ATC151028: Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, dated 27 October 2015

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

BUDGETARY REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATION REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS, DATED 27 OCTOBER 2015.

 

The Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, dated 27 October 2015.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the Portfolio Committee), having considered the performance and expenditure for 2014/15 financial year and submission to the National Treasury for the medium-term period of the Department of Environmental Affairs (the Department) and it’s entities, namely, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African Weather Service (SAWS), iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (IWPA) and South African National Parks (SANParks); and having further interacted with the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) as well as the Financial Fiscal Commission (FFC) on their respective reports on the performance of the environmental portfolio, reports as follows:

 

 

1.         INTRODUCTION

 

1.1        Mandate of Committee

 

The mandate of the Portfolio Committee is to enhance the principles of a developmental state through passing legislation and to facilitate public participation, monitoring and oversight functions over the legislative processes relating to the environment; confer with relevant governmental and civil society organs on the impact of environmental legislation and related matters; enhance and develop the capacity of committee members in the exercise of effective oversight over the Executive Authority. Thus, the core mandate of the Committee is to:

 

  • Consider legislation referred to it;
  • Conduct oversight of any organ of state and constitutional institutions falling within its portfolio;
  • Consider international agreements; and
  • Consider the budgets, strategic plans, annual performance plans and related performance reports and targets of the Department and entities falling within its portfolio.

 

2. PURPOSE of the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report

 

The Money Bills Procedures and Related Matters Amendment Act No 9 of 2009 (the Money Bills Act) sets out the process that allows Parliament through its committees to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to amend the budget of a national Department. In October of each year, portfolio committees must compile the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRRs) that assess service delivery performance given the available resources; evaluate the effective and efficient use and forward allocation of resources; and may make recommendations on forward use of resources.

 

The BRRR is based on a comprehensive review and analysis of the previous financial year’s performance, as well as performance to date. In addition to the Annual and Quarterly reports, the BRRR also sources documents for the Standing/Select Committees on Appropriations/Finance when they make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBS).

 

The Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee is based on the information that it accessed through various engagements with the Department on its annual planning processes and with relevant stakeholders on legislation as indicated below:

 

  • The 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA);
  • Department of Environmental Affairs Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan for 2014/15;
  • Department of Environmental Affairs Annual Report and Financial Statements for  2014/15;
  • Quarterly Reports of the Department for 2014/15, and the 2015/16 first Quarter Report;
  • Report of the Auditor-General to Parliament on the Financial Statements of Vote Number 30;
  • Report of the Fiscal Finance Commission to Parliament on the Vote Number 30;
  • National Development Plan (NDP);
  • New Growth Path (NGP); and
  • The National Treasury’s Section 32 Reports.

 

The Committee further engaged with the following entities that report to the Minister of Environmental Affairs on their annual reports and financial statements, namely:

 

  • The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (IWPA);
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI);
  • South African National Parks (SANParks); and
  • The South African Weather Service (SAWS).

 

3.         Core functions of the Department and its Entities

 

The Department is mandated to ensure the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, balanced with sustainable and climate change-resilient development and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from natural resources. In its quest for better use and engagement of the natural environment, the Department is guided by its constitutional mandate, as contained in Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, which stipulates that “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that:

 

  1. Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
  2. Promote conservation; and
  3. Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.”

 

The Department fulfils its mandate through formulating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of national environmental policies, programmes and legislation with the additional support from entities such as the IWPA, SANBI, SANParks and the SAWS. As the national partner in a concurrent function, the Department leads the environmental sector by setting the policy and legislative framework and the norms and standards required for environmentally sustainable development. This role is evident through the large numbers of policy and legislative instruments, such as relevant regulations, which were initiated and processed by the Department.

 

3.1        Department’s Strategic Policy Priorities in relation to the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030

 

In line with the National Development Plan Vision 2030, the Department has the following strategic goals over the medium term:

 

  • Environmental assets conserved, valued, sustainably used, protected and continually enhanced;
  • Enhanced socio-economic benefits and employment creation for the present and future generations from a healthy environment;
  • A Department that is fully capacitated to deliver its services efficiently and effectively;
  • Environmental economic contribution optimised;
  • Environmental/ecological integrity safeguarded and enhanced;
  • Socially transformed and transitioned communities;
  • Global agenda influenced and obligations met; and
  • A Capable and efficient Department.

 

It is important to note that the Department’s first two outcome oriented goals are aligned to the Government’s Outcome 10 and 4 priorities. The Government’s Outcome 10 requires the Department to ensure that “Environmental Assets and Natural Resources are valued, protected and continually enhanced.” In fact, Outcome 10 is one of the 12 Outcomes adopted at the Cabinet Lekgotla held from 20th to 22nd January 2010.[1] Outcome 10 has important implications for the work of the Department, for example, the Outcome 10 Delivery Agreement addresses the following key sub-outcomes from the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 Vision, namely:

 

  • Ecosystems are sustained and natural resources are used efficiently; and
  • An effective climate change mitigation and adaptation response.

 

It would be fair to state that the Department has made significant progress on achieving these two key sub-outcomes from the NDP, considering that the area of State-owned protected areas has expanded considerably from 10.6 per cent in the previous year to presently 11.3 per cent of land under conservation. A further total of 17 biodiversity stewardship sites were established and are at various stages of finalisation for declaration, which also adds to the conservation estate targets. Eighty-six per cent of the area of state-managed protected areas assessed had a management effectiveness tracking tool (METT) score of above 67. The Department has cumulatively achieved 825 072 hectares (ha) out of the planned annual target of 790 327 ha in respect to the land under rehabilitation. In terms of Operation Phakisa deliverables, the draft concept note for the Oceans Management Bill has also been developed and further the National Pollution Laboratory was identified in the Eastern Cape Province.

