ATC161025: Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, dated 25 October 2016

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, DATED 25 October 2016.

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (hereinafter the Committee), did not consider the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Annual Report for the year under review  as the process of Auditor-General’s audit of the 2015/16 financial statements of the Department has taken unusually an extended amount of time to complete as the Department and the Auditor-General are having a different interpretation with regard to the application of the Modified Cash Standard, as it relates to transfer payment for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects. Consequently, having considered the performance and submission to the National Treasury for the medium-term period of the entities reporting under the Department of Environmental Affairs entities, namely: South African National Parks (SANParks), iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (IWPA); South African Weather Service (SAWS) and South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), and having further interacted with the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) as well as the Financial and 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.

 

  1. 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 departmental entities, namely, the SANParks, iSimangaliso, SAWS and SANBI as well as AGSA and the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) on their respective reports on the performance of the environmental portfolio. It is in this regard the Portfolio Committee reports as follows:

 

 

 

 

  1. OVERVIEW of the Auditor-General’s Audit Outcome Report for 2015/16

 

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. In so doing, the Auditor-General builds public confidence in the manner in which the environmental portfolio is governed and administered on behalf of the South African population.

 

In line with this mandate, 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 period under review – the 2015/16 financial year. The AGSA reported that the quality of the annual performance reports submitted by DEA entities for the audit had improved significantly over the previous year, with entities having no material findings on usefulness or reliability of the information submitted for auditing purposes.

 

The following findings, relating to the Department’s four entities were highlighted:

 

3.1        SANParks

 

For the 2015/16 financial year, SANParks improved its outcomes to obtain a clean audit opinion as a result of improved controls in the supply chain management (SCM) as well as quality of the information submitted in the annual performance reports.

 

With regard to predetermined objectives, the performance report submitted for auditing was not useful as there was no or inadequate explanation on certain variances. This was due to lack of attention to details to ensure that the performance report submitted for auditing purposes was free from material misstatements.

 

3.2        iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

 

For the 2015/16 financial year, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority sustained its clean audit opinion as a result of maintaining adequate controls throughout the period under review.

 

3.3        SANBI

 

SANBI regressed from a clean audit opinion to an unqualified audit opinion with findings. This was the result of the fact that the financial statements submitted for auditing purposes were not prepared in accordance with the prescribed financial reporting framework as per the requirements of the section 55(1)(a) and (b) of the PFMA. Obviously, the management of SANBI did not ensure that financial statements submitted for auditing purposes were free from material misstatements.

 

The material misstatements relate to property and equipment, expenditure and revenue identified. SANBI received an unqualified opinion only after correcting the errors identified during the audit process.

 

3.4        SAWS

 

The SAWS received a clean audit opinion by successfully addressing past material findings on compliance with legislation. Generally, the AGSA noted that the quality of the annual performance reports submitted for auditing purposes had improved in comparison to the previous financial year (2014/15), resulting in entities having no material findings on usefulness or reliability for the 2015/16 financial year.

 

  1. OVERVIEW OF the BUDGET ANALYSIS Report of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC)

 

The mandate of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) is to make recommendations to Parliament, provincial legislatures, organised local government and other organs of state on financial and fiscal matters as envisaged in the Constitution and other national legislation. The focus of the Commission is primarily on:

  • Equitable division of nationally collected revenue among the three spheres of government and any other financial and fiscal matters;
  • Provision of a three-year backward looking and three-year forward looking analysis of departmental budgets;
  • Comparison of allocations and performance by vote/programme/sub-programme/province, taking into account:
  • Nominal versus real growth rates;
  • Real figure growth rates, taking inflation into consideration;
  • Variances and explanations (investigate reasons/drivers of change); and
  • Spending by economic classification.

