Hansard: Appropriation Bill: Debate on Vote No 29 — Environmental Affairs
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 15 Apr 2010
No summary available.
FRIDAY, 23 APRIL 2010
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 10:04.
The House Chairperson, Mr M B Skosana, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
DEBATE ON VOTE NO 29 - ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 29 - Environmental Affairs
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Chairperson, these affairs seem to be many. In your introduction of me you mention the affairs of water and the affairs of the environment.
Deputy Minister, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, hon members, all leadership of CBOs and public entities, NGOs, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, we will be debating this Budget Vote under the theme "Working together we can do more for our environment".
Allow me to dedicate this year's Budget Vote speech to our first democratically elected president, Tata Nelson Mandela, who, 20 years ago, walked out of Victor Verster Prison after spending 27 years of incarceration fighting for the freedom of our people, harbouring no trace of bitterness or animosity to those who had placed him behind bars. His exemplary stature taught us to be selfless and dedicated in pursuit of the betterment of the lives of our people. Through the policies and programmes of our department we will ensure that we give credence to Tata's vision of making tomorrow a better day than today.
When the gates of Victor Verster were flung open, he took those memorable first steps that symbolised the many steps we were to take in our quest to move our country to a new era of sustainable development that benefits all our people, irrespective of their race, creed or station in life.
The emergence of Tata Nelson Mandela from incarceration further symbolised the emergence of a paradigm where, as a nation, we recognised that development should benefit us today, while at the same time we should not deprive future generations of access to the same resources and natural assets.
The 2007 State of the Environment Report is quite revealing in reminding us of the damage we continue to inflict on our environment. It highlights the deteriorating condition of the South African environment and the right to a healthy environment, as articulated in the Constitution. Although we recognise the role of other government departments, we respond directly to outcome 10, which demands of us to "protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources".
The financing and resourcing of the environmental sector in particular in provinces and municipalities is not high up on the agenda. We are working closely with the National Treasury to explore fiscal instruments like the emissions tax, as pronounced by the Minister of Finance, and the current plastic-bag levy in pursuance of generating significant revenue for the sector.
South Africa joins other nations of the world in observing 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. This is an opportunity to heighten awareness of biodiversity, which we will consistently carry out in partnership with our partners in the sector, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the South African National Parks. This is the celebration of life on earth and the recognition of the links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing.
As part of our strategic focus and in response to the broad government inclination towards rural development, we will ensure that the integrity of ecosystems on which rural economies are based is enhanced and protected.
Working together we will speed up economic growth and transform the economy, to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods
Hon members, we have set aside R400 million for the eco-towns programme that we are rolling out to 10 municipalities. The project, Buyisela, is an initiative led by our department, in partnership with Indalo Yethu and the Department of Water Affairs. This initiative aims to create ten eco-towns, founded on sustainability, as a legacy project to serve as a framework or blueprint for other towns to follow. "Buyisela" means "giving back" or "restoring" and, in essence, it captures the thrust of cleaning and greening efforts that go beyond just planting lawns and trees to creating bio-recreational spaces for our people in which to enjoy their neighbourhoods, while also protecting and enhancing the quality of open spaces that could have been a breeding ground for criminal activities.
In the midst of the world economic meltdown, the United Nations Environmental Programme called for a Global Green New Deal in terms of which governments are encouraged to support economic transformation to a greener economy. They should promote sustainable and inclusive growth to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and reduce carbon dependency and ecosystem degradation.
In response to this international context, we will work towards the development of a national green economy strategy. Hence we will be hosting a Green Economy Summit in the first quarter of this year. It will be used to define the key elements of this strategy and to gain insight into key areas of focus and the issues requiring attention in the medium and long term.
We also need to act together to mitigate the effects of and adapt to the impact of climate change. Climate change poses an enormous threat to economic growth, sustainable development and our ability to achieve the MDGs. By 2080, about 70 million people and up to 30% of Africa's coastal infrastructure could face the risk of coastal flooding because of a rise in the sea level and an increase in storm intensity and frequency over the oceans.
Climate change threatens Africa's food security, with some parts of the continent expected to experience a reduction in agricultural yields of more than 50% by 2050. The oceans, covering 70% of the earth, play an important role in the climate change debate, particularly the role they play in providing moisture for rain.
The western parts of South Africa are projected to become drier, with certain key agricultural sectors expected to be impacted quite severely. This will result in the accelerated loss of biodiversity, particularly fynbos, as well as chronic water shortages, as we have seen in the past two seasons in the Southern Cape.
In addition, the north-eastern parts of the country are expected to get wetter with a highly energised climate, risks of flooding and damage to property from tornadoes.
In response to these challenges we will release a National Climate Change Policy and White Paper, which should be concluded by the end of 2010. The policy will further build on a broad understanding of what can be done by all stakeholders, namely government, business, labour, civil society and, most importantly, individual citizens, to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More needs to be done to prepare our communities and arm them with information to demystify the climate-change debate and secure their informed understanding of human activities that contribute to climate change. We will use our public participation engagements to spread the message of climate change.
This year marks 150 years since the South African Weather Service was established. In celebrating this achievement, the theme "150 years of service to South Africans" has been chosen to showcase the wealth of climate data and information we have as a country and which informs policy and strategies in climate-change adaptation measures.
Working together we will look at the conservation and protection of our oceans and coasts. The Integrated Coastal Management Act came into operation in December last year. We regard this as a significant milestone, representing our first legislative instrument in the service of a holistic and integrated approach to the conservation and management of the South African coastline.
There is recognition of the challenge regarding the management of ocean spaces in our adjacent ocean areas. The threats of climate change, including the severity and frequency of storms, droughts and other extreme weather events, can only be appreciated when we understand the physical processes that occur in our adjacent ocean areas. This warrants a comprehensive ocean strategy.
The latest presidential proclamation on the transfer of the fisheries function from our department presented us with an opportunity to improve ocean governance that extends the integrated approach to the conservation and management of our oceans.
Marine Protected Areas continue to be a significant conservation tool for the protection of marine biodiversity. Historically, such areas have been associated with dispossession and the exclusion of vulnerable communities from access to natural resources. The department will continue in its efforts to optimise effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas, both offshore and inshore.
Estuaries, the interface of river and sea water, represents important water bodies crucial to the functioning of our ecosystem. Of the 200 estuaries found along the South African coast, 25% are in a degraded state. This degradation is due to inappropriate developments along the banks and in the catchment areas. The department will focus its attention proactively on these degraded systems and will prioritise developing management plans that seek to improve the functioning of estuaries in associated hinterlands.
Hon members, in May this year we will be repatriating a species of black rhino – which is not indigenous to our country – to Tanzania. About two decades ago, eight individuals of this rhino species, Diceros bicornis michaeli, was imported to our country and kept at Addo Elephant National Park. I am happy to announce that, following a request by the Tanzanian Wildlife Authorities, we will be donating 32 of these animals to our Tanzanian counterparts, since the species has become almost extinct in its original habitat. This is one of those stories with a fairy-tale ending, where an alien species has become a gene pool to restock depleted ranges.
Hon members, through our leadership as president of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, Amcen, we were able to transform the ministerial forum into the key voice of Africa on the environment. This was also evident through the role played by Amcen in crafting and galvanising Africa's common negotiation position on climate change, which was taken to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference of Parties, Cop15.
Furthermore, under our presidency we have initiated a process for outlining a comprehensive implementation framework on climate change for Africa which unpacks the climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives to be embarked upon.
In the Southern African Development Community, Sadec, region, our efforts are geared towards a Sadec protocol on the environment, which seeks to support the development and implementation of environmental policies and a legal framework in areas like biodiversity and conservation focusing on Transfrontier Conservation Areas, environmental planning, Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, process alignment and so.
At the recent climate-change talks in Copenhagen, South Africa committed to reducing its emissions by 34% by 2020, and by 42% by 2025, depending on the availability of financial and technical support. South Africa will host the Climate Change Conference of Parties at the end of 2011. As the conference president after Mexico, we will be directly involved in the attempts to advance the process towards an international climate deal. This is an opportunity for South Africa to make its mark in advancing and positioning itself within the agenda of developing nations and in preparation for the Conference of Parties to be held in Mexico in 2010.
That we will be hosting this big international meeting is a significant milestone for South Africa, especially given that climate-change talks are at such a critical stage.
Last year we highlighted that environmental crimes were a source of great concern requiring urgent intervention, especially given that they were often committed by organised crime syndicates with international connections. To address these crimes adequately, enforcement and compliance capacity need to be increased. However, this will only be effective if we brought the criminal justice system into the equation.
We then moved to ensure that we establish environmental courts, and we will be doing that in a number of provinces. We are looking at four provinces. We are looking at Gauteng and this is where we will be launching the environmental courts on 20 May 2010 in Johannesburg. Other pilot sites will include Durban Regional Court in KwaZulu-Natal, Nelspruit Regional Court in Mpumalanga and the Hermanus District Court in the Western Cape. Further roll-out to other provinces will be considered on an annual basis.
We have trained over 300 prosecutors and over 200 magistrates on environmental crimes in preparation for this and we have also distributed prosecutor manuals on environmental crimes to the National Prosecuting Authority. We have been working with the Ministry of Justice to assist us in all this.
We have to look at effectively balancing out the impact of development on the environment. A number of frameworks and tools have been developed to be at the core of advancing the environmental sector programmes. I am pleased to inform the House that I plan to publish the new environmental impact assessment regulations, to come into effect in July 2010. The last financial year saw steady progress towards the development and implementation of an environmental assessment system that was effective in enhancing environmental quality while being efficient in terms of both the time frames associated with decision-making and maximising value for money.
This signifies a quantum leap for us in that, apart from aligning the 2006 regulations with the new and improved Act, the 2010 EIA regulations seek to streamline the EIA process and enable integration with other processes such as water-use licences, emission-to-air licences and mining-related approvals.
