ATC210511: Report of the Portfolio Committee On Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plans (Apps) 2020/21 and the Budget Vote 32 of the Department Of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (Dffe), Dated 11 May 2021.

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN 2019/20—2023/24, ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS (APPS) 2020/21 AND THE BUDGET VOTE 32 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND ENVIRONMENT (DFFE), DATED 11 MAY 2021.

 

1.BACKGROUND

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Portfolio Committee) having considered the directive of the National Assembly to consider and report on the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans and Budget allocations of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (hereinafter the Department) and having been presented the high-level strategic goals of the fiveentities reporting to it, tabled by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (Act No 32 of 2003), reports as follows:

 

2.INTRODUCTION

 

On 4 and 5 May 2021, the Portfolio Committee invited the Department and the entities to present the overview of their medium term strategic plans, annual performance plans and the budget allocations for the 2021/22 financial year as well as medium term expenditure framework allocations for 2022/23 and 2023/24, respectively.

 

2.1.Overview of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and Entities

 

The mandate of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) is to ensure the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, balanced with sustainable development and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from natural resources for current and future generations. This is to be achieved while giving effect to the right of the nation to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing as stated in section 24(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which stipulates specifically that “all South Africans have the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing, and to have the environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generations” through relevant legislation.

 

Prior to the cabinet reconfiguration, the former Department of Environmental Affairs was a high performing organisation, having served effectively with integrity as the custodian of South Africa’s environment. However, the Department started experiencing challenges in meeting audit requirement as it related to Modified Cash Standards (MCS) when the Department failed to table its 2015/16 Annual Report in Parliament at an opportune time for consideration by the then Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (PCEA) in the Fifth Parliament. Nevertheless, DEA resolved the dispute that it had with the Auditor-General and succeeded to obtain an unqualified audit opinion, but the Department retrogressed in its audit outcomes in the subsequent 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years where the Department attained adverse audit findings. However, the Department progressed from receiving an adverse audit opinion to a qualified audit opinionin the 2019/20 financial year. Those findings were due to disputes between the Office of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) and DEA, regarding the different interpretations with regard to the application of Modified Cash Standards, insofar as transfer payments to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects were concerned. In contrast, leadership and management weaknesses affected the performance of the Forestry and Fisheries programmesof the Department. The results were repeat findings on biological assets, overpayments on overtime and non-compliance with supply chain prescripts in the 2019/20 financial year.

 

2.2 Legislative mandate

 

The core business of the Department is underpinned by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and all other relevant pieces of legislation that derived from it. The constitutional directive “to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures” gave rise to the formulation and adoption of notably the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (Act No 107 of 1998). NEMA has undergone several amendments and has provided the bedrock for enacting the following “specific environmental management acts” (SEMAs), or issue-specific legislation on biodiversity and heritage resources; oceans and coasts; climate change and air quality management; and waste and chemicals management. Those applicable SEMAs comprise National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act No 10 of 2004; National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act No 57 of 2003; National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act No 39 of 2004; and National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act No 24 of 2008; National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 2008, inter alia.

 

The transfer of the Forestry and Fisheries branches/programmes of the former Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the Department, effective 1st April 2020, as part of the national macro-organisation of government, had meant the shifting of certain key legislation that deals with the management of these two branches to the constituted Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). However, the Department has recently undergone name from DEFF to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment(DFFE). Key acts of Parliament in this regard comprise the Sea Fishery Act No 12 of 1988; Marine Living Resources Act No 18 of 1998, which deals with the long-term sustainable utilisation of marine living resources; National Forests Act No 84 of 1998, which promotes the sustainable management and development of forests for the benefit of all and creates the conditions necessary to restructure forestry in state forests in relation to protection and sustainable use; and also the National Veld and Forest Fire Act No 101 of 1998, which makes provisions for the prevention and management of veld, forest and mountain fires throughout the Republic of South Africa. Furthermore, there are many other government policies and legislation, which affect the South African environmental, forestry and fisheries portfolio both directly and indirectly.

 

The Department fulfils its mandate through formulating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of national environmental policies, programmes and legislation with the additional support from its entities, such as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (iSimangaliso), Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks), and the South African Weather Service (SAWS). The Department is structured into nineprogrammes to ensure the effective achievement of its constitutional mandate. The nine different programmes and their purposes are reflective of the different focus areas and subsectors of environmental management. The objective of the current programme structure is to ensure that specific attention is given to each focus area of the Department’s constitutional mandate, while acknowledging the interrelationship and ensuring an integrated approach.

 

Programme 1: Administration provides strategic leadership, management and support services to the department.

 

Programme 2: Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring (RCSM) promotes the development of an enabling legal regime and licensing authorisation system that will promote enforcement and compliance and ensure coordination of sector performance.

 

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts promotes, manages and provides strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation, including relevant research and specialist services, as they pertain to the costal and oceans environment.

 

Programme 4: Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development: seeks 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, and promote sustainable development.

 

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation ensures the regulation and management of all biodiversity, natural heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development.

 

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes is the largest departmental programme (in terms of budget allocation) and deals with the implementation of expanded public works programme and green economy projects in the environmental sector.

 

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management 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.

 

Programme8: Forestry Management develops and facilitates the implementation of policies and targeted programme to ensure management of forests, sustainable use and protection of land and water as well as managing agricultural risks and disaster.

 

Programme 9: Fisheries Management ensures the sustainability utilisation and orderly access to the marine living resources through improved management and regulation.

