ATC130509: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on Budget Vote 34 and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 Fiscal Year, dated 8 May 2013:

Science and Technology

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on Budget Vote 34 and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 Fiscal Year, dated 8 May 2013:

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on Budget Vote 34 and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 Fiscal Year, dated 8 May 2013:

The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology (the Committee), having considered and concluded its deliberations on Budget Vote 34 and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 Fiscal Year, reports as follows:

1. Introduction

On 13 March 2013, the Director–General, Dr Phil Mjwara briefed the Committee on the annual performance plan and budget of the Department of Science and Technology (hereafter, the Department). A number of briefings by the entities reporting to the Department followed. These entities were the National Research Foundation, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Human Sciences Research Council, Technology Innovation Agency, South African National Space Agency, Academy of Science of South Africa and the Africa Institute of South Africa.

The Department’s presentation provided an overview of the strategic context within which it operates; detailing its strategic goals, key priorities and recent outputs. Furthermore, the Department highlighted a selection of performance indicators and their concomitant targets and summarised the budget allocation for each of its programmes for the next three years, as well as the budget allocation for each of its entities for the current financial year.

2. Strategic Overview

The work of the Department is mainly guided by the White Paper on Science and Technology, which introduced the concept of the National System of Innovation (NSI). The NSI concept is an enabling framework for the development of science, technology and innovation at national level. Key strategies such as the National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS) and in particular, the Ten-Year Innovation Plan (TYIP) seek to contribute to the transformation of the South African economy into a knowledge-based economy.

The Department's policy framework is further informed and aligned to broader government priorities and policies such as articulated in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the New Growth Path (NGP) and now the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP considers science, technology and innovation as key aspects of the South African developmental agenda. Science and technology are crucial to equitable growth as advances in these fields underpin the advances in the economy.

3. Strategic Goals

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

· Develop the innovation capacity of the NSI to contribute to socio-economic development;

· Enhance South Africa’s capacity for generating knowledge to produce world class research outputs and develop advanced findings into innovation products and processes;

· Develop appropriate science, technology and innovation (STI) human capital to meet the needs of society;

· Build a world-class STI infrastructure to extend the frontiers of knowledge, train the next generation of researchers and enable technology development and transfer as well as knowledge interchange; and

· Position South Africa as a strategic international research development and innovation (RDI) partner and destination through the exchange of knowledge, capacity and resources between South Africa , the region and other international partners, thereby strengthening the NSI.

4. Key Interventions

The Department aims to, through its Strategic Plan and 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan, address the following challenges:

· Achieve critical mass in a small number of long-term, large-scale and high-impact priority areas that have been identified over the past few years;

· Ensure that high-level human capital is developed and employed in long-term productive research in South Africa ;

· Introduce and strengthen efforts that enhance South Africa ’s ability to exploit knowledge effectively for economic and social benefit;

· Improve the ability of government investment to leverage private sector and international funding;

· Build the knowledge-generation and knowledge-exploitation capabilities in rural and historically disadvantaged higher education institutions;

· Provide and maintain state of the art STI infrastructure;

· Create a coordinated and integrated NSI governance and robust monitoring and evaluation;

· Develop and strengthen regional and provincial innovation systems and capabilities to meet community ad industry demands;

· Use the cluster system to facilitate alignment of the Department’s programmes to the NGP, the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 (IPAP2) and the NDP;

· Resource the system by achieving and going beyond the 1% General Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) as a % of GDP; and

· Strengthen government-industry-higher education partnerships.

5. 2013/14 Budget Overview

The Department is allocated R6.2 billion for the 2013/14 financial year, which is 0.6% of the total appropriation for the country (R1.1 trillion). The budget allocation has increased by 24.0% in nominal terms compared to the 2012/13 budget allocation of R4.99 billion (see table 1).

