REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN 2014/152018/19, ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS (APPS) 2014/15 AND THE BUDGET VOTE 30 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS (DEA) AND ITS ENTITIES, DATED 8 JULY 2014.

 

1. Background

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the Portfolio Committee) having considered the directive of the National Assembly to consider and report on the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans and Budget allocations of the Department of Environmental Affairs (hereinafter the Department) and all entities reporting to it, tabled by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, and in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (Act No 32 of 2003), reports as follows:

 

2. Introduction

 

The Portfolio Committee having being recently constituted, in the 5th democratic Parliament, invited the Department on 25th June 2014, to present the overview of its broad mandate and that of its entities to the new Committee. This interaction was to afford the new Committee members the opportunity to familiarize themselves with and gain useful insight into the work of the Department and its constitutional mandate before engaging with the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans and the 2014/15 Budget Vote in the subsequent week. In this initial engagement with the Department, the department was represented by the Director General, the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and other relevant senior executive management members of the Department.

 

2.1 Overview by the Department of Environment Affairs and its Entities

 

The Department has the mandate to ensure that the South African environment is protected and that natural resources are conserved. This mandate is derived from Section 24(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which stipulates that all South Africans have a constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generations through relevant legislations.

 

2.1.1 Legislative mandate

 

The core business of the Department is underpinned by the Constitution and the following pieces of legislation:

 

      The National Environmental Management Act, (NEMA) 1998 (regulatory framework for the management and protection of environmental resources and coordination in relation thereto) was enacted to provide for the following subsidiary issue-specific legislation on biodiversity and heritage resources; oceans and coasts; climate change and air quality management; and waste and chemicals management.

      National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 - regulates air quality.

      National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 - regulates and sets out the mechanisms for managing and conserving South Africas biodiversity, its components and institutions (e.g., SANBI).

      National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 - regulates waste management; provides for national norms and standards for regulating the management of waste by all spheres of Government; and provides for the licensing and control of waste management activities.

      National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) - establishes a system of integrated coastal and estuarine environmental management in the Republic; ensures that development and the use of natural resources within the coastal zone is socially and economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable; determines the responsibilities of organs of State in relation to coastal areas; controls dumping at sea and pollution in the coastal zone.

 

The Department fulfills its mandate through formulating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of national environmental policies, programmes and legislation with the additional support from its entities, such as iSimangaliso Wetland Park (iSimangaliso), the South African National Botanical Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks), and the South African Weather Services (SAWS). It is noteworthy that the main activities of the Department are divided into seven programmes, comprising of the following:

 

Programme 1: Administration

 

The purpose of this programme is to provide leadership, strategic centralised administration and executive support, corporate services and to facilitate effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness.

 

Programme 2: Legal, Authorizations and Compliance

 

The purpose of this programme is to promote the development of an enabling legal regime, Licencing and/or authorisation system that promotes enforcement and compliance with relevant environmental legislation.

 

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts

 

The purpose of this programme is to promote, manage and provide strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation.

 


 

Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality Management

 

The purpose of this programme is to improve air and atmospheric quality, lead and support, inform, monitor and report efficient and effective international, national and significant provincial and local responses to climate change.

 

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation

 

The purpose of this programme is to ensure the regulation and management of all biodiversity, heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development.

 

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes

 

The purpose of this programme is to ensure the implementation of the expanded public works programme (EPWP) that has important implications for the environment and to conceptualise and implement green economy projects in the environmental sector.

 

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management:

 

The purpose of this programme is to manage and ensure that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements.

 

3. Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans (APPs) of the Department and its Public Entities for 2014/15

 

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

 

It is in this foregoing context that the newly constituted Portfolio Committee received briefings on 1st July 2014 from the Department and its entities on strategic plans, annual performance plans and budget for the 2014/15 financial year. This was to ascertain whether the allocated budget to the Department and its entities was aligned to achieve the strategic outcomes conceived in the respective strategic plans and APPs documents and also to determine whether the budget is aligned with the Governments strategic priorities for the current 2014/15 financial year, as informed by the National Development Plan.

