Hansard: Appropriation Bill: Debate on Vote No 25 - Environmental Affairs &Tourism
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 17 Jun 2009
No summary available.
START OF DAY
THURSDAY, 18 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 14:01
House Chairperson Ms M N Oliphant, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Hon members, due to time constraints, we will adhere to the time that has been allocated to the members.
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 25 – Environmental Affairs and Tourism:
The MINISTER OF TOURISM: Chairperson, in 1886, gold was discovered in what is known as Johannesburg today. It turned around the fortunes of a generation of poor, jobless South Africans and within two decades a quarter of worldwide gold production originated from South Africa. It soon became the foundation of the financial system of the industrialised world and it provided one of the most significant injections of foreign direct investment in our history.
Unfortunately, the benefits of gold were quickly exported by European colonialists and the distribution of the accumulated wealth was extremely skewed along racial lines. Two centuries later, gold mining is still a vital pillar of our economy. It remains a critical employment sector and it is as vulnerable to global financial volatility as it was in the 19th century.
Fortunately, two centuries later, it is not the only sector that flourishes in our economy. Increasingly, we are discovering the "new gold" that drives job creation, development and economic growth in our country. This "new gold" is tourism. In fact, as a sector, tourism has already overtaken gold in terms of export revenue.
Many of the challenges are the same as 200 years ago. The overriding priorities remain poverty eradication, job creation and development.
What is different is that we are now working with an inexhaustible resource. This time around we are the major investors and the drivers of our own destiny. We have a much better understanding of the need for equitable growth to exploit our resources in a way that generates benefits for all our people, with the emphasis on our people. And we have a much better understanding that we must exploit our "new gold" in a sustainable way.
I firmly believe that we have only scratched the surface of truly unlocking the economic and social benefits of the "new gold" in South Africa. We have laid a firm foundation, but I believe hard work lies ahead.
It is in this context that we are very fortunate to be hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup next year. The World Cup will be one of the most important keys in the short term to help us unlock the opportunities of this "new gold". It affords us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the best we have as a tourism destination: our people, our natural heritage, our world-class infrastructure and a sense of place that fills all of us with pride.
As the world grapples with the unprecedented challenges presented by the global economic meltdown, I believe it is also an opportune time to reflect on the burning questions with respect to our tourism industry: Firstly, we should ask how tourism could benefit from the stimulus measures that drive the economic recovery; secondly, what could be the contribution of tourism to this economic recovery with its associated benefits in terms of infrastructure development, employment creation and poverty eradication?
To fully unlock the potential of tourism, we will need to build on our existing successes; focus on getting the fundamentals right; build greater resilience against external economic shocks and find innovative ways to unlock new opportunities for growth and development. Only then will tourism come fully into its own right as a sector that contributes to job creation, not just as a driver of infrastructure investment and a beneficiary of large-scale public infrastructure investment, but also as a generator of foreign earnings.
In South Africa, with over nine and a half million arrivals last year, tourism is one of the major contributors to our gross domestic product. It employs about half a million people directly, whilst creating even more indirect employment opportunities.
The global economic downturn and its consequences need little elaboration. The International Monetary Fund, in its latest World Economic Outlook, forecasts that global GDP will shrink by about 1,3% this year, the first contraction since the Second World War.
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the UNWTO, international tourist arrivals declined to just 2% in 2008 from 7% the previous year, which had been the fourth consecutive year of strong international growth.
This negative trend seems to be worsening as we progress into 2009. Provisional figures from the UNWTO indicate a decline of 8% in international arrivals for the first two months of 2009 – that's globally. By year end, the best-case scenario would seem to be stagnation, with more realistic forecasts predicting a decline of at least 2%. There is clearly no denying that the marketplace for tourism today looks dramatically different to a year ago. Although this sector is not as hard hit as some others, demand is down and for many the times are tough.
In South Africa our tourism sector has proved to be more resilient than some of our other economic sectors, but we are not immune to the effects of the economic crisis. Some of the impacts will only become more visible in the next few months as the full consequences of the global economic meltdown trickles down. However, in 2008 we – South Africa - bucked the worldwide negative trend with 5,5% growth in foreign arrivals. The latest available data for foreign arrivals show that even in January this year we recorded growth of 5,4% compared to the same month in 2008.
Furthermore, in 2008, foreign direct spending grew by an estimated 23,5%, amounting to more than R74 billion. Yet, even though we have thus far been spared the worst impact and remained in positive territory until the end of 2008, we are not complacent and cannot ignore the fact that our growth could slow down during 2009 as many of our primary markets remain in recession.
Fortunately, in the face of these challenges, we understand the importance of planning better and getting the fundamentals right. Let me refer to two interrelated challenges: The first challenge is to build greater resilience against future external economic shocks. From a risk-management perspective, we will continue to build, in a balanced way, our domestic, regional and long-haul markets. We will build on our stringent quality control regime that ensures value for money and the unique selling points of our natural heritage.
The number of graded establishments in South Africa almost doubled from just over 4 600 in 2005 to just over 8 500 in 2009 - and at the moment there are nearly 100 000 graded rooms in the country. But let me, at the same time, also signal a warning to the tourism industry: Do not price you out of the market, especially during 2010. And do not become lax on quality and service delivery in the face of tough economic conditions. Our grading system must meet stringent standards and we will not hesitate to strip establishments of their stars if they no longer make the grade. To build further resilience, we also understand that we can do even more through improved market analysis, product diversification and people and skills development. I know that these are normally the questions that members put, and I will respond to them when I reply. Further steps include the reduction of tourism channel restrictions like the long visa processing times, maintaining and expanding affordable and more competitive air access, developing rural tourism infrastructure and sound long-term policy.
The second challenge is to ensure that the tourism sector benefits from the economic stimulus measures and also the large-scale infrastructure investment. Next year, 2010, has provided tourism in South Africa with a springboard to capitalise on new investment. Together with improved, more focused marketing and brand alignment, both globally and domestically, the opportunities created by 2010 will undoubtedly stimulate the more rapid recovery of foreign tourism demand in our region.
Our tourism slogan for the 2010 World Cup is "Ke nako" or "Celebrating Africa's Humanity". It encapsulates the essence of what 2010 means to us, namely an invitation to the world to come and share our energy and our passion and celebrate South Africa and Africa as a superb destination. Although we already have world-class physical infrastructure and access, we will be taking this to new heights in the next 12 months.
As we prepare to host the first ever African Soccer World Cup and the biggest sporting event that this continent has ever seen – the biggest sports spectacular in the world - we are witnessing not only huge public-sector investment, but also massive new investment by the tourism industry itself. Our government is investing more than R26 billion in stadiums and precinct development, transport and ports of entry infrastructure.
In addition to that, our department has allocated more than R936 million of our Expanded Public Works allocation for the 2009-12 period to further develop the tourism sector. Here, special emphasis will be placed on the development of rural tourism. This will not only create job opportunities but also develop skills that will increase the employability of the participants in these programmes.
Through our tourism enterprise partnership programme we have already given a major boost to the fast-tracked development of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises. Since the inception of this programme in 2002 – and this is a programme in partnership with the private sector - we have facilitated transactions worth more than R4 billion and assisted more than 5 500 enterprises.
To ensure a more equitable geographic spread of the benefits of tourism, in the next few months we will be finalising a toolkit to assist local government with tourism development. We are also working closely with provinces to finalise the tourism growth strategy, which will help us formulate our response to the global economic recession, revitalise domestic tourism marketing and implement the sector skills plan.
To ensure that this new growth is shared in an equitable way, we also understand that we have to transform the sector to address historical imbalances. To this end, the Department of Trade and Industry has recently published our final sector codes of good practice. I would like to stress here that this was a consensus plan, agreed to by all the stakeholders in our country. This is certainly a milestone in the process of achieving real and measurable transformation in this sector. Following the establishment of an independent Department of Tourism last month, we are now in the process of formulating a strategic vision and defining our key deliverables. We are building a re-energised tourism department with a renewed focus on sustainable growth to the benefit of all South Africans.
In short, we understand both the threats to and the immense potential of tourism. We are confident that we will ride out the global recessionary storm and emerge on the other side stronger and better positioned to address the many developmental challenges that we as a continent, a country and a people face. Everybody knows that tourism contributes just over 8% to our GDP already. We said a few years ago that our medium-term objective was to push this up to around 13% to 14% and we still believe this is possible
In conclusion, I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome our new Deputy Minister, Tokozile Xasa. She's on her way from the airport. I don't think she has arrived yet, because she had to represent us in Uganda. She will participate in the debate a little bit later. I would also like to thank all our colleagues for the work that has been done in every part of our country in the tourism sector. To the chairperson and members of our portfolio committee from all parties: You have the appreciation of our department. I hope that I can continue the very constructive working relationship with all of you.
I would also like to thank our management team, led by Director-General Nosipho Ncgaba and to thank each and every member of staff in the department for the privilege of working with such a dynamic team. Furthermore, we are fortunate to have a well-run and extremely efficient marketing agency in SA Tourism and excellent partners in the Tourism Grading Council and the Tourism Empowerment Council.
I look forward to joining hands with an enthusiastic new department, stakeholders in the South African tourism industry and each and every South African in promoting our country as one of the most special tourism destinations in the world. I know that millions of South Africans share our pride in our unique country and cannot wait to showcase it to the world.
We are transferring some of the functions from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to two other departments. One is the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. I don't believe Minister Joemat-Pettersson is here today; she had her Budget Vote yesterday. This is the marine aquaculture function. We have just completed that process, and then of course the environmental part of this portfolio will be transferred to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs. I don't see her here yet. She had a press conference just beforehand ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Minister, could you finish your sentence when you respond?
The MINISTER OF TOURISM: Sure.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Because your time has expired.
The MINISTER OF TOURISM: Thank you. I would like to wish her everything of the best and assure her that we are transferring a well-managed department to her. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms M M SOTYU
The MINISTER OF TOURISM
Ms M M SOTYU: Chairperson, my new Minister, Minister Sonjica, and also Minister Van Schalkwyk and Deputy Ministers, section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa states that everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or wellbeing.