 

3.LINKAGES BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENTAL PRIORITIES AND THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN VISION 2030

 

The National Development Plan (NDP) Vision is that by 2030, South Africa’s transition to an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society will be well underway. To achieve this requires, first and foremost, attaining of the NDP outcomes relating to the transformation of society and an economy, which is internationally competitive, equitable, job-creating and sustainable (resilient, green and low-carbon), inter alia. Thus, the National Development Plan sets out a vision for promoting environmental sustainability in South Africa by making an equitable transition to a low-carbon economy, and transforming human settlements for improved local governance and spatial integration. The National Development Plan envisions environmental sustainability and transformation within the context of an integrated and inclusive economy that is supported by a capable and developmental state. This vision is given expression by the following priorities of government’s 2019/20−2023/24 medium-term strategic framework (MTSF), with which the work of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment is closely aligned:[1]

 

  • Priority 1: Economic transformation and job creation
  • Priority 2: Education, skills and health
  • Priority 3: Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services
  • Priority 4: Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
  • Priority 5: Social cohesion and safe communities
  • Priority 6: A capable, ethical and developmental state
  • Priority 7: A better Africa and world

 

The Department’s 2019/20–2023/24 Strategic Plan and 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan are aligned with the priorities outlined in the MTSF. The implementation of Operation Phakisa projects have an immense contribution to the Priority 1Economic transformation and job creation”. In terms of Priority 2Education, Skills and Health” and Priority 6A capable, ethical and developmental state”, the Department undertakes initiatives that improve capacities for the environment, forestry and fisheries sectors. There are many contributions in terms of education and upskilling that the Department plans to roll-out in the medium term in all three sectors. The examples include:

  • The implementation of the Department’s internship and environmental, education programmes;
  • The placement of students in the Work Integrated Learning Programme;
  • Training of teachers in various provinces in different aspects of environmental management through the “Funds’ for Change” programme. The Programme is a partnership with the Department of Basic Education focusing on environmental learning and teacher education; and
  • The implementation of key environmental awareness interventions, inform society and change behaviours, inter alia.

 

Similarly, Priority 4 (Spatial integration, human settlements and local government) and Priority5 (Social Cohesion and Safer Communities) are at the heart of the Department’s work. This considering that the Department carries out the effective implementation of planned Local Government support interventions to support municipalities in carrying out their environmental management mandate by assisting district municipalities to incorporate environmental priorities in their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs); pursues sound environmental management of hazardous waste streams to protect communities from being affected by dumped or badly managed waste; and implements effective air quality management interventions and ensures reduction of atmospheric emissions from major polluters. Some of the vital activities are building and skilling a climate-resilient society. Through the allocation of small-scale fishing rights, the Department is restoring dignity to many coastal communities. Similarly, the plan to transfer forests to communities contributes significantly towards social cohesion and building societies. Finally, Priority 7 (A Better Africa and World) focuses on one of the Department’s key functions of leading and influencing an environmental management global agenda, which includes negotiations on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Chemicals and Waste Management, Oceans and Coastal Management, Biodiversity and Conservation. The Department pursues targeted and strategic global and regional engagements with the aim of enhancing South Africa and Africa’s socio-economic development priorities.

 

In summary, the Department’s 2021/22 APP aims to continue with implementation of the Department’s approved Strategic Plan, which are aligned to Environment Sector priorities as outlined in Government’s 2019/20 – 23/24 MTSF Plan and 8 priorities of the 6th administration. However, the 2021/22 APP had to be developed within the context of constrained delivery environment, considering the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, declining economic climate, which resulted in a reduction of operational budget and employee budget. The 2021/22 APP also took into account implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package and key interventions in line with post-COVID-19 Green Economy Recovery Plan. Finally, the APP took on board departmental priorities and measures to address the negative socio-economic effects of COVID-19.

 

 

3.1.Medium Term Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans (APPs) of the Department and its Entities for 2020/21

 

As the national partner to provinces in a concurrent function, the Department leads the environmental, forestry and fisheries sectors by setting the policy and legislative framework and the norms and standards required for environmental protection and environmentally sustainable development in the country. This role is evident through the large numbers of policy and legislative instruments initiated, processed and administered by the Department.

 

To account for the Department’s strategic role, including the above, the Portfolio Committee was briefed both physically by the Department and entities on 4 and 5 May 2021 while on an oversight visit to the Kruger National Park, and also via a virtual platform (Zoom), on the strategic plans (2019/20−2023/24), annual performance plans and budgets of the Department and entities for the 2021/22 financial year. The purpose of these meetings with the Department and entities was to ascertain whether the allocated budget was aligned to achieve the Department and entities’ strategic goals and APPs, and also to determine whether the budget was aligned with the government’s strategic priorities, which are underpinned by the NDP. However, the other pressing reason for the Committee was to determine howthe 2021/22 APP was developed within the context of constrained delivery environment imposed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic; declining economic climate, which resulted in a reduction of operational budget and employee budget. The Committee further wanted to know whether the 2021/22 APP took into account implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package and key interventions in line with post-COVID-19 Green Economy Recovery Plan.

It was also opportune for the Committee to gain a bird’s eye of the impact of this ongoing coronavirus pandemic on the human capital of the Department and entities.

 

This report, therefore, captures the key findings, observations and recommendations of the Portfolio Committee after its engagement with the Department and entities. The discussions contained in this report are based on the strategic plans, APPs and the budget of the Department and entities.

 

3.2Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE)

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs was renamed the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) in June 2019, incorporating the forestry and fisheries functions from the previous Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. However, the Department has recently realised a name change to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) at the time of presenting its APP and budget to the Committee in the current (2021/22) financial year. Accordingly, DFFE is mandated to give effect to the right of citizens 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. To achieve this, the Department provides leadership in environmental management, conservation and protection towards sustainability for the benefit of South Africans and the global community.

 

3.2.1Departmental Strategic Objectives

 

The Department’s strategic objectives over the medium term are to:

 

  • Provide leadership, strategic, centralised administration, executive support, corporate services, and facilitate effective cooperative governance, international relations, and environmental education and awareness;
  • Promote the development and implementation of an enabling legal regime and licensing/authorisation system to ensure enforcement and compliance with environmental law; promote, manage and provide strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation;
  • 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;
  • Ensure the regulation and management of all biodiversity, heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development;
  • Implement expanded public works and green economy projects in the environmental sector; and
  • 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.

