THE Budgetary Review and Recommendation
Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, DATED 21 October
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (the Portfolio Committee), having considered the performance and submission to the National Treasury for the medium-term period of the Department of Environmental Affairs (the Department), and it entities, namely, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South African National Biodiversity Institute, South African National Parks and the South African Weather Service, reports as follows:
The Portfolio Committee fully appreciates the wisdom that underlies the President’s decision to excise the Environmental Affairs from the Water Affairs in the Fifth Parliament, considering the significant roles that these two sectors play in the wellbeing of South Africans at any given moment. The separation between the two has allowed for a focused approach to the management of the respective sectors to ensure that they fulfil their constitutional imperatives in a sustainably equitable manner, consistent with the expectations of South Africans of all walks of life. Indeed, the President’s decision reflected the constitutional reasoning for ensuring a rights-based access to clean and safe water as well as a rights-based access to a clean and healthy environment. It might certainly have poised a huge challenge for a single parliamentary Portfolio Committee to oversee these strategic sectors, each of which requires a dedicated and focused oversight function.
1.1 Mandate of Committee
The mandate of the Portfolio Committee is to enhance the principles of a developmental state through passing legislation and to facilitate public participation, monitoring and oversight functions over the legislative processes relating to the environment; confer with relevant governmental and civil society organs on the impact of environmental legislation and related matters, enhance and develop the capacity of committee members in the exercise of effective oversight over the Executive Authority. Thus, the core mandate of the Committee is to:
· Consider legislation referred to it;
· Conduct oversight of any organ of State and constitutional institutions falling within its portfolio;
· Consider international agreements; and
· Consider the budgets, strategic plans, annual performance plans and related performance reports of the Department and entities falling within its portfolio.
2. Purpose of the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report
The Money Bills Procedures and Related Matters Amendment Act No 9 of 2009 (the Money Bills Act) sets out the process that allows Parliament to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to amend the budget of a national Department. In October of each year, portfolio committees must compile the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR) that assess service delivery performance given the available resources; evaluate the effective and efficient use and forward allocation of resources; and may make recommendations on forward use of resources. The BRRR also sources documents for the Standing/Select Committees on Appropriations/Finance when they make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBS). The comprehensive review and analysis of the previous financial year’s performance, as well as performance to date, form part of this process.
The Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs is based on the information that it accessed through various engagements with the Department on its annual planning processes and with relevant stakeholders on legislation as indicated below:
· The 2013 State of the Nation Address;
· Department of Environmental Affairs Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan for 2013/14;
· Department of Environmental Affairs Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2013/14;
· Quarterly Reports of the Department;
· Report of the Auditor-General to Parliament on the Financial Statements of Vote Number 30;
· National Development Plan (NDP);
· New Growth Path (NGP);
· National Treasury Section 32 Reports; and
· The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs BRR Report for 2013/14.
The Committee further engaged with the following entities that report to the Minister of Environmental Affairs, namely:
· The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (IWPA);
· South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI);
· South African National Parks (SANParks); and
· The South African Weather Service (SAWS).
3. Core functions of the Department and its Entities
The Department is mandated to ensure the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, balanced with sustainable and climate change-resilient development and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from natural resources. In its quest for better use and engagement of the natural environment, the Department is guided by its constitutional mandate, as contained in section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996.
The Department fulfils its mandate through formulating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of national environmental policies, programmes and legislation with the additional support from entities such as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, SANBI, SANParks and the SAWS. As the national partner 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. This role is evident through the large numbers of policy and legislative instruments initiated and processed by the Department.
3.1 Departmental Strategic Goals over the Medium Term
The Department’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:
· Ensure that the Department has optimal capacity to deliver services efficiently and effectively;
· Ensure that South Africa’s 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 -international climate change or 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;
· 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; and
· Participate and contribute meaningfully to 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.
4. Consideration and assessment of service delivery performance in relation to available resources of the Department and its entities
4.1 Policy Thrust
The priority policy areas for the Department over the medium term included providing support to Local Government in the areas of air quality management, waste management, biodiversity management, coastal planning and open space planning; strengthening compliance and enforcement activities; drawing linkages between climate change, the green economy and sustainable development; aligning governance systems with the new outcomes-based approach, paying particular attention to ensuring that environmental assets and natural resources are valued, protected and continually enhanced (Outcome 10); and focusing on key national and international engagements.