Let me end by reminding the House that 2010 is the year of action, as pronounced by the President in his state of the nation address. This Budget Vote speech is indicative of our commitment and dedication to service delivery in synch with the mandate given to us by the electorate. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana)
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Thank you, hon Minister. I must say only a seasoned educator would dare take the Chair to task for tautology! I apologise. I saw you getting a bit agitated too, Deputy Minister. I apologise to you too for I mentioning "Affairs" twice when I was supposed to mention it once.
Ms M M SOTYU
THE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON
Ms M M SOTYU: Chairperson, hon Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, Deputy Minister, hon Rejoice Mabudafhasi, [akusemnandi xa ndimane ndisithi sisi sisi sisi kungekho tata], hon members of Parliament and all our guests, it was back in 1992 when the environmental desk of the ANC attended the UN Conference on Environment and Development. Its policies influenced post-apartheid thinking on environmental issues. This was reflected in the ANC's first election manifesto of 1994, and subsequent manifestos reflect the centrality of the environmental sustainable development agenda, with its recent emphasis on climate change.
Sustainable development means the integration of social, economic and environmental factors into planning, implementation and decision-making, so as to ensure that development serves present and future generations. There are indications in South Africa that the approach to climate change is shifting from one based on environment alone to one cast more broadly in terms of sustainable development, particularly at the international level.
Chairperson, the ANC election manifesto of 2009 emphasised the need to develop and invest in a programme to create large numbers of green jobs, in other words employment in industries and facilities that are designed to mitigate the effects of climate change. South Africa recognises that global climate change is a formidable threat to sustainable development. It could undermine global poverty alleviation efforts and have severe implications for food security, clean water, energy supply, environmental health and human settlement.
In response to the climate challenges, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs has begun working in Parliament on joint committee initiatives on climate change. This started in October 2009. Public hearings were held in Parliament in November 2009, and the Joint Committee of Chairpersons visited Washington and different countries, such as Swaziland and Denmark, to engage with legislators on the implications of climate change on their constituencies. We also interacted with countries like the United Kingdom via a video conference here in Parliament. It became obvious that parliaments and legislators in every country had a bigger role to play on issues of climate change.
The government sees climate-change response actions as a significant factor in boosting sustainable economic and social development. Thus, it is fitting that South Africa's approach to climate change is consistent with the concern expressed in the international arena. This also applies to the ongoing international climate-change negotiations, where South Africa plays a critical role.
Chairperson, the underlying aims of the public hearings that were held in Parliament in 2009 provide the framework in which the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs intends to pursue its climate change agenda. These were, among others: First, to develop a comprehensive picture of how climate change impacts on communities and ecosystems in South Africa; second, to understand gaps in existing legislation and government policies; third, to understand the gaps in government's response to climate change and sustainable development; and finally, to identify short-, medium- and long-term solutions and the action needed from Parliament and government.
It also became obvious from most of the presenters and stakeholders at the public hearings that South Africa needed a clear climate-change policy. Climate change is a governance issue. In Africa itself, climate change is a major threat to sustainable growth and development. Although Africa is the continent least responsible for climate change, it is particularly vulnerable to its effects, including reduced agricultural production, worsening food security, the increased incidence of both flooding and drought, the spread of diseases and the increased risk of conflict over scarce land and water resources, as mentioned by the Minister.
Climate change is a new programme introduced in the current financial year, with the aim of facilitating an effective national mitigation and adaptation response to it. This is indeed necessary, considering the ongoing and anticipated negative consequences of climate change for Africa and South Africa, with the limited mitigation and adaptation interventions by government.
The environmental consequences of global warming – that is, the melting of glaciers, floods, a rise in sea levels, droughts, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, etc. – will exact enormous economic costs. As a result of damage to infrastructure, the cost of repair and replacement will increase substantially.
The success of environmental programmes such as biodiversity and conservation, renewable energy in the face of climate change, and pollution management, among other things, mainly depends on funding, funding, funding - and good programme management.
Climate change is here. Look at what happened in Haiti and what is happening in Yushu in the People's Republic of China, where hundreds of people have lost their lives in earthquakes.
Chairperson, it is important that legislators ensure that climate change, underpinned by a sustainable development agenda, is high on their oversight mandate over government plans, decisions and legislation. There are a number of broad options that one could consider which, when we look at climate change holistically, draw in the work of a range of departments and entities. It is indeed a cross-cutting issue, just like water.
There is a need to look critically at the environmental impact assessment system and to introduce the strategic assessment of the impact of climate change, public policies, plans, etc. We need to ensure that any governance component on climate change is housed within a powerful body or government department that can develop strategies and national goals and co-ordinate the response across sectors and spheres.
Local municipalities are a key partner in any national climate-change response. In sharing the responsibility for the future, national, provincial and local spheres of government and legislators also need to oversee the way in which municipalities translate the climate-change agenda at local level.
As representatives of the citizenry and through their oversight functions and constituency offices, parliamentarians are in a better position to identify and respond to societal needs. Parliaments are responsible for approving national budgets and therefore have a major say in how state resources are allocated. This gives Parliament the authority to ensure that substantial resources are allocated to the sectors that are important and relevant.
USis' Nosipho angaxhalaphi ndizakuyisa imali kuye.
We urge the government to ensure that all government policies and programmes align themselves with the overarching goals of the above-mentioned policies, especially in terms of targets, to help foster consistency in the national climate-change response message. Conflicting messages from different departments make the management of the cross-cutting issue of climate change extremely difficult at the local level.
The role of the legislators on climate change was critical at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. International agreements are the base documents that define national policies and pieces of domestic legislation. Legislators therefore need to make their input and undertake oversight over the relevant treaties and conventions that will guide the work of committees on climate change.
As I said when I was in Copenhagen, Parliament won't be used as a rubber stamp on treaties that have been signed abroad. We need to be part of all those treaties.
It is also critical that legislators begin to engage seriously on the following proposals from the Joint Committees of Chairs – I am now addressing you now, presiding officers. These proposals include: first, setting up a multiparty intersectoral committee on climate change and sustainable development in Parliament. Second, holding a mini-conference to address the outcome of the December 2009 Copenhagen Accord, because there was no deal. Third, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs will also be assessing the outcome of the Copenhagen Accord and make recommendations to the legislators on undertaking oversight. Fourth, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs had the opportunity to engage with legislators from all over the world through the Globe forum. It is therefore necessary that a Globe South Africa office be set up to function as a base for creating other Globe offices in the rest of Africa.
Lastly, the participation of legislators in the climate-change dialogues of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the IPU, is equally important. This must also extend to all bilateral and multilateral agreements in which South Africa is involved.
We applaud the environment Ministry for the establishment of a task team led by your department, Minister, to focus on the issues of climate change in preparation for the 2011 Climate Change Conference. As you mentioned, it is going to be held in South Africa. The portfolio committee will be working closely with this task team, as agreed at a portfolio committee meeting.
In conclusion, Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to thank the Minister for making it possible for the Parliament of South Africa to be part of the delegation to the 15th Conference of the Parties, Cop15, in December 2009. If it were not for you, Minister, we would not have been part of that conference.
Whuntshu, sisi. Amaqobokazana angalal' endleleni yazini kunyembelekile. Uyibambe njalo, ke sisi. Ngentetho yesitsotsi bathi: "Ubhoso wena." [Kwahlekwa.]
I wish everybody could have seen her in Copenhagen, putting Africa as a continent prominently on the map, leading the entire African continent. Thank you, Minister.
Thank you, Director-General Nosipho Ngcaba and your team for the valuable work and insight offered to the committee. We have decided to look for an umkhukhu [shack] in order for you to be near Cape Town. Every so often, we have to call you to Cape Town. Thank you very much for that.
The following portfolio committees also contributed to the success of the work of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on issues of climate change: Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Affairs, Energy, Science and Technology, and Tourism. As much as I mention only these committees, issues of climate change affect all committees in Parliament and therefore we need to begin strategising on collaborative initiatives in Parliament.
To all the stakeholders that made presentations in the public hearings, the NGOs, academia and research institutions, among others, we thank you for contributing to the knowledge base of this committee and hope for future collaboration.
To the House Chairperson, hon Obed Bapela, thank you for having a heartfelt interest in climate change and for leading this team to Copenhagen in December 2009. The ANC supports this Budget Vote. I thank you, sir.
Mr G R MORGAN
Ms M M SOTYU
Mr G R MORGAN: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, the DA associates itself with the Minister's dedication of the speech to the father of our democracy, Mr Nelson Mandela.
The Copenhagen climate-change negotiations were a great disappointment. South Africa's own negotiating mandate had envisaged achieving a legally binding agreement that would, among other things, achieve a commitment to substantial emission reductions from the developed world according to what the science requires. The agreement would also achieve measurable and verifiable deviation from the business-as-usual case by countries of the developing world. Instead, after more than two weeks of negotiations, we got the weak, unenforceable Copenhagen Accord.
The Minister is on record as being disappointed with the Conference of the Parties 15, Cop15, despite the fact that President Zuma was directly involved in the process that led to the production of the accord. And so, it is back to the drawing board. The climate road show moves to Mexico this year where, regrettably, the chance of achieving a legally binding agreement also seems slim. And that means that South Africa, the host of Cop17 in 2011, will be left with the burden of hosting the final Cop at which the details of the post-2012 climate framework will be thrashed out.
This is a huge responsibility for South Africa. It is likely to be the Johannesburg declaration or the Cape Town accord that will determine whether the world will not exceed an average global warming of more than 2ºc. Time is now of the essence. The longer South Africa and other countries wait to leave their response to climate change, the more difficult and costly it will become.
The DA has noted President Zuma's commitment to a nationally appropriate mitigation action plan to enable a 34% deviation below the business-as-usual emissions growth trajectory by 2020 and a 42% deviation by 2025. This was subsequently communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, on 29 January 2010. But we also note that the devil is in the detail and that our country's commitment is contingent on financial, technological and capacity-building support from the developed world. So, in effect, we are not moving for now.