 

On the other hand, realising “reduced total emissions of the greenhouse gases” as per the second key outcome from the NDP (above), work has been re-focused to emphasise the establishment of a mitigation system that include the following elements: carbon budgets, mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and pollution prevention planning. In the same vein, the design of the Climate Change Response Monitoring and Evaluation system has been completed.

 

In terms of Outcome 4: Decent Employment through Inclusive Economic Growth, with particular emphasis on Output 2: More labour absorbing growth Sub-output: Green Economy, the National Green Fund (NGF) was established with an initial allocation of R800 million for three years from 2012/2013 until 2014/2015. An additional R300 million was allocated to the Fund, bringing the total allocation to R1.1 billion. The Department in partnership with the National Treasury coordinates the implementation of the NGF. A total of 53 projects were approved for implementation, which included, 29 investment projects; 16 research and policy development; and 8 capacity development initiatives at the end of the 2014/2015 financial year. To date, a total of 8 024 jobs have been created whereas a total of 12 937 jobs was projected once the Fund is fully operational.

 

4.         OVERVIEW of perfomance BY THE DEPARTMENT AND THE ENTITIES

 

4.1        Departmental Programmes

 

The Department has seven programmes that are positioned to achieve the Department’s strategic policy priorities and its constitutional mandate:

 

  • The Administration Programme provides leadership, strategic centralised administration and executive support, corporate services and facilitates effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness.

 

  • The Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement Programme promotes the development of an enabling legal regime, licensing and authorisation system that ensures enforcement and compliance.

 

  • The Oceans and Coasts Programme promotes, manages and provides strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation, including relevant research.

 

  • The Climate Change and Air Quality Programme formulates policies, administers legislation and implements systems to improve regulation, monitoring and compliance over climate change and air quality. This Programme also improves air and atmospheric quality, leads and supports, informs, monitors and reports efficient and effective international, national and significant provincial and local responses to climate change through the South African Weather Service (SAWS).

 

  • The Biodiversity and Conservation Programme ensures the regulation and management of all biodiversity, natural heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development. It is in the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme where the departmental entities such as the South African National Parks (SANParks), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority are situated.

 

  • The Environmental Programmes Programme is the largest departmental programme (in terms of budget allocation) and deals with the implementation of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Green Economy projects in the environmental sector.

 

  • The Chemicals and Waste Management Programme manages and ensures that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements.[2]

 

4.2        Service Delivery Capacity Constraints

 

The prevailing economic environment generally requires Government and the Department in particular to achieve more with existing or reduced resources. This impacts on capacity and speed at which the Department delivers on priorities, as the Department is not always able to fund the approved structure. The most affected aspect of the Department’s work in this regard is the processing of an increasing number of applications for environmental authorisations within regulated timeframes. It is noteworthy that a significant increase in a large number of Government Infrastructure development projects and other normal private developments has resulted in higher number of environmental impact assessment (EIA) applications that the Department has to process.

 

The same capacity constraints are also relevant in carrying out activities aimed at ensuring compliance to and enforcement of environmental legislation such as environmental compliance inspections and criminal enforcement interventions.

 

The delivery environment is further impacted on by emerging environmental threats, which were not previously funded such as climate change. Consequently, the Department continues to build partnerships with donors and look for innovative ways to address these challenges and enhance efficiencies. The global economic environment has, however, led to a decrease in funds raised from donors. Notwithstanding, delays in the approval of donor funding result in delays in meeting some of the planned annual targets.

 

4.3        Service Delivery Improvement Plan

 

The Department has an approved Service Delivery Charter and Service Delivery Improvement Plan supported by a service standard matrix that focuses on improving governance within the Department in line with the Public Service Regulations. The Service Charter seeks to emphasise the Department’s commitment to serving the general public with humility, in line with the Government principles of Batho Pele, which amongst others, include exercising courtesy in dealings with the public, consultation, openness and transparency, access to information and proving value for public resources. A system or mechanism for lodging any complaints relating to the work of the Department is also outlined in the Charter.

 

It suffices to mention that compliance with approved service standards is monitored internally on a quarterly basis and reported to Parliament and the general public in the Department’s Annual Report. The following is the summary of key achievements by the Department in the period under review (2014/15 financial year):

 

4.3.1     Programme 1: Administration

 

The purpose of the Administration Programme is to provide leadership, strategic centralised administration and executive support, corporate services and facilitate effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness. The Department has met most of the performance targets in the Administration Programme and where such targets have not been met, corrective measures have been put in place. For example, the “planned vacancy rate target” was missed by a slight margin of 0.9 per cent due to delays/challenges in filling posts in specialised skills/scientific fields; financial constraints and the need to reprioritise/delay filling of some funded vacancies. Corrective measures in this instance are to prioritise key posts and facilitate filling of them in 2015/16, and exploring other targeted recruitment initiatives such as headhunting, where necessary.