In real terms, i.e. accounting for inflation, the Research, Development and Innovation Programme receives an increase of 34.8%, the Human Capital and Knowledge Systems Programme receives an increase of 13.6% and the Socio-Economic Partnerships Programme receives an increase of 11.6%. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project receives an additional amount of R1.9 billion over the medium term for the construction of the MeerKAT Antennae. The Human Capital and Knowledge Systems Programme still receives the largest share of the Department’s allocation, namely, 40%.

Table 1. The 2013/14 Budget of the Department of Science and Technology



Nominal Rand change

Real Rand change

Nominal % change

Real % change

R million
















Research, Development & Innovation

1 142.8

1 627.1

1 603.9

1 702.0





International Cooperation and Resources









Human Capital & Knowledge Systems

2 064.7

2 476.8

2 683.5

3 417.8





Socio-Economic Partnerships

1 423.4

1 677.6

1 864.7

2 050.9






4 999.6

6 198.1

6 600.3

7 644.3

1 198.5




Source: National Treasury (2013) - Vote 34 Science and Technology and own calculations.

Over the medium term, the Department receives additional funding of R3.1 billion, which will be spent as follows:

· R1.1 billion for the SKA project through the Research, Development and Innovation Programme;

· R400 million for human capital development;

· R605 million for the modernisation of research infrastructure;

· R910 million from the economic competitiveness and support package in aid of the National Intellectual Property Management Office, technology stations and the industry innovation partnership fund; and

· R125 million for improved conditions of service in the Department and its entities.

According to economic classification, the Department will spend 7.3% (R454.1 million) on Current payments (Compensation of employees and Goods and services), 92.6% (R5.74 billion) on Transfers and subsidies and 0.04% (R2.2 million) on Payments for capital assets. The allocation for Transfers and subsidies further comprises R4.17 billion for the Department’s agencies and science councils, R1.03 billion for Public corporations and private enterprises and R532.8 million for Non-profit institutions.

6. Programme Summary

Programme 1: Administration

The Administration Programme is responsible for the overall management of the Department, and ensures that the organisations, which receive funding, comply with good corporate governance practices, and align their activities with the NSI. It is also responsible for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Science Councils.

This Programme comprises 4.3% (R268.2 million) of the total budget.

Programme 2: Research, Development and Innovation

The Research, Development and Innovation Programme facilitate knowledge generation and exploitation through research and development in the key priority areas of space science, bioeconomy and energy. It promotes the expansion of South Africa ’s knowledge stock by stimulating the development of innovative and viable products and services, together with their commercialization, where appropriate.

This Programme is allocated 26.3% (R1.63 billion) of the total budget.

Programme 3: International Cooperation and Resources

The purpose of this programme is to develop, promote and manage international relationships, opportunities and science and technology agreements that both strengthen the NSI and enable the exchange of knowledge, capacity and resources between South Africa and its regional and international partners.

This Programme comprises 2.4% (R148.4 million) of the total budget.

Programme 4: Human Capital and Knowledge Systems

This programme aims to provide leadership to develop an innovative and competitive society with skilled human capital, superior knowledge and research infrastructure.

This Programme comprises 40% (R2.5 billion) of the total budget.

Programme 5: Socio-Economic Partnerships

The purpose of this programme is to enhance the growth and development priorities of government through targeted science and technology interventions and development of strategic partnerships with other government departments, industry, research institutions and communities.

This Programme comprises 27% (R1.7 billion) of the total budget.

7. Public Entities

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s mandate is to foster industrial and scientific development in the national interest through multidisciplinary research and technological innovation.

The Council’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· build a track record of demonstrable impact in research and development through an established programme of relevant research and development in research impact areas and flagship programmes;

· build and transform human capital to ensure adequate capacity, and contribute to the national skills base;

· strengthen the science, engineering and technology base and perform relevant research and development;

· transfer technology and skilled human capital; and

· enhance financial sustainability and ensure good corporate governance and corporate citizenship.

National Research Foundation (NRF)

The National Research Foundation’s mandate is to promote and support research in all fields of humanities, the social and natural sciences, engineering and technology, and indigenous knowledge systems. The Foundation provides research funding and research platforms through national facilities and science awareness activities. The Foundation’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· promote both nationally and internationally competitive research as the basis for a knowledge economy;

· grow a representative science and technology workforce in South Africa ;

· provide cutting edge research, technology and innovation platforms;

· operate world class evaluation and funding systems; and

· contribute to a vibrant national innovation system.