 

4.BUDGET ALLOCATION TO THE DEPARTMENT AND ITS ENTITIES

 

Public spending on ensuring environmental sustainability, as indicated by the budget allocation to the Department (Vote 32) in the current 2021/22 financial year has remained fundamentally stable at 0.4% of the overall government expenditure since 2015/16 despite ever-increasing environmental challenges. For example, the budget allocation to the Department is 0.43% of the overall government expenditure of R2.02 trillion. The inflation figures from the South African Reserve Bank show that the level of funding for the Department has been consistent since 2016/17, without any significant upward deviation, always ranging between 0.40 and 0.45% of national expenditure. Thus, the Department’s inflation-adjusted budget has remained unchanged even during the adjustments associated with COVID-19 responses. The growing trend in the budgeted expenditure of the Department is merely based on nominal allocations, without due consideration of inflation. Sovereign rating downgrades, the depreciation of the Rand, increased debt of the country, and the economic effect from the lockdown would make it difficult for government to increase budget allocations to departments.

 

The budget allocation of the Department is R 8.716 billion for the 2021/22 financial year, which is a nominal decrease of 12.3% (R1.221 billion) from the 2020/21 allocation (Table 1). All departmental programmes were affected by the adjustments where five programmes received additional funds (Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring (RCSM); Oceans and Coasts; Chemicals and Waste Management; Forestry Management; and Fisheries Management), and reduction of funds affected four programmes (Administration; Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development; Biodiversity and Conservation;Environmental Programmes). The transfers to entities have decreased from R2.799 billion in the 2020/21 financial year to R1.235 billion in the 2021/22 financial year. The budget decreases happened in four entities (South African Weather Service, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South African National Parks, and the South African National Biodiversity Institute), while an entity has an increase in its transfers (Marine Living Resources Fund) as shown in Figure 1.

 

Table 1: The Overall budget allocation to the Department and its programmes for the 2021/22 financial year and changes between the 2020/201 and 2021/22 financial years.

Programme

Budget

Nominal  Rand change

Real Rand change

Nominal % change

Real % change

R million

2020/21

2021/22

Administration

1 185.6

1 010.0

-175.5

-216.3

-14.8 %

-18.2 %

Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring

199.0

215.7

  16.7

  8.0

8.4 %

4.0 %

Oceans and Coasts

469.9

487.5

  17.6

-2.1

3.7 %

-0.4 %

Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development

540.9

448.7

-92.2

-110.3

-17.0 %

-20.4 %

Biodiversity and Conservation

1 915.5

921.4

-994.2

-1 031.3

-51.9 %

-53.8 %

Environmental Programmes

3 932.3

3 688.2

-244.2

-392.8

-6.2 %

-10.0 %

Chemicals and Waste Management

608.8

636.4

  27.6

  2.0

4.5 %

0.3 %

Forestry Management

662.2

746.2

  84.0

  53.9

12.7 %

8.1 %

Fisheries Management

423.6

562.8

  139.2

  116.5

32.9 %

27.5 %

TOTAL

 9 937.8

 8 716.8

-1 221.0

-1 572.3

-12.3

-15.8

Source: Adapted from National Treasury (2021).

 

 

5.DISCUSSIONS ON DEPARTMENTAL STRATEGIC PLAN, APP & BUDGET

 

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon Barbara Creecy provided the overview of the environmental portfolio and the strategic context for the Department’s 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan and budget. Thereafter, the departmental presentation on the strategic plan (2019/20−2023/24), annual performance plan and the budget for 2020/21 was led by the Director-General of the Department, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalalaand supported by the respective Deputy Directors-General and/or Acting Deputy Directors-General.On the part of the Committee, the Minister and the Department were commended for the commitments that they made during the High Level Panel Report presented recently, especially with regard to plans to ban captive lion breeding for hunting and lion bone trade as well as the work done in fighting the recent fires in the Cape Town area. The Committee further made pertinent observations captured under the Department (in this section), respective departmental programmes/branches and entities, as follow:

 

  1. Whether it was the intention of the Department to host the 13 departmental events planned for this financial year physically, considering the fact that there were still low cases of COVID-19 and whether communities were or would be afforded an opportunity to attend these;
  2. The Committee wanted details around the changing of the Department’s name;
  3. How the Department envisaged stimulating economic growth;
  4. Plans the Department had in place to achieve its set targets for the period under review in light of the expected third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  5. The Committee was not convinced that the Chemicals and Waste Management, Oceans and Coasts, Fisheries and Forestry branches would meet their respective targets, considering their poor performance previously; and
  6. Whether the Department was satisfied with the budget allocation to entities to address their ageing infrastructure.

 

Departmental responses

  1. Regarding the 13 departmental events planned, these included amongst others, six conferences, for example, Air Quality Lekgotla, People and Parks Conference and Chemicals and Waste Lekgotla as well as community outreach programmes;
  2. The Minister apologised for not informing the Committee concerning the name change of the Department since this was gazetted during the COVID-19 lockdown;
  3. In respect to the envisaged third wave, the Department had developed hybrid platforms, filled vacancies and there was a strong and permanent leadership in order to meet its targets;
  4. Responding to the poor performance by various departmental programmes, the Minister mentioned that any performance that was under 80 per cent was unacceptable and encouraged the Committee to put pressure as much as it liked on the programmes that were not performing. In addition, according to the performance contracts the Minister entered into with the DG and DGGs, she ensured that they were aligned to the targets set in the APPs and these were being monitored monthly and quarterly;
  5. Regarding the stimulation of economic growth, the Department envisaged continuing the implementation of the Phakisa programmes under the Oceans and Coasts, Chemicals and Waste Management as well as under the Biodiversity and Conservation programmes, as these were critical in the stimulation of economic growth; and
  6. The Department acknowledged that it was not happy about the allocation for ageing infrastructure of its entities.