Let me take this opportunity and reflect back to where we come from as nation: Conservation, biodiversity and protected areas in apartheid South Africa before 1994 strongly reflected the fortress conservation policy of the 1960s and the 1970s. Fortress conservation is a natural resources management practice that aims to preserve natural resources such as fisheries, forests and wild life, through forcible exclusions of rural communities that traditionally depend on these resources for their livelihood. It was the most dominant conservation philosophy of the 20th century, and it involved the barring of rural communities from protected areas.
Restrictions included denial of access rights that rural communities had enjoyed in the areas designated as conservation reserves – "Keep out or you suffer" - that was command and control. Law enforcement approach was the main precept of fortress conservation applied to keep local people out or prevent their effect on protected areas.
It is noteworthy that the effects of the fortress conservation policy in South Africa were magnified by consequences of the apartheid framework and the political and economical philosophy. For example, South Africa's natural parks were for the enjoyment of the then minority white population. Nonwhite South Africans were limited to specific areas established under the unpopular Group Areas Act 41 of 1950, where there are, even today, problems of overcrowding and land degradation.
Ukuze siphole isilonda, kunyanzelekile sibuyele emva sijonge imvelaphi yethu, ukuze siqonde kakuhle ukuba siyaphi na.
In fact, there was environmental racism in South Africa. However, today the political landscape of conservation in South Africa has changed for the benefit of all South Africans, and this is emphasised in the Constitution of the Republic. The Bill of Rights in the second chapter of the Constitution provides rights to equality, a healthy and well-protected environment, property, and protection against unfair discrimination, amongst other things.
Yiyo loo nto namhlanje ngenxa yoku kusingqongileyo sizifumana sinento esiyibiza okanye esinokuyifanisa neThird World, oko kukuthi ilokishi, apho abantu bethu bahlala khona. Okusingqongileyo akufani nokwezinye iindawo apho kuhlala khona abanye abantu nanamhlanje. Oku kusingqongileyo noluphuhliso beluyinto yakwamkhozi mandulo phaya.
The unhealthy bucket system came as a result of discrimination because people were removed from...
... apho kwakukho khona uphuhliso basiwa kwindawo apho bekungekho phuhliso khona, baphila phantsi kwaloo meko yokubangqongileyo.
Today the need for the people to participate in environmental governance has influenced the way in which the budget is allocated. This is evident in the 2009-10 budget allocation to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, where the focus has been on those activities that promote job creation in the process of environmental management. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism expenditure is expected to maintain a steady growth over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period, having increased from R3,2 billion in the 2008-09 financial year to R3,4 billion in the 2009-10.
This shows an increase of 8,5% nominal increase and 3,2% in real terms. It should be noted that the budget allocation for the 2009-10 financial year was done according to the five key strategic priorities of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Those key strategic priorities, amongst others, encompass the following: to create conditions for sustainable tourism growth and development for the benefit of all South Africans; to enhance economic growth and poverty alleviation; and to protect and improve the quality and safety of the environment for those who use it.
The department's 2009-10 budget allocations support and meet both the departmental key strategic priorities identified in the 2008-11 strategic plan, as well as the government priorities articulated in the 2009 state of the nation address. South Africa's natural resources represent rich and diverse national assets, providing important economic and social opportunities for the human population, which in turn have developed a strong reliance on these resources for commercial opportunity gains, food and recreation. These resources have facilitated job creation and general economic upliftment in the country.
In conclusion, let me borrow the words of the President of the country, President Zuma, in his 2009 state of the nation address when he said:
Laat ons mekaar se hande vat en saam oplossings vind in die gees van 'n Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap. Die tyd het gekom om harder te werk. Ons regering gaan vorentoe kyk, nie agtertoe nie.
The ANC supports this budget. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr G R MORGAN
Ms M M SOTYU
Mr G R MORGAN: Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon members, the world is lurching towards a climate disaster. Last week in Bonn at the climate negotiations, the developed countries of the world frustrated the process and showed a clear lack of ambition towards cutting emissions. A close analysis of pledges by developed countries indicates that, if implemented, they would result in a negligible cut in emissions compared to 1990 levels. Countries like Japan and Canada are deaf to the science, and just do not want to understand that that without ambitious cuts we will severely overshoot the 2ºC rise that the science suggests we can tolerate.
It is true that the world is in recession and that jobs are being lost, but we will escape this recession in time. In essence, a recession is reversible, but an environmental disaster is not, at least not for several generations.
I am happy to hear that the South African negotiating team in Bonn led a proposal by 37 developing countries for an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol that calls on Annex 1 countries - developed countries - to take on an emissions reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by the year 2020. I would like to congratulate South African negotiator, Alf Wills, for his role in this proposal. What will come of it going forward is unclear, but South Africa's primary role in the ongoing climate negotiations is to pressurise developed countries into doing what is right for our collective future as a planet. I urge President Zuma, who regrettably did not mention climate change once during his recent state of the nation address, to place climate change high on the agenda of the upcoming African Union Heads of State meeting in Libya.
While South Africa may be performing reasonably well on climate change on the international negotiating front, when it comes to responding to climate change at home, we are acting with far less purpose and urgency. It is true that we now have long-term mitigation scenarios, we have an emissions reporting project, and earlier this year there was a climate change summit that allowed for stakeholder consultation. But I do not believe that government has come to grips with the magnitude of what South Africa needs to do. Responding to climate change is not simply a line item in a budget. Madam Minister, it is about remaking an economy.
We cannot respond to climate change without having an honest debate about coal. Our abundance of this resource may seem like a blessing, but it is not. Over 90% of our electricity is generated by coal, which results in South Africa being one of the biggest carbon polluters in the world. The fact that it is cheap and abundant, we have 200 years of reserves left at current production rates, seems to mean that we will not only rely on this dirty source of energy for a long time to come, but according to Eskom expansion plans, we are going to increase our reliance on the resource. Where our so-called blessing of abundant coal becomes a curse is that it crowds out a real commitment to diversifying energy production. It crowds out the debate we so need to have.
What makes it even worse, is that there is now a low-scale war against our environment by the proliferation of new mining applications across South Africa. Before I proceed further with this point, allow me to say that mining is an important contributor to South African GDP and over 400 000 workers are employed in the sector. This sector already has enough challenges that need to be dealt with, but what does have to happen is that we have to start saying that certain areas are off-limits to mining.
We have the ridiculous situation of a coal mining application on the border of Mapungubwe, a World Heritage site that the Department of Environmental Affairs has invested so much time and energy into making a success. The Department of Minerals seems to be single-minded in its determination to grant the application. The problem is that once you have allowed one mine in a sensitive area, and the area is disturbed, it becomes so much easier for another adjacent application to be approved. Mining applications are popping up all over the place. There is a mining application in the Cedarberg that will lay waste to the valley from Piketberg to Elands Bay. Proposed coal mining in the Wakkerstroom area, a habitat for over 300 bird species, will strike a severe blow against the already precarious ecosystem there. A similar situation seems likely to play itself out in the Wild Coast and in the Mpumalanga Lake District, where mining poses a threat to agriculture. The sad thing is that mining can cause irreparable damage to local environments, and when one thinks of it, the coal extracted in any one place over the life of a small mine would not keep a coal power station generating electricity for much more than a few days.
Madam Minister, don't be afraid to keep the coal in the hole. Just because we have abundant mineral resources does not mean that we have to extract it all. In fact, when it comes to responding to climate change, we are going to have draw a line in the sand at some point in the future.
It is time that this debate on the effects of mining on the environment, and also how coal mining traps us into a particular energy future, is brought to the table. Environmental NGOs, farming associations and ratepayers' organisations are crying out for the discussion. It with this in mind Madam Minister that I ask you to invoke section 3(a) of the amendments to the National Environmental Management Act, which were included in the National Environmental Laws Amendment Act that was passed by this House earlier this year. This section allows you as Minister, by notice in the Gazette, to establish a forum or advisory committee on any special issue. I ask you Madam Minister to please establish a forum on mining and the environment. Open a structured dialogue on this matter with all the relevant stakeholders. Let us find a way to manage mining in a way that does not make us pay for its effects for generations to come.
I would also like to bring the matter of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, NSSD, to the attention of this House. The actual strategy exists, but implementation has yet to begin. Let me remind the House that this strategy was a major outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD, that South Africa hosted in 2002. Protecting our environment and managing our economy in a sustainable way is everyone's business, and it is every government department's business. The question of what entity should take responsibility for implementing this strategy needs urgent debate. I do not believe that the Department of Environmental Affairs is the appropriate home for it. It is difficult for the Minister to police her Cabinet colleagues on how they are performing with regard to sustainable development. Apparently Minister Manuel in the National Planning Commission is still determining exactly what his commission will be doing. I would like to suggest that the NSSD be housed with Minister Manuel or somewhere else in the Presidency. It makes sense that the NSSD is co-ordinated at a level about Cabinet Ministers.
Madam Minister, the functioning of Marine and Coastal Management, MCM, remains a massive problem. Government is simply not winning the war against poachers who act with impunity every day of the year. Let me read from an email sent to Dr Monde Mayekiso yesterday from a concerned citizen, Michael Clarke:
There is no end in sight to the decimation of our once pristine Sardina Bay Reserve which appears to have been proclaimed for the exclusive use of the abalone poaching fraternity.
Poaching continues on a daily basis and the MCM have little success in arresting the criminal element and clearly the MCM has no plan of action to curb this illegal activity.
The few arrests that the MCM or police have made of late is simply a drop in the ocean. Many officials sit in their ivory towers and are definitely not aware of what is happening at grass-roots level.
I could not have said it better. Let it be known that Mr Clarke has been writing similar emails to MCM for over a year now.
Madam Minister, our fish stocks are under threat. The compliance budget is entirely insufficient, especially when one considers that the majority of the budget goes to the running costs of MCM's large vessels. And let it be said that these vessels are almost impotent when it comes to protecting our inshore fisheries.
