in that morning’s edition of the Cape Times, seen a report under the headline “Fisheries fund blows R98 million”. It was a damning report on the MCM reflecting exactly the type of issues the Committee needed to address.
Mr Mokoena commented that the Department knew that the Committee had always been supportive. He asserted that nevertheless the MCM was problematic and that there was no chance that the Committee could allow further deterioration The Committee had to carry on with the scheduled public hearings so that in 2007 matters could be taken further. He emphasised that a three or four month postponement would not assist in addressing matters that had accumulated over many years.
Ms Ntuli pointed out that the issues around allocations were very sensitive. If the hearings were to start without the allocation process having been completed many people would use them to raise dissatisfaction around allocations. The Committee needed to know when the allocations would be completed, especially since the imbizos had indicated that the issues were very thorny one. She believed the Committee should hear how people felt about the allocation process and supported the suggested postponement.
Mr Swart pointed out that transformation was not only about race but also about gender. It was important to include women and other marginalised groups. He reminded members that people involved in the fishing industry were generally poor, and therefore wondered whether the Committee should not hold a series of hearings in fishing communities, thus making the public participation process more accessible.
Mr Rasmeni commented that while the Minister was within his rights to make some requests, public hearings fell within Parliament’s domain and were not in any way a programme of the Executive. Parliament normally planned public hearings and other activities well in advance. He added that the transformation of the fishing industry did not centre on the allocation of quotas alone. There were a whole range of additional issues that needed to be addressed so that transformation could be successful. He reminded members that there had been instances where public hearings in other committees were held before a department had embarked on a particular programme. The public hearings then served to inform departments and guide them in terms of developing policies and approaches to certain issues, and this could apply equally to the Department of Tourism and Environmental Affairs too.
He added that the Committee should ask itself whether it would be decisive in its response to the Minister’s request. He recalled that another committee had called for public hearings on Employment Equity (EE), that a Minister had commented that such hearings would confuse issues, and this had resulted in EE not being implemented by many departments or even the public sector until it was too late.
He was convinced that the Committee had been conscious of the objectives they wanted to achieve when it took the decision to have hearings. He felt that continuing with the hearings would not necessarily result in any issues being raised that would sour the relationship between the Committee and the Department. The Committee would simply be doing its work according to the programme it had developed.
Dr I Cachalia (ANC) agreed that the issue of allocations was very thorny. People’s needs, as well as the depletion of fishing resources, should also be considered. He was of the opinion that by now the Department must have applied their minds to these issues and that the Minister’s request should be treated with some circumspection. The Committee should consider its motivation for a postponement and once the Committee was very clear on what was the Department’s policy in terms of the work they had done, it would be in a better position to assess what to do next. He agreed that in going ahead with public hearings without knowing all the issues, the Committee might not be able to come to definite conclusions.
Mr Swart said that under normal circumstances he would have agreed with those members who felt that they should continue with the public hearings. In this case however much of the allocation had already been done and much transformation had already taken place. There were only a few outstanding allocations that remained to be done. He agreed that the Committee would be able to see the full picture after completion. He added that the article in the Cape Times had been of great interest to the opposition.
Mr M Kalako (ANC) said that he totally disagreed with the Minister. The bulk of the allocations had been made and the Department was now dealing mainly with appeals. All major species had already been allocated and the Committee could, from these allocations, gauge the level of transformation. He felt that nothing would change irrespective of whether the hearings were conducted the following week or after the allocation process had been entirely finalised. The consultants who had done the allocations had submitted their results. He agreed that hearings should be taken to the communities so that even small fishing concerns and the non commercial sector of the industry would be able to contribute. The allocations would not be the determining factor as to whether the necessary transformation was in progress.
He added that the Department, led by the Minister, had presented a draft policy of allocation which it had subsequently flouted during the allocation procedures. The Committee had never seen the finalised form of the policy and could not be sure whether what had been presented had been implemented. He felt sure that in application of the policy, some elements of the Act might have been affected. He would agree to a postponement if the intention was to localise the hearings.
