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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
05 June 2007
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM STRATEGIC PLAN & BUDGET 2007/08
Chairperson: Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North West)
Documents handed out:
Main presentation by DEAT on Environment and Tourism
Environmental quality and protection branch
Biodiversity and Conservation branch
Corporate Affairs presentation
Marine and Coastal Management branch
Tourism Branch presentation
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), briefing outlined plans for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, new programmes undertaken in the current financial year including initiatives relating to threatened and endangered species. It also addressed skills demand and training in the tourism sector.
The main focus of the discussion was the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Issues noted were the safety of tourists, as well as the longevity of the jobs created, and if they could be permanent. During the discussion MPs raised questions on the Department's contribution to empowerment, non-compliance and the role of inspectorates, the protection of the environment, including fisheries and plants, student bursaries provided by the Department and the Euro Star disposal.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) briefing
Ms Pamela Yako, DEAT Director General (DG), presented the Department's key focus areas and strategic objective for the years 2007/08-2009/10. The goals, values and mission of the Department remain the same as they had in the previous years, but the focus on the 2010 World Cup was made more explicit.
There were new programmes that were being undertaken this year, and these were highlighted by four strategic objectives:
• Ensuring competitiveness of the tourism sector,
• Growing the tourism sector,
• Maximising the environmental and tourism potential of the 2010 World Cup, and
• Preventing and reducing atmospheric pollution.
Ms Yako went through the Department’s Key Focus Indicators (KFIs) and Key Process Areas (KPAs). Both focused on tourism and the environment.
The presentation also looked at the demand for tourism skills that will take place in time for 2010, and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) training opportunities that were about to be created. DEAT stressed that its National Tourism Safety and Awareness strategy had been implemented, and was underway.
Ms Yako mentioned that endangered species were to be protected through a new regulation known as Threatened or Protected Species regulation (TOPS) effective from 1 February 2008. Other aspects that were covered included: decreasing the amount of land under conservation, looking at the issue of building sustainable marine bio-diversity, and tightening KFIs.
In terms of pollution and waste management, she outlined the Department's strategy in trying to solve the problem of non-compliance amongst the public. In July, the Department would be submitting the Waste Management Bill into Parliament.
Ms Yako concluded the presentation by looking at the Department's finances. Between the years 2003 and 2009 the Department's budget (in real terms) would almost double, progressively increasing from R1.3 billion to R2 billion. She noted that in the same period, compensation of employees would increase by 134 per cent, and the number of staff had gone up too.
Mr M Mzizi (IFP) said that his questions were based on practical things, rather than theory, and would like clarity on some matters. He was interested in the goals of the Department, and wanted to know who was being empowered. Tourism opportunities for skills development showed that not many black people were being empowered, especially in the transport industry. He said that the words ‘Shared Permits’ confused him, and asked the DG to elaborate.
Ms Yako affirmed that DEAT had programmes that look at empowerment, including programmes on the national youth service.
Mr P Matlou, Deputy Director General Tourism (DDG-Tourism), added that the Department was launching a R20 million project so that people in the transport sector could have an opportunity, to bring about transformation. Other opportunities included non-hotel operations, Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs), which should be registered and graded. This type of accommodation should be available on and marketed via the FIFA website in anticipation of 2010.
Mr A Watson (DA) said he was concerned about the protection of the environment. Trees that plant themselves, also known as alien plants kill the environment, especially plants that are domestic. He asked how the Department planned to tackle this problem.
Ms Yako answered that invasive plants are to be removed by Department of Water and Forestry (DWAF), in terms of its "Working for Water" programme. She said this would be published next month. New regulations will examine what comes into the country, and how to control the importing of exotic plants. Cleansing or removal of alien plants in the country was a difficult task and labour intensive task.
Mr F Adams (IFP) asked about the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and whether or not it had been filtered down to provincial governments and municipalities. He believed that there was a big backlog of EIAs and that progress was slow.
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) wanted to know how the crime level in South Africa impacted tourism. How was the Department able to convince tourists that South Africa was a safe place? was there interaction with other departments?
In the second round of questions Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) asked if jobs created from tourism were sustainable? She said that last year the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) target was 20 percent, and asked if the Department had been able to achieve it.
Mr Matlou replied that safety, indeed did affect opinions about the country. There was a programme that would focus on safety, including booklets that would warn tourists about crime, and how to prevent it. But if someone did get attacked, there would be counselling centres. DEAT would be working with foreign governments to advise tourists on South Africa and safety, without blowing the situation out of proportion. There would also be community policing, as communities needed to act as tourist advisors.
Concerning the durability of tourism jobs, Mr Matlou said that South African Tourism was always looking for new markets, so that jobs are constant. Tourism in South Africa was seasonal, so finding new ventures to create enduring jobs was one option. There was going to be a discussion around the issue.