 

In the 2014/15 financial year, the Administration Programme had a total of 52 annual targets, with 43 (83 per cent) of those targets were met and the nine (9) annual targets were not achieved. Of the 9, six (6) targets were partially achieved and the remaining three (3) targets were significantly delayed. Some of the notable achievements made in the 2014/15 financial year include:

 

  • Unqualified audit opinion, as part of a standing commitment to good governance and accountability;
  • The recruitment of 100 young graduates as part of the DEA’s annual internship programme;
  • Offering full bursaries to 35 deserving young people pursuing studies in different areas of environmental management;
  • Planned target for the number of HRD strategy initiatives implemented was exceeded by a small margin;
  • Planned targets for the percentage of women, black people and people living with disabilities at the DEA were exceeded;
  • 117 teachers trained in environmental awareness activities, more than the target of 100 teachers;
  • The target of recruiting 100 unemployed youths in learnership programme was achieved;
  • 12 environmental awareness campaign were conducted, which is more than the campaign target of 8;
  • The target of confirming 6 sector skills plans to have environmental focus was achieved;
  • 1108 officials were trained, including officials from the DEA, provinces and other stakeholders (i.e. Eskom, Transnet), which is more than the target of 400 officials;
  • 392 officials completed environmental management training and (EMI/IEM), more than the target of 240 officials;
  • 164 746 accredited training person days were created, more than the 139 915 target;
  • Outcome 10 Delivery Agreement for the 2014-2019 MTSF period approved and published, as opposed to being approved only;
  • Design of Climate Change response M&E system was approved by MINMEC, as planned;
  • State of the Oceans Report has been produced, as planned;
  • 26 scientific peer-reviewed publications achieved, in excess of the 18 target;
  • 2012 South Africa Environment Outlook (SAEO) report completed, but not published and NSSD 1 M&E Report finalised as per the plan;
  • US$ 80,513,812 (US$ 30.616,964 approved and US$ 49,896,848 Endorsed) mobilised from all sources, more than the US$30 million target (Multilateral: US$20 million; Bilateral: US$10 million);
  • 28 of 31 misconduct cases were finalised within the average number of 90 working days; and
  • Average number of 53 working days were taken to resolve grievance cases, more than the average 30 days per grievance.

 

4.3.2     Programme 2: Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement

 

The purpose of the Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement Programme is to promote the development and implementation of an enabling legal regime and licensing/authorisation system to ensure enforcement and compliance with environmental law.

 

Ninety (90) per cent (9/10) of the 10 targets that the Programme had in the 2014/15 financial year were successfully met. The remaining one (1) annual target was not fully met, but a significant progress towards the planned target was made.

 

The Department achieved the following targets:

 

  • Inspections were conducted against 247 environmental authorisations at various facilities to assess compliance with legislation and other conditions set out in the respective authorisations. These inspections led to issuing of administrative enforcement actions to non-complying individuals and organisations;
  • A total of 30 criminal investigations into various environmental crimes were finalised and dockets handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision and prosecution, more than the 26 target;
  • 247 environmental authorisations inspected, more than the 135 target;
  • An average of 83 per cent annual compliance with administrative enforcement actions were issued on 129 projects monitored during the reporting period, in excess of the 75 per cent target;
  • 30 criminal investigations were finalised and dockets handed over to NPA for prosecution/decision, more than the 26 target;
  • 1 102 Environmental monitors trained and deployed against the target of 1 100;
  • Compliance and Enforcement Strategy was finalised and approved and draft implementation plan had been developed, as planned;
  • Implementation of corrective actions relating to threatened or protected species (TOPS) regulations were monitored in two provinces (North West & Limpopo), as planned:
  • Compliance assessments on the implementation of CITES regulations were conducted in two provinces (North West & Limpopo), as planned;
  • Minimum requirements for biodiversity in land use planning and IEM were finalised, as per the planned annual target;
  • Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were developed with the Department of Home Affairs, State Security Agency, Department of Transport and Department of Social Development; and
  • Review of the national strategy for the safety and security of rhinoceros population in South Africa was not fully conducted, but stakeholder consultation was facilitated and comments/inputs were consolidated.

 

4.3.3     Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts

 

The purpose of the Oceans and Coasts Programme is to promote, manage and provide strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation. Thus, the Oceans and Coasts Programme facilitates work, which is   aimed at ensuring that the vast ocean space to which South Africa has jurisdiction is effectively managed and protected.

 

The following targets were achieved:

 

  • 81 per cent (13/16) of the 16 annual performance targets that the Oceans and Coasts Programme had in the 2014/15 financial year were achieved, whereas the remaining three (3) annual targets were partially achieved, but significant progress towards the planned targets was made;
  • Four surveys of priority habitats were undertaken during the year under review; and
  • Ongoing research work in the Antarctica, the Gough and the Marion Islands was undertaken.
  • Report on analysis of legislative and institutional framework with implications for ocean governance in South Africa was finalised, as per the planned target;
  • Implementation plan for the ocean management policy was developed, as planned;
  • The National Coastal Management Programme (NCMP) was launched on 14th March 2015 in East London, and the NCMP Implementation Plan was also developed;
  • One additional local plan was updated — the Knysna Zone local contingency plan was reviewed and updated;
  • One oil spill readiness exercise and one training session were facilitated, as per the planned target;
  • Draft Turtle Management Plan was developed;
  • 5 estuary management plans were developed, as planned;
  • Draft monitoring proposal for the Prince Edward Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been successfully compiled and finalised;
  • 3 relief voyages were undertaken to the Marion Island, Gough and South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) Voyage;
  • 4 surveys of priority habitats were undertaken;
  • Population estimates were undertaken for all the 12 birds species and 2 Southern Ocean species (Crozet and African Penguin);
  • 2 Coastal research projects were completed; and
  • 6 Observational platforms were deployed.

 

4.3.4     Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality

 

The mandate of the Climate Change and Air Quality Programme is to improve air and atmospheric quality, lead and support, inform, monitor and report efficient and effective international, national and significant provincial and local responses to climate change.