 

Programme 1: Administration

 

There was concern that the APP of the Administration Programme that aims to provide strategic leadership, centralised administration, executive support, corporate services and effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness for the whole Department, but the Administration Programme saw a significant budget reduction of R216.3 million in real rand terms relative to the last year’s (2020/21) allocation. This reduction seemed to affect all the sub-programmes, but especially the Corporate Management Services and Financial Management Services, which would be expected to play critical roles in the Department’s quest to obtain a clean audit in the current financial year. However, the Department has provided a written response to the Committee’s question on departmental Revenue Projection in the MTEF 2021/22 - 2023/24.

 

 

 

 

Programme 2: Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring (RCSM)

 

The purpose of the Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring (RCSM) Programmeis to promote the development and implementation of an enabling legal regime and licensing/authorisation system to ensure enforcement and compliance with environmental law. However, there is no explicit reference to the fisheries sector, let alone forestry in the law enforcement function of this Programme despite the addition of this vital branch to the Department. Consequently, there is a need for the Department to clarity whether all compliance and law enforcement functions are being merged together under the same roof instead of the split functions between the Fisheries and the RCSM branches.Of further concern is the fact that the Compliance and Enforcement sub-programmes realised budget reductions in the current financial year relative to the past financial year despite the significance of these sub-programmes in maintaining the integrity of the environment.

 

In engaging with the Department’s 2021/22 APP and budget, the Committee asked aboutthe strictness of the Department’s enforcement initiative, considering that there were mines, which were willing to operate at a loss rather than do a proper rehabilitation. The Committee further expressed a concern on the shortage of inspectors when ships come to the shore to monitor whether they complied with the required legal documents, reflecting on the target of 3,950 jobs createdthrough implementation of Ocean Economy Operation Phakisa Programme. The Department responded that there were joint enforcement efforts undertaken to prosecute illegal mines, but gave no response to the question of environmental monitoring inspectors boarding ships to inspect compliance with relevant authorisations.

 

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. Despite the significant role of this branch, for example, South Africa has jurisdiction over an extensive exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with an extent of about 1.5 million square kilometres, more than the total landscape of the country, the budget of the Oceans and Coasts Programme was revised downward. This raises the question as to how the Department would deal with existing and additional responsibilities such as the proclamation of the new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In relation to the Committee’s question on what the dumping permits under the Programme referred to, the Department indicated that they referred to permits issued under the Dumping at Sea Regulations (2017) promulgated in terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act No 24 of 2008 to regulate the disposal of certain substances at sea.

 

Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality Management

 

The purpose of this 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 South African Weather Service’s mandate contributes to this Programme. The only question that the Committee asked under this Programme was whether there were climate mitigating projects that the Department provided to Umduduzi and Umsholozi farmers. The Department responded that there were no climate change mitigation projects offered to Umfolozi and Umduduzi farmers by the Department.

 

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation

 

The purpose of this 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 South African National Parks, South African National Biodiversity Institute and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority also contribute to this Programme. However, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and the South African National Parks both realised significant budget reductions in the current financial year relative to the past (2020/21) year, which could be explained in terms of the drastic decrease in the budget allocation to the whole Programme, as largely due to a return to regular transfers to entities reporting to the Programme. It seemed that the spike in budget was to cushion the entities from COVID-19 impacts because of lockdowns. However, it must be noted that it is still too early to expect the three departmental entities in this Programme to return to their former revenue generating ways through local and international tourism, as many people are generally taking a cautious approach to travel.

 

The Committee made several observations on the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme, comprising the details around the verification of the ivory and rhino horn stockpiles, and whether it was for private and public stockpiles or public stockpiles. The Committee sought clarity on the three Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) for the black rhino, white rhino and lion; the nurseries that were to be refurbished, and whether they were functioning or not; and whether the Department engaged the farmers in the Kruger National Park on the High Level Panel Report. The Department responded that verification of rhino stockpiles was for both private and public reserves conducted by the provinces, and that the nurseries to be refurbished were in Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape and that they were functional, although there was low production. The three Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) developed in the previous financial year were still applicable, but were being reviewed. The public consultation process was underway in order to finalise them by the end of the fourth quarter. Finally, the farmers around the Kruger National Park would be engaged on the HPL Report.

 

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes

 

The purpose of this Programme is to ensure the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) that has important implications for the environment and to conceptualise and implement green economy projects in the environmental sector. Thus, the aim of the EPWP (via the Environmental Programmes) is to provide unemployed mainly disadvantaged people with income support through work opportunities, while building and protecting South Africa's natural resourcesusing labour-intensive methods. It is this recognition that the Environmental Programmes had received favourable budget allocations over the years, constituting the largest portion of the Department’s budget. Ironically, it is the same Programme with which the Department has been struggling to properly account for transfer costs, thereby earning unfavourable audit outcomes from the Auditor-General of South Africa for some time now. Despite the significant role that this programme plays in job creation and poverty relief, the significant ‘real rand’ reduction in the budget of the Environmental Programmes by over R244 million in the current (2021/22) financial year is worrying. The Programmebudget appeared to be on a steady decline, as the Programme saw an unpreceded reduction in budget of over R270 million in the past (2020/21) financial year. This is of great concern, considering the huge job creation and skills and enterprise development potential in light of growing levels of poverty and unemployment among the youth and underprivileged individuals. There were no discussions under this Programme.

 

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 the chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements. The overall nominal budget to the Programme had slightly increased by 4.5% (R27.6 million), largely driven by the substantially increased allocation for the Waste BureauSub-programme. Funds were largely taken from the Integrated Waste Management and Strategic Support. However, during the 2020/21 financial year, funds were taken from the Waste Bureau and transferred to the Integrated Waste Management and Strategic Support, and during the 2021/22 financial year, the transfer of funds was seemingly reversed. It is indicated {in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE)2021} that in order to strengthen capacity and improve waste management in municipalities, the Department would support: the development of integrated waste management plans; collection and diversion from landfills; the integration of waste pickers into formal economic activity; and the implementation of clean‐up campaigns and public awareness programmes such as War on Waste. Notwithstanding, there are no specific annual performance targets for these initiatives, nor is there any reference to municipalities in this regard.