 

This report, therefore, details the findings and recommendations of the Portfolio Committee after its engagement with the Department and its entities on the matters outlined above.

 

In addition to the 2014/15 Budget (including the Estimates of National expenditure for the MTEF period) tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Finance, the Portfolio Committee was also briefed by the Department on the following documents, which were also tabled in Parliament:

 

      The Strategic Plan of the Department for 2014/152018/19;

      The Annual Performance Plan of the Department for 2014/15; and

      The Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans for 2014/15 of the Departments entities:

o     South African Weather Service (SAWS);

o     iSimangaliso Wetland Park (IWP);

o     South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI); and

o     South African National Parks (SANParks).

 

3.1 Department of Environmental Affairs

 

The Department provides leadership in environmental management, conversation and protection to ensure the sustainability of the South African environment for the benefit of South Africans and the global community in perpetuity.

 

3.2 Departmental Strategic Goals

 

The Departments strategic goals over the medium term are to:

 

      Ensure that the Department has optimal capacity to deliver services efficiently and effectively;

      Ensure that South Africas environmental assets are conserved , valued, sustainably used, protected and continually enhanced for the benefit of both current and future generations;

      Enhance socio-economic benefits and employment creation in a safe, clean and healthy environment for both present and future generations;

      Provide leadership in environmental management, conservation and protection towards sustainability for the benefit of both current and future generations of South Africans;

      Manage the interface between the environment and development to encourage the transformation of the development trajectory to an environmentally sustainable, inclusive, low-carbon and green economic growth path;

      Promote compliance with environmental legislation and act decisively against transgressors;

      Develop and facilitate the implementation of a climate change adaptation and mitigation regulatory framework;

      Work and participate in international United Nations (UN) platforms to ensure that the international climate change and global warming is fully mitigated by the international communities

      Facilitate the transition to environmentally sustainable, job creating and low-carbon, green development pathway through the national Green Fund and environmental projects in the expanded public works programme; and

      Improve the provision of quality waste management services across the country with clear environmental health benefits for communities, particularly those without previous access to waste management services.

      Participate and contribute meaningfully in the international effort, within the ambit of the United Nations, to craft new sustainable development goals (SDGs), which will replace and enhance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.

 

3.3 Budget of the Department

 

The Departments budget allocation for the 2013/14 financial year was R5.206.8 billion, whereas the Department received a total allocation of R5.668 386 billion for the 2014/15 financial year. The budget increased by R461.6 million over the previous 2013/14 financial year. The allocation has been broken down into the following programmes, as indicated in Table 1:

 

Table 1: Departmental budget allocation over the medium term expenditure framework

 

Programme

Budget

Nominal Rand change

Real Rand change

Nominal % change

Real % change

R million

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2013/14-2014/15

2013/14-2014/15

Administration

777.3

653.4

681.4

693.9

-123.9

-162.0

-15.94

-20.85

Legal, Authorisations and Compliance

113.3

122.6

129.0

133.4

9.3

2.1

8.21

1.89

Oceans and Coasts

318.2

357.4

424.6

448.3

39.2

18.3

12.32

5.76

Climate Change and Air Quality

233.8

227.7

240.1

274.6

-6.1

-19.4

-2.61

-8.29

Biodiversity and Conservation

576.7

636.8

669.6

692.0

60.1

22.9

10.42

3.97

Environmental Programmes

3 121.8

3 598.3

3 756.3

4 233.3

476.5

266.4

15.26

8.53

Chemicals and Waste Management

65.7

72.2

79.2

84.0

6.5

2.3

9.89

3.48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

5 206.8

5 668.4

5 980.2

6 559.5

461.6

130.7

8.87

2.51

Source: National Treasury (2014) Estimates of National Expenditure. National Treasury, Pretoria.

 

3.4 Strategic Priorities for 2014/15 per programme

 

The Department has demonstrated that it was fully capacitated as it spent 99.7 per cent of its allocated budget for the 2014/15 financial year, although the auditing of the Departments 2013/14 financial statements is still underway. The Department also received an unqualified Audit Report in the 2012/13 financial year.