Lastly, Madam Minister, it is time to reach out to the legal abalone fishers who have lost their income due to your predecessor's decision to close the entire fishery. The promised social plan to alleviate their plight has never materialised. Please act on this.
Hon members, let us together increase the profile of the various environmental debates. We have to have oversight over our children's future. Let it not be forgotten that the last state of the Environment Report pointed to a general decline in South Africa's environment. The next report will almost certainly point to a continuation of that trend. Our work is massive. [Time Expired.]
Ms H N NDUDE
Mr G R MORGAN
Ms H N NDUDE: Madam Chair, I think it is a very steep challenge that lies ahead of the hon Minister, and I hope she will rise to the challenge. What she does and what she does not do will impact on generations to come. The assault on our environment has been so sustained that, even if we were to stop right now, we could not stop the climate change that is now upon us.
The department that the hon Minister heads has completed an electricity response plan. I would like to know from the Minister when Parliament is going to be given access to this electricity response plan. It is a plan that is supposed to deal with the acceleration of environment impact assessment processing, upon receipt of an application to build a new power plant.Cope is very interested to examine this plan.
In the United States of America a whopping 97 applications for a coal-fired power plant have been rejected since 2001. The latest was in Michigan on May 2009. In Kansas, the Sunflower Electricity Power Corporation applied to build two power plants but it will only be allowed to build one, on condition that it uses new clean technology, offsets carbon dioxide emissions and develops wind energy on the side.
China, on the other hand, is building one coal-fired power station a month, where the coal is first turned into gas before it is burnt to produce extremely hot steam. Although the process is cleaner, it uses immense quantities of water. It is, therefore, one thing to concentrate on clean technology. It is quite another when water consumption is taken into account. As it stands, the excessive use of water by Eskom is a major concern for the department. With the graph depicting water consumption going up and up, can South Africa lock itself into a system where water, which is already scarce, is going to be rapidly depleted through the power generation process?
According to current estimates, the worldwide average rainfall is estimated at 860mm a year. We, in South Africa get an average of only 460mm. The World Wide Fund for Nature has reported that, by 2025, there will be a water deficit of only 1,7%. This is if all things are equal. If not, the deficit could be greater. Is the Minister willing to allow Eskom to increase its water usage even more than it is doing at present?
We run the risk of running out of water by being short-sighted in our planning. There is another matter which ought to be...
The SPEAKER: Hon member, your time has expired.
Mrs N H NDUDE: Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA
Ms H N NDUDE
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA: Chairperson, hon members, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has been restructured and separated into two distinct departments, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, each with its own Minister. This is a positive move that should result in greater dedication and efficiency in the attainment of the relevant objectives. While the tourism sector's contribution to the economy has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, there is still room for the expansion of this sector and there are many challenges that must be overcome.
With regard to the environment, the threat that climate change poses must be given greater attention while the protection and preservation of our environment and natural resources must become a priority and dealt with vigilantly. Hopefully, these and other important issues will now be addressed with more vigour, and there will be greater accountability as a result of the new structures.
The aim of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism was to lead sustainable development of South Africa's environment for a better life for all.
Environmental affairs and tourism has been allocated R3,48 billion for 2009-10. This is an increase over the R3,2 billion that was allocated in 2008-09, with the allocation to Programme 3 - Marine and Coastal Management - increasing from R429 million in 2008-09 to R583 million in 2009-10. Tourism's allocation has increased from R690 million to R750 million during the same period.
It is important that financial prudence is practised and that the departments and their institutions spend their funds wisely, not carelessly. We are in the midst of an economic crisis, so unnecessary or wasteful spending must not be tolerated if the departments are to fulfil their mandates.
Climate change is a reality and its harsh effects will be felt by all, especially the poorest members of our society. In this regard, it is important that the public is educated about climate change and the impact that it is going to have on their lives, as well as the role that they can play in dealing with it. Communication about climate change must be improved, especially to the rural poor and farmers whose lives and livelihood will be harshly affected by its impact.
South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world. Our animal, marine and plant life is truly amazing and must be preserved for future generation to enjoy. We have passed many pieces of legislation that are intended to contribute to the preservation and protection of our environmental and natural resources, including legislation dealing with the important issues of pollution, waste and protected areas, among other things. The proper implementation of these pieces of legislation and the monitoring of their progress is where the greatest challenge lies. The department must ensure that it does have adequate capacity if it is to successfully fulfil its mandate.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, your time has expired.
Mrs C N Z ZIKALALA: The IFP supports this Budget Vote, but we believe that there is still a lot of hard work to be done. I thank you.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, thank you to the members for such a warm welcome. This being Grandparents' Day at the school of Lesolesizwe, my granddaughter, I dedicate this maiden speech to her, because I had to juggle between writing this speech and attending a function at her school.
Chairperson, hon Ministers present, Minister Joemat-Pettersson, Minister Van Schalkwyk, hon Members of Parliament, Ms Sotyu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to acknowledge that over 15 years in government the ANC has made progress in developing policies and strategies for the environmental portfolio. These policies informed the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land and the repository of the values of the nation. They were further extended to the White Paper, which is the policy of government. All of these constitute the legal and political mandate for the department and for ourselves and the context within which we will pursue our efforts to contribute to a better life and a cleaner environment. Our biggest challenge is to further integrate climate change considerations with sustainable development strategies. What is key about our mandate is the balance between environmental protection and sustainable development. There are no easy answers. There can't be development at the expense of the environment and it cannot be environment at the expense of development. What we all need to apply our minds to is the balance. We need to look at the middle ground very creatively in trying to come up with answers, because that is where the crux of our challenge lies. How do you ensure that in the process of your development - mining, construction of damns – you don't impact negatively on the environment? That has to be answered by all of us here, and that includes me. These things have to happen and in section 24 of the Constitution it is clearly stated: the right to environment up to protecting the environment in the context of socioeconomic development. That is the mandate that we have and it is a big challenge indeed. For us to succeed we need to join hands with all South Africans in the attainment of a common vision that will be in support of the creation of a healthy nation.
The Department will support rural development objectives by ensuring that the integrity of ecosystems on which rural economies are based is protected. In his state of the nation address, President Zuma said that sustainable resource management and use is one of the strategic priorities of government. It is in this context that the department will continue to roll out community-based natural resource management programmes. These will focus on enterprise development and sharing with local communities the benefits from indigenous biological resources. The policy and legislative tools provided by the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act will therefore be used to this effect and we will make sure that the processes make sense to the affected communities and their effective involvement will be encouraged. Provinces and local government must come up with specific programmes that will respond to their unique challenges.
Transformation of the biodiversity sector is significant in the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods that could benefit millions of our people. The conservation estate provides a key resource for the empowerment of local communities. Ecotourism opportunities and nature-based or green jobs associated with conservation and biodiversity will need further enhancement.
We are the third most biodiversity-rich country in the world. This means we have a diversity of landscapes and natural beauty to match our diversity in culture and language. Increasingly, this natural beauty is used to untangle the social injustices of the past and unlock economic benefits to all the people of South Africa, especially the poorest of the poor. However, this resource base has not been sufficiently unpacked to provide direct benefits to the rest of our people. If we are to truly deal with the grinding poverty that our people live in, we must find creative and collaborative ways of extending the benefits accrued from such developments to ordinary South Africans.
The rich natural resources are not benefiting all sectors of society equitably. In order to address the transformation of the biodiversity sector the department will focus on the development of a comprehensive framework for sector transformation. The department has noted the important contribution that the hunting industry makes to our GDP. The industry alone injected an estimated income of about R753 million in the 2006-07 financial year. This industry, based on the country's rich fauna, has therefore been identified as providing a potential platform for broadening the participation of local communities in economic activities. Working together with the hunting industry, we have initiated a process to establish a transformation charter and consultations with industry representatives have been initiated. We will publish national norms and standards for the hunting industry for implementation by March 2010, which will form part of the transformation agenda of the department.
Climate Change, as already indicated, is a threat to the stability of our country and if left unattended it can cause serious damage, not only to the environment, but to the entire ecosystem and our ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals. There is a great need to demystify the whole climate change debate and ensure that all of us have a full understanding of the human activities that contribute to climate change. I agree with the hon member who alluded to this. We are doing very well internationally, but charity should begin at home. I always have a good example of people who know exactly what to do when the climate catastrophe affects their country. Cuba is one such a country. All Cubans know exactly what to do, for example, if there is a hurricane. That is the kind of capacity that this country needs, but that will come with education and a full understanding by the most vulnerable people. They have to understand what climate change is all about, because, unknowingly, through their actions, they may be contributing to climate change. That is why I feel very strongly that we still need to do a lot to in terms of taking them onboard.
It is with that in mind that we declared this month Environment Month, and I hope all of us will be mindful of this and do our bit to take care of the environment. Our theme for this year is: "South Africa act Now! Combat climate change". This is a call for all of us to act responsibly in our quest to ultimately combat this phenomenon. [Time expired.]
Mr L W GREYLING
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr L W GREYLING: Chairperson, I would like to congratulate both the Ministers here today on their reappointment to the Cabinet. Both of you now control important Ministries, but I will concentrate specifically on the environmental challenges facing us as a country.
Minister Sonjica, you once again framed the challenge as having to find a balance between development and environmental protection. I believe that this is the wrong way to frame the debate, as it perpetuates the false perception that the environmental agenda is an antidevelopment agenda. Development is not development if it destroys the natural asset base of the country in the process.
Far from being antidevelopment, the environment in fact provides the very resources for development to take place. It is important, however, that any development utilises these resources at a rate at which they can be renewed, thereby allowing future generations to also benefit from our country's natural riches.
The ID would therefore like to see us adopt a proactive response to environmental issues. We need to map out the country and determine what areas are most appropriate for specific types of development. We must also convene a multistakeholder forum on mining and the environment so that we can develop a sustainable development framework through which many of these controversial decisions can be evaluated.