 

The Committee made two observations on the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme, asking about the support being given to local communities to undertake composting at the household level. Secondly, with regard to the extended producer responsibility programme, the the Committeewanted to know whether companies that use plastics, mercury from dental doctors would also be included. The Department responded that support was given to municipalities with regard to separation at source, as far as home waste composting was concerned. On the other hand, the extended producer responsibility would include plastic products such as beverage bottles, takeaway containers and single use plastics. In addition, regulations were developed to make recycling mandatory.

 

Programme 8: Forestry Management

 

The Forestry Management Branch exists to develop and facilitate the implementation of policies and targeted programmes to ensure proper management of forests and the sustainable use and protection of land and water, manage agricultural risks and disasters. However, the recurring issue in this Programme has been the lack of attention to address repeat audit findings on biological assets, which hopefully will be addressed in the current financial year, as funds for forestry operations have been increased. In response to the Committee question on relating to the publication of the list of protected trees, the Department responded that the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment had issued a notice under the relevant provisions of the National Forests Act No 84 of 1998 to publish a list of all protected trees belonging to a particular species. The effect of such apublication or declaration is that no person may cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree or possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree except under a license granted by the Minister, or in terms of the exemption published by the Minister in the gazette on the advice of Council.Any person who contravenes the terms of this publication is guilty of a first category offence, and hence may be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for a period of up to three years, or to a fine and such imprisonment. Notice number 155 of government gazette number 44204 contains the details of the listed species of indigenous trees that has been provided to the Committee.

 

The Committee asked what the proportion of the 654 000 trees to be planted outside forests footprint in the 2021/22 financial year, would be fruit trees. The Department responded that 60 per cent of the trees would be fruit trees that should be distributed to the communities to support food security whilst the rest would be medicinal and indigenous plants meant for municipalities.

 

Programme 9: Fisheries Management

 

The Fisheries Management Programme serves to ensure sustainable utilisation and orderly access to marine living resources through improved management and regulation. The funds allocated to the Fisheries Programme make up 6.5% of the total departmental allocation. The allocation sees the Programme’s budget increasing by 32.9% (R139.2 million). The Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF), which finances the maintenance and operation of the fisheries research and patrol vessels, would get 54% of the Programme’s allocation. The costs of vessel maintenance and operation are expected to be higher when factoring in the weak state of the currency and higher fuel price.

 

The Committee sought clarity on the proportion of the MLRF’s revenue of R421 million was derived from the sale of confiscated poached perlemoen, and what the impact of stemming out of poaching would have on the MLRF revenue. The Committee further asked about the number of individuals who were legitimate fishers granted fishing rights out of the 31 cooperatives in the Western Cape Province.The Department responded that there was a misconception that MLRF derived its revenue from the poached fish products and yet only 10 per cent was collected over the past two financial years.In terms of FRASP 2021 rights allocation process, the Department was working hard to ensure that this is finalised by 31 December 2021. Concerning the reallocation of rock lobster fishing rights, the Department indicated that it was difficult to say how permits were allocated. However, there was a new process that the Department initiated to ensure that the process was fair and transparent and that those who met the criteria were awarded, as the 8,000 previous applicants were not bona fide stakeholders.

 

6.ENTITIES REPORTING TO THE DEPARTMENT

 

6.1.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 develop, expand, manage and promote a system of sustainable national parks that represents the country’s biodiversity and heritage assets through innovation and best practice for the just and equitable benefit of current and future generations. It was in this regard that SANParks physically appeared before the Committee in the Kruger National Park, with some stakeholders participating via Zoom on 4 May 2021, to present its strategic plan, annual performance plan and budget. Having received the entity’s presentation, members of the Committee raised several issues, as captured below.

 

6.1.1     Committee observations on South African National Parks (SANParks)

 

The following Committee observations were based on the briefing by the South African National Parks (SANParks) on their Strategic Plan (2019/20 – 2023/24) and Annual Performance Plan and budget for the 2021/22 financial year. These documents and proceedings of this meetingand those of other entities may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat.

 

  • The Committee commended SANParks for a detailed, well-thought out presentation;
  • The Committee expressed its satisfaction regarding the increase in the number of schools visiting SANParks;
  • The Committee asked about the poaching situation presently in the Zinave National Park and the steps that would be taken to safeguard donated wildlife there, considering the plan  underway to make such a donation;
  • The Committee sought clarity on “products for sale”, as it appears on page 14 of the presentation;
  • The Committee asked for clarity on page 16, specifically for 2019/20 and 2020/21 figures;
  • Clarity was sought on how the substantial cut in the maintenance budget indicated in page 24 was calculated;
  • The Committee asked about the details of the “assets”, which were not going to be replaced, as it appeared on page 29;
  • The Committee wanted to know the modalities or methodology that SANParks would use to achieve its ambitious targets;
  • Regarding the 39.3 per cent women in management positions, especially the people with disabilities, the Committee noted that the 1.1 per cent target was not enough;
  • The Committee wanted to know the risk analysis tool that SANParks used to arrive at MTEF projections of R803 million for 2020/21, R832 million for 2021/22, R1.2 billion in 2022/23 and R1.3 billion in 2023/24;
  • The Committee wanted details regarding unqualified audit opinion target;
  • The Committee appreciated SANParks’ social poverty alleviation programmes aimed at assisting local communities;
  • The Committee welcomed the revenue generated by SANParks as it showed that the entity did not rely on the government grant only;
  • The Committee further welcomed green energy implementation by SANParks and wondered whether skills were transferred to communities through this initiative in order to improve air quality;
  • The Committee commended SANParks on the initiative to distribute food parcels, sanitizers and PPEs to communities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and requested the entity to partner with local municipalities in this regard;
  • The Committee encouraged SANParks to increase the number of women in senior management positions, especially previously disadvantaged individuals;
  • The Committee expressed its concern that SANParks did not put more effort on skills development programmes for its employees, as the one per cent target was very low; and
  • The Committee encouraged SANParks to set clear timeframes for Climate Change Assessments.