 

Programme 1: Administration

 

The strategic objectives of this Programme are to:

 

      Finalise the construction of the new Office Accommodation;

      Improve Information Technology and Local Government support;

      Increase employment;

      Ensure effective departmental involvement in international engagements, with regard to mitigation of climate change and crafting of future Sustainable Development Goals;

      In order to better capacitate the Department, 677 vacancies had been approved and funded from the compensation of employees allocations in the 2014/15 financial year. This number is expected to increase to 728 in 2015/16;

      Increase employment targets for women and people living with disabilities by 50 per cent and 2.6 percent respectively;

      Recruit 100 interns per annum in accordance with the Public Service regulatory framework on internships;

      Implement 90 per cent of Security Risk Assessment recommendations; and

      The Department aims to achieve 100 per cent compliance with statutory tabling and prescripts and continues to get an unqualified audit outcome.

 

As part of the Cabinet-approved budget reductions, the Corporate Affairs and Office Accommodation sub-programmes budgets were cut from R182.5 million in 2013/14 to R177.9 million in 2014/15 and R294.1 million in 2013/14 to R153.9 million in 2014/15. A significant part of the budget reduction in the Office Accommodation is due to the fact that the provisions for financing the construction and, operating the new office campus is through a Public Private Partnership Agreement (PPP). The department received an upfront allocation from national treasury for two years (R220 and R146 million respectively) to reduce debt and interest payable in financing the building over a 25 year period. Notwithstanding the above reductions the department will still manage it's administrative functions within the budget whilst it will quantify future financial gaps in light of the fact that other services i.e security services, internet based solutions and connectivity will still be funded separately from the PPP agreement.

 

 

 

 

Committee Observations

 

Based on the plans that the Department has presented, the Portfolio Committee is confident that the Department would be able to spend its allocated budget in the 2014/15 budget allocation, and achieve its planned strategic outcomes, which amongst others include:

 

      Sustaining the expertise needed in the Department; and

      Capacity to account and properly audit the finances allocated to the strategic plans and APPs of the Department and its entities.

 

 

Programme 2: Legal, Authorisations and Compliance

 

The strategic objectives of this Programme are to:

 

      Implement the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Amendment Act of 2014 by developing regulations to determine fines in terms of section 22A of this Act. The process for establishing the National Advisory Committee and issuing atmospheric emission licences was underway.

      Increase the number of inspections of authorisations in facilities located in environmentally-sensitive areas from 86 in 2014/15 to 115 by 2018/19.

      Increase the number of Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) from 240 in 2014/15 to 1060 by 2018/19.

      Finalise and implement the Compliance and Enforcement Strategy for the EMI Inspectorate.

      Increase the number of criminal investigations finalised from 24 in 2014/15 to 44 by 2018/19.

 

Key achievements and challenges in exercising functions under this programme are:

 

      There was improvement in cooperation between the Department and other law enforcement agencies. To date, 20 Magistrates and Prosecutors received training to equip them with key legal instruments to be applied when dealing with environment crimes.

      Integrated information system aimed at reducing turn-around time in the processing of licensing applications.

      Signing of Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between South Africa, Mozambique, Hong Kong and Viet Nam, among others, to control rhino poaching in South Africa.

      Processing of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) within prescribed timeframes.

 

Committee Observations

 

The Portfolio Committee was concerned about the reduced budget in the Enforcement sub-programme, which is responsible for criminal and administrative enforcement action to ensure compliance with environmental impact assessment and pollution legislation. This notwithstanding, the programme was able to fully spend its budget in 2013/14 financial year. It has also been able to effectively enforce compliance with environmental laws and prescripts in the Republic of South Africa. The 2014/15 plans and coordination with other law enforcement agencies including South African Police Service (SAPS) and the judiciary, would ensure that environmental crimes are dealt with.

 

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts

 

The Oceans and Coasts Programme priorities for the 2014/15 financial year include:

      Conducting a comprehensive analysis of the legislative framework for Oceans and Coasts governance;

      Developing and implementing the Marine Protection Services and Oceans Governance, Blue Economy and disaster management;

      Developing plans for collecting scientific real-time Antarctic and sub-Antarctic information as well as the long-term data sets relating to weather prediction; and climate change analysis, which are critical to inform future beneficial use of the oceans and coastal resources;

      Implementing the rapid results methodology on the oceans economy to identify opportunities with regard to job creation and contribute to GDP growth;

      Identifying priority sites for facilitating access for South Africans to the beaches; and

      Expediting the Port St. Johns sea water quality monitoring programme.