The Commission noted that for the 2015/16 financial year the Department made significant transfers and subsidies to its four departmental entities, as well as foreign governments and international organisations, public corporations and private enterprises and non-profit institutions. The Commission further indicated that the entities improved their performance in the 2015/16 financial year, but highlighted the following matters:

 

4.1        SAWS

 

SAWS received an unqualified audit opinion with no findings. It had a total revenue of R310.3 million for the financial year under review (2015/16) with transfers accounting for 52 per cent of the total amount. The entity’s own raised revenue increased from R127.9 million in 2014/15 to R149.9 million in 2015/16. The key driver to the expenditure was compensation of employees, which accounted for a significant percentage of the total spending.

 

4.2        SANParks

 

SANParks equally received unqualified audit opinion with no findings.

 

4.3        SANBI

 

SANBI received unqualified audit opinion with findings. The Institute had a total revenue of R619.4 million for the 2015/16 financial year with transfers accounting for 47 per cent of the total amount. The entity’s own revenue declined from R329.9 million in 2014/15 to R214.9 million in 2015/16. The entity spent 93 per cent of its budget for the 2015/16 financial year.

 

 

4.4        iSimangaliso

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority also received unqualified audit opinion with no findings. The Park Authority had been underspending over the past two years, for example, the entity underspent by eight per cent in 2014/15, and this increased to 33 per cent in 2015/16. Notwithstanding, iSimangaliso refuted this assertion.

 

  1. OVERVIEW of perfomance BY THE DEPARTMENTAL ENTITIES

 

5.1        South African National Parks’ mandate

 

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. Accordingly, SANParks is organised to serve three critical objectives: conservation, responsible tourism and socio-economic development. The key mandate of the organisation is the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity, landscapes and associated heritage assets through a system of national parks. SANParks has a significant role in the promotion of South Africa’s nature-based tourism, or ecotourism business targeted at both international and domestic tourism markets. The eco-tourism component provides for the organisation’s self-generated revenues from commercial operations that are necessary to supplement government funding of conservation management.

 

SANParks has also taken a strategic decision to expand its role in the development of neighbouring communities as the organisation is required to build constituencies at international, national and local levels, in support of conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of South Africa through its corporate social investment. SANParks plays an important role in ensuring that a broad base of South Africans participate and get involved in biodiversity initiatives. It is in executing its legal mandate that SANParks achieved the following targets in the year under review (2015/16) under the respective strategic outcome-oriented goals:

 

 

 

 

  1. Optimised Economic Contribution through Tourism and Associated Activities

 

  • The target to achieve income to cost ratio of 1:1 for the period under review was exceeded, with the ratio being 1.11:1;
  • Year-on-year tourism revenue rose to 14.7 per cent, more than the 11 per cent target;
  • Total number of revenue generating products implemented increased to eight, more than the target of seven;
  • The target to develop and implement the Fundraising Policy and Strategy was not met;
  • Accommodation occupancy rate rose to 73 percent, exceeding the 72.5 per cent target;
  • Customer Satisfaction Index increased to 82.1 per cent, more than the 82 per cent; and
  • Total number of visitors to national parks increased to 5 913 912, exceeding the 5 600 000 target.

 

  1. Enhanced Conservation and Ecological Integrity of National Park System

 

  • METT score rose to 71 per cent, exceeding the 70 per cent target;
  • The target for total hectares of land rehabilitated/restored was exceeded for initial/new area, follow-up area and wetlands;
  • The target for total area added to terrestrial national parks grew from 3 715 ha to 3 762 ha, thereby exceeding the target;
  • The target of two for the total number of Park Management Plans reviewed and submitted was met;
  • The target for total number of species protection interventions implemented of six was met;
  • The target for total number of cultural heritage interventions implemented of five was met;
  • The percentage of research projects relevant to SANParks key issues of 73 was exceeded (76 percent); and
  • Total number of peer-reviewed research publications rose to 53, exceeding the 20 target.