 

6.1.2     South African National Parks responses

  • SANParks explained that their set targets were informed by what SANParks knew and achieved which was a baseline on how the entity had been performing in past years. In addition, the impact of COVID-19 was taken into account in developing these targets;
  • SANParks took into consideration trends in resource mobilisation;
  • SANParks wanted to achieve an unqualified audit opinion only and going forward the entity would like to achieve unqualified audit with no matters of emphasis;
  • On the green energy strategy, if SANParks built a solar energy within a Park, for example, it would look into sharing that energy with municipality or local community. In addition, SANParks would partner with independent power producers or use local people to create awareness;
  • On food parcels, SANParks partnered with TOTAL, Kolisi Foundation and Wilderness Foundation, and would continue mobilising resources to support other communities;
  • On the fundraising issue, SANParks was targeting to raise R75 million on its resource mobilisation strategy and stated that it raised R30 million in 2020/21, R68 million in 2021/22 against the target of R65 million. SANParks managed to raise this amount despite many resources had to go towards COVID-19 interventions;
  • Regarding the projected figures presented on slide 22, costing was derived from APP activities and that determined the amounts. For example, where there were increases in the amounts it meant that there were more activities and where there was a decrease, there were less activities;
  • SANParks had planned to employ 50 per cent women and 2 per cent people with disabilities, however, the target had to be reduced due to budget cuts when the COVID-19 pandemic started;
  • The skills development budget was also reduced by R250 million in the past financial year and that trend was also extended to the current financial year, meaning that the entity could not fill any vacancies to meet the targets. Unless revenue improved the target would not be achieved. In addition, the entity was losing women in senior management positions who could not work for SANParks for more than two years, and the entity is further characterised by low turnover rates for males;
  • Women in senior management did not only include executive positions, but also general managers at levels D, E and F as well;
  • Women Forum was established to deal not only with employment, but also assisted women to deal with gender violence and related matters; and
  • Skills Development Programmes were also impacted by budget cuts, but SANParks had explored innovative skills development initiatives that did not require much money such as e-learning.

 

6.2.iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (IWPA)

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority in KwaZulu-Natal was established in 2002 in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act (Act No 49 of 1999), with the mandate to ensure that effective and active measures are implemented 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. Similarly, having received the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s presentation at the Kruger National Park fashioned around its mandate via a virtual platform (Zoom) on 5 May 2021, members of the Committee raised several issues on the entity’s strategic plan (2019/20 – 2023/24), annual performance plan and budget for the 2021/22 financial year. The matters raised by the Committee are captured below as Committee observations on this entity.

 

 

6.2.1     Committee observations on iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

 

  • The Committee noted with concern the costs incurred by government in separating the river mouth from the sea and the damage this has caused to the hydrology and water salinity in the Umfolozi River, and hence wanted to know whether iSimangaliso engaged the farmers using water upstream and how the issue of water salinity was going to be addressed;
  • In addition, the water decrease from the Umfolozi and Umsunduzi rivers was not caused by farmers taking water from the upstream. Instead farmers’ lands were flooded due to the buildup of water and growth of reeds, thereby leading to economic devastation for the small- and large-scale farmers and communities in the area;
  • There was a concern around the new office building at a cost of R23 000 per square metre, whereas the normal cost is between R8 000 and R13 000. The Committee wanted to know how the costs got inflated;
  • The Committee needed clarity on why the number of paying visitors stood at 115,000 in 2021 and then down to 45,000 in 2023/2024;
  • The Committee wanted details around the security contract of which the initial cost was R9.6 million, and that had gone up to R35.6 million, from where it again increased to over 38 million. The increases should be explained as well as the person/company to which the contract was awarded;
  • The Committee noted that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s target for 2023/24 was for 120 environmental monitoring inspectors, but the Committee wondered whether this number would be increased in order to address youth unemployment in South Africa.
  • The Committee raised concerns that iSimangiliso would not be able to have engagements with ward councillors in Umkhanyakude and King Cetshwayo as the area is vast, in relation to stakeholder engagements, particularly the 24 meetings with Amakhosi traditional councils; and
  • IWPA made no mention about targets involving women and youth in management positions.

6.2.2     iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority responses

  • The estuary used to function naturally for many years without any human intervention, however, farming practices and canalisation were introduced in the Umfolozi River, which was the major supplier of freshwater that contributed to the challenge before the GEF project was introduced. The project was aimed at addressing this issue where there was artificial breaching of the mouth (opened and closed), but during that process, there was also an artificial conversion of the Umfolozi River, which then caused problems during drought when the freshwater was going to the sea. Consequently, water salinity occurred due to lack of monitoring, but IWPA had since adopted adaptive management strategies with scientists and farmers to address the biological or the ecological issue;
  • Farmers were pre-warned about the possible flooding and because this was a natural phenomenon unfortunately IWPA had no control, but in the long term, climate change strategy had to be developed;
  • Regarding the inflated rate of the new office building, this was informed by the geographical location, refurbishing and reconfiguration. However, if needed, a bill of quantities and what informs that, from a scientific point of view or from an engineering perspective could be provided;
  • Regarding the security contract, some of the tourists were complaining about crime, especially around the Sodwana area, for example, losing their valuables in rooms, fences were also cut as result of animosity with the community. As a result, IWPA had to appoint three security companies, resulting in few criminal incidents;
  • IWPA wished it could increase the number of environmental monitors to 500, including women and youth, however, due to fiscal constraints only 120 could be accommodated. Nonetheless, IWPA augmented these numbers from time to time, for example, when a contractor is appointed the requirement is to subcontract the local SMMEs and employ youth, women and people with disabilities residing around the park;
  • Regarding engagement with district municipalities, IWPA acknowledged that it was difficult to engage all the districts due to the vastness of the area, however, the entity had participated during municipal IDP meetings to coordinate and align their programmes; and
  • Regarding female employment targets, IWPA would not be filling some of the existing vacancies due to fiscal challenges, but the entity has women in senior management positions, such as Chief Financial Officer, Information Technology, Tourism and Stakeholder Management.