 

Key achievements and challenges in exercising functions under this programme

 

The achievements of the Oceans and Coasts Programme for the 2014/15 financial year comprise the following:

      Drafting of the White Paper on Oceans Management was approved by Cabinet;

      Completed five assessments relating to the initiatives to address land-based sources of marine pollution;

      Updated 10 Regional Oil Spill contingency plans and feasibility plan to conduct one oil spill readiness training session once a year; including this year;

      Increase the protected proportion of protected exclusive economic zone (EZZ) by 2.0 per cent;

      Compile the State of the Oceans Report; and

      Maintain presence in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean islands by completing to-date three relief voyages to the SANAE, Gough and Marion Islands within the approved budget.

 

Challenges under this programme comprise:

      Delays in the passing of the National Environmental Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill, 2013 after the mediation process at end of 4th parliament

      Revision of institutional arrangements with regard to oil spills;

      Resolving instances of resistance to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which pre-date the Constitution, or which were not addressed since 2000; and

      The national concern about shark attacks at certain locations, particularly at the Port St Johns Coast.

 

Committee Observations

 

 

      The concept of the Blue Economy is exciting and the country is indeed looking forward to a framework that encourages beneficiation of the oceans and coasts through job creation and diversification of the economy to enhance the resilience of the South African economy to withstand both local and international shocks.

 

      The Portfolio Committee noted with concern the recent incidents of shark attacks, resulting in loss of lives of tourists and community members in the Port St. Johns Coast. The Portfolio Committee felt that the attacks were not good for the international image of the country and hence the economy. This may have a negative effect for the country in terms of the tourism industry. The Departments intervention in exploring the establishment of tidal pools as a short-term measure is commendable, but it was further encouraged to activate other interventions including consideration of other solutions especially potential use of shark nets and other devices that may make a positive contribution that would result in a sustainable solution to this threat.

 

      Full-steam implementation of the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act No 24 of 2008) would facilitate access to beaches, which have until now been managed as private beaches a legacy of the Apartheid. Access to these beaches would provide additional economic opportunities to the surrounding communities who do not currently feel being part of such coastlines.

      There is a need to develop the requisite research capacity in the Oceans and Coasts Programme for us to determine the sustainability levels of the embedded resources in the ocean and coastal environment, and hence inform resource use decisions.

 

      Use of the SA Agulhas II and the Algoa vessel may assist to deal with the challenges of both mapping out the scope of the Blue Economy and enhance our understanding of our oceans and the economic benefits thereof.

 

Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality Management

 

Strategic objectives are to:

 

      Achieve 100 per cent of facilities with Atmospheric Emission Licence (AEL) reporting to the National Atmospheric Emissions within legislative timeframes;

      Ensure approval by Cabinet of the Mitigation Potential Analysis and conclusion of South Africas Greenhouse Gas Inventory;

      Ensure the publication of the scientific assessment of the vulnerabilities to climate change impact of the urban, rural and coastal settlements as a basis for robust adaptation responses;

      Increase the number of air quality monitoring stations reporting to the South African Air Quality Information System;

      Launch the National Atmospheric Emission Inventory System;

      Implement the 2014/15 annual plan in the air quality hotspots areas, especially in the Highveld, Vaal Triangle and Waterberg-Bojanala;

      Publish the Waterberg-Bojanala annual air quality management plan; and

      Host the 2014 Air Quality Governance Lekgotla.

 

The challenges experienced under this programme comprise of the following:

      Securing legacy of the Durban Platform by adopting, at COP21 in Paris, in 2015, a protocol, legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force. Current global geo-political dynamics are putting a multi-lateral outcome with the necessary ambition at risk.