 

The Department’s performance in this Programme encompassed the following:

 

  • In the 2014/15 financial year, the Department finalised and published the long-term adaptation Scenarios phase 2 reports;
  • A report on policy alignment review for four sectors on climate change adaptation was completed;
  • The planned annual activities to implement Air Quality Management Plans (AQMPs) for declared national priority areas were facilitated for the Vaal Triangle and Highveld AQMPs, whereas the Waterberg-Bojanala Air Quality Management Plan was published for public comments;
  • 76 per cent (13 out of 17 targets) of the targets that the Climate Change and Air Quality Programme had in 2014/15 were achieved, with the remaining four (4) annual targets not achieved;
  • Three (3) targets were partially achieved; and
  • One (1) target was significantly delayed.
  • 124 stations (100 Government-owned plus 24 industry-owned) were reporting on South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS), more than the 90 target;
  • Long-term Adaptation Scenarios Phase 2 Reports finalised covering four sectors (human settlements, scenario planning, and disaster risk reduction sectors);
  • Draft report of the situational analysis and needs assessment (SANAS) was completed;
  • Report on gap analysis/recommendations and policy alignment review for four adaptation sectors was completed;
  • Framework for the National Climate Adaptation Strategy for South Africa was completed;
  • Draft Framework for the National Climate Services was developed;
  • Draft desired emission reduction outcomes (DEROs) for 5 sectors were completed;
  • Draft Mix of measures framework was developed;
  • My 2050 calculator was developed;
  • Framework of energy efficiency flagship and the transport sector was developed;
  • Final mitigation plans guideline was prepared;
  • National Air Quality Indicator was attained at 0.83, as opposed to the target of 1.135;
  • Draft S23 – Intention to declare Small Scale Charcoal Plants as Controlled Emitters was published for public consultation/comment, as per the target;
  • 2014/15 annual plans for 3 Air Quality Management Plans (AQMPs) (Highveld and Vaal Triangle Airshed) were successfully implemented and an annual priority area progress report was produced and included in the 2014 National Air Quality Officer (NAQO) report;
  • Draft National Carbon Sinks Atlas was not produced;
  • Emissions Offset Policy for Air Quality Management (AQM) was not published, but rather Emissions Offsets Guidelines finalised; and
  • Waterberg-Bojanala AQMP approved for public comments against the target “Waterberg-Bojanala AQMP and threat assessment published in the gazette”.

 

4.3.5     Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation

 

The mandate of the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme is to ensure the regulation and management of all biodiversity, heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development.

 

The Department’s performance in the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme entailed the following:

 

  • South Africa’s area of land under formal protection was increased to 11.3 per cent (13 774 789 /121 991 200 hectares) from 10.67 per cent in the previous (2013/14) financial year;
  • The Department facilitated the implementation of a number of community-based projects, which are providing socio-economic benefits to communities as part of enhancing access and equitable benefits from natural resources;
  • 86 per cent (31 out a total of 36) of the annual performance targets in the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme in the 2014/15 financial year were achieved;
  • The remaining five (5) annual targets were partially achieved;
  • 11.3 per cent of land was placed under conservation (13 774 789 ha/121 991 200 ha), more than the 11.2 per cent target;
  • 90 per cent of the area of state-managed protected areas were assessed and were found with a management effectiveness tracking tool (METT) score of 67 per cent and above, more than the 86 per cent target;
  • Draft amended/revised norms and standards for the management of elephants in South Africa developed;
  • Revised TOPS Regulations and species list finalised and submitted to the Executive Authority for approval to re-publish for public participation;
  • National Council of Province (NCOP) process was completed and amendment Bill to incorporate MPAs into NEMPAA was also finalised;
  • Draft Amendment Bill incorporating provisions relating to Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) and World Heritage Site (WHS) reserves into National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA) was developed;
  • 2nd draft of Norms and standards for declaration and inclusion of private nature reserves was completed;
  • Amendment of Regulations for Special Nature Reserves, National Parks and World Heritage sites published in the gazette for implementation;
  • Biodiversity sector transformation framework had been finalised;
  • Communities were supported in the development business plans for 2 biodiversity economy development projects: Tyefu Aloe ferox harvesting Balepye/Selwane Rhino farming projects;
  • Implementation of five Bushbuckridge projects facilitated;
  • Biodiversity Research Strategy has been approved;
  • Elephant Research Strategy was approved and published for implementation;
  • Norms and standards for the management of protected areas was not finalised and published for public participation; and
  • National Biodiversity Economy Development Strategy was not finalised, as planned.

 

4.3.6     Programme 6: Environmental Programmes

 

The purpose of the Environmental Programmes Programme is to facilitate implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Green Economy projects in the environmental sector. The EPWP of the environment sector is made up of the following Programmes: the Environment Programmes and Infrastructure Projects (EPIPs), the Working for Water, Working on Land and Working on Fire. These programmes enable the Department to address a number of environmental management challenges and related infrastructure development whilst creating the much needed employment opportunities and skills development with a focus on young people, women and people with disabilities.