 

 

 

  1. Optimised Socio-Economic Beneficiation

 

  • The target for total number of free access entrants reached to 52 547, exceeding the 18 200 target;
  • The target for total number of Environmental Education Impact Assessment tools developed of two was achieved;
  • The target for total number of participants in environmental education programme increased to 215 388, exceeding the 185 600 target;
  • The target for total number of full-time equivalent jobs created (EPWP/others) was not fully met;
  • Total number of temporal jobs created through socio-economic initiatives rose to 79, exceeding the 50 target;
  • Total number of SMMEs/enterprises supported grew to 980, in excess of the 501 target; and
  • Number of community contractual agreements in place dropped to three, below the target of five.

 

  1. Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement

 

  • Total number of proactive media engagements was higher (media releases=42 & media Events=21) than the target (media releases=25 & media Events=10); and
  • Media reputation rating increased from the target of 95 per cent to more than 99 per cent.

 

  1. Effective and Efficient Corporate Governance

 

  • Auditor-General’s audit report of unqualified audit opinion was attained;
  • Percentage of progress made in the implementation of Risk Response Plan of 90 was met;
  • 100 per cent compliance with governance requirements, more than the 80 per cent target; and
  • Total number of ICT Strategy Initiatives implemented per schedule of one was met.

 

 

 

  1. Strengthened Human Capital and Management

 

  • Percentages of employees from designated employment equity (EE) groups (black as percentage of management=57 per cent, women as percentage of management=50 per cent, people with disabilities=2 per cent & total male: female ratio= 1.8:1) were not fully achieved, with exception of total male to female ratio (black as percentage of management=56.6, women as percentage of management=36.1, people with disabilities=1.3 & total male to female ratio=1.78:1);
  • Percentages of employees meeting minimum educational requirements (C and upper) was 67 per cent, below the 94 per cent target;
  • The target of 100-per cent performance appraisals completed (C and upper) was not fully met at 98 per cent;
  • Success rate at the CCMA was 96.5 per cent, below the 100-per cent target; and
  • Progress against the implementation of skills development programme was higher at 88 per cent than the 85 per cent target.

 

In conclusion, SANParks reported that the number of rhinos poached has stabilised, notwithstanding the increase in poaching attempts. It was reported that in 2015, 826 rhinos were poached. There were 317 suspected poachers that were arrested in and around the Kruger National Park and 188 firearms were confiscated. Despite these challenges, SANParks continued joint law enforcement operations in and around the Kruger National Park that appears to be the poaching hotspot, and introduced modern technologies to detect poaching incidents. SANParks also strengthened relationships with neighbouring communities and most importantly with Mozambique that is increasingly becoming a strategic partner in combating wildlife crimes.

 

5.2        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 iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority has executed its mandate exceptionally well, for example, the 2015/2016 Annual Report of the organisation that was tabled by the Minister of Environmental Affairs in Parliament in September 2016 gave the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General for more than a decade in a row. Covering a 3°280-square kilometres area, iSimangaliso is the third largest park in South Africa and the first listed World Heritage Site in South Africa in 1999.

 

The 2015/16 Annual Report of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority indicates the following achievements under the respective programmes outlined below.

 

5.2.1     Park operations

 

  • Target for detection of poaching incidents within two weeks was met;
  • Target for detection of illegal developments within 48 hours was met;
  • Target for response to EIAs and reported developments was met;
  • Reporting of non-compliance with targets in Conservation Operational Plan and Marine Reports was achieved;
  • Five environmental audits of park facilities were completed;
  • The target for rehabilitation of degraded habitats and ecosystems was partially achieved;
  • The annual game management programme was completed;
  • 100 per cent of the applications for buffer zone management was processed, more than the 80 per cent target;
  • Target to implement preferred hydrological solution was exceeded; and
  • Completing the infrastructure programme for the 2015/16 year was met.