      Development of sectoral, and company-level desired emissions reduction outcomes; alignment with the carbon tax; and mitigation planning and reporting by industry to facilitate transition to a lower carbon economy; and

      Applications by the industry for postponement of timeframes for compliance with minimum emission standards, in terms of section 21 of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Amendment Act is a huge challenge, considering that Sasol has instituted court action against the Department.

 

Committee Observations

 

      The Committee noted that South Africa is a signatory to many multilateral agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC), and supports the Department in maintaining a respectful presence on international climate change negotiating forums.

      The Committee is pleased that South Africa has fulfilled its reporting obligations under the UNFCCC, and is confident that the Department would also meet its other relevant obligations, with respect to climate change and air quality.

      As a country, we must be seen making our fair contribution to the global effort to mitigate climate change by ensuring that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions below the business-as-usual by 34 per cent by 2020 and 42 per cent by 2025, consistent with the pledges that President Jacob Zuma made at COP15 in Copenhagen in December 2009, and later reaffirmed by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Ednah Molewa at COP16 in Cancun in December 2010.

      The monitoring of the Air Quality Hotspots in the country was commendable.

 

South African Weather Service (SAWS)

 

The mandate of the South African Weather Services was established in terms of the South African Weather Service Act (Act No 8 of 2001). Its mandate is to provide two distinct services, i.e., the public good service, which is funded by the Government and commercial services where the user pays principle applies. This entails maintaining, extending and improving the quality of meteorological services, providing risk information which is essential for minimising the impact of disasters, collecting meteorological data over oceans and fulfilling Governments international obligations under the World Meteorological Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

 

Committee Observations

 

      The Committee appreciates SAWS real-time weather forecasts and firmly believes that SAWS work is in the best interest of the country as well as that of the international and national aviation. Consequently, we cannot afford to ill-equip this reputable institution, and hence appeal to the Department and the National Treasury to relook into the R20 million/annum cut in transfers to the organisation in both the current and coming financial year. We fully support the discussions between the Department and the National Treasury, in this respect.

 

      The reduction in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 transfers from the Department to the SAWS would certainly impact negatively on the organisations operations and impede its ability to fulfil its mandate as required by the SAWS Act (Act No 8 of 2001, as amended). After all, SAWS has been struggling to fully implement its mandate even with the previous Government grant and infrastructure allocations. Indeed, the budget cut would impact negatively on the entitys ability to deliver on its primary objectives and the implementation of some of its key functions.

 

      The Portfolio Committee notes with a great concern the potentially devastating impact on human life of SAWS dwindling budget, as the organization would find it increasingly difficult to provide uninterrupted monitoring services critical to facilitate severe weather warnings. This could have disastrous effects given the ever changing weather patterns currently being experienced, and any delays in notifying the relevant disaster management structures could lead to unnecessary loss of human life and property, thereby shifting limited financial resources from development to disaster management. Of further concern in this respect is the looming threat to SAWS to cut down its 24/7 hour weather service operations and capacity as it would not have sufficient finances for the remuneration and/or retention of human capital required to operate on a 24/7 hour basis. Thus, it will not able to fulfil its international obligations around monitoring climate change

 

      The second negative impact would be on the economy and the reputation of the country, as South Africa would no longer be able to guarantee the safety of its skies or effect the necessary regulatory requirements imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to ensure aviation safety and prevent loss of human life.

 

      The third negative impact would be the long-term ripple effect on SAWS ability to deliver on both its public good mandate as well as the full service to aviation as required by the SAWS Act (Act No 8 of 2001, as amended) due to the lack of availability of the SAWS Observation Network, such as the Radar Infrastructure, Lightning Detection Network, Automatic Weather and Rain Stations. This as a result of lack of capital expenditure and thus lack of infrastructure recapitalisation and reduction in repairs and maintenance, for example, the maintenance budget is currently exhausted and therefore non-existent.

 

      The fourth impact pertains to the availability of reliable, quality weather and climate data as SAWS is the custodian of the National Climate Database. This would impact negatively on the countrys ability to make science-based policy decisions and scenario planning, relating to climate change and variability issues facing the country and the continent.