The ID would also like to see the implementation of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development driven hard, so that we can proactively transform our economy along sustainable lines. As the author Thomas Friedman states:
In the future, a country's competitiveness in the global economy will be determined by how much they have been able to green their economies.
Unfortunately, we have a long way to go in South Africa, but the opportunities are certainly there to build a low carbon economy, while establishing a new industrial base. [Time expired.]
Mr D M GUMEDE
Mr L W GREYLING
Mr D M GUMEDE: Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon members and all esteemed guests, comrades and friends, firstly, let me congratulate the hon Ministers Van Schalkwyk, Sonjica and Joemat-Pettersson and their deputies Xasa, Mabudafhasi and Dr Mulder, on their appointments to the executive and wish them all the best in our fourth democratic term. [Applause.]
I would also like to thank the Minister of Tourism and his then Acting Deputy Minister, together with the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, for what seems to be a job well done during the past term. Indeed, we promise a constructive and professional relationship with the Ministry and the department.
We had fantastic experiences as a competing destination serving big events such as the IPL, the Confederations Cup, the 2010 Fifa World Cup next year, big rugby and cricket events, cultural events such as the annual Cape Town Jazz Festival, among other things. These are success stories for South African tourism.
You have also given more than your fair share in making our motherland green and clean. Annually, our plains are bright with the flora of the Karoo spring, the sharp flame of the ever-colourful daisies of the West Coast that are matched by the fresh plump bloom of the Protea in the fynbos of the Western Cape. These scenes and sights have inspired many a writer, poet and innovator to creativity and great innovation.
South Africa has managed to solve its problems from this beautiful natural scenery that has inspired a number of our generations, as in the national anthem, where it says:
"Oor ons ewige gebergtes, waar die kranse antwoord gee."
It is not only the black population that has looked up to the mountains for solutions; it seems that all South Africans have looked up to the mountains for solutions. No wonder our Parliament is next to the big Table Mountain, with its cliffs. [Applause.] Who knows, maybe we were looking for answers to the problems we have experienced in the land and which we are continuing to try and solve.
This pristine scenic beauty repeats itself in almost all provinces with a great variation in colour and texture. The sweet smell of the bushveld never fails to invite swallows from lands far away to sing and cheer the kudu, the leopard and the lion in the beautiful Kruger National Park. This is matched by the trumpeting elephants of the Addo National Park and the grazing rhino of Hluhluwe. All these add to the splendour that many have cherished. Indeed, you have preserved it for our grandsons and granddaughters to cherish with awe when we are no more. Yes, many of us are poor, but seasonal rains and the fragrance thereafter never fail to give us hope and fire to fight on when the going gets tough.
These surely must have inspired the sweet African melodies that come from the townships, suburbs and deep bundus, producing sounds that have been expressed through artists such as Spokes Mashiyane, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Shwi Nomtekhala, who have made our theatres the heartthrob of many globally.
These are among many ingredients that made the great democracy of South Africa rise from the ashes of apartheid; a nation inspired by beauty, song and the sound of great oceans. These make our country continue to be the best. Come drought, death or mirth, we shall always rise despite all the challenges we face. We are tough, and tough as South Africans. This is illustrated by the fact that in the midst of one of the greatest global recessions, our tourism has maintained its growth against all odds. Because of your great leadership and stewardship, we shall continue to rise. This is a tribute to the department as well as the Ministry. But still, a lot has to be done. We have to take success in tourism to a greater level, with more impact on the Gross Domestic Product and job creation fronts.
South African tourism should not just be a player, but a great world player, according the World Tourism and Travel Council in one of its documents dated 2006. They further stated that tourism represents 8,3% of growth. However, the Minister said that it represents a little bit more than that. The Minister referred to tourism as the "new gold", because, according to an article of the World Tourism and Travel Council, it grows so fast that it has surpassed some minerals that have traditionally been South Africa's strong point, such as gold. What is more interesting is that we are beginning to see South Africans travelling in their own country. That seems to reflect the success of the Sho't Left campaign that we all recognise, thanks to SA Tourism.
The council further asserts that for every seven tourists that visited South Africa, one permanent job was created in 2006. They added that about 50% of tourists are repeat visitors. South Africa has a competitive advantage of excellent weather all year round, especially for people from colder climates. It has diverse attractions. Furthermore, South Africans are peaceful, friendly and hospitable. Above all, South Africans have political stability emanating from their democratic traditions. Definitely, we solve our problems by means of vote. [Applause.] We have done so repeatedly. No wonder we produced two Nobel Peace Prize laureates on two occasions, who were once neighbours and from the same street in Soweto, Vilakazi Street. In that street everyone can see where our icon and former President Mandela, and Archbishop Tutu, used to be neighbours.
This is the land that developed Mahatma Gandhi, an international icon who came and donated to the world the philosophy of Satyagraha, which promotes truth and love for all humanity. The houses where these icons used to stay are still there and preserved for us and future generations to see and reflect on these gifts to humanity. They are there for us to reflect when times are tough. Who else can offer these? I cannot look further for a better, unique selling proposal for our marketing.
It is now time to further accelerate and deepen that growth, which has to be expressed through sustainable livelihoods, decent jobs, and equitable growth. We have to take this growth to a higher level to enrich our approach with an acute vision, a sharper focus and more determination to give it the required impact for a better quality of life for the poor and the rich.
Our product should be labour-intensive equitable growth for the rural and urban-based, black and white men and women from all walks of life. We shall look more holistically at the question of education and skills development to match human capital requirements and to secure the envisaged growth as plans become clearer.
There are a number of challenges facing the sector that need to be borne in mind. For instance, the skewed development of tourism in the Western Cape, Gauteng and, to some extent, KwaZulu-Natal; inequitable growth along the historical apartheid trends; destructive competition between the national approach and many provincial and municipal approaches, resulting in one approach cannibalising the other, further resulting in significant inefficiencies; and strengthening the South African tourism brand whose message gets diluted, if not distorted, by many local and provincial tourism brands that are without a single destination effect.
More resources - time, human and financial - are required to address these challenges, and it cannot be business as usual. To avoid skewed and different approaches neutralising each other, my view is that we have to struggle for an integrated national approach that weaves the provincial and different municipal tourism approaches into a beautiful tapestry of diversity that is in line with a single brand.
The question of equity has to be confronted head-on. The President of the country, the hon Dr Zuma, said in his state of the nation address:
Regardless of political differences as parties, I believe that we have a common goal, which is to make South Africa a great country.
Yes, as the Constitution implores us to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person, we cannot afford to have a growth rate that increases inequality between black and white, black and black, province and province, rural and urban, and able-bodied and disabled. Growth in tourism has to be a shared growth with sustainable livelihoods and decent jobs and it should be equitable.
Together, let us continue to rise to greater heights. It is us against recession; it is us against poverty; and it is us against joblessness. And together we will win. I know that what we have been through has made us better.
Coming back to the 2010 Fifa World Cup project, the magnitude of which has never been experienced in this country before, I'm confident that we shall come up with one of the best world cup events ever. There are many reasons that support this belief. We have run similar events with success a number of times; it is only a question of magnitude. Right now, we are having a trial run with the Confederations Cup, which so far has largely been a success.
According to press reports, crime, particularly violent crimes, seems to be on the decline. [Interjections.] Our security services seem to be much more responsive compared to a year or two ago. The question of accommodation is being attended to and it is known that a close watch has to be kept on it.
Mr W P DOMAN: Chair, on a point of order: I just want to request you to issue red cards to that side of the House just as quickly as you issued red cards to us where the time is concerned.
Mr D M GUMEDE: How much time? [Interjections.] No, no, no, I have two minutes left.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr T S Farisani): Hon member, I don't remember, in the life of the fourth Parliament, issuing a red card against anybody. So, there's no precedent in that regard. Proceed, hon member. [Applause.]
Mr D M GUMEDE: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. That was already a yellow card.
Coming back to the 2010 Fifa World Cup project, we have mentioned the advantages. How we perform in terms of tourism during the coming world cup may determine the future of this industry in the country, especially the quality of our tourism product as a whole. This will determine the number of people that will return to South Africa for future tours after 2010, as the Minister has said.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr T S Farisani): Hon member, indeed your speaking time had expired. [Applause.]
Mr D M GUMEDE: Thank you, hon chair. Ke nako! [Now is the time!]
Mr S N SWART
Mr D M GUMEDE
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP is pleased that, despite the current financial downturn, there was, as yet, no appreciable downturn in tourism figures as indicated by the Minister. Tourism constituted 8,4% of GDP and accounted for over 1 million jobs, for which we can be very grateful. The prospects for next year's soccer World Cup are very encouraging, with an estimated 450 000 visitors expected to attend this showpiece. Hon Minister, maybe you can respond as to how the figures will look for next year's tourism.
Climate change continues to remain a major concern, as raised by various speakers, particularly with South Africa being the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the continent. Are we doing enough to address this, hon Minister? We believe not.
Whilst we are called to be good stewards of the environment, environmental degradation also continues. There should be improved enforcement of the establishment of the new inspectorate, boasting some 970 inspectors. The amendments to the National Environmental Management Act - raising the fines for transgressors - demonstrate that the principle of "polluter pays" must be, and we trust will be, strictly enforced. The ACDP supports this.
Whilst the ACDP notes that prosecutors and magistrates are being trained in environmental law, are there any plans to roll out the highly effective specialised environmental courts which were very effective and which we understand were closed down? We would like to see more of this, if you would respond to that.
As far as the Marine and Coastal Management, MCM, is concerned, what is the current status of the project on the acquisition of the polar research vessel to replace the current SA Agulhas. You will recall that there was a lot of controversy following the SA Eagle Star. Maybe you could comment on that.
To conclude, the ACDP comments the department on receiving an unqualified audit report from the Auditor-General, albeit with an emphasis of matter. We wish to thank the departmental officials for their hard work and dedication, with the Public Service Commission ranking the department amongst the best performing departments for 2008. We, as the ACDP, will support this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr S N SWART
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, as the custodians of the fourth democratically elected government, we are humbled by the achievements we have made over the past 15 years in improving the lives of our people. As part of a broader process of democratising and transforming government and its institutions, we have been very successful in developing pro-poor policies and pieces of legislation within the environmental sector. Our department's proactive and swift response in implementing new policies and legislation resulted in significant progress in safeguarding our people's constitutional right to an environment that is safe and healthy.