Ms Carole Moses, Communications, DEAT, explained that permanent jobs were defined at the end of the project, then the beneficiaries were given training in different areas of the environment.
Mr Adams required more information on aquaculture and marine bio-diversity, which was shared between DEAT, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Agriculture. Why were the two departments blaming DEAT for lack of implementation?
A DEAT official replied that the Department of Agriculture was responsible for fresh water Aquaculture, largely in dams and lakes. DEAT on the other hand was responsible for marine aquaculture; therefore each department has its own responsibilities. It was not possible for one department to delay the other. He added that Aquaculture animals were few in South Africa, so the DEAT was encouraging the expansion of this area.
Mr L Van Rooyen (ANC) referred to the sale of the Eagle Star vessel, and asked whether or not there was a policy in place to regulate this type of asset disposal. He said that the vessel had been refitted for R5 million [but sold for R380 000 to someone who resold it at a huge profit]. He also asked if the Department was happy with their budget, and if it was able to achieve all the goals it had set for itself.
Ms Yako said that they were not satisfied with the budget, and that many things could not be implemented, so projects had needed to be cut down. The percentage of revenue gained was 18 percent, which was not enough for the Department. People now had to get fishing permits so that the Department could receive funds. Although there would be numerous complaints about this, it was the only way the DEAT could obtain some resources. Concerning the sale of the Eagle Star, the Department did have a policy in place.
Mr Mzizi asked about elephant management, since he thought that there needed to be some way to control their population.
Ms Yako replied that there were indeed norms and standards. The options included contraceptives, and translocation.
Mr Mzizi wanted to know about the inspectorate, and if there were personnel trained to do these investigations regarding non-compliance.
Ms Joanne Yawitch, Deputy Director General, Environmental Quality and Protection, replied that there was training of management investigators, which was thorough. About 900 people had been trained over the past year. In this financial year the Department would have another two training sessions. The investigators would also look at non-compliance. If there was non-compliance, people would have the opportunity to tell the Department how they plan to correct the problem. The Department would train people who were doing criminal and environmental law, in order to prosecute non-compliance. She stated that EIAs were not holding up development, and there has been a lot of progress in the last year. EIAs had mandatory timeframes that would have to be respected, to make sure there was no backlogging. The Department had a call-centre at a national level, if people had problems with EIAs they would be solved. It had been discovered that different provinces had different performances and standards of service, but progress was being made.
Ms Matlanyane asked if DEAT could address the bursary issue. She wanted to know how many students the Department assisted.
Ms H Fakir, Deputy Director General, Corporate Affairs, replied that the bursary strategy was in place, and contained study contracts. There was a skills development programme within the Department; so students did three weeks of work during their vacations. R1 million was spent last year, and R2 million this year. There were sixty-nine full time bursaries.
The Chairperson asked about the state of the Kruger National Park and if it had been upgraded. He also wanted to know about the HIV/AIDS programme the Department has.
Ms Yako replied that the HIV/AIDS programme had three spheres: an Awareness Programme, Counselling and Testing, and Treatment.
Mr Van Rooyen commented that Aquaculture was an easy way of making money, but it seemed to be dominated by large corporations, and small players were not getting into the mainstream. Therefore how was the Department helping with the transformation of industries, such as hotels and transport? He asked to what extent South Africa was participating in carbon credit trading, which was supposedly lucrative. The use of pesticides was also a cause for concern. He requested information on the Trans-Kalahari road.
Ms Yawitch replied that, in terms of carbon credits and their trading, the Clean Development Management (CDM) stated that carbon credit belong to developing countries, including South Africa. The use of pesticides fall under the Departments of Agriculture and Labour. DEAT did believe that precautions should be taken when pesticides were in use.
An official explained that the Trans-Kalahari road was based on job creation, so the Department of Transport had earmarked funds to deal with machinery, in order to fast track the building of the road.
Mr Matlou said that the availability of a charter would help determine transformation. Large players dominated the industry, and the other problem was diversifying the products. He asserted that other government departments should help with transformation.
Ms Yako stated that there was assistance for small businesses for 2010, especially in relation to accommodation, and all accommodation need to be graded.
Mr Mzizi asked the Department to provide the Committee with a few successful cases of prosecution for non-compliance. He asked if DEAT had any donors, and if so, how much did they give, and who were they.
The response was that DEAT did have donors. The Department's portfolio stood at R 90 million. African Stockpile Program (ASP) was part of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The German GTZ had given 1 million Euros, and the projects ended this year.
The Chairperson said he was concerned about the air pollution standards and that the Department was not taking its responsibility in this field seriously.
Ms Yako replied that the legislators had been given responsibility for this problem, so if Parliament wanted the problem solved, now was the time.
The Chairperson thanked Department and the meeting was adjourned.
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