 

      The fifth impact is that South Africa would be unable to meet its international obligations regarding the monitoring of greenhouse gases through the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) station. As a result, there would be a limitation on monitoring the impacts of Climate Change Mitigation and Scenario Strategies for the country. The country would also be unable to formulate baselines and monitor emissions versus set targets.

      Finally, there would be a negative impact on the commercial mandate of the organisation, as SAWS capability to meet its Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with clients would no longer be honoured, causing serious dent in the highly esteemed reputation of this premier institution of our country.

 

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation

 

The strategic priorities are to:

 

      Expand and effective management of conservation estate, including the business case for Vredefort Dome and nomination dossier for Nelson Mandela Memorials considering the World heritage Act is administer by the department in collaboration with the department of Arts Culture;

      Mitigation of threats, including the lobbying of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), curbing rhino and wildlife crime, implementation of biodiversity and mining guidelines, for example, the Mapungubwe boundary modification and withdrawal of mining licenses;

      Legislation and regulatory review, including the implementation of the threatened or protected species (TOPS) and CITES regulations; and

      Sustainable use of ecosystems and species by advancing the wildlife economy.

      Advancing the biodiversity agenda on relevant international platforms.

 

Key achievements and challenges in exercising functions under this programme

 

The achievements are:

 

      Successful implementation of the CITES regulations in two provinces, which are Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces;

      Effective verification of rhino horn stockpiles country-wide;

      Implement three natural resources-based projects in Bushbuckridge, Awelani and one in a Transfrontier Conservation Area;

      Review the National Strategy for the Safety and Security of Rhino Populations in South Africa; and

      Finalise MoUs with Thailand, Cambodia, Mozambique and Laos.

 

 

 

Notwithstanding, the challenges encountered are:

 

      Rhino Poaching and killing that continue unabated with the over 461 Rhinos killed so far; at the time the Portfolio Committee with Department this year;

      Mining in sensitive environmental areas;

      Land claims in protected areas; and

      The department will harness strategic partnership with key Government departments, such as the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).

 

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (iSimangaliso)

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority in KwaZulu-Natal was established in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act (Act No 49 of 1999), with the mandate to ensure that effective and active measures were taken in the Park for the protection and conservation of World Heritage Convention values; promote empowerment of historically disadvantaged communities living adjacent to the Park; promote, manage, oversee, market and facilitate optimal tourism and related development in the Park; and encourage, sustain, invest and contribute to job creation.

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park priorities are to:

 

      Ensure that the World Heritage values are conserved, including detection of poaching incidents and illegal developments in the park;

      Optimise empowerment in all activities of the Park through creation of temporary and new permanent jobs;

      Develop Tourism skills; and

      Increase visitor numbers.

 

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

 

SANBI was established in September 2004, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No 10 of 2004). The mandate of the Institute is to monitor and report regularly on the status of South Africas biodiversity, all listed threatened or protected species, ecosystems and invasive species; and the impact of any genetically modified organisms that have been released into the environment. The Institute is also mandated to act as an advisory and consultive body on matters relating to organs of State and other biodiversity stakeholders; coordinate and promote the taxonomy of South Africas biodiversity; manage, control and maintain all national botanical gardens, herbaria and collections of dead animals that may exist; and advise the Minister of Environmental Affairs on any matter regulated in terms of the Act, and any international agreements affecting biodiversity that are binding on South Africa.

 

 

 

SANBIs strategic priorities are to:

      Effective marketing and communication services delivered to internal and external stakeholders to increase the number of visitors in the botanical gardens;

      Manage and unlock National Botanical Gardens network, with two botanical gardens established in the Eastern Cape Province and the Limpopo Province;

      Provide scientific evidence to support policy and decision-making relating to biodiversity, including impacts of climate change by conducting national assessments of biodiversity, assess impacts of genetically-modified organisms, sustainable trade and support for the wild life economy; and

      Provide biodiversity and climate change adaptation policy tools and advice in support of South Africa's development.

 

South African National Parks (SANParks)

 

SANParks was established in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act No 57 of 2003), with the mandate to conserve, protect, control and manage national parks and other defined protected areas and biological diversity.