 

The Department’s performance in the Environmental Programmes Programme can be summarised as follows:

 

  • A total of 33 318 full time equivalent (FTEs) jobs (i.e., employment lasting for a period equivalent to a year) and 85 140 work opportunities were created during the period under review;
  • A total number of 900 young people were provided with employment and training opportunities as part of the Youth Environmental Service (YES) Programme;
  • 76 per cent (19 out of 25) annual performance targets were met, with the remaining six (6) annual targets not achieved;
  • 85 140 work opportunities were created, more than the 69 158 target;
  • 53 per cent of the beneficiaries were women, 70 per cent youth and 1.66 per cent people with disabilities;
  • 33 (31 overnight visitor and staff accommodation units established and 2 units renovated), more than the target of 22;
  • 160 090 school desk equivalents were produced against the target of 120 000 school desks;
  • 205 500 hectares of land where invasive alien plants were treated/cleared, more than the 169 045 target;
  • 66 542 ha of degraded land were under repair, in excess of the 31 262 ha target;
  • 100 per cent (3 133/3 133) of the fires were suppressed against the 90 per cent target;
  • 53 Green Fund projects were approved for implementation, more than the 38 target;
  • 1 initiative on hydraulic fracturing of shale gas was coordinated and supported;
  • 5 interventions for streamlining environmental authorisations for Strategic Infrastructure Programme (SIP) and Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) priorities were developed;
  • 2 210 SMMEs were used (empowerment initiative);
  • 115 wetlands were rehabilitated;
  • 2 113 kilometres of accessible coastline were cleaned;
  • 39 per cent (337/858) of young people were placed in exit opportunities after participation in the YES Programme, less than the 75 per cent target;
  • 556 722 hectares of land where follow up invasive alien plants were treated/cleared, less than the 560 339 target; and
  • 1 sector guideline was developed (mining review guideline).

 

4.3.7     Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management

 

The purpose of the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme is to manage and ensure that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements.

 

The Department’s performance in the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme for the year under review can be summarised as follows:

 

  • 69 per cent (9 out of 13) of the targets that the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme had were achieved in the 2014/15 financial year, with the remaining four (4) annual targets partially achieved;
  • 25 per cent of waste tyres recycled/used for energy recovery or re-used, more than the 10 per cent target;
  • 12 buy-back centres established, more than the 11 target;
  • Draft import-export regulations was developed;
  • Best practice guideline for preparation of Waste Derived Fuel was developed;
  • 2 industry management plans reviewed (e-waste plan and paper and packaging); and
  • Survey to identify current unlicensed waste site was undertaken, verification conducted and 57 sites were identified. Process to appoint service provider was at an advanced stage. Funds were secured and tender closed in December 2014, whilst the bid evaluation process is still to be conducted.

 

4.3.8     Overview of the Department’s budget allocation for 2014/15

 

For the 2014/15 financial year, the Department received a total budget allocation of R5.680 billion and spent 99.9 per cent of its allocated budget at the end of the 2014/15 financial year. The Biodiversity and Conservation and Programme and the Environmental Programmes Programme combined received the biggest allocation of the total budget. The reason for the large budget allocations to these programmes is due to the infrastructure projects undertaken by the Department. Below is the breakdown of budget allocation and expenditure, per programme.

 

Table 1: Budget allocations per programme for the 2014/15 financial year

 

Programme

Appropriation

Expenditure

% Spent

1. Administration

731 335

731 335

100.0

2. Legal, authorization and

     compliance

102 123

100 621

98.5

3. Oceans and coasts

349 257

349 257

100.0

4. Climate change and air quality

229 292

229 292

100.0

5. Biodiversity and conservation      

643 068

643 068

100.0

6. Environmental Programmes

3 553 433

3 549 608

99.9

7. Chemicals and waste management

71 878

71 878

100.0

Total

5 680 386

5 675 059

99.9

Source:  National Treasury (2015) Estimates of National Expenditure. National Treasury, Pretoria.

 

4.4        Performance of the departmental entities

 

The Performance by the Department’s four entities are as follows:

 

4.4.1     South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

 

SANBI was established in September 2004, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No 10 of 2004). The mandate of the Institute is to monitor and report regularly on the status of South Africa’s biodiversity, which includes all listed threatened or protected species, ecosystems and invasive species; and the impact of any genetically modified organism that has been realised into the environment. The Institute is also mandated to act as an advisory and consultative body on matters relating to organs of State and other biodiversity stakeholders; coordinate and promote the taxonomy of South Africa’s biodiversity; manage, control and maintain all national botanical gardens, herbaria and collections of dead animals that may exist; and advise the Minister of Environmental Affairs on any matter regulated in terms of the Act, and any international agreements affecting biodiversity that are binding on South Africa. It is in executing its legally conferred mandate that SANBI achieved the following targets for the reporting period 2014/15:

 

The key achievements for the 2014/15 financial year are as follows:

 

  • Exceeded six KPIs and only two  were not met due to delays in grant funds;
  • 29 horticulturists and scientists were identified and placed on career path;
  • 1 000 Groen Sebenza ‘Pioneers’ (unemployed youth) were skilled and hosted in the biodiversity sector;
  • Produced quarterly newsflash, increased media coverage;
  • Implemented initiatives and activities to attract increased visitor numbers;
  • One SANBI garden inventory was updated with new information;
  • 115 wetlands were rehabilitated;
  • Produced business case for the biodiversity stewardship;
  • Strengthened relations with the DEA and with other departments/key stakeholders/partners;
  • Employment equity targets were achieved;
  • 52 897 beneficiaries were hosted in school based programmes;
  • Facilitated one platform for the civil society engagement that contributed to biodiversity monitoring;
  • Financial stability and unqualified audit opinion, at least in the past six consecutive years; and
  • Improved performance management and compliance.

 

Notwithstanding, SANBI faced some challenges in meeting the target relating to establish and operate new botanical gardens, particularly transfer of Limpopo (Thohoyandou) and Acquisition of land for the Eastern Cape (Kwelerha) Botanical Garden. The former relates to late transfer of employees of the botanical garden to SANBI. However, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development and Tourism (LEDET) has since agreed to retain and remunerate their employees currently working in the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden. With regard to acquisition of land for the Kwelerha Botanical Garden, the entity proclaimed and gazetted the new garden, although SANBI was still waiting for the finalisation of the transfer of the land by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in the year under review.