Mr Mokoena said that the Committee should not lose its high moral ground. The Committee had invited people to engage it on issues related to transformation in the fishing industry and the public had responded with great interest. If the hearings were to be postponed the Chairperson would have to inform the respondents that they could not yet make their submissions and the Committee would lose the credibility and high moral ground it still enjoyed. This high moral ground should be used to redeem the Department instead of allowing the Committee to descend to the morass of the Department. Hearings for tourism continued despite the fact that there was very little response. It would be unfortunate if the fishing industry’s hearings were postponed despite greater public enthusiasm. He was worried that the Committee’s stature would be compromised.
Mr Rasmeni explained that the Committee wanted to get a full picture which could only be derived from the public hearings. Public hearings would afford stakeholders a platform to ask questions while the Department was present to respond. If the Committee had wanted a full picture from Cabinet or the Department it would not be necessary to call for public hearings but must simply call on these offices to account. In this instance the Committee wanted the public’s experience of the Department’s activities so far.
The Chairperson said that as far as fishing was concerned the Department was the principal actor. If it felt that as the engineer of the transformation it was not ready to appear the Committee had to pay heed to the request for a postponement.
Mr Mokoena pointed out that as principal actor the Department should explain what that morning’s newspaper article was about.
The Chairperson said that the Minister would come to brief the Committee on the article. He felt that the Committee could not ignore the request for a postponement because the Department were still addressing some issues. The Committee was very firm on issues and had a clean record. It should not, however, be deaf to appeals. He assured members that the process would be delayed for no longer than a few weeks.
Mr Swart said that the opposition parties felt that there was no better time to have the hearings. It was an emotional issue and he was speaking against his party’s line when he supported the postponement of the hearings. The appeals were a major reason for considering the postponement. Once one had appealed even the Minister could not revoke his decision. It was important that the appeal cases be dealt with first or else there might be legal repercussions. He said that if there was insistence by the Committee to continue with the hearings he was sure this would result in a fight.
Mr Shah asked whether the public hearings would be held to listen to people complaining about decisions that had been taken by the Executive. That would be a futile exercise. To his understanding public hearings were held specifically to listen to concerns which could inform the levels at which policies were developed and legalities and frameworks were established. If allocations had already been done and public hearings were held now, people would use them as a platform to complain about allocations that had already been made.
The Chairperson explained that there were many issues that needed to be considered. The allocations were a fundamental issue and the Committee needed to have an understanding of how the Department had fared in terms of the objectives of their policy. He believed this could be better obtained once the allocation process had been completed. Issues relating to conditions of work, points of entry, consolidation of the industry, fronting and social plans for declining local economies also had to be taken into account, and the Committee would like to have a perspective on all these issues. He agreed that having the hearings after the appeals had been dealt with would help the Committee in that people would not complain about the allocations, which were an executive function and lay beyond the Committee’s powers. The Committee wanted to get a sense of how the process had unfolded and what other measures could be employed to address some of the issues.
Mr Mokoena was concerned that there might be a public outcry from people who had read the Cape Times article and perceived the Committee as taking a decision that bowed to Executive pressure. The press would report that Parliament was once more caving in to pressure from the Executive despite the fact that this was not be the case. He urged members to read the newspaper article, which was very disturbing. He feared that the Committee would not be able to redeem itself if it decided to postpone the hearings and lost the public’s trust.
Mr Swart said that the article Mr Mokoena referred to dealt with financial mismanagement and had nothing to do with transformation. He agreed that the Minister should explain this serious financial mismanagement to the Committee.
The Chairperson said that the Minister had already agreed to brief the Committee.
Mr Mokoena countered that the financial mismanagement could not be separated from transformation. If R98 million that was supposed be used for work had been squandered then the Committee must interrogate the matter because money was directly linked to transformation.
The Chairperson called for a 10 minute adjournment so that the matter could be reviewed.
After the short break the Chairperson said that he had hoped that all members could agree on the matter. He agreed that a postponement might send the wrong signal. He stated that the ANC had agreed that the Committee should hold the public hearings as soon as possible, but that in the interests of bringing all stakeholders on board the hearings should be postponed.
Mr Mokoena added that it should be clear that the Committee was not caving in to the Department but was merely ensuring that the consultation process was all inclusive. He stressed that the Committee should look into the proposal to decentralise the hearings in order to make sure that the process was accessible. The hearings would be postponed until early in January 2007.
Mr Swart agreed with the suggestions. He said that the Committee, if questioned, should say that the Committee had wanted to decentralise the public hearings which had resulted in postponement. It should be emphasised that the hearings have not been cancelled but merely postponed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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