 

SANParks strategic priorities are to:

      Grow its revenue base from 8 per cent to 11 per cent by promoting effective management of national parks, for example, by expanding total area added to national parks, rehabilitate areas with alien and invasive species, implementing the Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, and implementing the Cultural Heritage Programme;

      Facilitating socio-economic development through SMMEs, creation of temporary jobs through Expanded Public Works Programme and community-based initiatives;

      Promoting effective management of the human capital by way of building a learning organisation underpinned by corporate values; and

      Continue to conserve and protect our wildlife.

 

Key achievements and challenges in exercising functions under this programme

 

      SANParks accrual of a liability of about R155.9 million in medical aid to near-retiring employees and in-house security measures of R66 million, is a cause for concern; and

      The ongoing challenge that bedevils the SANParks is the relentless poaching of rhinos in the national parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Committee Observations under this Programme

 

      The Department was commended for its expertise and for systematically placing South Africa as the third most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Argentina;

      There is increase in rhino poaching despite adequate budgetary commitments to the SANParks; killing of rhinos was standing at 461 when the Portfolio Committee interacted with the Department;

      The Portfolio Committee welcomed the MOUs signed between South Africa (represented by the Department) and key rhino horn consuming nations to mitigate the difficult challenge of rhino poaching and killings;

      Convictions for wildlife crimes have been very low as the people funding the trade of rhino horns are not prosecuted both in South Africa and abroad. Better investigative capacity should be developed by South Africa and its key trading partners to apprehend the masterminds behind this illicit trade;

 

      Cooperation between the Department and the South African Police Service (SAPS) was commended; and

      There is a need to increase the involvement of the Civil Society Organisations in issues of conservation of natural species.

 

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes

 

The Committee supports the stance taken by the Government through the Department to contribute towards the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are being addressed through the United Nations processes as well as the job creation and entrepreneur development programmes through Working for Water, Fire, Waste and Wetlands projects.

 

Key achievements and challenges in exercising functions under this programme:

 

      The Portfolio Committee highly values the significant contribution that the Department makes through the Environmental Programmes Programme in terms of job creation that has important implications for poverty relief.

      The Portfolio Committee is particularly impressed with the number of work opportunities (80 658) created and 23 957 school desks manufactured in the 2013/14 financial year. The Department has set a target of 69 150 new work opportunities and 150 000 new school desks to be crafted for the 2014/15 financial year.

 

 

 

 

Environmental Sector Programmes component

 

Committee Observations

 

The Portfolio Committee recommends integrated approach to job creation by the Government, meaning that the implementation of the expanded public works programme in a given geographical area must be synchronised with critical service delivery timings of other relevant Government departments and/or organs of State. This coordination will maximize the visibility of the States efforts in job creation and entrepreneur development.

 

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management

 

The Strategic Priorities for this Programme are to:

 

      Implement the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act of 2014;

      Establishment of Waste Management Bureau to implement waste management plans and waste charges;

      Finalise the Health Care Risk Waste (HCRW) Management regulations:

      Develop norms and standards for waste sorting, shredding, grinding and also bailing of general waste;

      Increase job creation in waste recycling from 1 000 in 2014/15 to 10 000 by 2018/19;

      Licence 80 per cent of unlicensed landfill sites; and

o     Training and capacity-building of 100 municipal officials and councillors.

 

Key challenges in exercising functions under this Programme are:

 

      Absence of large-scale recycling infrastructure to enable waste separation, waste diversion, recycling and recovery;

      Lack of policy and regulatory framework to promote the waste management hierarchy, resulting in limited economic potential of the waste management sector, which has a possible turnover of approximately R50 billion per annum;

      Outdated waste management infrastructure with declining levels of capital investment and maintenance.

 

Committee Observations

 

      The Committee believes that there is still a lot that needs to be done by the Department in leading all South African economic sectors, households, public and private institutions to separate waste streams from the source. The Committee acknowledges the healthy economic benefit of recycling of waste streams.

      A dedicated budget is needed to assist recycling efforts in the municipalities, provinces and in all government departments in the country;

      Illegal landfill sites are danger to the environment and society at large, and hence the Departments drive to licence all unlicensed landfill sites, with the aim of regulating them is highly appreciated and supported; and

 

      The Department should support municipalities to execute their relevant mandates in order to free the Department to focus on strategic environmental issues.

