ATC180815: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Environmental Affairs during the House Sitting of 27 October 2015, dated 15 August 2018
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS AND EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS MADE BY THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS DURING THE HOUSE SITTING OF 27 OCTOBER 2015, DATED 15 AUGUST 2018
On 27 October 2015, the Honourable Minister of Environmental Affairs (Minister) made or gave the following executive undertakings during the question and answer session in the National Council of Provinces (House):
1.1 Executive Undertaking 1: “The first part of the plan going forward is to ensure that there are training opportunities for all people in the programme especially those who are from disadvantaged communities”.
1.2 Executive Undertaking 2: “This campaign will bring about job opportunities as it is aimed at finding new partners”.
1.3 Executive Undertaking 3: “The Minister committed to come back to the House with a response in respect of the progress of the research on foam bomb to extinguish fires, by Carletonville Station in Gauteng”.
- PROCEDURE OF THE COMMITTEE
The concerned executive undertaking was referred to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee) by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and for it to scrutinise and subsequently report to the House on its implementation. After its referral to the Committee, the Committee proceeded to extend an invitation to the Minister to appear before it and report on the progress the Department of Environmental Affairs (Department) has made in implementing the concerned executive undertaking, which falls under its respective portfolio.
- MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE
On 21 February 2018, the Minister, together with the relevant officials of the Department, appeared before the Committee to report on the progress made in implementing the executive undertakings under consideration.
The following Committee Members were present at the meeting with the Minister:
3.1 Hon D L Ximbi, ANC, Western Cape (Chairperson);
3.2 Hon T Wana, ANC, Eastern Cape;
3.3 Hon G G Oliphant, ANC, Northern Cape;
3.4 Hon M Chetty, DA, Kwa-Zulu Natal;
3.5 Hon B A Engelbrecht, DA, Gauteng; and
3.6 Hon T J Mokwele, EFF, North West.
The Committee Members present, at the meeting, were supported by the following Committee officials:
3.7 Dr M Gondwe, Content Advisor;
3.8 Adv. T Sterris, Committee Researcher;
3.9 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary; and
3.10 Ms N Fakier, Executive Secretary to the Committee Chairperson.
The following representatives of the Department attended the meeting:
3.11 Hon B Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs (Minister Molewa); and
3.12 Mr E N Makoba, Parliamentary Liaison Officer
- PROGRESS REPORT BY THE MINISTER OF ENVIROMENTAL AFFAIRES
In her progress report to the Committee, Minister Molewa reported as follows:
- Executive Undertaking 1:
The Department is involved in a number of programmes that are part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) including the Working on Fire Programme (Programme). One of the prime objectives of the Programme is to provide employment opportunities to the young men and women given that the beneficiaries of the Programme are recruited from marginalised communities. Beneficiaries of the Programme are not only trained in fire awareness but are also trained in leadership related skills.
The Programme is not a once off programme but always forms part of the operational plan of the Department. Furthermore, the Programme is one of the government programmes that ensures people are employed on a permanent basis. And the number of people enrolled in the Programme differs on an annual basis and is largely dependent on the targeted numbers for the Programme in a given year. For the 2016/17 financial year a total of 17 087 man hours were delivered of which 25 863 person days were accredited training. In each financial cycle the Department allocates accredited training targets. For the 2017/18 financial year the plan is to recruit about 5200 people into the programme, 31% of beneficiaries are women and 95% being the youth.
The issue of employing 31% women in the Programme is well understood and in line with Government’s target of having 50% of its workforce being women. The Department is looking forward to increasing the number of women in the Programme. The Programme is effective and this evidenced by the fact that it is well supported by its partner agencies and National Treasury is willing to put money into the Programme.
- Executive Undertaking 2:
The Department has formed partnerships with public, private and local authorities and such partnerships have created an enabling environment for sharing resources, expertise and progress reports and have further resulted in job opportunities. Further, in an effort to secure employment for beneficiaries of the Programme, the Department also engages with partner agencies who were not labour brokers but private employers, seeking competent candidates to employ.
The Working on Fire Oversight Committee report released on the 07 February 2018 indicates that the number of people that have resigned from the Programme, in the 2017/18 financial year, to pursue better employment opportunities is 207 and this is confirmation that the Programme is producing skilled beneficiaries. The Department does not force anyone out of the Programme and the 207 persons who have resigned from it to date have resigned voluntarily, from the Programme, to pursue better employment opportunities. Moreover, in an effort to secure employment for beneficiaries of the Programme the Department engages with partner agencies who were not labour brokers but private employers, or with other Departments which have opportunities available to employ trained people. A decision has been taken by Government, through the National Economic Development and Labour Council processes, on how to deal with labour brokers.
- Executive Undertaking 3:
The Department conducted some research and investigations into use of the foam bomb to extinguish fires and concluded that use of the foam bomb will be cost prohibitive for it. Although the Department does not use the foam bomb to fight fires, it makes use of chemicals in fighting fires and is satisfied with the chemicals as these are world standard chemicals and have been proved to be effective in fighting fires.
- OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS
In noting the progress report given by Minister Molewa in relation to the implementation of the executive undertakings under review, the Committee made the following observations and findings:
- The Working on Fire Programme (Programme) was never intended to be a once-off programme and such it always forms part of the operational plan of the Department.
- The report of the Working on Fire Oversight Committee released on 7 February 2018 provides that the number of people that have resigned from the programme, in the 2017/18 financial cycle, to pursue better employment opportunities stands at 207.
- In an effort to source employment for those under the Programme, the Department engages with partner agencies who were not labour brokers but private employers, or with other Departments which have opportunities available to employ trained people.
- The Department does not force anyone out of the Programme and the 207 persons who have resigned from it to date have resigned voluntarily, from the Programme, to pursue better employment opportunities.
- In each financial cycle the Department allocates accredited training targets for the Programme and in the 2017/18 financial year the plan is to recruit about 5200 people into the programme, 31% being women and 95% being the youth.
- The issue of developing a foam bomb was found to be cost prohibitive by the Department and as such the Department is using world standard chemicals that have also proved to be effective in fighting fires.
Further, in noting the progress report made by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Committee, lastly, observes that the executive undertakings have been adequately implemented and therefore recommends that they be closed.
Report to be tabled for consideration.
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