Last year in this debate I called for an open and honest debate about coal. Our blessing of abundant coal is becoming a curse as it drives out a commitment to diversifying energy production. The proliferation of new mining applications across South Africa, from Mpumalanga to Limpopo to the Cape winelands, is in effect a low-level war against the environment. Last year, Madam Minister, I asked you to invoke section 3A of the amendments to the National Environmental Management Act to create an advisory committee on mining and the environment. You subsequently told me in private correspondence that you would not be acting in good faith if you did this, as the function of authorising mines belongs to the Minister of Mineral Resources.
This may be the case, but the Department of Mineral Resources is, in fact, not acting in good faith. More than a year ago, the members of this House passed both the National Environmental Management Amendment Act and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Act with the purpose of beginning a timeline that would result in the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, 36 months after commencement of the last of the two Acts, becoming the competent authority for the authorisation of mines. That has not yet happened. This is an unfortunate situation, and I believe it is a slap in the face of your department.
The proof that we need the authorisation of mines to become a competency of your department is that a new order mining right was granted to Coal of Africa to mine adjacent to the Mapungubwe World Heritage site despite strong objections from your department. The DA fully supports you on this matter, Madam Minister but, regrettably, under the current regime of mining law the input of your department is reduced to nothing more than providing comments.
Madam Minister, in a statement you suggested your own disquiet with the new order mining right adjacent to Mapungubwe, seeing as the Department of Mineral Resources did not even have the courtesy to inform you before they went to the media. Your senior officials heard about it through the media. Now more than ever before you need to find a structured way of engaging with the Minister of Mineral Resources on the issues of mining and the environment.
What exactly is happening with the transfer of fisheries-related functions to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries? A presidential proclamation, which you mentioned in your speech, was signed earlier this year and provided for the transfer of approximately 80% of the functions under marine and coastal management to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Both during the presentation of the budget to our committee and during the strategic workshop which you attended, members participating were led to believe that the presidential proclamation would stand. But on Tuesday this week, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Joemat-Petterssen, said in her pre-budget briefing that all the functions of marine and coastal management would be transferred to her department. So who is right, Madam Minister, you or the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries?
It is worth noting that our committee was presented with a budget and a business plan for the Department of Environmental Affairs - which we are debating here today - that reflects differently from what the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says is going to happen. I'd like to say that the DA fully supports the retention of the enforcement of the Integrated Coastal Management Act and ocean functions that are within the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. Just like we believe that the environmental functions of mining should revert to the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, so should the environmental functions of Marine and Coastal Management, MCM.
The last few months have been turbulent within MCM. The staff turned into politicians, vested interests were revealed and fisheries management suffered. To Minister Joemat-Petterssen, whether you take 100% or 80% of the fisheries functions, I wish you the best of luck. It is a mess.
The compliance and enforcement capacity of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is steadily improving. I welcome the announcement that dedicated time will be allocated for environmental crimes in four courts in South Africa. This will go a long way to improving the prosecution of environmental crimes.
For the various environmental laws to be respected and to have credibility, they need to be enforced. It is important that the department shows no fear or favour when it acts against transgressors. But this is not always the case. Take, for example, the case of a R100 million boatyard being built by the military in Langebaan for the Department of Public Works.
The local community was misled about the size of the project and they commenced work last year without obtaining environmental authorisation. There was no scoping report, no involvement of interested and affected parties, and no environmental impact assessment, EIA. The Department of Public Works has apparently applied for a section 24(G) application for the rectification of this illegal activity.
Nevertheless, work persists on the site. If this was a private developer, the building would have been stopped and the developer fined. But because it is another government department, they are allowed to get away with avoiding full compliance with the law. The law must apply equally to all, but in Langebaan this is not the case.
Let me take this opportunity to commend the management of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, KZN, for taking the enforcement of environmental law seriously and for achieving results. In February 2010, three unauthorised developments were dismantled in the park after refusal to comply with a High Court order. In March, a pilot was found guilty in the Mtubatuba Regional Court for flying over the park below the legal limit.
The CEO of the park noted at the time that research indicated that low flying impacted negatively on the biology of some threatened species. He is taking environmental crime seriously, and the managers of other protected areas, most notably the Kruger National Park, would do well to rigorously enforce this law as well.
The threats to biodiversity in this country are numerous and growing. There is currently an assault on our rhino population. Between 2005 and 2009, approximately 260 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa. Whereas there were 19 rhinos killed in 2005, there were more than 100 rhinos killed last year. As it stands at the moment, in April 2010, the poaching figures for this year are going to be more than last.
The demand for rhino horn in the Far East is relentless, and Africa's biodiversity is suffering. There has been some recent success in catching poachers, I admit, as well as apprehending dealers, but we are dealing with sophisticated criminals who are brazen enough to fly a helicopter into a protected area, kill an animal, cut off its horn and fly away in contempt of the law.
The war will not merely be won by rangers in the field. We need a commitment to boosting intelligence capabilities and strong, ongoing co-ordination with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA.
Another threat to biodiversity is the fate of the 4 000 lions that are currently housed in captive breeding facilities in South Africa. The department's promulgated regulations to end canned hunting, which you yourself in reply to a DA parliamentary question called "a reprehensible practice", are currently being challenged by the Predator Breeders Association, PBA. When your regulations are upheld - which I expect they will be - there will be a serious welfare problem for these lions.
Last weekend I was at Lions Rock Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem in the Free State to witness, alongside Princess Alia Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, the release of several lions that had previously lived in zoos in her country. It was a beautiful and emotional experience to see these great animals being released into freedom.
I urge the Minister to deal proactively with the fate of lions that are in captive breeding facilities in our country, many of which will cease to have any economic value to lion breeders in the near future. There are many organisations that are prepared to work with you on this challenge and to offer their expertise. Please, engage with them.
There is confusion between the provisions of the South African Weather Services Act and the Public Finance Management Act as to who is the accounting authority. In correspondence with the Auditor-General, AG, he informed me that despite the South African Weather Services Act saying that the CEO is the accounting authority, the Public Finance Management Act must prevail. In fact, the board is the accounting authority. He recommended as far back as three years ago that the South African Weather Services Act needed to be amended to reflect this, but nothing has happened. Madam Minister, please introduce the required amendments to this House this year. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms H N NDUDE
Mr G R MORGAN
Ms H N NDUDE: Chairperson, hon members, let me register our appreciation of the commitment and efforts by the Minister and also acknowledge the challenges she faces dealing with two huge departments and their different challenges.
We also appreciate the co-operation the Minister has introduced with other departments, and the announcement she made yesterday of the progress in terms of providing rural areas with potable water. But I must mention that it might be only 10% or 20% of rural areas that are receiving water and that 80% to 90% of our people are still without water. There is still a huge challenge in this regard.
I must say, Madam Minister, the department is in contempt because water is a human right and the constitutional right of every citizen of South Africa. So, if we have 80% to 90% of people without water, it means the department is in contempt of the Constitution and of human rights.
I wish to thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Ms Maggie Sotyu, for the manner in which she conducts herself and the meetings of the committee.
Having said that, in December last year representatives of nearly 200 governments met in Copenhagen, Denmark, to hammer out the details of a new climate-change treaty. Although it is 17 years since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has come into force, the developed countries are holding back. The political accord that was struck by world leaders only provides for explicit emission pledges by all major economies, but it does not chart any clear path to a treaty with binding commitments. To its credit, South Africa, which is a developing country, played a conspicuous and positive role in Copenhagen.
The Minister and the chief negotiator, Alf Wills, worked hard to secure a partial agreement. As a witness to the events, I wish to pay tribute to Alf Wills and the South African team for their sterling efforts in the Copenhagen solution.
The one positive development from Copenhagen relates to technology development and transfer in support of mitigation and adaptation. Cope believes that South Africa should take full advantage of acquiring new technology wherever it is developed in terms of the agreement so as to implement its own mitigation and adaptation programmes.
Cope believes that government must clearly spell out what lifestyle changes and infrastructure development will have to take place to cope with the effects and consequences of climate change. Are there any coastal communities that will need any infrastructure? Or, will agriculture have to be advised about which crops to grow in which season? The department must provide details of South Africa's reduction, mitigation and adaptation strategies.
In a world where climate change is occurring with frightening speed, it is imperative for government to encourage sustainable growth. Cope strongly advocates the implementation of wide-scale retrofitting of houses, offices, factories and vehicles to mitigate climate change.
Cope very strongly supports sustainable development through environmental management that is properly co-ordinated and highly championed to ensure the following: a healthy living and working environment for citizens of our country; sustainable use of land, water and natural resources; migration to clean and renewable sources of energy; active and extensive public participation in environmental governance and effective messaging; imposition of carbon taxes balanced by subsidies for those moving to cleaner technologies; ban on halogen lamps and all lighting that is not as efficient as compressed fluorescent lighting; promoting vehicle pooling by daily commuters to reduce the number of cars on the roads and thereby decreasing pollution. Motor vehicles contribute 20% to 25% of air pollution.
If we look at government's efforts regarding the above, it is clear that a sense of urgency is lacking, and I urge the Minister to pay serious attention to this. Our children are going to be seriously short-changed if we do not act at once.
The ability of our environment to meet today's needs as well as those of tomorrow needs to be constantly analysed and monitored. Do we know to what extent southern Africa is warming, or what is happening to Antarctica, or how quickly the western half of our country is beginning to dry up – and has government begun to plan for water desalination plants for these areas? We are sounding a warning about a future without adequate water that awaits us and we need to have timeframes for specific actions.
When we speak of sustainable development in respect of our country's macroeconomic and fiscal policy, we have to mention the sustainable management of the environment in the same breath. Neither growth nor development is sustainable in the absence of environmental sustainability. This ministry must ensure that the environmental component has a key role in the implementation of the macroeconomic policy.