 

4.4.2     iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority in KwaZulu-Natal was established in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act (Act No 49 of 1999), with the mandate to ensure that effective and active measures were taken in the Park for the protection and conservation of World Heritage Convention values; promote empowerment of historically disadvantaged communities living adjacent to the Park; promote, manage, oversee, market and facilitate optimal tourism and related development in the Park; and encourage, sustain, invest and contribute to job creation.

 

The Wetland Park Authority has established an excellent record of clean (unqualified) audit opinions from the Auditor-General since its inception, with the past 2014/15 financial year not being an exception.

 

The key achievements for the 2014/15 financial year are as follows:

 

  • Exceeded 10 KPIs and only two  were not met due to delays in grant funds;
  • Achieved 2 049 temporary jobs and 19 permanent jobs;
  • Supported 142 SMMEs and 76 BEEE contractors;
  • 1 184  people were trained, including 47 young people at universities;
  • Park revenue increased up to R15.9 million;
  • 2 000 children from 40 schools participated in environmental awareness programmes;
  • Supported 174 small businesses;
  • Revenue shared with land claimants amounted to R800 000 per annum;
  • R200 million invested in infrastructure development and upgrade;
  • Cleared 14 000 ha of plantations;
  • R86.2 million revenue was generated;
  • Increased tourism establishments by 84 per cent in the areas surrounding the Park; and
  • Was awarded the 2014 Greening for the Future Award in Youth Leadership and Job Creation from the Mail and Guardian.

 

Despite these impressive achievements, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s visitor numbers declined due to a shift from vehicular to pedestrian entry and the target for newsflashes issued was not met.

 

  1. South African Weather Service

 

The mandate of the South African Weather Services (SAWS) was established in terms of the South African Weather Service Act (Act No 8 of 2001). Its mandate is to provide two distinct services, i.e., the public good service, which is funded by the Government and commercial services where the user pays principle applies. This entails maintaining, extending and improving the quality of meteorological services; providing risk information, which is essential for minimising the impact of disasters; collecting meteorological data over oceans; and fulfilling Government’s international obligations under the World Meteorological Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

 

For the period under review, SAWS achieved the following outcomes:

 

  • Maintained an Unqualified audit opinion for the eight year in a row;
  • Met 85 per cent (21 out of 27) of its annual targets;
  • Achieved 96.5 on application usage levels, relating to weather and climate variability, adaptation and mitigation;
  • Developed six meteorological applications to assist all provinces, namely, Rapidly Thunderstorm, Fire Danger Index, Lightening Threat, Cloud Identifier and Top Temperature as well as Convective Rain Rate;
  • Achieved 84.8 Stakeholder Satisfaction Index;
  • 14 per cent of MoUs linked to stakeholder action plans were finalised;
  • Produced 28 scientific publications;
  • Public good revenue grew by 8 per cent or R104 million due to increased air traffic volumes; and
  • 65 per cent of bursars were absorbed by the organisation in critical positions.

 

Notwithstanding these achievements, the organisation also experienced challenges and was unable to meet the following targets:

 

  • Increase in partnerships due to two contracts that were not finalised in the reporting period;
  • Commercial revenue growth, as a result of deviation that  was due to lower sales in meteorological equipment and lightening detection network data and unavailability of radar data;
  • Increase in employee satisfaction index was not achieved due to lack of funds, which led to the deferral of formal evaluation for 2014/15;
  • Increase in percentage readiness of critical successors was also not achieved due to financial constraints; and
  • The entity could not meet the Government’s employment equity policy of employing 2 per cent of people with disabilities.

 

4.3.4     South African National Parks (SANParks)

 

SANParks was established in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act No 57 of 2003), with the mandate to conserve, protect, control and manage national parks and other defined protected areas and biological diversity. It is in executing its legal mandate that SANParks achieved the following targets in the year under review:

 

  • Received an unqualified audit opinion with emphasis of matter;
  • Total number of free access entrance increased to 215 232, more than the previous financial year;
  • Tourism revenue improved by 13.4 per cent to R970.8 million compared to the previous financial year;
  • Visitor numbers also increased to 5 235 095 compared to 467 018 in the previous reporting year;
  • Created 241 permanent jobs and 114 temporary jobs;
  • Customer satisfaction index increased to 79.1 per cent against the set target of 77.3 per cent;
  • Received the best People Project Award for the Alghulus Wetland Project;
  • Created and supported 624 small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs); and
  • Developed infrastructure, entailing the construction of the Skukuza Airport and restaurants in the Park.

 

Despite these significant achievements, particularly in creating employment, consistent with the Government’s macroeconomic framework priorities, SANParks encountered certain crucial challenges. For example, although SANParks received an unqualified audit opinion, there were material misstatements to the annual financial statements and the rate at which South African rhinos are killed continues to increase, with 868 animals already lost to poachers, as of mid-October 2015.