Academy of Science of South Africa ( ASSAf )

The mandate of the Academy of Science of South Africa is to promote the outstanding achievements in all fields of scientific enquiry, grant recognition for excellence, and provide evidence based scientific advice to government and other stakeholders.

The Academy’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· recognise scholarly achievement and excellence in the application of scientific thinking for the benefit of society;

· mobilise members to contribute their expertise in the service of society;

· conduct systematic and evidence based studies on issues of national importance and producing authoritative reports that have significant impact on policy making;

· promote the development of an indigenous system of South African research publications, increasing their quality, visibility, accessibility and impact;

· publish science focused periodicals that will showcase the best of Southern African research to a wide national and international audience;

· develop productive partnerships with national, regional and international organisations with a view to building capacity in science and its application within the national system of innovation;

· create diversified sources of funding for sustainable functioning and the growth of a national academy; and

· communicate effectively with relevant stakeholders through various media and fora .

Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA)

The mandate of the Africa Institute of South Africa is to focus on political, socioeconomic, international and developmental issues in contemporary Africa , and contribute to the goals of the NSI through research programmes that impact on knowledge production, human resources development, social science and innovation.

The Institute’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· promote knowledge and understanding of African affairs through leading social scientists acting in concert and across all disciplines, and through training and education on African affairs;

· collect, process and disseminate information on African affairs, give effective advice and facilitate appropriate action in relation to the collective needs, opportunities and challenges of all South Africans; and

· promote awareness and consciousness of Africa at the grassroots level.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The Human Sciences Research Council was established in 1968 to undertake, promote and coordinate research in the human and social sciences.

The Council’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· advance social sciences and humanities for public use by initiating, undertaking and fostering basic and applied research in human and social sciences, and geopolitical issues;

· contribute to development and social progress in Africa by conducting research and analysing and publishing data that aims to address developmental challenges locally, regionally and globally;

· contribute to the development of a skilled and capable workforce in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa by providing opportunities for masters and doctoral candidates as well as postdoctoral fellows;

· preserve its library holdings through digitisation and preserved data sets from data collected by its researchers and share this with others for further analysis;

· effect transformation at senior level to reflect race and gender demographics; and

· improve and implement effective and efficient systems of financial management and good corporate governance.

South African National Space Agency (SANSA)

The South African National Space Agency is broadly required to promote the peaceful use of space, foster international cooperation in space related activities, and facilitate the creation of an environment that is conducive to space technology and industrial development.

The Agency’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· deliver world class and efficient services that yield social and economic benefits;

· conduct cutting edge research and development, and innovation in space science, communications, navigation and space physics;

· develop human capital in astrosciences ;

· contribute to a competitive national space industry and astronautics;

· support and promote the creation of an environment that is conducive to industrial development in space technology;

· advance scientific, engineering and technological competencies and capabilities through human capital development outreach programmes, and infrastructure development; and

· strengthen South Africa ’s visibility in the global space arena.

Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)

The Technology Innovation Agency serves as the key institutional intervention to bridge the innovation chasm between research and development outcomes from higher education institutions, science councils, public entities, private companies and world markets, thus intensifying the effect of technological innovation in the economy. The Agency’s overarching objective is to enable and support technological innovation across different sectors of the economy to achieve socioeconomic benefits through structured financial and non-financial interventions, thereby, building linkages between innovation products and world markets.

The Agency’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

· stimulate the development and demonstration of technology based services, processes and products;

· support the commercialisation of technology innovations;

· develop an enabling environment for technology innovation in South Africa ;

· develop an enabling internal environment to successfully execute its strategy;

· facilitate the development of innovation skills to support technology innovation and commercialization; and

· build a culture of technology innovation.