Throughout our history, before and after liberation, government in South Africa has continued to emphasise the optimal exploitation of our minerals and natural resources, with hardly any regard for environmental consequences. Even today mines continue to pollute with impunity. Enforcement must ensure that all pollution of air, soil and water is stopped.
Our ecological areas and cycles, and our biodiversity, must receive serious attention before it is too late. Cope requests that a more comprehensive and cross-cutting approach is adopted. Throughout our country the carrying capacity of the environment is being exceeded, and the dongas and ravines are an indictment of the government. Cope wants to know what is being done about our vulnerable terrestrial ecosystems ... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms H N NDUDE:
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA: Chairperson, hon members, this Parliament has passed many pieces of legislation that are intended to contribute to the preservation and protection of our environmental and natural resources, including legislation dealing with important issues of pollution, waste management and protected areas, among other things. The proper implementation of these pieces of legislation and the monitoring of their progress is where the greatest challenge lies. One of the major priorities of the department is to ensure a sustainable and healthy environment.
The total amount allocated to the department increased from R2,2 billion in the past financial year to R2,6 billion in the current financial year, reflecting a real growth rate of 8,9%. Most of this allocation goes to the newly introduced climate-change programme, which has increased its budget with 142% to cater for climate-change research. We note that the budget of the Environmental Quality and Protection Programme has increased, but by the insignificant amount of only 2,8%.
Ironically, issues concerning environmental protection have taken on greater importance on a world-wide scale. It's a worldwide trend for environmental departments to give greater attention and priority to the protection and preservation of the environment in order to discharge their mandates. Needless to say, the importance of environmental protection was correctly stressed by the President in the state of the nation address.
Every attempt to protect our environment must be made, and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs must improve its effectiveness. The pollution and abuse that we have inflicted upon the environment for many years have hastened the pace of climate change.
Similarly, the biodiversity and conservation programme, which includes facilities such as Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South African National Parks and SA National Biodiversity Institute, has experienced budget cuts of about R30 million. In our view these cuts are anomalous, especially considering that conservation areas, such as Kruger National Park, attract tourists from all over the world.
When we respond to climate change we must think of vulnerable people and communities. More frequent extreme conditions such as fires, flooding, sea-level rising and longer drought periods have affected poor communities very negatively.
A case in point was the effect of tornado-like conditions in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Many families became homeless and lost property and life, especially over the December period. Minister, you are no doubt aware of these occurrences. Some kind of survey must be done about these areas, to establish what can be done to save these communities from such hardships and the reasons behind the existence of these conditions in those areas.
Concerning waste management issues, although the idea of waste management was introduced a couple of years ago, many people still don't address littering. Worse, they litter on the streets and in forests or parks. The Minister might be in a position to inform the House if progress has been made in the building of recycling centres.
Across the country there are many poor people who are unemployed and solely dependent on waste and scrap collecting for their livelihood. The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has a responsibility to assist these people to ensure that their work is valued and protected.
I have no doubt that South African cities, especially those that will host World Cup matches, have their greening business plans in place in order to promote an environmentally friendly World Cup. We must make the most of this wonderful opportunity and ensure that the rest of the world realises how beautiful and unique is the country of South Africa. The IFP supports this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms P Bhengu
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA
Ms P BHENGU: Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, Chairperson and hon members, sustainability is the key to preventing or reducing the effect of environmental issues. There is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably and that a collective effort is needed to return the human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits. For humans to live sustainably, the earth's resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished.
In other countries, concerns for the environment have prompted the formation of green parties - political parties that seek to address environmental issues. In South Africa, though, the ANC-led government has realised that a developmental agenda has to underpin sustainable development.
Increasingly, the concept of sustainable development is shifting from a purely environmental issue to a more social issue. The right to development is crucial for developing countries, and sustainable development not about stopping growth. The Rio Declaration, produced after the Earth Summit in June 1983, has a theme of sustainable development running through it. The 1987 Brundtland Commission first defined sustainable development as, and I quote, "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
To achieve the principles underpinning the Brundtland Commission definition highlighted above, all countries need to meet the following four objectives at the same time. First is social progress that recognises the needs of everyone. Second is the effective protection of the environment. Third is the prudent use of natural resource. Last is the maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
Irrespective of ideologies, "environmentalism" is still key. From loss of biodiversity and ecosystems to ozone depletion, fossil-fuel use, overuse of nitrogen fertilisers, invasion of alien species, acid rain, deforestation and forest fires, global warming and water stress, this issue is complex and all-encompassing.
Therefore, as we robustly debate the Budget Vote of the Department of Environmental Affairs, environmentalism within a developmental agenda is critical.
South Africa has ensured that within the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, environmental rights are also key for all citizens. The constitutional mandate of the Department of Environmental Affairs is to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures. This has culminated in the formulation and adoption of several environmental laws.
The work of the department traverses a wide and complex range of issues, from conservation, air quality, environmental management, biodiversity to integrated coastal management and climate change. Looking further at some of the issues listed above, we need to understand that they are not short-term goals. These are all long-term goals, involving a recurring set of activities that evolve over time to address specific environmental problems in the process of realising the environmental goal. Implicitly, the above issues cannot be dealt with holistically in one financial year alone. For example, ensuring the protection, conservation and enhancement of environmental assets, of natural and heritage resources, are long-term priorities requiring intergenerational and intergovernmental actions.
In focusing on environmentalism within a developmental agenda, I wish to focus on job creation in the waste-management sector and the importance of biodiversity and conservation. Concern over environmental degradation has recently reached an all-time high in South Africa and elsewhere. One strategic opportunity for creating jobs in the environmental sector lies in the field of municipal solid waste management.
As a major developing country, South Africa produces a considerable amount of solid waste. For example, nationally it produces an average of 8 864 000 tonnes of domestic waste per annum, let alone industrial and other categories of waste. As land filling, the traditional form of waste disposal, becomes more expensive due to closure and stricter operating requirements, recycling has become a proven waste disposal alternative. It is indisputable that thousands of South Africans earn their living from waste management activities, although it is difficult to quantify precisely the number of jobs in this industry due to ongoing value-addition activities in the waste industry.
In South Africa, the focus on waste management and job creation has been facilitated by the ANC-led government's emphasis on service delivery, together with local economic development programmes and poverty alleviation projects. With the increase in economic development came an increase in commercial, industrial, hazardous, mining, power-generation and radioactive waste, all of which have to be regulated and managed under the various pieces of legislation crafted by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Today, however, we have a specific law dealing with waste management, which is the National Environmental Management Waste Act of 2008.
South Africa continues to face critical challenges in the waste management sector, such as the lack of available or current waste management information from all sectors, illegal dumping and illegal dump sites, salvaging at waste disposal facilities, use of unpermitted landfills by municipalities, etc. We need to acknowledge that nevertheless these challenges have not hampered South Africa's unwavering belief that effective waste management has positive effects on the economy. For example, job-creation initiatives have resulted from the reclamation, recycling and reuse of waste, which has increased income in the poorer sections of the population.
With increasing unemployment, many people in South Africa are finding alternative ways to generate income. To promote this, the government, which in this particular case is the Department of Environmental Affairs, sought to combine service delivery with local economic development and poverty alleviation initiatives in the waste-management sector. This resulted in the inception of Buyisa–e-Bag Company, which was established in 2003 as a section-21 company to recycle plastic-bag waste.
The Buyisa-e-Bag Company is an effective implementation agency for the Department of Environmental Affairs as far as waste management is concerned. It is in this regard that the department funds the activities of Buyisa-e-Bag, for which an amount of R35 million has been allocated in the current financial year, or the 2010-11 budget. Buyisa-e-Bag's scope is not limited to plastic bags only.
It suffices to state further that the department's commitment to effective service delivery and poverty eradication in the waste-management sector is shown by the increased budget allocation to the waste-management company. Buyisa-e-Bag received a nominal allocation of R5 million in addition to the 2009-10 financial year allocation of R30 million. This reflects a real increase of R2,8 million, which translates to a 9,3% real increase in budget allocation. Thus, waste management is indeed emerging as a key industry for sustainable development in South Africa.
In relation to the Biodiversity and Conservation Programme, the budget cut of about R30 million in real terms does not match the true value of this programme. In any case, the programme contains some of South Africa's flagship conservation areas, like the world-renowned Kruger National Park, which attracts tourists from all over the globe. In fact, South Africa owes its good reputation as a biodiversity-conserving country to the successful management of this programme in the past years. Thus, it is of great concern that the expenditure of this important programme declined by 7,5% in real terms relative to 2009-10 expenditure. The imminent threat of climate change to biodiversity does not justify this budget cut.
The success of environmental programmes such as biodiversity, conservation, renewable energy in the face of climate change, and pollution management, among other things, mainly depends on funding and good programme management. However, in South Africa, as elsewhere, we seem to be heading towards a public spending spree. Moreover, doing more with less has already become a familiar rallying cry in the public service.
In conclusion, a long-term approach to planning and decision-making is necessary to harmonise the goals of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. The focus on meeting both the needs of present and future generations requires the formulation of long-term policy priorities for the environmental sector.
In fact, environmental management is about understanding environmental change and its consequences, as well as finding remedies to those consequences. Meeting some of the policy priorities of the department, requires citizens to adopt sustainable lifestyles, incorporating a range of behavioural responses, from energy saving and water conservation to waste recycling and green consumption. These changes are also key to the work of public representatives. Therefore, the ANC supports the budget. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr L W GREYLING
Ms P BHENGU
Mr L W GREYLING: Chair, the ID believes in giving credit where credit is due, and this department certainly needs to be praised for the hard work and commitment of its staff. This is arguably one of the best-run departments in government, and I believe its influence should be extended to other ministries.
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs should however not be limited to a reactive role, where it has to clean up other people's mess, in a sense. It must be leading the drive to ensure that all the decisions taken within government are in the interest of a sustainable development agenda.
