DWAF’s Poverty Alleviation Programme for Emerging Farmers; Water/Forestry Licences for Previously Disadvantaged Individuals

Water and Sanitation

22 August 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 August 2007
DWAF’S POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMME FOR EMERGING FARMERS; WATER/FORESTRY LICENCES FOR PREVIOUSLY DISADVANTAGED INDIVIDUALS

Chairperson:
Ms C September ( ANC)

Documents handed out:
Speeding Up Stream Flow Reduction Activities (SFRA) Authorisation for HDIs
Committee Programme

Relevant documents:
Draft Transformation Charter for the Forest Sector
Genesis Analytics study: Contribution, Costs and Development Opportunities for the Forestry, Timber, Pulp and Paper Industries in South Africa, 2005

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed on the Poverty Alleviation programme of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Forestry, particularly in the Eastern Cape and KZN, had been earmarked as a significant development sector with the potential for large-scale job creation, the implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment, the upliftment of the rural communities and the subsequent alleviation of poverty. Although the Committee complained that not enough was presented about emerging farmers, the briefing looked at Stream Flow Reduction Authorisations and how the authorizations process is being speeded up, its Strategic Environmental Assessments and development of Small Growers maps, the streamlining of the Water Use Authorisation process and the introduction of the Electronic Tracking System. This was done with the aim of supporting emerging farmers and creating equity.

The Committee asked questions on the draft Transformation Charter for the Forest Sector, the licensing processes and their effectiveness.

MINUTES
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) briefing
Ms Deborah Mochotlhi (Chief Directorate: Water Use) explained that SFRA stood for Stream Flow Reduction Activity as in the case of forestry where the growing trees while anchored to the ground reduce the flow of the water in the area. The presentation provided a background to the SFRA, how the Department was authorizing such activities and what was done in terms of the authorisation licencing. The Department performed two types of SFRA authorizations. The general authorization was a type of authorization in which licences were issued to a particular community.  The general authorization was aimed a speeding up the licensing process due to the fact that individuals would not have to apply for a licence on their own.  There was also individual / communal / tribal / trust licences which was a type of licence in which people would apply as a group. The Department would then perform a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in order to develop small growers development maps. Also discussed was the streamlining of the Water Use Authorisation process to speed up the process, particularly via the Electronic Tracking System.

Discussion
Ms C September (ANC) noted that the presentation had said nothing about emerging farmers. Were they able to say with confidence that they were starting to alleviate poverty where it was needed?

Mr Michael Peter (Director: Indigenous Forest Management) replied that the entire aim of the draft Transformation Charter for the Forest Sector that sets out the Sector’s commitments and plans to speed up broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE), was to try and address the economic legacy that South Africa has inherited and it did not just look to poverty alleviation. It aimed to bring about genuine economic growth. It put a responsibility on DWAF to actually empower communities.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked when was the BBBEE charter finalised. How did the Department consult the people affected by the charter? For example, did the Department go into communities?

Mr Harrison Pienaar, Acting Deputy Director General: DWAF, asked Ms Mochotlhi and Mr Peter to answer the question.

Mr Peter replied that the Minister had launched the draft version on 25 June 2007 and it should be ready in September or October. The draft had been developed over a two-year period. With regards to consultation, as far back as 2005 the then Minister, Ms Sonjica, went out to different parts of the country and held regional imbizos with communities, specifically to talk about the charter.  The Minister had raised awareness about the objectives of the charter in terms of transformation and development in forestry. Ms Sonjica had asked communities to be mindful of the fact that the Department was developing the process with the specific intention of alleviating poverty, but also going beyond poverty alleviation by creating economic wealth through forestry for historically disadvantaged communities and in particular women.

Mr Peter also replied to the issue of consultation, saying that there had also been an accompanying communication strategy running parallel with the charter development process. This had been conducted through community radio in different languages, in particular Xhosa and Zulu and TshiVenda. There had been consultation throughout the process.