As we look forward to 20 years of democracy in our country, we will not only consolidate our gains, but we will also be well-prepared and committed to the improvement of our environmental services to the nation. Working together with communities, the civil society, the private sector and nongovernmental organisations, our department is committed to creating a safe environment, sustainable jobs, eradicate poverty and contribute to rural development and economic growth in the next five years. Our nation must look forward to improved levels of service delivery on waste management, air quality, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity and conservation, as well as transversal programmes focusing on empowering vulnerable women, youth, children, the elderly and people with disabilities in relation to improving their environmental quality.
We are committed to creating sustainable jobs and eradicating poverty through waste management. Our department intends to break new ground in the implementation of its waste management policies and legislation through the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. Our approach to waste management is holistic and begins with the implementation of programmes aimed at promoting a waste minimisation approach and ensuring that the waste avoidance, waste reduction and waste recycling approach underpins waste management. Waste streams will include chemical waste, medical waste and e-waste in order to further bring awareness of these, as well as link environmentally responsible waste management to job creation. We will be taking our partners forward, who are the Buyisa-e-bag and Indalo Yethu.
Our cleanup campaigns aimed at educating communities about the benefits of a clean environment will be intensified to include the cleaning of boarder posts that we share with our neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We will promote the concept of waste minimisation and remind people to do everything possible to reduce, reuse and recycle. We will also continue with the cleanest town competition with an aim of including rural villages and townships so that these are not left out of our campaigns. We will also investigate the possibility of introducing this competition at the local municipality level to reinforce the role of government in waste management. We would like for all citizens of this country to become ambassadors of the environment. [Applause.]
With the 2010 Fifa World Cup around the corner, we have an obligation to ensure that our cities, towns, townships and villages are clean for our own benefit as well as for that of the many soccer fans who will be visiting the country. Our aim is to leave a lasting legacy of sound environmental management practices for 2010 and beyond. This will also boost tourism development, as visitors who are satisfied with our environmental services will surely return to our country in the near future. To earn this, we have been working in partnership with a number of host cities to support their efforts to green the 2010 World Cup.
The establishment of buy-back centres to facilitate the growth of a sustainable recycling industry is an essential element of ensuring that cleanups and competitions are not a substitute for ongoing and sustained sound waste management practices. The recycling of waste will provide much needed opportunities for job creation, poverty eradication and business development necessary for our government to achieve its rural and urban development objectives. In addition, our regulatory responsibility will be boosted by the National Environmental Management: Waste Act which comes into effect in July this year. Through the implementation of this Act, our country will steadily move away from being a "throw away" society that focuses on the end-of-pipe waste management solution to one which is more responsible and cognisant of the need to avoid and minimise waste at source.
Concerning the pollution that the member has just mentioned, we have achieved tremendous progress in establishing an effective legislative framework to effectively compare the scourge of air pollution in this country. Our department will take forward its implementation of the National Environment Management: Air Quality Act and step up its enforcement measures to ensure that polluters comply with the legislation. We, as citizens of this country, must also contribute to minimising air pollution through our activities at home, not only projects. What are we doing? Are we doing something that contributes to climate change? We have projects for instance like extracting methane from landfills. But what about our daily activities at home. Are we saving on electricity and on many other things? Are we using alternate energy?
It is unacceptable that communities residing adjacent to industrial developments continue to suffer from the negative effects of inhaling polluted air whilst companies are making profit. All companies which do not comply with our emission standards will be dealt with without fear or favour. We commend companies that are already investing on appropriate technology to reduce emission. But there is not enough; most of them are not doing it.
We will also tackle the health impacts of indoor air pollution resulting from domestic use of dirty fluids, especially coal used extensively during winter by people residing in townships and informal settlements. We will continue to roll out the Clean Fires Campaign which is called "Basa njego Magogo" in an effort to bring down the levels of air pollution and save the lives of our people in these areas.
On biodiversity we just want to say that our communities must guard jealously against their natural resources because of unscrupulous people who are taking away some of the species to make medicines or other things. Communities are the best ones to police this.
Our work on climate change will continue to prioritise the need to identify negative impacts, especially on women, the youth and people with disabilities. We know now that we have a spread of desertification that will impact on our livelihoods and food security. We need to make sure that our people are able to adapt to this, especially the women out there and our people in the rural areas.
On climate change again we are saying we need to step more on the implementation of adaptation programmes which my Minister has already mentioned. We are working in partnership with the SA Weather Service to ensure that communities are forewarned of impending disasters such as floods and draughts. This information is communicated through local radio stations in their own languages so that they will know and assist if there is going to be a hurricane they must stay in doors and know how we will be able to move them from there, and know that the fishermen must not go to sea because the sea is going to be rough. In addition, we will prioritise an environmentally sustainable natural resources management, including land rehabilitation and the extension of programmes such as Working for Water, Working for Fire and Working for Wetlands, as well as greening the environment through planting indigenous trees and others to have sustainable food.
As part of the ongoing implementation of People and Parks, communities residing adjacent to protected areas will continue to benefit from employment, skills development and business opportunities offered within the protected areas. We will continue to implement what we agreed upon in the conferences that we held with People and Parks – the workshops. During the state of the nation address of our President, he said that the Expanded Public Works Programme will be intensified. We have programmes from our department that will scale that up.
Hon members, the contribution to the National Youth Service Programme will be marked by the launch of the youth programme for the environmental sector in the near future. Our President also mentioned the issue of 18 July, which is going to be Mandela Day in honour of our icon. Our department will be doing good things for others by having programmes and activities beneficial to women, young people, children and the elderly in rural areas. Some of the activities will include supplying free waste disposal equipment to old age homes, orphanages and schools in poor communities. In addition, we will, amongst others, strive to ensure environmental awareness amongst our youth by encouraging schools to step up environmental activities.
You know that internationally we are co-chairing on the global network of women Ministers and leaders of the environment. The voice of women is very strong, and we are emphasising the issue of women and climate change. In fact, during the month of August here in South Africa, we will be hosting workshops and conducting activities to create awareness for women and climate change. We appreciate the support of other organisations in doing this.
In conclusion, working together with all stakeholders, we will be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals if we protect the integrity of the environment so that our future generations can enjoy this. We say: "Tsha kule tshi wanwa nga muhovhi." Let us work together. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms M R SHINN
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Ms M R SHINN: Mr Speaker, hon colleagues, Africans are the pioneers of the travel industry. About two million years ago some of our ancestors became curious about what was on the other side of the hill and started moving northwards out of the area we call the Cradle of Humankind.
We evolved into different colours and cultures speaking in different tongues. We populated the world. Africa is in the DNA of all travellers, which is probably why nine and a half million visitors came to South Africa last year.
We have so much to offer the world, but sometimes we make it unnecessarily difficult for our visitors, both foreign and domestic, to enjoy our sites. It takes determination for the most intrepid traveller to find Maropeng, the tourist and scientific centre built to illustrate humankind's evolution and journey from the heart of Africa.
Maropeng is a major tourist facility in the Cradle of Humankind, but visitors battle to find it because the Gauteng provincial roads department felt it was unnecessary to erect directional road signs. Those tourists who didn't give up the search tend to arrive at Maropeng in a foul temper and vent their anger on the centre staff. Maropeng was opened with much fanfare at the end of 2005. Years of pleading by its management through the all the official channels failed to get road signs erected. In desperation earlier this year, Maropeng's management resorted to launching a public petition. This approach galvanised the roads department to make and erect appropriate tourist signage to Maropeng. By the end of June, all the signs should be in place and visitors to the Cradle of Humankind should be able to find their way to Maropeng without difficulty.
The point this illustrates is that while we build world-class tourist facilities we fail to energise all those involved in the tourism chain to grasp the importance of their link in the process. Bureaucratic inertia illustrated by this example, sabotages the efforts of our tourism industry. It introduces an unnecessary hassle factor into the travel experience, which sours the memory.
South Africa is fortunate that next year's captive market of football fans for the Fifa Soccer World Cup will cushion us from this shrinking global tourism market. But we have to ensure that this major marketing opportunity for South African tourism beyond 2010 is not squandered through bureaucratic indifference. This means addressing two of the nation's major issues - crime and quality health care.
The World Economic Forum's 2009 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked South Africa a dismal 128 out of 133 countries when it comes to safety and security. On health, we are ranked 94th for our low doctor density and sanitation standards. These are major inhibitors. Visitors who believe their health and safety is at risk will go elsewhere. We cannot be complacent and assume that our natural wonders and world-class tourist showpieces are automatic draw cards for the world's tourism revenue.
Making tourism a success in South Africa is not merely the responsibility of the Minister of Tourism. Its success and the realisation of its full potential is related to South Africa becoming a winning nation in all respects.
The new Minister must ensure that co-operation between all spheres of government spreads an understanding that tourism and its allied activities generate more wealth and employment in the mining industry, and that each of us must willingly play our role, however small, to encourage visitors to return.
I was pleased to see that the Minister remarked on increased air travel on his to do list, but he must persuade his colleagues and transport to revise policies that restrict the airline industry from offering cheaper and more frequent flights so many more long-haul tourists visit South Africa. Changing our attitude towards airline industry could be strategic in ensuring that visitors to Africa use South Africa as the most economical gateway to the continent's attractions. The United Nation's World Tourism Organisation's recent research on Africa found that the continent was disadvantaged, among other things, by high air transport costs. We must capitalise on that. [Applause.]
Mr J J SKOSANA
Ms M R SHINN
Mr J J SKOSANA: Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon members, at its 52nd National Conference in Polokwane the ANC's resolution on economic transformation stated that a developmental state must ensure that our national resource endowments, including land, water, minerals and marine resources are exploited to effectively maximise the growth, development and employment potential embedded in such national assets and not purely for profit maximisation. The question can be rightly asked: How sustainable is sector transformation and job creation within the environmental agenda?
