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The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.
WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 October 2001
Chairperson: Ms B. Sonjica
Documents handed out:
The main issue on the meeting agenda was the hearing on women, water and poverty, but the hearing had to be cancelled since the presenters had cancelled late the previous day. The Committee discussed in-house matters such as the Chile Report, invitations to the Globe conference ahead of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the Committee's proposed visits to KwaZulu-Natal and Knysna.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and thanked the members for attending but stated that the scheduled meeting had been cancelled due to no fault of the Committee Chair or Clerk. The presenters from IUMI, Policy Studies, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry had all been unable to make presentations. She apologised for not having informed the members earlier because the presenters had cancelled late the previous day. The only item on the agenda for the day was a conference invitation the Committee had received from Globe-SA. Globe was co-hosting a conference ahead of the World Summit on Sustainable Development for Members of Parliament from all over Africa and from Denmark in the South African Parliament on the 23rd and 24th of October 2001. Registration forms were available for those wishing to attend this conference.
Mr D. Hanekom (ANC) asked for clarity on the number of members who could attend the conference.
The Chairperson responded that the invitation was open to all members. She stated that the issues of the conference would be the following: an overview of the process from Rio to Johannesburg; poverty, equity and the environment; and environmental governance and the role of Parliamentarians.
Mr J. Van Wyk (ANC) stated that the Committee's programme during that week should also be looked at and added that, for the present meeting, the Committee could adopt the Chile Report.
Mr S. Simmons (NNP) stated that the 23rd and 24th of October were in the middle of the week and asked if the conference would not then clash with Parliament and cause conflict between attendance of the conference and Parliament.
The Chairperson responded that the Globe conference would open for registration at 8:45 and continue until 18:30, with 17:00 - 18:30 being allotted for a reception.
Mr G. McIntosh (DP) accepted the Chairperson's apology and stated that the circumstances that caused today's meeting to be cancelled were beyond the control of the Chairperson. He then brought up the Chile Report. He stated that there must have been a mistake because the report he received in his pigeon-hole was not the final draft. He then mentioned that the World Summit was important and the Committee should attend, but it would be expensive. He suggested that the Committee should ask if Globe could sponsor a delegation.
The Chairperson replied that she had looked into the funding available to send Committee members to the World Summit, but, for this Globe conference, as many members as possible should attend. On the Chile Report, she asked if Mr McIntosh was dissatisfied with the latest version of the report. She thought the latest version was the best because it had been edited and condensed.
Mr McIntosh stated that he had made a mistake in thinking that the report he received was an older draft, and he would look at the report.
Mr E. Sigwela (ANC) stated that it had been indicated by the Department that the Committee might have meetings on the days of the Globe conference. It would be better to attend the Globe conference because the Committee meetings could be rescheduled while the Globe conference could not and also because the Globe conference would give the Committee valuable information and a chance to interact with other interested parties.
The Chairperson stated that, at 14:00 on the 24th, the President would be answering questions and members would have to attend, but it would be good to have the Committee represented at the Globe conference. The information that would come out of the Globe conference was very important, but members would also need to be present in Chambers. She added that the 23rd might also be a problem for ANC members.
Mr Van Wyk stated that the delegation that would represent the Committee should be finalised.
Mr Simmons asked why a delegation was necessary if the conference was open to all members.
The Chairperson responded that, although the conference was open, sending a delegation would ensure that the Committee got a report back on the proceedings of the conference.
Mr Van Wyk said that a delegation could be selected and excused from the proceedings in the Chamber.
Mr Hanekom proposed that a five-person delegation be sent from the Committee.
The Chairperson accepted the proposal and concluded the matter.
Mr T. Brutus from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry apologised for misinforming the Committee Chairperson on the availability of the Department. He brought up the proposal for visits to KwaZulu-Natal from 11-13 December and the visit to Knysna 16-18 November.
The Chairperson accepted Mr Brutus' apology and proceeded to discuss the proposed visits by the Committee. She stated that the visit scheduled for 16-18 of November would coincide with the closing of Parliament and should be discussed. The visit had been deferred to November because the Committee had not been prepared for the interaction with role players in the forestry sector. Time was needed to identify the key role players.
Mr D. Maimane (ANC) supported the proposal on the date of the conference. He stated that the issue was serious,and the Committee needed to familiarise itself with it.
Mr Sigwela asked if a consultation with role players was enough.
The Chairperson responded that the Department was very involved in the process, and the date had been deferred for the very reason that there was a need to identify the role players.
Mr McIntosh stated that it was important to plan and set dates of events in advance.
The Chairperson replied that preparations for the visit had already begun, but the Committee would not have been ready by next week.
Mr Simmons asked if there was any written information that could be made available early.
The Chairperson responded that information could be made available. She asked the members to keep in mind that there would be a need to focus on legislation so that members could engage with role players to see if they were in line with legislation. It would be important for members to have relevant information such as the White Paper on Forestry.
Mr McIntosh brought up the KwaZulu-Natal visit and stated that there was an important breakthrough in three district councils in terms of water provision. They were inaugurating the initiative in January 2002 and would like the Committee and Minister to be present.
The Chairperson asked if it was a formal proposal to defer the visit from December 2001 to January 2002.
Mr McIntosh stated that, since the inauguration would take place within weeks of the scheduled Committee visit, it could be arranged for the Committee to attend both.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would run with the proposal. She proceeded to discuss other in-house matters. She said that she was invited to attend a meeting with the Department of Provincial and Local Government on a joint United Kingdom - South Africa project to bring UK companies to work on water provision in partnership with South African municipalities. It appeared to the Chairperson that the Department approved of the idea. She had expressed the opinion that, whatever partnership was entered into with private companies, it should not hurt the poor. She wanted to inform the Committee because the joint project could be an issue they would deal with in the future.
Mr Hanekom supported the Chairperson's opinion on the project and added that partnerships should help in service delivery. He stated that a brief presentation on the project and a short discussion with the Department would be useful.
The Chairperson stated that Mr Hanekom's proposal of a presentation and discussion was good. She mentioned a governmental organisation ("MIIU") that was keen to come and address the Committee on the issues relating to partnerships. She had invited the interested party, but she wanted to confirm with the Committee before putting her on the programme.
Mr Maimane agreed with the Chairperson and stated that such a presentation should be made as soon as possible because it would provide a different perspective.
The Chairperson stated that, to prepare for the presentation, the Committee would need to get the mandate of the governmental organisation, and, if assisting municipalities to build their capacity was not included, the Committee would need to indicate to the organisation that this responsibility should be added to its mandate as a governmental organisation.
The Chairperson then brought up the issue of the need to respond to the medium term budget policy statement. She stated that it was important to know if the objectives on the strategic plan had been realised. She proposed that a report from the Department was needed to prepare the Committee for the medium term budget policy statement.
A Committee member stated that a report from the Department would help fulfil the Committee's monitoring function. He stated that the Committee should keep pace with what the Department was doing, and he supported the Chairperson's proposal for a report from the Department.
The Chairperson stated that since all were agreed on the need for a report, it would be requested.
Mr McIntosh, having skimmed through the final draft of the Chile Report, approved the report. He stated that it might be friendly to thank the embassy in the report.
The Chairperson said that the report did thank the embassy, and, since it had been approved, it would be submitted to the Chief Whips, and it was her hope that the recommendations would help the Department in terms of private partnerships.
Mr Simmons stated that he did not have the final draft of the report and requested a copy.
The Chairperson said that, despite the fact that the matter on the agenda for the meeting had been cancelled, the meeting had been good because it allowed the Committee to deal with important matters. She thanked the members present and the meeting was adjourned.
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