 

4. Committee Conclusions and Recommendations

 

In response to the above input by the Department, the Portfolio Committee recommends as follows:

 

      Overall, the Portfolio Committee was pleased with the effort that the Department put in formulating its Strategic Plan, the Annual Performance Plans and Indicators, and relevant Performance Targets for the 2014/15 financial year. The Committee considered them realistic and achievable despite budgetary constraints. The Portfolio Committee is also acutely aware of the capability of the Department to prudently use the allocations made to it to fully implement its strategic plans, annual performance plans, indicators and targets that it set for itself, as clearly illustrated by the Departments ability to consistently spend about 99 per cent of its budget in successive financial years.

 

      The Portfolio Committee notes the significant budget cuts to the South African Weather Service (SAWS), and is concerned that this would have negative implications for both national and international aviation. The Portfolio Committee is in agreement that all these negative impacts are not in the interest of the Republic of South Africa. Serious interventions from both the Department and the National Treasury must be effected to stop budget cuts of R40 million in 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years, respectively.

 

      The Portfolio Committee notes the intricacy of the issues that the Oceans Act that is proposed to be promulgated in the 2018/19 financial year must address, and hence acknowledges the complex nature of such a law. However, the Committee stresses that the formulation as well as the promulgation date of the Oceans Act should be brought forward.

 

      The Portfolio Committee would like clarity on the scope of the oceans or blue economy and hence requires the Department to present to it the Cabinet-approved strategy (or approach) for realising the full potential of South Africas exclusive economic zone.

 

      The duration for processing of misconduct cases by staff of the Department should be shortened from the current 90 days, as protraction of disciplinary actions have budgetary implications for the Department that should exercise prudence in allocating its tightly stretched budget to critical service delivery in the environmental sector.

 

      The Portfolio Committee considered SANParks accrual of a liability of about R155.9 million in medical aid to near-retiring employees and in-house security measures of R66 million unfortunate, and stressed the need for the Department to be proactive to avert similar happenings in future and develop plans of avoidance of these happenings.

 

      The Portfolio Committee is concerned about the reduction in the budget allocation to the Climate Change and Air Quality Programme by R19 million (in real Rand terms) in the current 2014/15 financial year, as this reduction is likely to influence both the scale and depth of South Africas responses to climate change at various levels.

      The Portfolio Committee recommends the proactive involvement of civil society in departmental processes, particularly in its participation in international climate change negotiating forum and other multilateral processes. There is indeed a need to open up international agreements/treaties for discussions by the public before introducing those instruments to Parliament for ratification. The Portfolio Committee believes Parliament should involve the broader South African community on these through the Public Participation model.

 

      We believe that we should continue to play an effective part as a nation in the international domain in ensuring that the harmful effects of climate change are effectively mitigated through dialogue in international forums, including finalisation of the negotiations under the Durban Platform in the coming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP20) meeting in Lima, in December 2014, as well as COP21 in Paris in 2015. We are confident as the Portfolio Committee that key attributes of the Kyoto Protocol would be retained and worked into a future agreement and that the Convention on Climate Change will indeed find concrete agreement and enforceable models in COP21 in Paris.

 

      Despite all the budgetary resources and efforts committed to conservation and protection of the rhinos, the animals continue to be killed and poached, as shown by the unacceptably high figures given to the Committee by the Department of 461 rhinos that had been killed this year alone, at the time that the Committee interacted with the Department. We are very concerned as the Portfolio Committee and we think as people of South Africa working together with people of the world, we need to do more to save the rhinos. The Department is, therefore, urged to do more in this regard.

 

      We acknowledge and appreciate the Departments efforts in creating employment opportunities as shown by the growing numbers in the 2013/14 and previous financial years. We believe that the new goal of creating 69 158 Work Opportunities in the 2014/15 financial year will go a long way in fighting the scourge of poverty and unemployment in our country.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recommends that the House adopts the Department of Environmental Affairs Budget Vote 30 allocation for 2014/15 financial year, with the allocation of R5.668 386 billion.

 

Report to be adopted.