 

 

 

5.2.2     Transformation

 

Transformation is considered a cross-cutting objective by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, meaning all the units in the Park Authority are required to develop an implementation plan consistent with the organisation’s strategy in respect of transformation. The organisation’s overarching objective is to optimise effective empowerment and hence participation by historically disadvantaged individuals and communities living adjacent to the Park in all activities of the Park in a way that improves their livelihoods. The achievements in this regard encompass:

 

  • 1 547 temporary jobs (direct and indirect) were created, more than the 1 530 target;
  • 15 new permanent jobs (direct and indirect) were created from Park-related activities, more than the 10 target;
  • Number of BEE SMMEs (where 40 per cent or more of ownership in business) through iSimangaliso programmes increased to 94 as opposed to the target of 50 businesses:
  • Proportion of BEE procurement as percentage of qualifying expenditure increased from 71 to 93.
  • 1 425 people were trained, exceeding the 400 people target;
  • 94 SMMEs were supported, more than 50 target;
  • 41 students were supported, more than the 14 interns target.

 

5.2.3     Commercialisation

 

The purpose of the commercialisation programme is to optimise the Park’s revenue generation in a sustainable manner that entails job creation and empowerment of historically disadvantaged communities. It is in this regard that realising financial sustainability meant that:

 

  • Revenue rose to R18.5 million, exceeding the R16 million target;
  • Visitor numbers increased to 637 173 visitors, exceeding the 633 451-visitor target;
  • The target to maintain visitor numbers at the level of 2013/14 was exceeded;
  • The targets for 2 700 children and 40 schools to participate in environmental awareness programme were exceeded;
  • The target for holding 12 awareness workshops was exceeded; and
  • The target to email 24 newsflashes was achieved.

 

5.2.4     Finance and administration

 

It is obvious that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority maintains the highest standards of internal control in order to ensure that its operations are properly funded and cost-effective, with effective controls, otherwise it would not be in a position to secure the clean audit outcomes that the organisation has continually achieved. Consequently, the following achievements were reported in the year under review (2015/16 financial year):

 

  • The target to attain unqualified audit opinion was achieved;
  • The target to table quarterly research reports at the Executive Committee (EXCO) was met;
  • The target to achieve 80 per cent retention of staff with appropriate skills levels was met; and
  • The target to table annual report on or before 31 August in Parliament was achieved.

 

5.3        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 organisms that have 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 2015/16:

 

 

5.3.1     Render effective and efficient Corporate Services

 

  • The target to allocate and spent two per cent of payroll on staff development was met;
  • The target to develop 60 black biodiversity professionals through structured internships and post-graduate studentships was achieved;
  • The target to achieve unqualified annual financial statements produced to comply with PFMA and GRAP requirements was met;
  • The target of attaining 90 per cent availability of ICT Services was achieved;
  • Fully updated, mitigated and monitored all risks, as planned;
  • Complied with all relevant Acts and SANBI/DEA protocol through implementation of the Compliance Framework;
  • Met all the targets for hosting four shows, four exhibitions, 12 Concerts, 12 Events and four campaigns/activations during the year under review;
  • Utilised the four internal communication platforms during the year, as planned; and
  • Did four radio interviews, four television interviews, 12 advertisements and 16 press releases during the year under review, as per the target.

 

5.3.2     Manage and unlock benefits of the network of National Botanical Gardens as windows into South Africa’s biodiversity

 

  • Added 20 new indigenous plant species to the living collections of the combined network of National Botanical Gardens and/or Millennium Seed Bank;
  • The target to submit documents to DEA for the proposed proclamation of a new national botanical garden in the Limpopo Province as well as for the proposed proclamation of 10 ha of land as part of the Kwelera National Botanical Garden was achieved;
  • Five maintenance/development projects per garden and two corporate SANBI capital infrastructure projects were completed as per the plan;
  • The target to achieve two per cent increase in visitor numbers was exceeded by four per cent, resulting in a six-per cent annual increase in visitor numbers; and
  • The target to achieve six per cent annual increase in own income was exceeded by three per cent, resulting in a nine-per cent annual increase in own income.

 

5.3.3     Build the foundational biodiversity science

 

  • The target to add 60,000 records to plant and animal spatial databases was fulfilled;
  • The target to compile information on 5000 South African plant and animal species was achieved;
  • Classification systems for four environments were finalised; and
  • One national map was completed, as planned.