 

6.3.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, all listed threatened or protected species, ecosystems and invasive species; and the impact of any genetically modified organism that has been released 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 Forestry, Fisheries and Environment on any matter regulated in terms of the Act, and any international agreements affecting biodiversity that are binding on South Africa.

 

To this end, SANBI presented its strategic plan (2019/20 – 2023/24), annual performance plan and budget for the 2021/22 financial year at the Kruger National Park via a virtual platform (Zoom) on 5 May 2021. Members of the Committee raised several issues on the entity’s strategic plan, annual performance plan and budget, which are captured below as Committee observations on SANBI.

 

6.3.1     Committee observations on SANBI

 

  • The Committee wanted to know what happened to the human resources involved in SANBI’s many outreach initiatives, considering the fact that many of those outreach activities were affected by the pandemic;
  • How reduced visits to SANBI facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the entity’s ability to raise its own revenue;
  • How SANBI would meet its recruitment targets if it was not generating revenue;
  • How SANBI was raising awareness around biodiversity crimes, as this had not stopped, especially now during the pandemic;
  • What SANBI was currently using to ensure uninterrupted power supply using solar panels, in terms of business continuity planning;
  • The Committee wanted to know the envisaged increased price for international tourists and locals, in terms of dual pricing at the Kisternbosch Botanical Garden;
  • The Committee cautioned SANBI not to price anybody out of the market, even if they were international tourists, as they would opt to go elsewhere to spend their money;
  • Whether consequence management was taking place in SANBI for non-compliance with procurement, and the extent thereof;
  • Whether it would not be possible to keep events/concerts going in summer and still keep numbers limited to 250 per concert, as this would be beneficial to artists who were hit hard by the pandemic or use upcoming artists from schools. This would lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue generation from events at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and others to also cater for those events that could not take place last year; and
  • The Committee sought clarity on why there was no number given for e-flora, whereas for animals there were 1000 species.

 

 

6.3.2     SANBI responses

  • SANBI welcomed the Committee’s suggestions regarding the hosting of summer concerts and would look into its viability and cost implications in hosting the concerts;
  • A written response would be submitted regarding e-flora;
  • There were education centres at all the national botanical gardens to raise awareness, in relation to education and awareness raising. Addition ways had been developed to get information to targeted groups;
  • SANBI had dealt with a number of consequence management cases, which is an ongoing process, with progress being reported to the audit risk committee on quarterly basis;
  • SANBI was currently using generators and the entity was moving to a cleaner environment, using solar panels; and
  • SANBI was projecting to collect about R2 million through dual pricing, however, regarding the percentage increase for international tourists, this would be submitted in writing. Notwithstanding, SANBI had kept its prices within the market in order to remain attractive to visitors, and had also kept its price for locals unchanged.

 

6.4        South African Weather Service (SAWS)

 

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) is a section 3a entity established in terms of the South African Weather Service Act (Act No 8 of 2001) as amended, Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and associated treasury regulations. SAWS mandate is to provide two distinct services, i.e., the public good service, which is funded by the Government of South Africa and commercial services where the user-pays principle applies. SAWS’ strategic plan (2019/20 – 2023/24), annual performance plan and budget for the 2021/22 financial year, which were presented to the Committee at the Kruger National Park via a virtual platform (Zoom) on 5 May 2021, were reflective of this dual function. The details of the interactions between the Committee and SAWS are captured below as Committee observations on SAWS and SAWS responses, respectively.

 

6.4.1     Committee observations on SAWS

  • The Committee congratulated the new CEO, Mr Ishaam Abader on his appointment and wished him well;
  • The Committee wanted to know what SAWS was doing to acquire skills and to upscale existing resources to deal with changes in technology;
  • The Committee noted a decrease in revenue generation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic where there was less demand for SAWS services. In addition, the Committee noted the reduction in the government grant to the entity, and hence wanted to know how would this challenge be addressed;
  • The Committee asked about upper air system monitoring and requested an explanation on two overlapping contracts;
  • The Committee wanted a list of findings and actions taken against the former CEO of SAWS, Dr Linda Makuleni;
  • The Committee wanted the case number and progress report on the case involving the other former CEO, Mr Jerry Lengoasa as well as an update on other four cases referred to in a written question 1648;
  • The Committee requested an explanation of SAWS’ commercial income;
  • The Committee asked for clarity on what the impact had been on those projects where conversion from CAPEX to OPEX had occurred and capital projects were defunded and revenue was shifted across;
  • In terms of performance bonuses and the salary increases, one would understand the salary increases and the need for that, but then there could be a concern, especially if one took into consideration the R37.5 million deficit from the 2019/20 audit. The Committee wanted to know the proposed solutions to resolve this challenge;
  • The Committee wanted to know how the employees were motivated or incentivised to achieve ambitious targets going forward in order to make SAWS sustainable as it was not acceptable to threaten people with job losses if they did not perform, as the only way of getting results. There is a need to find ways to incentivise employees and if this could not be done through performance bonus, there should be other ways for achieving this;
  • The Committee expressed its appreciation on the fact that SAWS was dealing with gender based violence and femicide issues;
  • The Committee wanted details about school programmes that could motivate learners to do science and other required skills;
  • The Committee noted the target for women of 36 per cent in the current (2021/22) financial year and the intention to increase it to 40 per cent in the outer years, but wondered why the target was not set at least 50 per cent; and
  • Whether the lightening detection network infrastructure availability of 80-90 per cent included rural municipalities where lightning-related challenges mostly occur.

