The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism discussed the alignment of its strategic plans to the Government’s strategic interventions. They looked at the Department’s vision, mission, values, goals and strategic objectives in delivering their mandate. The Department discussed its budget allocation for 2008/09 focusing on compensation for employees, goods and services, and transfers and subsidies.
The Committee commented on the Department’s priorities in Land and Agrarian Reform, the campaign for the prevention of communicable diseases, climate change, preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and South Africa’s readiness, attacks on tourists in the country, beneficiaries of bursaries, partnerships with other departments, its role in the energy crisis and environmental crimes.
Ms Nosipho Jezile (Acting Director General and Chief Operations Officer) said that the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) had aligned their strategic plans to the Government’s key strategic interventions centered on reducing poverty and unemployment, developing and providing skills required by the South African economy, reducing preventable causes of diseases and death, delivering government services to the public, reducing serious crimes and the transformation of society particularly in previously marginalized groups.
DEAT prioritised certain areas for immediate action such as the Industrial Policy Implementation Plan, agriculture policy, and climate change and tourism development. The Department was involved in energy security as well as resolving organisational issues and skills development. The Department would also focus on employment intervention in the second economy, acceleration of the community infrastructure programme, and economic diplomacy and communication.
DEAT’s mission had been altered a little, as they were currently implementing a balanced scorecard system that required that the Department was very specific in its measurements of services that it delivered. Its goals and strategic objectives were also discussed.
The presentation showed budget allocations from 2004/05 to the 2010/11 projected budgets. There was a significant increase in the budget over the past three years. The budget allocation provide funds for its programmes: administration, environmental quality and protection, marine and coastal management, tourism, biodiversity and conservation, sector services and international relations.
The budgets showed amounts for compensation of employees, goods and services, transfers and subsidies, assets and liabilities, as well as payment for capital assets. The 2008/09 budget for the compensation of employees was higher than usual as a result of implementing the institutional review, the addition of personnel to the establishment, and increases in salaries. Goods and services showed stable growth; the structure was growing but the budget for operations did not grow significantly. The money that was transferred to public entities was reflected in the amount for transfers and subsidies and this amount was increasing over time.
Mr G Morgan (DA) commended the Department on linking its own priorities to the Government’s priorities but added that he wanted to see a link with the acceleration of Land and Agrarian Reform. He hoped that they would put pressure on finalising claims, as righting the injustice of the past was important. He also hoped that an intensified campaign on communicable diseases would be included in the Department’s agenda, particularly since it was related to air quality and had an effect on accentuating Tuberculosis.
Ms Jezile agreed, saying that it was important that the Department was involved in Land and Agrarian Reform. The Department was involved to a certain extent but they were not considered a key player in that area. The campaign on communicable diseases was also an area that the Department should focus on; they were involved in an initiative, which was in partnership with the Department of Minerals and Energy as well as Health that focused on the subject.
Last year, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed for the settlement of land claims and looked at the framework for the agreements and the settlements. The Department still needed to explore the settling of land claims of important areas such as national parks.
Mr Peter Lukey (Chief Directorate: Air Quality Management and Climate Change) stated that the Department was in the process of finalising a campaign called “Bright Spark” that would focus on communicable diseases. The Campaign would be lead by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and would also be in partnership with the Departments of Minerals and Energy, and Health as well as other role players. The campaign would look at reducing the impact of air pollution in dense, low-income settlements.
Mr Morgan understood that emerging capacity played a role in air pollution and climate change issues. He knew the Department was implementing the Air Quality Act and capacity was being built to deal with climate change issues but added that these problems were to be prioritised.
Mr Lukey said that research on this topic was already completed and the Department was waiting for feedback on the results. The technical work was not policy prescriptive, the research was policy informative. If South Africa continued to grow without constraint, then by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions would increase by over 300%. South Africa was already known as a greenhouse gas offender and the country was known to be energy inefficient.
The Department was working with the Department of Agriculture on combating desertification. There were conflicting land uses between conservation and agriculture. Both departments were looking at land care programmes
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) wanted to know what the preparations were for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in terms of “greening”. She was excited to learn that the tourism industry was growing rapidly but worried that attacks on tourists would negatively affect the growth of the industry. She noted that more attention was being given to the disabled and women, particularly black women. She asked who benefited from the bursaries that were handed out by the Department.
Ms Jezile stated that it was important that the Department’s programme took in to account “greening” initiatives in schools. They were involved in more outreach programmes with the South African Biodiversity Institute. The Department was creating more awareness around the issue of “greening” and aimed for more greenery to be included in the design of each stadium. The designs for the stadium were already completed but the Department was looking at environmental interventions.