It is this department that has to deal with, for instance, the disastrous long-term impacts of a coal-based economy, and it needs to be vociferous in raising red flags around the damage of acid mine drainage, local air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions.
The World Bank loan has put South Africa in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The ID certainly had its reservations about this loan and we made this known to the World Bank in a vociferous manner.
The ID does, however, disagree with the hypocritical approach of some developed countries who have attempted to use this issue as a way of conducting climate-change negotiations by stealth. I was in Copenhagen and I witnessed first hand how some of these very same developed countries refused to take on their emission-reduction targets as required by science. They also refused to make available the necessary funds to enable developing countries like us to pursue a comprehensive and clean energy path. We cannot, however, all sit back and let the world burn. It is not blame that we need to apportion, but rather the real commitments that are required by science.
On the domestic front, South Africa will now need to live up to its commitments and show that we are serious about moving from a coal-based energy future to one that is powered by an increasing share of renewable energy. The ID therefore looks forward to engaging on the Climate Change White Paper that this department will need to bring to Parliament in the near future. It is vital that this process feeds into the work of other departments, and that all of its programmes are driven with vigour.
The failure of Copenhagen means that the pressure is now on us to deliver a real deal in South Africa next year when the negotiations come to our shores. Time really is running out, and I do not think it is overly dramatic to say that this will be the last chance to deliver a deal that can save the world from runaway climate change.
The ID therefore hopes that the department will bring together all stakeholders in South Africa to formulate a clear road map that will deliver just such a deal. It is not going to be easy and trust will, once again, have to be built between developed and developing countries. We will also need to ensure that society is brought on board and plays a strategic role in fighting for this deal.
This is, however, an opportunity for South Africa to, once again, become a global beacon of hope for the world, and we all need to be part of making sure that that happens. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr B H HOLOMISA
Mr L W GREYLING
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members, the UDM supports Budget Vote No 29.
Nam ndiyancoma, ingxelo kaMphathiswa iyathembisa.
Environmental degradation, especially in disadvantaged communities, is well documented. I remember that shortly after his release and return to his home in Qunu, former President Mandela asked me about the absence of trees and birdsong, of which he had fond childhood memories. My response was that because of poverty and lack of development, people had chopped down all the trees and the birds had migrated.
The challenge for South Africans, under the leadership of this department, is to restore the biosphere in all communities, based on the plant and animal life that was historically indigenous to each area. This must go hand in hand with better water management, as well as improving education for communities on environmental conservation. These steps would go a long way towards reducing the negative impact of climate change on a micro level.
Government should encourage the newly structured Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the National Planning Commission to work closely together to ensure that environmental considerations are integrated in the policies of all three tiers of government. We're signatories to many international treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the recent Copenhagen Declaration.
If is, for instance, this department and the National Planning Commission that should advise on whether or not pursuing energy generation through coal or nuclear power stations is in line with our environmental obligations.
I submit that it is these two departments that should reign in any abuse of national resources, in order to preserve it for future generations. In the same vein, we should seriously consider relocating the National Strategy for Sustainable Development section from this department to the National Planning Commission.
Turning to the forthcoming World Cup, I wish to say that the department should capitalise on the Fifa World Cup by identifying certain days, perhaps public holidays and weekends, to encourage the public to participate in cleaning up public spaces. I speak from experience, because we did this in the Transkei between 1988 and 1993. In this way we would be inculcating a culture of ownership among South Africans.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon member, please conclude.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Besele ndizakwenyuka nawe, mhlekazi.
Finally, civil servants from all departments could be encouraged to participate in this. A project of this nature does not require any consultants or a White Paper. The department should also appeal to motorists in particular, about the littering that occurs on our highways. Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER of WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr B M HOLOMISA
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: Hon members of Parliament, chief executive officers of public entities, non-governmental organisations, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the work of our department finds resonance and relevance in the South African Constitution. The Constitution calls for measures that promote conservation and secure ecological sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. Furthermore, it emphasises the protection of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. However, our dynamic Constitution will remain only a piece of paper unless its promises are translated into actions, and we will try with all our might to answer its call.
Our nation must look forward to improved levels of service delivery in waste management, pollution, air quality, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity and conservation as well as transverse programmes focusing on empowering vulnerable women, youth, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
I'm sure that hon Zikalala – oh, she is gone – will be happy to know that our department intends to break new ground in the implementation of its waste-management policies and legislation through the implementation of the Waste Act, which came into effect in July last year. It signalled a radical shift from the traditional waste-management regime in that it seeks to address waste challenges by instituting mechanisms of waste avoidance, minimisation, re-use, recycling, recovery, appropriate collection and transport services, and environmentally sound treatment and disposal. I'm echoing what the hon Bhengu has just said.
The Act will allow us to drive a recycling economy, with the municipalities expected to be central to the effective management of waste. This will further contribute to job-creation potential, with the emphasis on waste-collection initiatives involving communities. Of course, small, medium and micro Enterprises, SMMEs, and the recycling business will develop to strengthen the Buyisa-e-Bag Company, which we alluded to. Hon Bhengu, that is being strengthened. Also, Indalo Yethu is leading the Education Awareness Programme, which is aimed at changing the mind-sets, behaviour and attitude of our people towards the environment.
We are extending the clean-up campaign to the borders we share with Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. We are already done with Zimbabwe and Lesotho. These initiatives are also used to highlight other critical environmental issues, including climate change, air quality and the need for the continent to forge strong links in matters relating to sustainable development.
With the 2010 FIFA World Cup just 55 days away, it is critical that every South African notes their rights and responsibilities in ensuring that we prepare our cities by cleaning them, for our own benefit and that of the millions of soccer lovers who will descend on our shores. Their arrival in a clean and green South Africa will create a lasting legacy.
Hon members, the department has developed a National Waste Management Strategy, NWMS, which, among others, seeks to respond to challenges in respect of specific categories of waste and describes the application of different instruments for each waste category. The strategy will guide how we reduce the amount of waste generated, recover materials where possible, recycle and re-use waste. This year we will be setting recycling targets, which will help us monitor the rate at which we are implementing the waste hierarchy and, especially, diverting waste from landfills by, for example, reducing the levels of unauthorised waste management practices across the country, particularly as it relates to the use of unauthorised waste disposal facilities or sites.
We will also be training landfill site managers across the country, to ensure that we build capacity to institute very basic operational management practices at most of the municipal waste disposal sites. We don't want our people to be humiliated scavengers. They should be the ones who are trained first in order that they do it in a proper, healthy way. If we separate waste at source, we won't have that problem.
I am happy to announce that we will be taking to Cabinet a Policy on Free Basic Refuse Removal that seeks to extend the provision of free basic refuse removal services to indigent families in the country. This will control the growing number of illegal dumping sites created by such communities in the absence of a viable policy regime.
We have a National Co-ordinating Committee which involves a number of other departments on issues relating to chemicals in order to facilitate the implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements that regulates the handling, including export and import, control of chemicals. South Africa is one of the eight countries participating in the Africa Stockpiles Programme. It is funded by the World Bank and is aimed at getting rid of expired pesticides and fertilisers. We are working closely with industry, because they have to take responsibility for sustaining this intervention.
Regarding medical waste, a number of companies that are involved in the treatment of medical waste have recently been found to be non-compliant with standard operating guidelines. As a result the department is taking hard decisions on closing down such non-compliant facilities. We are aware of the embedded corruption in tendering for these services in hospitals, and this will be uprooted.
Last year, we pledged our commitment to take forward the implementation of the National Air Quality Act and step up its enforcement measures to ensure that polluters comply with this legislation. I am happy to report that the coming into full effect of the new National Air Quality Act on 1 April 2010 has heralded the emergence of a piece of legislation that is outcome driven. In December 2009, we published the overall measure of this outcome: the revised Ambient Air Quality Standards.
In terms of focused interventions in respect of pollution hot spots, 2009 saw the Air Quality Management Plan for the Vaal Triangle Air-shed Priority Area being promulgated and the initiation of the development of the Highveld Priority Area Air Quality Management Plan. We are pleased with the progress to date, with just under 30 provincial and municipal air-quality management plans completed, under implementation or nearing completion.
We will not have achieved cleaning our air if we ignore the pollution in our townships and informal settlements that emanates from coal being their source of energy. This also impacts on their health. We are rolling out the Clean Fires Campaign, Basa Nje Ngo Magogo, as part of our effort to introduce a method of fire-making that reduces smoke by 80%.
On the occasion of the celebration of the World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2010, the department, together with the South African Weather Service, launched the first phase of the South African Air Quality Information System. This system provides all South Africans with access to information on the quality of the ambient air that they are breathing. Already over 40 stations are reporting to it around the country, including full coverage of the national priority areas, the national air pollution hot spots, and we hope to double this number in the next few years.
Hon members, with 80% of marine pollution emanating from land, we are ready to implement the National Programme of Action for land-based sources of pollution, while refining our strategies for combating marine pollution from oil spills. Furthermore, we are also developing guidelines for water-quality standards to improve water-quality management.
Somebody referred to pollution by mine water that produces radiation. We are working together – I don't know who else we are working with, because it's environment and water. We have a committee. For example, if you go to Wonderfonteinspruit, you will find we have a project there.
The department is committed to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of indigenous biological resources. The Regulatory System has been designed to facilitate this process and, as such, applicants who fully comply with these provisions will be successful.
Our national parks must be considered as more than mere areas of beauty and wonder; they are also a resource for the country. I will not dwell on the biological contribution of the parks to clean air, water and environment.
The Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulation will continue to be a key instrument in furthering sustainable utilisation and the flowing of benefits to communities. To date we have reviewed 43 permit applications to conduct bioprospecting activities involving indigenous biological resources. With these permit applications, considerable benefits will flow to the communities who are the owners of resources and associated traditional or indigenous knowledge. They will be actively involved as communities.