During the apartheid period the expansion and establishment of national and provincial parks in many parts of the country created severe hardships for the people by squeezing the majority of the population into 13% of the land in overcrowded homelands. The ill-considered conservationist approach of protecting species and habitants by willy-nilly denying access to a large percentage of people resulted in inequitable access to environmental services, social dislocation and contributed greatly to significant degradation.
However, in the last 10 years environmental issues have moved into the sociopolitical arena with government prioritising people's needs while safeguarding the country's natural assets. A wide range of legislative, policies and institutional developments across all sectors have served to bring about a new environmental management approach which focuses on development and poverty alleviation. They brought together human rights, access to natural resources, social justice sustainability and equitable access to resources. Strong initiatives are undertaken to make progress towards sector transformation and job creation by shifting away from the protectionist approach of the past.
Sector transformation objectives have resulted in the development of a strategic plan for the environmental sector for 2008 to 2013. Over the next five years the objectives for the sector are as follow: To increase the representation of previously disadvantaged groups within the sector in terms of employment and procurement; to increase broad-based participation in the key economic areas of the sector like wildlife breeding, hunting, commercial fishing and marine aquaculture; and to increase the participation of disadvantaged communities in environmental services like impact assessment, monitoring and enforcement.
The department's overview for the 2005-06 to 2011-12 periods reflect that, in line with the vision of creating an equitable society living in harmony with the natural environment, its strategic priorities include, amongst others: The creation of conditions of sustainable tourism growth and development; promoting the conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources; protecting and improving the quality and safety of the environment; promoting a global sustainable development agenda; transforming the environment and tourism sectors; and prioritising poverty alleviation through implementing Expanded Public Works Programme projects in the environment and tourism sectors. The focus of these priorities comprise sustainable tourism, through which the 2010 Fifa World Cup provides an ideal opportunity for raising awareness about South Africa as a tourist destination and securing repeat visits.
In his state of the nation address, our hon President, Jacob Zuma, said that we have to ensure that the country's training and skills development initiatives respond to the requirements of the economy. This issue is pointedly addressed by the medium-term focus that will be the creation of employment and skills development for poor communities through implementing the environment and tourism Extend Public Works Programme. This includes implementing the national youth programme and other poverty alleviation programmes for coastal communities.
An overview of environmental affairs and tourism programmes and their components reflect this government's agenda toward contributing to the sustainable developmental agenda with a specific focus on sector transformation and job creation. As an example, it can be mentioned that the Marine Living Resources Fund will: Administer fishing rights, permits and licences in identifying fisheries sectors; conduct annual performance reviews of commercial fishery sectors from 2009-10; allocate rights in one additional sector with the large pelagic sector; and finalise the subsistence rights policy in 2009-10, thereby ensuring equitable and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources to contribute to economic development.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the contribution of tourism to the GDP has increased from 7,9% in 2006-07 to 8,1% in 2007-08 and the number of jobs created in the economy increased by 5% from 896 000 to 941 000.
The social responsibility, policy and projects subprogramme is one of the initiatives to ensure sustainable developmental agenda sector transformation and job creation. It facilitates environmental rehabilitation and improvement and development of tourism infrastructure projects under the Expanded Public Works Programme through the use of labour intensive, methods targeting unemployment, youth, women, the disabled and SMMEs.
Funding is allocated on the basis of approved business plans for the poverty relief projects. The objectives and measures reflect the promotion of the empowerment of designated communities by creating more than 1000 permanent jobs, close to 85 000 temporary jobs and 452 000 person training days through the Expanded Public Works Programmes over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period where the main focus will be on projects which include: Working on waste, which protects environmental quality by promoting waste management and rehabilitation of polluted areas; sustainable land-based livelihoods, which rehabilitate wetlands and conservation landscapes, promote community conservancies and marine aquaculture and create livelihood opportunities through the sustainable use of natural and cultural heritage resources; and working for tourism, which supports the development of viable tourism products by creating opportunities to increase the share of SMME and BEE involvement in the tourism industry.
While the above may appear to be an expansive, expensive and overarching wish list to contribute to the sustainable development agenda with a specific focus on sector transformation and job creation, the test of these initiatives will be in the oversight over the strategies, measures and objectives. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr R B BHOOLA
Mr J J SKOSANA
Mr R B BHOOLA: Chairperson, the reality is that environmental conservation is only transpiring in built-up cities while rural areas and smaller towns continue to suffer. For people to understand and to inculcate a culture of environmental awareness, the MF would like to see the department put a plan in place for disadvantaged areas.
The MF, however, welcomes the empowerment of small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, and the professional assistance rendered. This will undoubtedly give access to tourism market opportunities. The MF is concerned about the effective and efficient management of the department because of the fact that the department is dependent on consultants. The department must also allow previously disadvantaged people to benefit from the process of the tenders to create job opportunities.
In view of Act 39 and for provinces and municipalities to play a pivotal and active role in ensuring implementation, the MF seeks clarity as to whether any transfers from the department to other spheres of government exist. The MF will support the Budget.
Mr G T SNELL
Mr R B BHOOLA
Mr G T SNELL: Chairperson, hon Ministers, colleagues, officials and members of the public, I wish to take this opportunity participating in my first debate in this House to wish us, as a collective of public representatives, a five-year term in which we, as the President requested, work together for the betterment of the lives of all the people of this country.
Let our work in this House have a direct and measurable impact on creating a better life for all. It is in the interest of all political parties to ensure that government succeeds in meeting its policy objectives and implementation targets. Not since the "Madiba years" have we been extended such an opportunity. Let us embrace it. Let us walk together down the road less travelled, for together we can do more.
The adoption of the Constitution is made enforceable through law and democratic participation by the citizens in affairs of the state as a constitutional right of all South Africans. The proliferation of new policies between 1994 and 2000 attempted to set the stage for reforming the public sector and defining aspects necessary for institutional change and delivery of services to be carried out within.
The reform process and associated re-engineering of institutions to give effect to new policy was and, to a limited extent, still is taking place at the institutions that were expected to continue delivering services, based on apartheid era policies and regulations, while at the same time transforming both internally and externally.
The foundation, however, has now been set through a painful and, at times, confusing birth of a new framework for public sector managers to operate within. The success of government in meeting the public's needs of sustaining and improving existing services while addressing expectations and backlogs associated with apartheid planning, will to a large extent be reliant on strategies and structures that support our strategies as well as progressive committed public sector managers who ensure that policies are applied in a manner that gives effect to this true spirit and intent of these policies. The formation of a tourism Ministry and department creates an ideal opportunity to construct from the ground up a department that delivers services to its stakeholders both internally and externally.
Through an extensive consultative process with these stakeholders, the department can be constructed to meet their needs. It is only when we understand the needs of our stakeholders and relevant policy prescripts pertaining to development, service delivery, monitoring and evaluation that we can design a department that meets these objectives.
The effective implementation of policy to improve the lives of the rural poor will by definition have a direct benefit on the rural poor. Rural communities are disempowered in comparison to urban communities in terms of tourism infrastructure. A progressive development-focused department must balance their international, African and local tourism opportunity investments against the investments in rural communities.
The department will have a role to play in directly absorbing the unemployed through actively engaging with the tourism industry to develop targeted rural tourism packages. These should not only focus on what is currently available, but it should incentivise capital investment in tourism infrastructure within these areas, bearing in mind the massive potential and growth the tourism industry has to lever in our economy.
It is critical for the cluster tasked with rural development issues to factor into their planning the issues of rural tourism, for their success in rural development will directly impact on the growth trajectory of tourism in rural areas. This will have the intended consequence of raising rural incomes and building local economies. The tourism sector is critical for the economic development of rural areas and a country as a whole because of its potential to create work, both as a direct employer and through its linkages to other sectors.
It is our responsibility and strategy to support the growth of rural market institutions through provision of infrastructure and by helping rural communities and small rural enterprises to build organisations which help them access markets, build links with formal sector value chains and co-ordinate their activities to realise economies of scales.
Realising that the rural poor communities are the bulk of the poorest communities in the country, when tourism infrastructure is being implemented, how do we ensure that rural communities benefit from these initiatives? It is clear, even if the department applies procurement policies in rural areas with procuring infrastructure, urban communities with access to resource would in all likelihood secure the award of these tenders. This observation may not only be relevant to the specific sector under discussion, but also a broader issue linked to procurement policy that requires a class review. This is meant in the context of the previously disadvantaged and the currently disadvantaged. Here I refer to all South Africans that are trapped within poverty.
The ANC realises that answering the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality means that we must simultaneously accelerate economic growth and transform the quality of that growth. Our most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty is the creation of decent work, and creating work requires faster economic growth. Moreover, the challenges of poverty and inequality require that the accelerated growth take place in the context of an effective strategy of redistribution that builds a new and more equitable growth path.
The skewed patterns of ownership and production, spatial legacies of our apartheid past and the tendencies of economy towards inequality, dualism and marginalisation will not recede automatically. As the economy accelerates, decisive action is required to thoroughly and urgently transform the economic patterns of the present in order to realise our vision for the future. Rural development is critical in this context with rural tourism being a major driver in achieving this goal.
All of the above challenges require those driving these programmes within the public and private sector to have requisite skills. Our tertiary education facilities are amongst the best in the world and produce some of the world's leading brains, a commodity in a global economy that is highly sought after and one without which a developing state cannot meet its development objectives. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TOURISM
Mr G T SNELL
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TOURISM: Chairperson, may I start with congratulating the two chairpersons of these committees as well as members who've made contributions to the debate today. I also wish to convey our commitment, as a department, to make the work of the committee a success, because we all have the common goal of attaining a better life for all our people.
In recognition of the goals set by the President in terms of poverty eradication, sustainable job creation and rural development, our department stands firm in our resolve to join hands with our business and civil society partners to ensure that we take the tourism industry from strength to strength.