 

5.         Overview of the Auditor-General’s Audit Outcome Report for 2014/15

The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) has a constitutional mandate and, as the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of South Africa, established to strengthen our country’s democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector through auditing of public governance and annual performance targets, inter alia, thereby building public confidence. The Auditor-General of South Africa provided an overview of the audit outcomes and other findings in respect of the Environmental Affairs portfolio for the 2014/15 financial year with the following findings:

  • The Department’s lack of improvement in the overall audit outcome was caused by the SANParks inability to prevent material findings on its annual performance report and compliance with legislation due to lack of a stable leadership in the organisation. However, leadership has since been stabilised at SANParks after the appointments of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) were made. The unchanged audit outcome of SANParks was due to a lack of skills, relating to performance information which led to the non-compliance and material findings on predetermined objectives in the audit report. The quality of annual performance reports at SANParks remained unchanged due to management not receiving regular training to adequately review the annual performance reports for accuracy, validity and completeness;

 

  • The regression in the audit outcome for SANBI was caused by the Institute receiving material findings on compliance with legislation. The quality of financial statements submitted for audit regressed at SANBI, causing a finding of material non-compliance.

 

  • The SAWS received a clean audit opinion by addressing past material findings on compliance with legislation;

 

  • The National Treasury has exempted the Department from applying the Modified Cash Standard in respect of infrastructure development assets in the current and previous year. The Department and National Treasury are in dialogue to resolve this matter;

 

  • There was ineffectiveness in relation to improving the IT governance model at the Department, iSimangaliso, SANBI, SANParks and SAWS. Managements of the SANParks and SANBI have put in place action plans to resolve audit issues. These plans are monitored by their respective CEOs and audit committees; and

 

  • Although the AGSA has made these findings for the Department, SAWS and SANBI, they did not affect the clean and unqualified audit outcomes for the period under review (2014/15).

 

5.3        Responses by the Department and entities to the AG’s Findings

 

5.3.1     Department of Environmental Affairs

 

The Department is committed to maintaining its established record of clean audit opinion and hence undertakes to improve all aspects of its information and communications technology (ICT) that the Auditor-General has brought to its attention in the course of auditing the Department’s spending and performance in the year under review (2014/15).

 

5.3.2     South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

 

  • Financial statements and non-disclosure in terms of generally recognised accounting practice (GRAP) 24 - The new column was included on the AFS and will be maintained in future years of reporting;
  • Related parties disclosure in the annual financial statements - The disclosure notes relating to the related parties were updated and will be maintained in future years of reporting. In addition, SANBI will utilise the GRAP checklist when preparing financial statements in order to ensure compliance with the relevant GRAP statements;
  • Variances between actual and planned targets - The reporting template has been amended to make provision for the explanation of variances to be submitted quarterly and annually;
  • Key performance indicator (KPI) not measured – SANBI was in the process of updating the standard operating procedures to ensure that the requirements as per the National Treasury guidelines are met; and
  • Actual achievements reported are contradictory - The reporting template has been amended to make provision for evidence to be submitted quarterly. This allows for the review of evidence for accuracy and validity.

 

5.3.3     iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

 

  • The Wetland Park Authority noted that its ICT policies are in place and would be upgraded and consolidated into one document that conforms to the prescribed IT format from the National Treasury.

 

5.3.4     South African Weather Service (SAWS)

 

The South African Weather Service has implemented monitoring of activities that are performed by consultants; the Change Request Forms are now verified independently by ICT personnel; and security events were prioritised to ensure the continued effective and efficient functioning of the ICT operational system. In addition, audit features have been activated for the relevant security events.

 

  1. South African National Parks

 

  • In relation to the irregular expenditure amounting to R126 000.00 made to a prohibited supplier, SANParks has now removed the two prohibited suppliers from its database and implemented a management review process to check all the suppliers; and
  • With regard to wasteful expenditure of R1.583 million, bank statements were reconciled and reviewed monthly, and employees responsible for the wasteful expenditure had been subjected to disciplinary hearings and were dismissed.

 

6.         Report of the Financial Fiscal Commission (FFC)

 

The Financial Fiscal Commission noted that there has been an improvement in departmental performance from 2013/14 to 2014/15 across all programmes, with the exception of the Oceans and Coasts Programme where achievements have remained the same at 80 per cent and the Chemicals and Waste Programme, which achieved close to 70 per cent of its targets. The FFC brought to the attention of the Committee that spending and audit performance by the Department and entities are generally very good, and further recommended to the Committee to look at the Department’s work in light of the FFC’s recommendations that have been accepted by Government.

 

7.         Committee Observations

 

In the course of its interaction with the Department and the four entities on their annual reports, financial statements and the audit outcomes in the period under review (2014/15 financial year) as well as engagements with their respective quarterly reports for the current year, the Committee made the following observations:

 

  • The Committee noted the concern that the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) had raised due to the state of information and communication technology (ICT) both in the Department and the four respective entities.
  • The Committee noted that having an effective internal Audit Committee facilitates thorough internal control and securing of unqualified audit outcomes by the Department and the four entities.
  • The Committee appreciated the invaluable inputs made by the FFC, concurred with its key findings and assured the FFC of its commitment to work with institutions like the AGSA and FFC to encourage effective oversight of the national executive, which in this case is represented by the Department. The Committee further affirmed that it is already seized with some of the issues that FFC had raised in its recommendations as they form the core of the Committee’s oversight function.
  • The Committee appreciated the excellent work that the Department is doing in terms of the YES Programme, but would like to see placement of more youths in formal employment after finishing the YES Programme, considering the high levels of unemployment among youth.
  • The Committee appreciated the fact that although the broad Government is implementing cost curtailing measures that result in declining budget allocations to the Department, this has not negatively affected the Executive Management of the Department.
  • The Committee has noted with concern that certain key programme functions of the Department are dependent on donor funding, which hampers effective delivery on certain annual performance targets.
  • The Committee noted that the Government via the Department has put in place certain strategies to bring down the numbers of rhinos that are being killed illegally in our national parks. The Committee further noted that these anti-rhino poaching strategies are constantly being reinforced, but are not contributing materially to declining number of killed rhinoceros.
  • The Committee noted that killing of rhinos continue unabated due to inadequate border control, especially along the eastern boundary of the Kruger National Park with Mozambique from where the infiltration of the Park mostly appears to take place.
  • The Committee noted with concern the threats of mine dumpsites around disused and abandoned mines, for instance, in the eMalahleni area where these mine dumps pose serious challenge to human health, particularly when fine dust particles from these dumps are mobilised by wind and blown into residential areas. Of great concern is that these mine dumpsites are situated in the vicinity of human settlements.
  • The Committee noted that the South African Weather Service (SAWS) is a well-established organisation, and hence considers it unacceptable for SAWS not to have attained its employment equity target in respect to vulnerable groups, especially people living with disabilities.
  • The Committee noted that certain annual performance targets appeared to have been deliberately set low with a clear knowledge that they would be significantly exceeded, for example, by 100 per cent and more to make the Department or entity look spectacularly as high performing in the eyes of Parliament.
  • The Committee saw the need to interact more or at least annually with the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), particularly prior to its engagement with the Department and its entities on their annual reports to get a better bird’s eye-view of the functioning and performance of the Department and entities as well as embedded challenges that they encountered in the year under review.