 

6.4.2     South African Weather Service responses

  • SAWS would provide a detailed written response around the matter of the previous Chief Executive Officer, Dr Makuleni, the contracts awarded and other four cases;
  • The case number for Mr Lengoasa is 57104/2019;
  • On the commercial income, SAWS explained that it had non-regulated commercial revenue stream, which involved various sectors, for example, the projections for the coming year in relation to the energy sector, SAWS was looking at about R7.5 million, water sector approximately R3.9 million, general aviation R1.4 million and marine sector R1 million. Similarly, SAWS aimed to derive income from insurance, IT, as well as transport sectors;
  • Regarding the conversion of CAPEX to OPEX, there had been a negative impact on some of the targets that would not be met, for example, big infrastructure projects, the observation networks and also in relation to their functioning;
  • Regarding the motivation of employees, SAWS had developed opportunities for further studies to improve skills and learning. SAWS had partnership agreements with institutions of higher learning;
  • The new Corporate Services Manager had been appointed and this issue of staff motivation such as promotions were discussed, given the fact that there had been no increases over the last couple of years;
  • On the question of revenue loss and reduced government grant, SAWS introduced internal cost-cutting measures as well as finding new products that the entity could potentially put back on the market and then also other sources such as donations;
  • Regarding programmes to encourage learners to do science at school, SAWS ran a programme in the Capricorn Municipality that provided learnerships to encourage people to come into science space and weather service;
  • Regarding increasing the proportion of women from 36 percent to 50 per cent there was very little room in terms of vacant positions to actually set a high target, but in future SAWS would ensure that arising vacancies were filled by women; and
  • The lightening detection network covered the entire country, including rural municipalities.

 

7.RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Having considered the inputs by the Department and entities, the Committeenoted the manner in which theDepartment and entities planned to execute their mandate and take on new responsibilities for managing the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic with limited financial resources. Despite the ongoing fiscal constraints, the Committee is of the view that the Department and entities have a clear roadmap for implementing their responsibilities for the people of South Africa and global community, as shown by their annual performance plans and performance targets, as defined by their respective mandates, which are, in turn,underpinned by our supreme law, the Constitutions of the Republic of South Africa and plethora of environmental laws that directly descended from section 24(b) of this umbrella law. Our responsibility as the Committee now is to ensure that the Department and the respective entities do exactly, as they have proposed for themselves without any deviation except to exceed agreed targets. The Minister has already made it abundantly clear that achieving 80 per cent is an unacceptable performance. It is therefore in this regard that the Committee makes the following recommendations:

 

  • The Department and entities should achieve all their respective set targets - it is poor planningwhen budgets, which are directly linked to performance targets are exhausted yet many targets remain either unachieved, are off target or are partially achieved;
  • South Africa should ensure that its trade in wildlife and wildlife products is closely linked to proper pathogen surveillance focused on wildlife trade and to protect global human health, although the human health risks associated with live animal trade can never be eliminated entirely;
  • The Department and SANParks should provide responses as to why anti-poaching efforts have not achieved desired results in the Kruger National Park, despite the huge allocation of resources to this cause;
  • The Department should clarity to the Committee whether the national parks agencies of those African countries that receive rhinos translocated from South Africa to further the conservation of this highly threatened species, are adequately resourced to ensure the effective sustainability of rhino;
  • The Department should provide the Committee with a detailed written report on air quality compliance and enforcementthat shows the efforts made in bringing major emitters to full compliance, with the minimum emission standards (MES) to protect human lives in the past five years in the three air quality priority areas as well as in the industrial complexes in the South Durban Basin;
  • There has to be a clear roadmap for dealing with matters of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the Department and entities, considering the prevailing fiscal constraints in the public sector. Thresholds or amounts should be established for holding individuals to account to deter these expenditures becoming a norm both in the Department as well as in the entities;
  • Accounting officers/authorities of these public entities should be made to understand that spending money outside of the guidelines of existing legislation for public finances is actually criminal;
  • The Department should clarify how the threats of climate change, especially to livelihoods and issues of air pollution would be addressed when the Department’s spending is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 3.4 per cent, from R9.9 billion in 2020/21 to R8.9 billion in 2023/24 in nominal terms;
  • The Department should explain the zero budget allocation to the Green Fund. How would this budgetary move affect efforts to transition to a green economy? It is stated that the Green Fund sub-programme invests in projects to protect the environment by working with the donor community and the private sector. How will this protection of the environment be achieved in the absence of any public spending, in this regard?
  • Having noted the court challenges, the Department should present the audit report in relation to small-scale fishers’ allocations;
  • The Department should allocate interim fishing permits to allow fishers who had traditionally used the recreational fishing permit to continue fishing for livelihoods;
  • The Department should streamline its communication of regulations among the national, provincial, and municipalities to avoid impeding fishing activities;
  • The Department should establish a transparent and accountable mechanism to guide the fishing rights allocation process and associated recourse;
  • The Department should inform the Committee on its planned strategy to improve consultations with industry stakeholders, in particular disadvantaged stakeholders to minimise exclusions; and
  • The allegations of improper appointments at SAWS must be addressed expeditiously, and those responsible for those alleged appointments must be held to account.

 

The Minister should submit a detailed response to the Committee on all the recommendations made in this report within 90 days after the adoption of this report by the National Assembly.

 

Having considered the budget and annual performance plan of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries recommends to the House to adopt the Forestry, Fisheriesand Environment Budget Vote 32 allocation for the 2021/22 financial year, with the allocation of R8.717 billion, as tabled on 24 February 2021.

 

 

Report to be considered.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] National Treasury (2021) Vote 32: Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. National Treasury, Pretoria.

 

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