We acknowledge the contribution to the debate by hon Swart who acknowledged the fact that in the year 2008 such growth was an indication of what tourism can do in South Africa. Looking at the question he posed to the Minister regarding the kind of targets we are looking at in the current financial year, although we will present details at a later stage when we table the strategic plan of the new department, we are targeting about 10 million foreign arrivals in South Africa. Indeed, as an integral part of economic growth and job creation, we are looking at providing the right opportunities and assistance to small and medium-sized tourism enterprises and our department has implemented a number of very successful initiatives in this regard. The Tourism Enterprise Partnership encourages an entrepreneurial spirit and a responsible tourism focus through, amongst others, supporting unique arts and crafts experiences, including artists, performers, tour guides, cuisine and cultural and heritage products.
Our continuous campaign to improve quality and standards in the tourism industry is in line with our commitment as government to utilise state levers such as licensing and support to assist SMMEs and promote the implementation of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment targets. In this regard, the Tourism Grading Council has stepped up its assistance to SMME accommodation establishments to be graded and a total of 8 544 establishments had been graded by February this year as official accommodation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
We all understand the potential of the tourism industry in contributing to local and rural development. As part of the Expanded Public Works Programme, our Community Work Programme will be fast-tracked. This injection of resources is geared towards assisting us in our renewed efforts to create job opportunities.
In line with the country's comprehensive rural development strategy, the department will continue to prioritise the development of community and rural tourism to ensure that tourism benefits are equitably distributed. In order to kick-start rural tourism, we have to unlock tourism potential at the local sphere of government and the role of local government is acknowledged through our annual local government indaba on tourism. At this year's indaba, we launched the Tourism Planning Toolkit for local government and presented the National Tourism Growth Strategy to stakeholders.
Further consultation with provinces and municipalities will be undertaken to secure support for the implementation of the toolkit. Capacity-building for tourism planning at local government level, targeted at municipalities that have a high potential for tourism growth, will also be prioritised. The department will continue to contribute to the drive to strengthen our country's skills and human resource base. The Tourism Service Excellence Strategy was launched at the annual National Tourism Conference in November 2008, and an implementation plan is being finalised. The strategy focuses on the upskilling of those involved in service delivery and appropriate training programmes.
In preparation for 2010, 4 030 tourism ambassadors and volunteers are being trained as part of the "Know your country, know your city" project, and additional 1 000 tourism ambassadors will be trained in, amongst others, service excellence. We also successfully hosted the first ever annual Tourism Careers Expo in 2007. More than 17 000 learners, educators, tourism graduates and tourism subject advisors attended and we look forward to the next expo to be held later this year.
In the coming year, we will, amongst other things, focus our attention on ensuring that skills development initiatives are aligned to the needs of the industry. We will furthermore continue to promote interventions to deal with geographic spread, local and rural development and job creation.
To our friends in the tourism sector and to all our stakeholders, I would like to say thank you for your hard work. We are, of course, led by the Minister. And we have to give him the accolades he deserves for having led, up to this stage, the success in the tourism industry. Our department is ready to work with all of you to realise the full potential of this industry in building a better life for all. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms M A A NJOBE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TOURISM
Ms M A A NJOBE: Chairperson, hon members, firstly I would like to congratulate the hon Minister and Deputy Minister on their appointments to steer the new department of tourism. The Congress of the People also congratulates the department for once again receiving an unqualified audit report and for the high level of budgeted spending in the past financial year.
The tourism programme, which in previous years received the second largest slice of the department's budget, has now been identified by the new government as a tool with a potential for further job creation and poverty eradication. In spite of the global financial crisis and a general decline in the economy, tourism continued to show positive growth, as illustrated by an increase in the number of foreign arrivals in the country and an increase in their spending.
However, the challenge to increase their stay and where they stay remains.
Indeed, the bigger challenge for the new department will be to succeed in making tourism the engine for job creation and prosperity in South Africa as envisaged in the strategic plan. This can only be achieved if tourism is made the concern, not only of the national, but also of the provincial as well as the local government spheres. I am happy the Deputy Minister has alluded to the involvement of the local government in the tourism industry. Both the public and the private tourism infrastructure must also be developed and improved.
Cope believes that building a growing, dynamic and a competitive economy is consistent with the creation of conditions for social and economic inclusiveness. We believe that there is an urgent need to overcome inequalities in our society, to ensure economic progress and to achieve national unity. Cope sees South Africa's economic priorities as the eradication of poverty and all its offshoots - creation of jobs, levelling of inequality and the building of a diversified economy. That the South African tourism industry has overtaken gold mining as a leading earner of foreign exchange, challenges the new department to intensify efforts to create even better conditions for sustainable tourism, growth and development.
The level of preparedness by the department for both the Confederations Cup and the 2010 Soccer World Cup is to be commended. We hope that all targets set in the 2010 tourism plan, which includes training programmes... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Ms M A A NJOBE
Ms A T LOVEMORE: Chairperson, there are two words within the values of this department that must be emphasised as we move through this year and indeed through the next five years. Those two words are "maximised impact". I quote that from the values. Unless we maximise impact, we will fail in our constitutional duty to provide an environment that is not harmful to the health or the wellbeing of all South Africans.
My statement today has three focus areas: Firstly, I will speak on the effective air quality management, which is addressed in the budget documents. However, over the next year the department strives to reduce the number of municipalities with air quality that does not meet ambient air quality standards by 2 to 25. The aim for 2014 is that we should have 17 municipalities with air quality that does not meet ambient air quality standards. Every resident of the 17 municipalities that will still be breathing polluted substandard air in 2014 will agree that this in not maximised impact. In September of this year, municipalities will have the power to implement the National Environment Management: Air Quality Act. Surely, with all relevant spheres involved in the quest for clean air, we can and must do better than this.
Secondly, in September 2006, this department's Health Care Risk Waste Steering Committee reported that South Africa's capacity to treat this waste, basically medical waste, fell 13 000 tons short of what was then being generated each year. On Monday this week the daily dispatch carried an article which sadly mirrors many similar articles we have seen over the years. It describes the discovery of two heaps of medical waste, including syringes and pill containers, dumped along a deserted road 400m from Bhisho Hospital. The provincial spokesperson quoted in the article referred to the waste discovered as such a danger to human life. Yet, it is not receiving priority attention. The target for this year and next year is the development of health care risk waste regulations and policy and the costing of the roll-out thereof. It must go further than this. A thorough due diligence audit must be carried out on every medical waste contractor. Sufficient permitted landfill sites that can accept treated medical waste must be available. The department must promote new technologies, moving away from land filling and certainly away from incineration of medical waste. The green scorpions must crack down on anyone transgressing the law.
Finally, waste electrical and electronic equipment or simply e-waste is both an emerging problem and a business opportunity of increasing significance. E-waste contains many toxic substances, including lead, mercury and arsenic. When e-waste is land filled or recycled without any controls, there is a very high potential for serious negative consequences for the environment and for human health. E-waste also contains considerable quantities of valuable materials, including precious metals - gold being one of them. Recycling e-waste has the potential to provide attractive business opportunities. This has resulted in the dumping of the world's e-waste in China, India and West Africa for uncontrolled recycling by unscrupulous operators with often catastrophic consequences. As we speak, there is a container of this e-waste in the Durban Harbour. It has been shipped from America. An alert from the Basel Action Network has resulted in impoundment and investigation, but we must act now to prevent our country from becoming the next dumping ground.
South Africa's rate of e-waste generation is rapidly increasing. In 2004, it was estimated that in Gauteng alone approximately 50 000 tons of e-waste were generated. The Institute for Waste Management and concerned NGOs such as the e-Waste Association of South Africa have called for e-waste to be identified as a priority hazardous substance to be included in the priority list within the department's waste management business plan. No such support unfortunately in evidence. The new waste Act provides the department with the opportunity to develop appropriate regulations and of course the capacity to implement the required controls. To turn a blind eye to this issue is dangerous and certainly contrary to the stated aim of maximum impact.
The DA's vision of a society for its entire people resonates in its response to environmental management. We will continue our quest for an environment that is conducive to wellbeing and the creation of opportunity. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Dr M E TSHABALALA-MSIMANG
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Dr M E TSHABALALA-MSIMANG: Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, officials of both departments and hon members. It is appropriate that, as we engage in this debate on the Tourism Budget Vote, we pay tribute to the youth of our country who, 33 years, ago took a far-reaching decision to stand up against the might and brutality of the apartheid system. It is a good opportunity to have this debate during the Fifa Confederations Cup with Bafana Bafana having improved their performance and making us proud as a country – congratulations! [Applause.]
We are engaged in this debate, when thousands of our young people are faced with a different set of challenges that are largely socioeconomic in nature. They don't have skills and are therefore unemployable. Some are tempted by the easy income that comes with crime. How do we make this debate relevant to young people for them to look forward to a better tomorrow? They look upon us to create opportunities for them to earn a living as tour guides and as active industry players in this sector of our economy. Therefore, the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency is most welcome and gives us an opportunity to give our young people some answers to their questions.
There's no denying the fact that our country has continued to see encouraging economic growth especially in nontraditional areas such as tourism. It is and continues to be informed by the realisation that traditional economic drivers such as mining and manufacturing have over the years been witnessing accelerated decline due to a number of factors including costs and falling prices. Tourism for us therefore presents a very strategic and key area of growth as we seek to put our country on a development economic growth path.
We strongly believe that this sector has a potential to create jobs and grow our economy faster than any other sector based on our rich cultural diversity including our fauna and flora. The Fifa Confederations Cup gives us an opportunity to market our country and fully promote the various aspects of Tourism from remote nature reserves and game reserves and many cultures. We can promote the state of arts and entertainment facilities that will reflect and make people from different countries understand we have the best to offer.