The expansion of protected areas is also important within the borders of the country, and in planning to achieve a scientifically based expansion plan. The National Protected Area Expansion Strategy has been developed and approved and the published strategy will soon be distributed to interested and affected parties. This strategy does not only focus on the expansion of the protected area on government-owned land but also focuses on private properties in priority biodiversity areas. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme is a tool developed to achieve the expansion of the conservation estate on private land as well as the sustainable utilisation of resources in the productive landscape. This programme is already implemented in two provinces and four other have already established mechanisms for implementation.
The department will host the fourth National Dialogue on People and Parks in August this year. I hope this time members of this Portfolio Committee will attend. The purpose of the dialogue is to evaluate progress made by management authorities with the People and Parks Action Plan in pushing back the frontiers of poverty by extending benefits beyond the boundaries of protected areas, in line with the World Parks Congress Durban Accord. This initiative is specifically aimed at rolling out a training programme to 900 beneficiaries over a three-year period.
We have embarked on a process to adopt a new protocol on land-based sources of marine pollution under the Amended Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean, which we usually call WIO-LaB. Under this new and innovate protocol for the region, South Africa will be obligated to take even stronger action against point and non-point sources of coastal pollution, and those activities which cause the destruction of our coastal habitats. We have already identified seven sites and South Africa has one of the sites in Hamburg.
Our work on climate change will continue to prioritise the need to identify and address the negative impacts that are likely to be experienced, especially by our poor.
This year the South African Weather Service will implement the South African Flash Flood Guidance System in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Centre in order to reduce the impact in loss of life and property.
In addition, we will prioritise environmentally sustainable natural resource management, including land rehabilitation and the extension of programmes such as Working for Water, Working for Fire and Working for Wetlands, as well as greening the environment through planting indigenous trees and sustainable food production, especially at the local level.
Earlier this year, South Africa designated the 20th Wetland of International Importance, which was also its seventh in KwaZulu-Natal province – Mam' Zikalala, you always go away when I talk about you. The Ntsikeni Nature Reserve, located in an area rich in wetlands, is one of the largest high-altitude wetlands in South Africa and has undergone the least ecological change due to the protective measures in place as a nature reserve.
As our response to the Expanded Public Works Programme, while also addressing the need for cleaner technologies, we launched the Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism Project last year, in Khayelitsha. The project involves the installation of solar-energy heaters, the retrofitting of compact fluorescent light bulbs and the introduction of ceiling insulation. A total of 2 000 homes will benefit from this initiative. The project aims to reduce fossil-fuel-based consumption, and hence carbon-dioxide emissions – I'm sure South Africa is, globally, the first to do this in terms of the Kyoto project.
Our department will be pro-active in developing and implementing programmes to empower women, young people and people with disabilities. During 2009, we worked tirelessly to establish women and environment forums in the nine provinces. The 2010 Women and the Environment Conference will serve as a platform to finalise provincial consultations. The conference will be held in August 2010, focusing on enhancing the role of South African women in leveraging economic opportunities from ecosystems services. South Africa, as a coach of the global network of women ministers and leaders of the environment, will be launching the Africa Chapter. Therefore, although it will still be introduced officially, I invite all women to come. Men can attend too because it will be for the whole of Africa. We will be training trainers of women and climate change. So, please, do come.
We are convinced that the priorities I outlined here respond to our nation's challenges. We are equal to the task at hand. I repeat my call: let all Members of Parliament become environmental ambassadors. I thank you.
Mr S N SWART
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, hon Minister, the ACDP agrees that we must be good stewards of our environment, and we share concerns about the poor state of our environment, particularly if one has regard for the 2007 report highlighted by the Minister. We, as MPs, need to appreciate that an investment in protecting the environment by managing air quality and waste will also result in long-term savings on health costs.
Against this background, the department is expected to enforce compliance with the growing number of environmental laws with dwindling financial and personnel resources. As a former member of this portfolio committee, this is unacceptable to me and must be addressed, particularly as this department is one of the best-performing departments, as pointed out by my colleague, Mr Greyling, earlier today.
As far as the Copenhagen climate summit is concerned, it is regrettable that it turned out to be a damp squib, although the accord did include an agreement that richer countries should raise funds to assist poorer countries to adapt to climate effects and green their economies. In this regard, the ACDP agrees that governments that meet at global forums such as the United Nations, UN, should be held accountable, not only through their individual parliaments but also through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, as indicated by the Minister. This includes monitoring climate change and the raising and spending of the US$100 billion required.
We can be proud that South Africa is the only country that has admitted that it is a large emitter of greenhouse gases and has set ambitious targets to address this. clearly the challenge will be to meet these targets.
In this regard, much has been said about the World Bank loan to Eskom inter alia to complete the Medupi coal-fired power station. Last year the bank financed more than US$8,2 billion worth of energy projects, of which 76% was for non-fossil fuels, and less than 3% for coal. The bank would, no doubt, have closely monitored South Africa's environmental record, and one must remember that the loan is part of a package that includes funding for alternative energy products using wind and solar power.
It is also significant that Medupi will be the first in Africa to employ cleaner-coal "supercritical" technology. So, while there are environmental concerns, we can clearly be proud of some of these achievements.
As the ACDP we clearly say that we need to achieve energy security for sustainable economic development. However, this does not detract from the need to implement a suite of renewable energy projects.
In conclusion, as pointed out in this morning's Financial Mail:
Now that government and Eskom have made their commitment, they can expect close international monitoring of South Africa's environmental performance, and this is clearly where this portfolio committee and the department come in. They...
that is, Eskom and government -
... must deliver on their promises and ensure that tighter emission controls are affordable.
We, in Parliament, will have a very important oversight role to play to ensure that this is achieved.
Lastly, the ACDP would like to express its gratitude to the Minister, the management and officials, and CEOs of public entities and thank them for their hard work in ensuring that, notwithstanding the financial challenges they face, our environment is protected for present and future generations. The ACDP will support this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Z LUYENGE
Mr S N SWART
Mr Z LUYENGE: Chairperson, in supporting the adoption of this Budget Vote the ANC says it believes that all citizens of South Africa, present and future, have a right to a safe and healthy environment and a life of wellbeing. The broad objective of our environmental policy will be to fulfil this right.
In this context, growth and development within South Africa will be based on the principles of sustainability. Therefore, the ANC will emphasise environmental infrastructure funding more, and I'm going to present its input.
This is a transversal sector which needs special dedication to ensure that there is enough of a resource base. It is clear that there is political will and intellectual ability in the department. The political-administrative dichotomy that prevails in this department is a matter that the ANC cannot ignore. We commend both the Minister and the director-general, hon Buyelwa Sonjica and Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, respectively.
It is the responsibility of the ANC to give credit where it is due, without forgetting an important leader in our committee, the chairperson. I would like to say that the motherly and parental care she gives to all of us as members is a demonstration and justification of what the ANC saw in her before appointing her to this position. I want to make it categorically clear that there is cohesion and unity in this committee. There's no tug of war, even among the political parties that are there. [Applause.]
The challenge within the sector is to fully implement the intentions behind the suite of environmental legislation. At times, therefore, it is difficult for the sector that environmental expenditure needs to be justified on the basis of the avoidance of environmental, social and economic costs, as well as on the grounds of the public good.
The environmental sector in provinces is not high up on the agenda. In most cases it is not a stand-alone department but is combined with sectors like agriculture, economic development, arts and culture, and also sport. Generally, environmental-sector activities at provincial level are reported on with limited financial detail, partly due to the environmental function being coupled with various other sectors.
At the local level it appears that solid waste services continue to lag behind other basic municipal services, partly because smaller budget allocations are made via the national Municipal Infrastructure Grant, MIG, to solid waste infrastructure, and because waste services receive inadequate operational budgets at the municipal level. The large backlog in ensuring that waste disposal sites are brought up to an adequate standard for permits to be awarded will impose substantially new capital expenditure requirements on the sector over the next five years - much of which could be avoided by upstream interventions.
Certain subsector plans, such as those for biodiversity and conservation, but more so for waste management and pollution control, continue to specifically identify insufficient financial resources as a constraint. Given the new regulatory powers over air-quality management at provincial and local levels, there's also significant risk that air-quality management will not be sufficiently resourced in the near future, particularly enforcement and compliance activities.
Historically the environmental sector has generated little of its own revenue, aside from conservation bodies. There's growing acceptance of the need to recover the administrative costs of authorisations directly from the polluter. For example, the new Air Quality Act and Waste Management Bill both provide for the recovery of costs for the provision of licences. This has the potential to raise additional revenue to finance the costs of authorisations and compliance monitoring.
The environmental fiscal reform process of the National Treasury provides further impetus to raising revenue through the implementation of "the polluter pays" principle. The environmental policy outlines a clear framework for the establishment of environmental charges and taxes. This opens many new opportunities for the use of economic instruments in support of environmental objectives and has the ancillary objective of raising revenue for the fiscus and for environmental authorities.
This fiscal reform system has the potential to raise significant revenue while simultaneously promoting more environmentally responsible behaviour on the other hand. The policy further points out that the taxes that are necessary to fund government activities and the provision of public goods and services, as well as wide-ranging taxes on products that contain agents harmful to the environment, could serve as potential sources of funding mechanisms for the environmental sector.
Fiscal instruments, like the current plastic-bag levy, have the potential to generate a significant amount of revenue for the sector. However, the application of these instruments will require a significant amount of research, institutional set-up as well as a period for piloting their feasibility. As a result, these mechanisms can be considered medium- to long-term interventions. A short-term solution would be for Treasury to review the resourcing model for the environmental sector, taking into account the concurrent mandates, different provincial structures and increasing environmental challenges, especially those relating to global climate change.
The ANC also welcomes the role that has been played by MaRhadebe in pursuance of her duties on matters of climate change. I also want to make it categorically clear that the interface between the political head of this department and the administration is an aspect that, as the ANC, we must take to other departments. There is no competition, rather they complement each other. There is no chicken-and-egg situation in this department. There is no "economic" sharing of information with the portfolio committee. The open-door policy that prevails is a matter that we will remain proud of, as the ANC and the citizens of South Africa. [Applause.]