The Department was also looking at crime interventions that could be implemented in each province. These interventions would focus on addressing the blockages to the development of the tourism industry. The Department was engaged in a National Tourism Safety programme with the South African Police Service (SAPS) that looked at proactively addressing safety by informing tourists of danger areas that they should avoid. They were also looking at reactive mechanisms, like what to do when a crime had already taken place, so as to sustain growth in the tourism industry.
The bursaries aimed generally at funding those within the organisation but others benefited from the funds as well. There was a limit to how many people outside DEAT could be funded as there was not enough funding for the current establishment. Ninety per cent of the personnel in the establishment were still funded from the money received from Treasury. The bursaries that were given to those outside of the Department depended on whether the skills that they were funding would benefit the Department. The majority of the bursaries were given to those that were previously disadvantaged. The Department could supply the Committee with a profile of those that benefited from the funds.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) was concerned about air quality, as it seemed as though the Local Government did not take environmental issues seriously. On Marine Coastal Management, she wanted to know what the impact was of climate change and what could be done to counter the effects. She worried that South Africa was not ready for 2010 due decisions that were taken offshore.
Mr Lukey said that the focus in climate change was on the sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In the past six months there was an increased interest in climate change. So far, people have only been looking at ways to deal with the impact of climate change; it was now time to look at the long-term mitigation aspect.
Ms Jezile stated that even though South Africa was hosting the World Cup, it was still FIFA’s world cup. However, they were considering South Africa’s situation and were responding to the country’s needs.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked for more information on the ways that DEAT engaged proactively with other departments. The new Waste Management Bill was in Parliament but it was largely a reactive Bill. It was essential for DEAT to obtain the ability to turn waste into energy. She asked for an update on the control of desertification and if costing of the National Biodiversity Framework had taken place. She asked for information on the norms and standards of risk frameworks.
Mr Lukey stated that there was communication through the National Committee on Climate Change with all the affected spheres of Government. The DEAT was working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department on Transport on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.
Ms Jezile stated that the Department prioritised what they were going to do about risk over the next year. A risk assessment framework was in progress. Tools and systems were being developed to deal with risks and biodiversity. The country currently faced a deadlock about biodiversity development. A consultant was employed to develop the costing model for the National Biodiversity Framework. Regulations were finalised in the past year, but the Department was looking at finalising a guideline for norms and standards so that institutions could develop plans to manage certain threatened species.
The Chair stated that the Committee had engaged in discussions with the Department over the past three years about the need for two separate agencies to deal with tourism and the fishing industry. He wanted to know what DEAT had done about this suggestion. He asked how broad-based procurement was and wanted more information on how the department facilitated emerging Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism industry. Further, what was DEAT’s role in the energy crisis?
Mr Jezile stated that they had thought about how to achieve the establishment of both agencies. Transformation in the tourism industry was already taking place. The establishment of both agencies was to be approved by the Treasury but they were hesitant to get involved with new structures at present. The Department was moving very slowly in regard to the fishing industry and related policies because they did not want to repeat the mistakes that were made before.
The DEAT was working towards a more effective broad-based model for tourism, fishing and conservation.
The DEAT and the Department of Trade and Industry were both involved with helping SMEs. There were also programmes within the tourism industry that facilitated SMEs.
Mr Lukey stated that the Department was involved in the energy crisis. They were looking at energy efficiency in industries, which would mean lower costs and saving energy. It was possible to reduce industrial energy use at zero cost, which meant massive savings to the industry as well as the nation. Energy efficiency would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Department was keen to use electricity tariffs where people who used electricity wastefully, were charged heavily. This would encourage energy efficiency.
Ms Ntuli hoped that the Department would play its cards carefully regarding FIFA. She felt that FIFA was dictating in many ways and hoped that the Department would not succumb to all of FIFA’s needs. She warned the Department to guard against such behaviour for the benefit of the South African people.
Mr Morgan could not believe that Partnerships and Communications in Fighting Crime were not named as a priority. In terms of environmental crimes, this was a matter of urgency. The poaching of marine resources, specifically abalone, was also a major issue. This was a problem for the SAPS, crime units and the Scorpions.
Ms Jezile agreed with Mr Morgan but said that the Department would have to look at key activities in that specific area. Organized crime in the marine sector was seen as a priority. The Department was working with Marine Coastal Management on the problem of abalone poaching. The Department recognised that partnerships were important and were in the process of building some.
Ms Chalmers referred to a small-scale fishing workshop that was held previously. A vision and programme of action was to be put in place to assist small-scale fishermen along the coast. She asked if progress had been made on this venture.
Dr Monde Mayekiso (DDG: Marine and Coastal Management) replied that resources were needed to sustain the small-scale fishing programme. Marine and Coastal Management had to find ways within its own budget to implement the programme.
The meeting was adjourned.
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