 

5.3.4     Assess, monitor and report on the state of biodiversity and increase knowledge for decision-making, including adaptation to climate change

 

  • The target to publish 80 articles was exceeded by 19 publications, (in total 99 publications were produced);
  • The target to initiate the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 was accomplished;
  • The plan to initiate the National Invasive Species Assessment (NISA) 2017 was conducted;
  • One Red List assessment (mammals) was completed, as planned; and
  • One update for national invasive species lists and non-detriment findings for the scientific authority was completed, as envisaged.

 

5.3.5     Provide biodiversity policy advice and access to biodiversity information; and support for climate change adaptation

 

  • Met the target to develop two tools to support mainstreaming of biodiversity and ecological infrastructure in production sectors and resource Management;
  • Met the target to develop and disseminate three knowledge resources demonstrating the value of biodiversity;
  • The target to convene four learning or coordination events was achieved;
  • Holding of three training sessions for provincial, municipal or other relevant decision-makers for uptake of tools were fulfilled;
  • The target to increase the collection of at least 50 000 records was attained; The target to increase at least one per cent increase in registered users on the Biodiversity Advisor website was met;
  • The target to achieve 100 per cent response to all written requests from DEA and other relevant requests within the stipulated timeframe was met;
  • Capturing of lessons and experience from National Implementing Entity (NIE) projects to inform 20 national and/or international platforms on climate change adaptation policy was fulfilled; and
  • Collaborative development of Draft Strategic Framework for Ecosystem Based Adaptation was done, according to the plan.

 

5.3.6     Human capital development

 

  • The target to support financially and provide 12 additional fellows with 2 professional development opportunities was exceeded as by 12 fellows, as 24 fellows were supported;
  • Hosting and skilling 1000 unemployed youth in the biodiversity sector was exceeded by 10 unemployed youth;
  • Encouraging additional two universities to engage in Careers for Biodiversity programme was fulfilled;
  • The target for 15 participants from DEA to participate in workshops and organisational activities was partially met, as only five participants came from DEA;
  • The target to implement one National Event with a 10-per cent increase in the spread of partners from previous years was wholly met;
  • The target to reach 48 000 beneficiaries of garden and school-based was exceeded by 7 351 beneficiaries; and
  • The target to strengthen and facilitate three platforms was achieved.

 

5.4        South African Weather Service (SAWS)

 

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:

 

5.4.1     To ensure a weather-ready nation through the provision of relevant meteorological and related products and services

 

  • Developed an air quality modelling and forecasting system as per the plan;
  • 90 per cent availability of SAAQIS was achieved;
  • The target for achieving 70 per cent milestone as per the R&D strategy was exceeded, as 75 per cent of milestones were met;
  • The target to develop four new products and services {Site-specific forecast product, lightning Threat Index (enhancement of the index), Keisan Discomfort Index & evapotranspiration product}.
  • The targets to develop renewable energy sector product/application and agro/hydrological product were achieved; and
  • Provision of five regional severe weather guidance maps daily in the RSMC web was realised.

 

5.4.2     To ensure the development of relevant meteorological scientific capability through collaboration with stakeholders, partners and clients

 

  • Attained 84 per cent overall stakeholder satisfaction level just below the 85 per cent target;
  • Developed and implemented the Stakeholder Engagement Plan for vulnerable communities, as envisaged;
  • Developed and implemented programmes and campaigns that promote the organisation as per the Communications Strategy and Implementation Plan;
  • Exceeded the planned target of 14 articles in scientific publications by producing 28 publications;
  • Achieved eight strategic partnerships as per the implementations plan of the Commercial Strategy;
  • Developed and implemented the National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS), as planned;
  • developed quarterly regional telecommunications hub (RTH) in Africa reports as per the plan; and
  • Maintained position as the Regional Training Centre, having achieved 97 per cent implementation as per the strategy milestone.

 

5.4.3     To ensure a financially sustainable organisation

 

  • The target to achieve R98.449 million was exceeded, as the organisation raised R120.7 million in the year under review;
  • Performed 20 Meteorological Authority inspections, as envisaged;
  • Realised a higher (R19 million) revenue generation more than the target of R16 million in the year under review; and
  • Achieved an unqualified audit opinion from the AGSA.