Sihalaba umkhosi kuni nonke ke malungu ale Ndlu ahloniphelikeyo, ukuba masitsho ngazwi-nye kuNongxowa ohloniphekileyo, uMphathiswa uGordhan nabasemagunyeni, ngelithi mabenze okufanelekileyo banike okusingqongileyo imali eyakwenza umsebenzi welisebe ungabi nakusilela.
Siybonile indlela eliyisebenzise ngayo eli sebe laa nkitshizana yonyaka ofileyo, kwaye neempula zikalujaca zikhe zamunca iminwe. Loo nto ithetha ukuba xa lingafumana okuthe chatha, kungasindwa ngobethole kwesikaTambo, kwesikaSisulu, kwesikaTshonyana - okaHani, kwesikaNzo, ewe kwesikaKumkani uJonguhlanga, apho ufaf' olude olungumzukulwana kaMandela lumi khona. Nditsho naseJozini kwaMhlabu' uyalingana Mam' uZikalala. Xa ke ngoku linikwa ngaphantsi koko, ikati iyakude ingalali nje ide yakhe uvez 'inyawo eziko. [Kwaqhwatywa.]
Masiqule siligangathe ke ngokungathi kuyaliwa maqobo nani maqobokazana, simxhase nangasentloko uMaRhadebe, ukuze akufezekise akuthunywe ngokaNxamalala, ngoba uGxalaba libanzi lokuthwala iingonzenze zoluntu loMzantsi, nditsho uKhongolose, walibethelela ePolokwane elithi makubekho umahluko kwimpilo yeempula zikaluJaca kulo lonke eli silimiyo. Nditsho nkqu ne-Afrika yonkana iwathe ntsho yawakhupha amehlo angangawesele, ngenkunzi yethembakazi, Mafamankosi, yokuba uMzantsi Afrika uza kusibek' endaweni siyi-Afrika.
Mayingabi luxanduva lukaMphathiswa kuphela ke, kodwa nathi masiwenze mfutshane umbhinqo ibe ngathi sixhoma inja elolini okanye sidli' imfene. Ngxatsho ke mawaba namawabakazi ezwe lakowethu. Nditsho ndisithi umbutho wesizwe unoxanduva lokunika isikhokelo kweli lizwe, kodwa uyatsho, nanjengoko wawutshilo xa wawufuna ukubekwa kule ndawo ubekwe kuyo, ukuba "Xa simanyene sisonke singenza lukhulu."
Okufanele ukuba kudlalwe ngamalungu ale Ndlu, kubalulekile, hayi ukubalulekela umbutho wesizwe, kodwa abantu boMzantsi Afrika ne-Afrika. Amagqala namagqalakazi akhoyo apha kule Ndlu alithemba lokugqibela lwesi sizukulwana. Sinoxanduva lokuqinisekisa ke ukuba amakhadi emibutho awasahluli, ngoba indawo esingqongileyo ayazi lupolitiko; ngoba indlala ayazi mbutho; ngoba intswela-ngqesho ayazi mzi ofanele kukujongwa nongafanelelanga kujongwa. Koko singabantwana belilizwe sisonke simanyene masiqinisekise ukuba sivul' izandla zethu, siqinesekis' intoba nalo mnyhadala wale bhola ekhatywayo neengqala-sisinda ezithe zenziwa zaphuculwa kweli lizwe, sitshs sonke sithi: "2010 Fifa World Cup, feel it. It is here." Ndisatshaya. [Kwaqhwatya.]
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Mr Z LUYENGE
Ms A T LOVEMORE: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister and members, the DA is as proud as all other parties to be associated with what is generally an extremely well-run department, a department that does not only focus on planning for outcomes but actually achieving those outcomes. Minister, I will be spending my Freedom Day in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park - finally, I'm getting there. I really look forward to enjoying the achievements of Mr Andrew Zaloumis and his entity.
We are concerned that air-quality management and waste management are not afforded a sufficient degree of priority by government. The National Air Quality Officer, Mr Peter Lukey, is a valuable asset to the department. We are not convinced that Mr Lukey is adequately supported by the strategic prioritisation which is accorded his portfolio or by commitment at other levels of government. The 2004 State of the Environment report explains the real need for air-quality management, with particular reference to poor household burning fossil fuels:
The total direct health costs due to respiratory conditions related to fuel-burning emissions were estimated to be around R3,5 billion in 2002. Exposure to fuel combustion-related pollution concentrations was estimated to be associated with some 300 premature deaths.
The DA's commitment to environmental protection is founded on its commitment to creating opportunity for all. The ability of the poor and the immune-compromised to pursue opportunities is clearly inhibited by exposure to substandard air quality. South Africa can not afford delays in addressing this. However, the figures in the department's strategic plan do not indicate that solutions are close at hand. The 2009 projection of 23 municipalities suffering from substandard air quality by this year has now almost doubled to 43. Last year's target of 17 municipalities suffering sub-par air quality by 2013-14 has now increased to 37.
The 2019-20 financial year is now the target date for all the municipalities to boast acceptable air quality. The announcement of the Clean Fires campaign is very welcome but progress is dangerously slow. However, Mr Lukey can actually only achieve progress with the co-operation of provinces and municipalities. Air-quality management plans are required from both these spheres of government. At the end of 2009, only three provinces - the Western Cape, Gauteng and North West - and only 33 municipalities had plans in place or under development.
The poor and the sick deserve the commitment of all spheres of government. It is your task, Minister, then, to execute the overarching control function to ensure that South Africans breathe clean air. People in places like the Durban South basin, Secunda, Sasolburg, Nelson Mandela Bay - places across the country - are crying for that new National Environment Management: Air Quality Act to be fully enforced.
The concern-inducing lack of planning is also evident in the field of waste management and, particularly, hazardous and health-care risk waste management. The department's draft National Waste Management Strategy of March 2010 states:
In terms of the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste and health-care risk waste there is an urgent need for additional treatment capacity to be developed. Most provinces have no hazardous waste facility and where a proven need for these facilities exists, measures to address this must be included in Provincial Integrated Waste Management Plans.
The National Environment Management: Waste Act, Act 59 of 2008 requires every province and every municipality to develop an integrated waste management plan. Now, strangely, Minister, your reply to a 2009 DA question stated that the Gauteng, North West and Western Cape provinces have developed hazardous-waste management plans. The other six provinces have not developed the above-mentioned plans. You went further and said:
No action was required to be taken to ensure the provinces develop hazardous waste management plans, as there was no legal requirement. The National Environment Management: Waste Act, Act 59 of 2008 requires the provincial departments to develop integrated waste management plans, which can incorporate hazardous waste should the provinces elect to do so. The hazardous waste management plans developed by the three provinces have not been submitted to the department and have not been assessed by the department, as there is no requirement to do so.
Minister, the National Environment Management: Waste Act does indeed require provincial plans to be submitted to your office for your approval. So please, follow your own law and, very importantly, make sure that all spheres of government do the same. Hazardous waste and health-care risk waste is generated in every province and it must form part of these plans. In October 2009, the DA released a discussion document on health-care risk waste. It was entitled A Bloody Mess. We noted South Africa that generated 35% more waste than can be handled. The current situation could lead to a major disaster.
Further evidence of the dire situation was uncovered in November 2009 in Welkom, in the form of the largest illegal medical waste dump ever in South Africa. In March 2010, the DA questioned the department's actions to ensure compliance by health-care risk waste service providers. The Minister replied that no specific steps were being taken to bring health-care risk waste service providers into compliance. The department will in the next financial year establish a task team; it will develop a strategy to bring service providers into compliance.
The crisis already exists. We can not wait for next year and a future strategy. The DA proposes the urgent creation of a health-care waste management programme, involving the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Health and the provincial departments, to take direct responsibility for the regulation of medical-waste handling. The document A Bloody Mess details exactly what that programme would set out to do. We are pleased to hear the Deputy Minister's announcements with respect to health-care waste, and we will closely monitor progress.
Chairperson and hon Minister, the DA's vision of opportunity for all certainly resonates in its response to environmental management. We will continue our quest for an environment that is conducive to wellbeing and to the creation of opportunity. Thank you, Chair. [Applause.]
Mr P M MATHEBE
Ms A T LOVEMORE
Mr P M MATHEBE: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, be assured, hon Minister, of some extra minutes, because there is no negative criticism that I should respond to.
Since the arrival of democracy in South Africa, the ANC's vision and position on environmental issues have been consistent. That vision has sought to embrace a transformative environmentalism based upon the idea of sustainable development, which is built upon the interconnection of environmental, social and economic justice. It is this vision that has informed the various policies, programmes and actions of this government since 1994. Acting together with other progressive forces, the ANC ensured that environmental rights are firmly entrenched in our Constitution so that both individuals and communities are able to defend their right to a safe, sound environment.
This constitutional base has provided the framework and orientation for a variety of laws. Our vision of the future includes a sustainable economy where all South Africans, present and future generations, realise their right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing.
The resolutions on the environment taken by the ANC at its Polokwane conference in December 2007 have placed our country on a historic path in its objective to get our country working towards realising our developmental goals of halving poverty and unemployment, thereby firmly entrenching environmental justice as an integral part of the national democratic revolution.
I'd like to touch on two interlinking aspects of environmental problems that closely affect citizens of our country, namely land degradation and waste management. First is the degradation of our natural resources and biodiversity, which are not only components of a priceless heritage but also fundamental to our very existence. We need not be reminded that poverty, displacement, hunger, land degradation and climate change are threats to this heritage. Land degradation affects about two-thirds of the world's agricultural land. It is predicted that by 2032 half of the world will be short of water and that 70% of our land surface will be urbanised. As a result, agricultural productivity will decline sharply, while the number of mouths to feed continues to grow. In Africa, millions of people are threatened with starvation. We must increase agricultural productivity and reverse human encroachment on forests, grasslands and wetlands.