In less than a year from now, thousands of people will descend on our shores to watch the world's biggest sporting event, the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup. But what opportunities do these current events present in the context of the economic growth we want for our country? They provide an opportunity to meaningful, sustainable and inclusive implementation of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment, BBEE, that ensure the improvement percentage directed at blacks and women suppliers in particular. These events provide us with an opportunity to put systems and measures in place that will ensure that as many of our people as possible, do benefit from these games. We have a duty to look at the critical areas of equity, skills development and preferential procurement so that we do not have a situation where only a handful of our people, based on their historical advantage, continue to benefit.
Linked to this is the whole issue of start-up capital to enable the historically disadvantaged in our country to access this very important sector so that they also benefit economically. It is for this reason that it becomes important that the partnerships between established and emerging participants are strengthened so that there can be sharing of knowledge in the context of the political imperative of levelling the proverbial playing field.
We therefore have to identify those things that give our country and the African region a competitive advantage and work together to market and enhance these advantages. We know for instance that the development and sustainability of our tourism industry depends very much on the level of customer care. We therefore have to intensify training and skills development programmes focused on this area so that bad service does not reflect negatively on all of us. Major entities in the sector have an obligation to direct much of their skills development spend on historically disadvantaged individuals with 4% of that reserved for people with disabilities.
We must talk about those small emerging role-players, the small business, that may, for instance, have a historical rural feature and therefore need to attract tourists, whether as transport or accommodation providers. We are talking of a small village that might have a water feature, a hill or a mountain that is of historical significance, hearts and assets of heritage, which may appeal to tourists. Such people deserve to be given an opportunity to also benefit from the tourism boom that we are experiencing today. They may not have much in a way of glamour and glitz. In this regard, we must find creative stimulating ways of both local and international tourism.
We have a clear agenda of rural development in our country which must include tourism. Some of us in this House know very well that there are many features of cultural and ecobiodiversity significance in many of our rural areas and the challenge for us is to make these more commercially relevant to communities.
The last point that I wish to address is the whole issue of cultural tourism in as far as it relates to the battles that we still face. I am referring here to a need for us to open a debate around how best we can protect significant events such as Umkhosi Womhlanga Musebetho kaTshivenda, for instance from those who may use such events for the wrong purposes.
To us as South Africans, such events and occasions define who we are and who we were. However, there is a danger that some may exploit these events for reasons that contradict the values that we have adopted and as elected representatives, we have to engage custodians of these events such as amakhosi, to develop a common approach on these matters. Just as they can promote tourism, we also have a duty to protect them from unnecessary exploitation that can harm the dignity and soul of our children.
In this context, I hope we will have the occasion and opportunity to enrich our debate on issues such as health, tourism and human trafficking. Thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Dr M E TSHABALALA-MSIMANG
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, I must thank the hon member Lovemore for a positive input. We have taken note of the issues: equality, medical waste, all of those. I think you have made very good recommendations that we will be looking at. [Applause.]
I also want to make a point, which I will link up with what Mr Greyling, in his absence, raised. The issue of managing – I don't want to be specific and say mining; I want to say development – in a way that will not impact negatively on the environment - that is my approach, and that is where I want us to really come together in the how, because it is the how that is the big issue. But, I agree with you, both of you. My emphasis may be elsewhere, but the approach is the same. I don't want to lose more time now.
There were announcements that I wanted to make: Firstly, on the protection of marine life, we know that most of our species are endangered, especially the shark. As a result, we have decided to extend marine week; we now have marine month. The whole of October becomes marine month. So, the Sharks will be playing at the time.
Secondly, the Minister will be very happy to hear that we are taking the shark and the whale and adding them to the Big Five. South Africa now has the Big Seven. [Applause.] Surely, that will have spin-offs for the tourism industry.
Yes, Mr Swart, we are reopening the courts. We are consulting with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. We are looking at partnerships with all the law enforcement agencies, because this is a big issue – we are dealing with syndicates. Surely, the courts need to be reopened, and that is the announcement I also wanted to make.
On the other issue of the vessel, we are in the process of procurement to pave the way for the building process to start next year, spanning a period of three years. There will be a process and guidelines that will be used to sell the old one. This is where we are. Again, I am trying to be as brief as possible.
I have to express appreciation to my predecessor for the guidance that he has given me, the support as he as always been there, but, most importantly, the invaluable contribution that he has made in the negotiations for climate change towards the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Indeed, he and his team put our country on a very high pedestal in the eyes of the world, and, indeed, I think we need to give him a round of applause. [Applause.]
I do want to commit that we will defend those gains. We will build on them. They are South Africa's gains. To that end, I just want to highlight that Africa has, again, you spoke about that – there is a Nairobi Declaration that you spoke about, which was adopted in May and will be presented to the heads of state by South Africa, because we happen to chair The African Materials Science and Engineering Network, Amsen. So, as the president of Amsen, the organisation has given us a mandate to present the declaration for Africa to the heads of state. Again, the emphasis is really the balance, adaptation, mitigation, climate change imperatives and development imperatives. That is the kind of input that Africa is taking into the negotiations.
I have spoken to the Scorpions. I think I want to thank the chairperson. Being a very energetic chairperson, I think she will drive this portfolio with energy. I think we are going to have a very vibrant debate, but we must debate. I don't want us to take the easy way out. We must debate the most difficult issues. We are here for that, for the people of South Africa. Thank you very much for a lively debate. I am looking forward to it. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF TOURISM
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
The MINISTER OF TOURISM: Chairperson, I would like to respond to five issues, but before I do that, I would like to thank all members for their excellent contributions. We heard a number of maiden speeches today. Congratulations to all those members. It is always a special moment in this House if a member delivers his or her maiden speech. Over the years, in this House, we changed chairman to chairperson and chairwoman to chairperson, but I think it is still permissible to say maiden speech. So, maybe somebody can think of a new term.
The five issues that I would like to respond to, Chairperson, is: the issue product offerings – the hon member Tshabalala-Msimang raised that issue; the issue of airlift; the issue of markets, where do these 9,5 million people who visit us every year come from and how are we going to increase that to the 10 million that we want next year? Then the issue that the hon member Shinn raised on the other side, the issue of beyond 2010; and then, lastly, a co-operation between different levels of government.
On the issue of our product offering, I can confirm that it is a huge challenge, because for decades we basically relied on leisure tourism. What we need to do now is to make sure that we diversify, that we bring credible, attractive new products on the market. One of those is the challenge of heritage tourism, and we think it has a lot of potential to convince many more people to come and visit this country. A challenge remains for us to push South Africa up on the list of destinations for convention or conference tourism. We believe where we are now we are lagging at about number 27 or 28 globally. We want South Africa to be one of the top 10 convention tourism destinations. We believe it is possible, and we are going to work extremely hard to achieve that objective.
On the issue of airlift and arrivals, I can say that Cabinet adopted an airlift strategy two or three years ago, and that has changed the landscape in this country. Now, many more airlines announced that they are now flying to South Africa; others increase the number of flights to South Africa and, obviously, back to their own home destinations. Just during the last year, we saw quite a substantial increase in flights from the United Kingdom, from France, from Brazil, from India, and, obviously, also from Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. We would like to continue that trend.
Let us talk for a second about South African Airways, SAA. It is not my direct responsibility; it is the responsibility of Minister Hogan, the Minister of Public Enterprises. The signal from that Cabinet decision to the tourism industry, but also to South African Airways, was a very unambiguous, clear signal: The days of the overprotection of South African Airways is over. [Applause.] How SAA adapt to that situation will determine how they are going to survive in these new circumstances. They will have to be much more competitive, and from our side the message to them is that we want to work with them. We think there should be much better alignment between our agency, South African Tourism, and South African Airways. The message is also that our interest is to have as many tourists here as possible. So, if we need to work with other airlines, we are going to do that. Therefore, our message to SAA is: Be competitive. We want to work with you, but there are other players as well. We obviously trust and hope that they will adapt to that situation.
Now, where do these 9,5 million tourists come from? Over seven million of them come from Africa, and the perception about Africa is changing. People in Africa have money to travel. Just the air markets in Africa, the yield, the increasing numbers to South Africa, last year for year on year, was just over 19%. That is not from the region, travelled by land. Those are our air markets. So, that is good news for South Africa as a destination. Then we have to understand that our traditional markets are very valuable. They are really our bread and butter markets – Europe and the United States of America – and we will continue to market there.
Apart from Africa, there are many new markets that we are now branching into: India, China, and then also Japan. We also increased the number of flights from Japan to seven flights per week. From India, we are seeing good growth; from China also, but it is from a very low base, because that is really a difficult market to crack. India and China, specifically, will become high-priority markets for us over the next few years.
Then, on the issue of beyond 2010, the hon member Shinn is correct as 2010 is a wonderful opportunity, but it can never be an end in itself. There is life after 2010, and I would like to convey to the hon member and to this House that, even now, we are planning for beyond 2010. We are looking at attracting other events to South Africa, for example sporting, cultural and convention events but also our marketing, in general, to new markets, because we know that after 2010 we will not be able to afford a sudden slump in the arrival numbers in South Africa. We have this entire infrastructure; we need to be able to use it. We are a developing country, and we cannot allow something to happen here as what had happened in a country such as Korea after their World Cup in 2002 when they had to then start demolishing infrastructure and stadiums. We simply cannot do it. So, we agree with your insight in that regard.
Then the last issue is the issue of co-operation between levels of government. We need to be very open about this issue. We need a much more co-ordinated approach to market South Africa as a country, and we have started the process of brand alignment to get all the major cities and the provinces on board so that we can market South Africa as a destination. What are undermining our efforts are all these municipalities and provinces going overseas and marketing themselves. People in other parts of the world simply don't know. It is nothing against Swellendam or Mangaung, but if you go to those exhibitions and say come to Mangaung or Swellendam, it simply doesn't cut. We have to market South Africa as a destination and then decide how we are going to increase our competition inside the country with our own internal marketing. So, I hope that I can look to members on the other side of the aisle to make sure that the Western Cape and Cape Town also understand that message, so that all of us, in the interest of the country, work towards the same goal and the same objective so that all of us can benefit. Chairperson, thank you very much. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 16:31.
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