Mr Arendse asked what was the targeted time frame for processing an application since it had been acknowledged that it took too long in the past.
 
Ms Mochotlhi replied that they had been taking 27 months to process an application. With the tracking system the longest time to process an application would be seven months and this was because they were faced with problems of capacity, however they would improve.

Mr M Swathe (DA) asked if the people on the ground really understood what was going to happen with regard to the water allocation strategy and the BBBEE guidelines.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that the BBBEE guidelines were there to help the people in the Department know what to consider when processing an application. It raised the question of how a licence was going to contribute towards effecting redress and equity. With regard to the people on the ground, the Department was going to be running educational workshops. 

Ms S Manana (ANC) asked the Department to explain the backlogs in KZN and the Eastern Cape.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that she did not have specifics on the backlogs with regards to the Eastern Cape, but on average at that moment they as the Department were taking 27 months to finalise an application and they were not proud of that and they were aware of the negative impact that it has.

The Chair asked DWAF to explain how the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had been linked to the efforts by DWAF, and what policy have they initiated?

Mr Pienaar explained that there had been an extensive consultation process with DTI as far the BBBEE code itself was concerned. Mr Peter continued, saying that DTI had commissioned a study by
Genesis Analytics Study [It identified 100 000 ha in the Eastern Cape, and an additional 40 000 ha in KwaZulu-Natal not being used for commercial purposes]. This report looked at forestation and industrial growth with regards to economic and ecological costs and it came out with a favorable response for developing forestry. DWAF was also advised by DTI on the charter.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) asked DWAF what information were they getting from the Electronic Tracking System pilots that were running in Limpopo and Gauteng?

Ms Mochotlhi replied that they had not picked up anything yet as the pilot had only started a week before this meeting; however it was supposed to start at the end of July. The problems that were occurring were IT related and not licensing related.

Mr Arendse asked to be given concrete information on the progress of the charter.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that the charter would be discussed at the following EXCO meeting which she would be attending.

Mr I Mogase ( ANC) asked how often did the backlog occur and how long did it take to clear the backlog?

Ms Mochotlhi replied that they had a backlog from as far back as 2002. They could not finalise the backlog analysis as there were difficulties that they were facing. She again said that they could not say how long it would take for them to clear the backlog  as it was the first time they had faced such a matter. They were hoping that by November they would be able to say exactly how long it would take. They were limited by their budget in dealing with the backlog.

Mr Arendse asked, once a growers map had been identified, what was the Department’s knowledge of the area and was that information made available to the people?

Ms Mochotlhi replied that the relevant areas of the growers map would be communicated to the applicants during the awareness workshop. They would be made aware of the growers maps in particular regions and would be told for which regions they could apply.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked if there was a monitoring mechanism to check if the people on the ground benefited from the individuals who had been granted licences.

Mr Pienaar said that the Department had recently done a survey to monitor the situation. They also had a Water Resource Management system in place to which they had added a check on how well they were doing with transformation and if people on the ground were benefiting.

Ms Mochotlhi replied that this was not her area, however she said that water restrictions were only opposed when there was a risk

The Chair stated that she appreciated what the Department was attempting at their head office, however they should comment on whether their policies were well executed at ground level. The Department should state how relevant the Act was in addressing equity, when it came to the issue of stream flow reduction and whether an amendment was required, as there were many contradictions. She again reminded DWAF that they were not addressing the emerging farmers issue.

Mr Pienaar replied that his Department had made arrangements to fast track small-scale use by emerging farmers, but what was happening was that it was not just small-scale use. They were positive that this was an area they could explore.

On the matter of equity, Mr Pienaar said that the Department was faced with a huge challenge, because they had to address inequities as far as water distribution was concerned while addressing inter-generational equity all at the same time. 

Ms Mochotlhi added that definitely they were addressing equity; however they would welcome any advice on the issue.

The meeting was concluded.

 

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