In South Africa, land degradation is mainly the result of the injustice of centuries where land was alienated from the indigenous people. This occurred through conquest, trickery and ideology, resulting in the eventual overcrowding and degradation of communal areas. On the other hand, the advent of high-tech mechanisation has led to environmental and land degradation owing to deep tillage that put a strain on our water resources and energy. Unfortunately and sadly, it is the poor who suffer most from these environmental problems, since it is they who have inadequate access to natural resources.
The second aspect relates to waste management,d more specifically to medical waste. You will remember the horror when the Green Scorpions recently found about 20 tons of medical waste, including drips, dirty bandages, used hypodermic needles and other sharp instruments, at an unused Harmony Gold Mine in the Free State. This formed part of the Green Scorpion's ongoing investigation into a waste-management company which has been implicated in the illegal dumping of medical waste. Investigators also discovered medical waste at a Welkom brick factory, the town show grounds and a private game farm.
There are complex links between poverty, wealth, environment, land degradation and waste management in South Africa. These impact directly on the quality of life of our people, including in the following ways: it is the wealthy who produce the most waste and consume the most resources, particularly water and energy. It is the poor who live close to waste dumps and mine dumps and are forced to drink unpotable water from lack of choice. It's the poor who experience poor waste management. It is them who live with air pollution in their homes from smoking mbaolas and who have raw sewerage running down their streets. Much environmental degradation is the result of the overconsumption of resources and the overproduction of waste by a minority of rich consumers, who mostly live in urban areas.
The contrast between those who consume and waste too much and those who have too little is apparent in South Africa, which has a high level of inequality. We are a striking example of the concept of environmental injustices where, as a consequence of unbalanced power relations, the poor often largely bear the cost of unsustainable and unjust practices.
The relationship between poverty and environment often appear as self-perpetuating cycles. For example, many poor rural South Africans are living on inferior and degraded land and in their attempt to make a living they contribute to the downgrading of their environment. The impoverished environment makes their poverty worse, which in turn puts more pressure on the environment. Such cycles are hard to break and even more difficult to reverse, and they move us away from sustainable development. These are some of the problems to be solved by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Environmental impact assessments, the so-called EIAs, are implemented to prevent the degradation of our precious land, while relevant legislation is applied to prevent or curtail illegal and uncontrolled waste dumping. The constitutional mandate of the Department of Environmental Affairs is to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislation and other measures. This constitutional directive has led to the formulation and adoption of several environmental laws.
In line with its vision of creating a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with the natural environment, the department's key strategic priorities includes the following: the protection, conservation and enhancement of environmental assets, natural and heritage resources; ensuring a sustainable and healthy environment; contributing to sustainable economic growth, livelihoods and social cohesion; providing leadership of climate-change action; promoting skills development and employment creation through facilitating green and inclusive economic growth; creating a better Africa and a better world by advancing national environmental interests through a global sustainable developmental agenda.
The 2010 state of the nation address clearly articulated the ANC-led government's responsibility for the wise governance of the environmental sector. It was explicitly pointed out that the government would ensure that South Africa's environmental assets and natural resources are well protectedandimproved upon on a sustainable basis.
Although South Africa has wide-ranging environmental legislation, growing economic demands on environmental resources by population growth and associated poverty in rural areas, the need to provide for basic human needs and to alleviate poverty strongly influence the country's priorities and policies and hence its ability to meet its environmental goals. Budgets keep departments accountable and ensure that the expenditure of public funds achieve its intended policy outcomes, ultimately improving the welfare of our people. They link the policy choices that government makes with the services that are delivered to people. Better budgeting plays an important role in improving service delivery.
Given the shortfall in government revenue collection and the pressure on the available resources of the fiscus, it is understandable that this year's budget preparation focused extensively on finding savings within the departmental baselines and on redirecting expenditure towards key priorities within these institutions. Savings which affected all departments and some of the environmental affairs programmes arise from effecting changes in public-sector spending habits and instituting cost-cutting measures.
The budget allocation to the Department of Environmental Affairs grew from R2,2 billion in 2009-10 to R2,6 billion in 2010-11, reflecting a real growth rate of 8,9%. This also reflects an increase in real expenditure of about R200 million over the last financial year. However, this increased expenditure on the environment does not necessary mean that South African environment is safe from the many complex factors that impinge on the sustainability of environmental resources or assets. Closer scrutiny of the budget reveals that the newly introduced climate-change programme accounts for much of the expenditure... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Mr P M MATHEBE
The MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: I think it is important to once more express my appreciation to all the members for their informative input. I sit here and learn every time. It is a mature engagement, which I always appreciate.
I will not respond to individuals. I may respond to some comments by individuals but I will not be able to respond to everybody individually.
This is a very involved, complicated and technical portfolio. I always feel that we are not getting enough space to engage. One cannot engage with all of these matters. If you look at Environmental Affairs, there is so much that we have to talk about, but we are not. We can't, in 132 minutes, deal with all of these things. Each of these branches has projects that are complex and involved.
I am appealing to the Members of Parliament to use the space they have to engage with us, for example member statements. I was a back-bencher for nine years, so I know these things. Please, engage with us through those other mechanisms that Parliament affords you. I am really imploring the Chairperson to lead in this regard. I know that it has happened here before.
I am saying this becausethere is an outstanding report that we need to discuss with Parliament. I also want to propose that we discuss it. When we were to leave for Copenhagen, we had to get a mandate from Parliament. I don't think we reported formally to Parliament in order to interrogate the contents. Now its coming piecemeal and we are not doing justice to the report. It is a comprehensive report, especially as part of the preparation for the Conference of Parties, Cop17.
Having said that, we really work from the premise, as Mr Luyenge and other members said, that South Africans have the right to a clean environment. That is the premise we are moving from. However, the challenge that we have as a developing country is the dynamic of balancing development with conservation, in the pursuance of sustainable development. That is the trickiest part of the function of Environmental Affairs.
I will try and cover, as broadly as possible, all of these issues raised by members. The Eskom loan suggests the responsible way in which we pursue development. Mr Greyling says we are reactive. The question he is asking is: are we committed, as a department, to ensuring that the constitutional rights of South Africans are realised? That is the question in a nut shell.
It is a very complex matter, given that we need electricity. Yesterday we were almost in a crisis situation because of electricity. We have a situation of energy poverty in our country. Some parts of the country do not have electricity. They have never seen it before. They literally live in darkness. KwaZulu-Natal is the darkest province. Along with that, there is poverty. All of those people trapped in darkness are people who are in poverty. As a catalyst for poverty alleviation, one needs electricity. That is the kind of challenge we have in maintaining balance. It is always going to be a challenge.
The wisdom of my predecessor was bringing long-term mitigation scenarios as studies to guide South Africa so that, in the process of pursuing development, we do it in a responsible way. What we are saying is that even the coal we burn to generate electricity has been accommodated in the long-term mitigation scenarios.
We need a period of transition and we need to level the playing fields. We can't be abrupt in moving away from using coal for power generation. It is not possible, because carbon is needed and the technology for renewable sources is at its lowest level of development. If you pursue clean technology, it means you are going to import. Importing will then lead to capital flight. You definitely have to import.
Look at carbon capture and storage, CCS. Where else is CCS? Carbon capture and storage is more Australian. It means, then, that we have to buy this technology from Australia, or else you need to allow for its development. If you want to access it in South Africa, you need to allow for its development. That transitional period is needed. We are at that point. We are transitioning towards less dependence on coal for power. I don't want to say we're totally moving away from it - that is also not possible. What is possible is for us to reduce our dependence on that fossil fuel.
It is more about the complexities around maintaining a balance. It is the biggest challenge I have. I appreciate all the concerns that colleagues and members are raising on this matter.
Rhino poaching is really a big challenge, Mr Morgan. In this year only, 55 have already been poached. We are predicting that by the end of this financial year we will be at 163. Why are we not debating this in Parliament in the context of the International Year of Biodiversity so that we can look at what is happening to our fauna and flora in South Africa? It would give us a better opportunity to engage with each other on these matters.
We are working with many security forces and the South African Police Service, SAPS, are also involved. We are in the process of strengthening our capacity. As you correctly said, we are dealing with a sophisticated mafia from Asia and all over the world. We are working hard on this but it is very complex. The same applies to abalone. I agree that we need to work harder.
The criminal justice system is not friendly to dealing with environmental crimes. That is the other issue we are dealing with, in the context of an integrated approach to addressing these crimes.
The amendment of the South African Weather Services Act is under way. It will be dealing with issues of governance, etc. It will go out for public consultation and you will get the opportunity to deal with it.
On the issue of captive-bred lions, I have taken note of what you have said and we will be looking at various options to deal with lions kept in captivity. We are looking at the creation of sanctuaries and sterilisation.We are looking into the matter.
On the issue of Langebaan, I am not privy to the details of what you have raised. As you will appreciate, the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, competence is on two levels. If the project is a national project, it should have come to us. If it is a provincial project, it might be with your friend, Anton Bredell. Maybe you should speak to Anton. Bu we will pay attention to that.
On the issue of mining, we have started discussions with that minister. I do not know what they will translate into. I do not know whether we will be able to create a structure, or where it will end up. We are engaging with mining and this is the product of that engagement. It is still at the draft stage but we can give it to members. We will get it and a copy will be made available. We are engaging and something is happening, namely the South African Mining and Biodiversity Forum. There is a document that will help us in dealing with all matters related to mining and biodiversity.
There was a proposal –I think it was made by the general – that we decentralise the law. That is already happening. Local government is involved in air quality and our laws are appreciative of that.
We are developing a policy on waste management.
I really want to thank all members. Information is always overflowing when we deal with matters here. That is the nature of this department. That is why I ask that we engage more. Thank you for a good debate. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 12:26
END OF TAKE
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