·         There is a need for the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs to work together with other Committees (e.g., PC Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; PC on Water and Sanitation; PC on Energy; PC on Mineral Resources; PC on Human Settlements and PC on Transport, inter alia) to ensure that the challenges of climate change that confront our people, especially the most vulnerable are addressed in a coordinated and holistic manner. There is also a need for the committees of the National Legislature to work jointly with their provincial counterparts in planning and synchronising oversight work, and where possible councillors from the local municipalities where oversight visits would be conducted, should also come on board in order to comprehensively attend to the threats of climate change at the grassroots.

·         The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs should meet with the portfolio committees on Defence and Military Veterans; Home Affairs; Intelligence; Police; Trade and Industry; and the National Treasury, inter alia, in finding optimal solutions to deal decisively with the plight of South Africa’s rhinoceros populations in the wild.

 

8.         CONCLUSION and recommendations

 

Having duly interrogated the annual reports, financial statements and the audit outcomes of the Department and the four entities in the period under review (2014/15 financial year) as well as having scrutinised their respective quarterly reports for the current year, the Committee is well pleased with the performance of the Department and its entities in terms of predetermined objectives; service delivery; and governance, considering the existing capacity constraints that confront the Department in terms of declining budget allocations over the past few years. The Committee attributes the ability of the Department and entities to do more with less financial resources to the excellent leadership of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Hon Edna Molewa and her team of professional and highly skilled workforce that has over the past few years, not only managed to attain unqualified audit opinions, but is continuously updating its knowledge base in the environmental sector, as shown by the suit of relevant instruments, which are in line with key Government policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP), and other international and regional agreements, conventions or tools, including Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. Twenty years after the demise of apartheid, we have a Government in whose hands the environment, which underpins our very existence is well-regulated in the spirit of our Constitution.

 

 

 

Notwithstanding, the Committee recommends the following:

 

  • The Department should find ways of weaning itself from donor funding, especially in terms of key programme functions, such as climate change, which demands our radical commitment, as a country, to do things differently in preparing our most vulnerable people to withstand (adapt to) the threats of climate change.
  • There is a need for cross-border collaboration, including cross-border law enforcement operations to disrupt local and international criminal networks to control rhino poaching and wildlife crime, in general.
  • The Department should present to Parliament (through this Committee) our state of readiness in hosting the CITES COP17 in South Africa in 2016. For example, what are those issues or proposals that we aim to put forward to effectively protect our rhinoceros populations in the wild? Have we successively lobbied strong blocs like the European Union (EU) and other African rhino range States to support our views? Etc.
  • The Department should consider amending those targets that it perceived it would not be achieved early in the year upon the realisation that the National Treasury is withholding or withdrawing certain amounts of departmental budget allocations for re-allocation to some priority areas that might have emerged in Government. Such an intention should be presented to the Committee for consideration and amendment, considering that the annual targets of the Department and the four entities are processed and passed by Parliament.
  • The Department should report to the Committee on quarterly basis about its interactions with local authorities in deepening the environmental agenda at this Local Sphere of Government, considering the protracted lack of prioritisation of environmental issues by municipalities, as per the outcome of the Committee’s oversight visits to the Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
  • The Department and the entities should ensure that the issues, which were raised by the Auditor-General in auditing their annual performance, including financial statements do not recur in the 2015/16 financial year. Therefore, every effort must be made to comply with National Treasury regulations and all applicable legislation, and all matters of material misstatements should be avoided in any annual financial statement. The Department and the entities should build on the good achievements that they realised in the past financial year, rather than maintain the status quo.
  • The Department should outline to the Committee the progress it has made thus far in implementing the recommendations of the Financial Fiscal Commission pertaining to the environmental portfolio and the associated challenges and
  • The Interdepartmental Committee that was constituted in Government to deal with the serious issues of acid mine drainage (AMD), asbestos and mine dumps should brief the Committee on the progress that it is making in tackling these challenges, which have significant implications for the environment as well as the health or wellbeing of our people.

 

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recommends the adoption of this Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) for the Department of Environmental Affairs.

 

 

 


[1] Presidency (2010) Outcome 10: Environment. Delivery Agreement – Outcome 10. The South African Presidency, Pretoria.

[2] Department of Environmental Affairs (2015) Strategic Plan 1 April 2015/16 to 31 March 2019/20. Department of Environmental Affairs, Pretoria.

 

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