8. Committee observations resulting from engagements with the Department and entities

· The Committee noted and welcomed the allocations made to the SKA project, the upgrade and maintenance of research infrastructure and to the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO). Some of these funding concerns were raised in the Committee’s budget review and recommendations report in 2012.

· The Committee questioned most of the entities that made presentations around how their targets were set. Entities such as the CSIR, HSRC and NRF assured the Committee that their objectives and performance indicators had been set in line with the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) principle. The Committee wanted to ascertain whether these targets, especially in cases where they were all met, could not be attributed to setting targets either too low or due to limitations of the parliamentary grants and human capital to increase those targets. The Committee undertook to explore further the aforementioned submissions of DST’s entities.

· The Committee acknowledged the important work done by the Department and its entities and questioned whether it was significantly communicated to the public and government departments. In some instances, and this was raised with the CSIR, the Committee found that the budget allocated for communication and outreach was insufficient. They urged the Department and its entities to accelerate efforts in effectively communicating their programmes and achievements to all South Africans.

· The Committee noted that the Bio-economy Strategy has taken long to be finalised. The completion of the Strategy is important in guiding the research, development and investment priorities for the programmes governed by this strategy. The Committee urged the Department to finalise the Strategy without delay.

· T he Committee noted that certain job category challenges existed and raised the concern that the human resources targets for women and disabled persons were not necessarily on the increase but decreasing and urged the Department and its entities to work harder to achieve these targets.

· Throughout the proceedings, the Committee sought clarity on the issue of Government’s involvement in Sunspace. The Committee further noted the minimal progress that had been made since the 2009 Agreement around the African Resource Management Constellation (ARMC).

· The Committee welcomed the recommendations by the Ministerial Review Committee on the Science, Technology and Innovation Landscape as to how the NSI could be strengthened going forward. The Committee plans to invite the Department to update them, particularly on the outcomes of the Internal Working Committee’s evaluation on these recommendations as well as on the public comments received on the matter.

· The Committee remained concerned about the possible negative effects that hydraulic fracturing ( fracking ) of the Karoo shale gas reserves may have on the astronomy advantage areas, should this venture proceed. The Committee urged the Department to continue to play a leading role on the task-team involved in investigating the possibilities related to fracking .

· The Committee views the contributory role of the Department as crucial when it comes to education. Particular concerns were raised with regard to inputs in curriculum development as part of a plan to address the low levels of science, engineering, technology and innovation students progressing through to postgraduate studies.

· In light of the Department’s programme alignment to the objectives of the NDP, which foresee the number of first rate scientists doubled by 2030, science intervention in education could not be limited to financial support for students in the field.

· Stringent synergies should be forged with both the Departments of Higher Education and Training and Basic Education to ensure that issues of concern regarding weaknesses in mathematics and science at school level are discussed in order to produce the desired impact for the science, technology and innovation agenda of the country.

· Further attention by both the Department and the Departments of Education should be devoted to addressing the low rates of academic achievement in mathematics and science as well as assessing the support and impact of the Dinaledi schools.

· The Committee viewed intergovernmental collaborative partnerships as instrumental in ensuring the work done by the Department and its entities was used and implemented. Enhanced co-ordination is necessary at Executive as well as Parliamentary level amongst the various portfolio and select committees in instances where science and technology issues are transversal.

· In interacting with the public entities in the science portfolio, Members expressed their general satisfaction with the entities’ operations and plans. They acknowledged that the science councils and agencies in this portfolio have an important role to play in facilitating the development of cutting-edge science and technology capabilities in the country.


The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, having considered and concluded its deliberations on Budget Vote 34 and the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 fiscal year, recommends that Budget Vote 34, be approved by the House.

Report to be considered.


Department of Science and Technology (2011) Strategic Plan for the Fiscal Years 2011-2016.

Department of Science and Technology (2013), Annual Performance Plan 2013-2014.

Department of Science and Technology (2013) DST Strategic Plan, Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on 13 March 2013.

National Treasury (2013) Estimates of National Expenditure Vote 34: Science and Technology .

Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology (2012) Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, dated April 2011.


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