 

5.4.4     To ensure continued provision of quality weather and related information in support of socio-economic development

 

  • 69 per cent radar data availability was achieved, less than the 80 per cent availability target;
  • The target for achieving 80 per cent LDN data availability was achieved;
  • The target to develop MoU with Security Cluster or other partner with similar capabilities was substantially met, as the Mou was drafted, but not finalised due to ongoing negotiations with partners; and
  • International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Certification was retained, as planned.

 

5.4.5     To create a strategy-driven human capital capacity in support of a weather-ready nation

 

  • Talent retention rate of 92 per cent was exceeded by a per cent;
  • Average organisation performance rating of 80 per cent was significantly exceeded by a six-per cent;
  • Implementation of the first phase of the plan to build a talent pool of atmospheric science and related services was achieved as per the plan;
  • 57 bursaries were awarded, less than the 62; and
  • 65 per cent of bursars were absorbed by SAWS in critical strategic areas.

 

  1. Committee Observations

 

Having duly interrogated the annual reports, financial statements and the audit outcomes of the four departmental entities in the period under review (2015/16 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 departmental entities in terms of predetermined objectives. The Committee attributes the ability of the four entities to attain unqualified audit opinions to the effective political oversight that the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Hon Edna Molewa (MP) exercises over the four entities despite the challenges that the environmental affairs portfolio faces. The Committee further made the following observations for the respective entities:

 

  • The Committee members welcomed the fact that all the DEA entities received an unqualified audit outcome, although they were concerned about the material findings made against SANBI. The Committee wanted to know whether the Auditor-General had shared their findings with the Department, SANBI Board and the response from the Department and the Board’s role in ensuring that basic internal controls are in place to avoid such findings in the future;
  • In the year under review (2015/16 financial year), SANParks attained an unqualified audit opinion with no other matters. Notwithstanding, the Management of SANParks had to rectify certain material misstatements in the annual performance report submitted for auditing that the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) identified. These material misstatements were on the reported performance information of Optimised Economic Contribution through Tourism and Associated Activities, Enhanced Conservation and Ecological Integrity of National Park System and Optimised Socio-Economic Beneficiation.
  • The Committee members acknowledged the ability of the four entities to do more with less financial resources as directed by the National Treasury’s cost containment measures;
  • The Committee also welcomed the information and recommendations received from the FFC. The Committee members felt that backward and forward looking picture was an eye opener and hence greatly assisted the them;
  • The Committee was pleased with SANParks for having achieved 83 per cent of all its targets in the 2015/16 financial year;
  • The Committee noted the decrease in funds for anti-rhino poaching and was concerned about the delays in approving the SANParks fundraising strategy, and the underpinning reasons for the delay;
  • The Committee was concerned about the delays in approving full-time equivalent jobs, considering the high unemployment rates;
  • The Committee noted the absence of community representatives on the board of entities, notably SANParks and iSimangaliso;
  • The Committee was concerned about the quality of SANBI’s financial statements, which were submitted to the Auditor-General for auditing purposes. It was worrying that the AGSA indicated that the entity could have received a qualified audit opinion if it was not for the material adjustments on the financials;
  • The Committee noted that the leadership of SANBI was well-transformed in terms of the number of women occupying strategic positions; and
  • The Committee raised a concern about the delays in the approval of SANParks’ business plans in the light of the National Government’s Operation Phakisa, which requires public agencies or organs of State to do things faster relative to established norms.

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

 

Department of Environmental Affairs

 

  • The Department was commended for exercising its oversight function on its four entities: SANParks, iSimangaliso, SAWS and SANBI, which all obtained a clean audit outcome and for their outstanding performance during the period under review;
  • The Department should ensure that boards are constituted according to the relevant environmental management legislative framework; and
  • Submit a list of all community benefit-sharing agreements concluded around wildlife economy thus far;
  • There is a need for SANParks and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority to include number of rhino targets in their annual performance targets (e.g., ensure that less than 10 rhinos/annual are killed in the Kruger National Park); and
  • There is a need to pay close attention to the realisation of the concept of Wildlife Economy, insofar as the SANParks and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority are concerned.

 

SANParks

 

  • SANParks should ensure that it has adequate internal controls, rather than depend on the AGSA to control the quality of information submitted for auditing purposes. Consequently, SANParks should pay more attention to the outsourcing of its internal audit, although the outsourcing of internal auditing function might appear to be the most cost-effective strategy now;
  • There are concerns that intensifying anti-rhino poaching efforts in and around the Kruger National Park would move poaching to other inadequately resourced national parks. It is therefore important for SANParks to proactively secure wildlife in its entire jurisdiction and also consider looking critically at the existing suite of legislation, which is used to prosecute wildlife crimes;
  • In order to ensure community representation on the SANParks Boards, the Park should approach the People and Parks National Committee for selecting a suitable community representative;
  • SANParks should provide the Committee with the details of the authorship of peer-reviewed journal articles that were reported in the year under review;
  • Determine the impact of community involvement in park management on the rate of illicit practices inside national parks;
  • Clarity on how SANParks accounts for stolen guns registered to the organisation; and
  • SANParks should implement the relevant and applicable outcomes of the 7th People and Parks Conference.

 

 

 

 

iSimangaliso

 

  • The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority should remain a high performing entity and pay attention to all matters concerning the communities/claimants; and
  • The Authority should implement the relevant and applicable outcomes of the 7th People and Parks Conference.

 

SANBI

 

  • The Committee felt that SANBI’s explanation in relation to progress on material audit findings, the understatement of revenue and receivables that caused R5 million adjustment to the initial allocation, and the manner in which SANBI sought to resolve this matter was inadequate. Consequently, the Committee recommends submission of a concise written report against which SANBI’s performance in this instance would be measured in moving forward;
  • SANBI should update the Committee on the progress of absorbing the Zoological Gardens into the Institute and the embedded opportunities and challenges;
  • It would be important for SANBI to furnish the Committee with a detailed information around the capacity that had been provided to various municipalities in the year under review so as to fully understand where the municipalities are in terms of implementing environmental policy and legislation frameworks, as environmental responsibilities are always not properly accounted for at this sphere of government based on the Committee’s own experience;
  • There is inadequate capacity within SANBI’s Internal Audit Unit, as the AGSA had raised concerns around the submitted financial statement, which was below the required standard. There were also concerns around proper record keeping and compliance with key legislation within the organisation and these were linked to the preparation of the financial statement. SANBI should provide a written explanation for overcoming this challenges in the current financial year;
  • It was concerning to see that the entity had an unspent conditional grant despite the fact that there was a budget cut of R5 million, and hence the Committee would like to know the contributing factors to this problem;
  • It was good that the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden received more than a million visitors for the second year in succession in its 102-year history, and that its popularity as a nature-based attraction for tourists made it to be ranked second in the 212 things to do in Cape Town Central (with Table Mountain National Park in first position). However, SANBI should exert more effort in improving the image of other national botanical gardens in the other provinces to appeal to both local and international tourists, particularly in bringing nature closer to people in cities;
  • SANBI should account for the losses of high-value biological assets, such as Cycads stolen from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and outline protection measures to ensure that theft of high-value species of plants are discouraged; and
  • SANBI should address the problem areas identified in the year under review, notably material misstatements in submitted annual financial statements, the slow response in improving key controls and addressing risk areas, as well as key officials lacking competencies, and need for adequate training of relevant officials, as it is important to address risk areas.

 

SAWS

 

  • The SAWS Board should furnish the Committee with the Minister’s investigation report as well as that of the Public Protector into the allegations of maladministration in the organisation; and
  • State how radar data unavailability affects international aviation and how the organisation is going to improve on radar data availability in the current financial year.

 

 

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

 

 

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