The Department’s constitutional imperative to have the environment that is not harmful to the health or well-being of South Africans; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures, is fundamentally reflected in the Department’s strategic goals. These strategic goals have further been strengthened by the vision of the National Development Plan (NDP) for an environmentally sustainable, climate change-resilient and low-carbon economy for South Africa. This means that the challenges of deteriorating environmental quality due to pollution, waste management and natural resource degradation, destruction and depletion must be effectively addressed. Thus, the NDP underscores the need to sustain ecosystems, mitigate climate change and manage the transition towards a low-carbon economy well. Consequently, this requires the Department to effectively manage the interface between the environment and development in a manner that facilitates and maximises the potential for South Africa to transform its current and future development trajectory to an environmentally sustainable, inclusive, low-carbon and green economic growth path.
It is noteworthy that the Department’s strategic policy priorities are aligned primarily with the Government’s Outcome 10 that requires the Department to ensure that “Environmental Assets and Natural Resources are valued, protected and continually enhanced.” Outcome 10 is one of the 12 Outcomes adopted at the Cabinet Lekgotla held from 20th to 22nd January 2010. Outcome 10 has the following four outputs: Enhanced quality and quantity of water resources (Output 1); Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, climate change impacts and improved air/atmospheric quality (Output 2); Sustainable environmental management (Output 3); and Protected biodiversity (Output 4). To achieve these strategic outputs, the Department is appropriately structured into seven programmes to meet its constitutional mandate, vision and mission as well as the expectation on it in the NDP. In addition, the Department is expected to facilitate and lead cooperative environmental governance to support the transition to environmentally sustainable development across the three spheres of Government.
4.2 Service Delivery and Performance of the Department
The Department and the respective entities mainly provide public goods and services and hence in many instances are difficult to calculate quantitatively. For example, the mandate of SANBI is to play a leading role in South Africa’s national commitment to biodiversity management. It is tasked to lead the biodiversity research agenda; provide knowledge and information; give policy support and advice; manage gardens as windows to our biodiversity for leisure, enjoyment, spiritual upliftment and education; and engage in ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation programmes and best-practice models to manage biodiversity better. Current economic appraisals do not account fully for most of the work done by SANBI, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, SANParks and SAWS. The role of SAWS in averting natural disasters by providing timely information on imminent weather threats can only be imperfectly captured by existing economic appraisal systems, considering the diverse and world-wide nature of beneficiaries. Indeed, this is the nature of the work of the Department and its respective entities.
Notwithstanding, in executing its mandate, the Department spent R5 200 307 000 of the total allocation of R5 206 842 000, which represents 99.9 per cent of total spending. The 0.1 per cent that was not spent during the 2013/14 financial year was mainly due to the compensation of employees funds, which were not spent on time, as the vacant posts were filled later than anticipated; projects progressed slower than anticipated; and the National Regulator for Compulsory Services claimed R280 000 less than allocated. Significant services that the Department performed in the year under review are as follows:
· The target to issue 66 TOPS permits to traders; exporters or importers of TOPS listed species; scientific Institutions; and government Departments and Parastatals was fully met;
· Target to process 125 applications from relevant stakeholders for issuing of CITES permits was fully met;
· Target to assess and issue 45 GMO applications within timeframe (21 days) was met 100 per cent;
· Target to assess 22 BABS applications for permits within prescribed timeframes was fully achieved;
· Target to respond to 90 per cent of complaints and incidents from the members of the public within prescribed timeframe, was substantially met, as 89 per cent (89/100) of the complaints were attended to within timeframe;
· Target to assess 68 per cent of EIA applications received within timeframe was exceeded, with 76 per cent (1057/1393) of the applications having been assessed and decisions issued;
· Target to finalise 96 per cent of applications received and issue Waste Management Licences was substantially achieved at 63 per cent (79/125);
· Target to process 80 per cent of contaminated land reports within the timeframe of 45 days, was exceeded as 100 per cent (50/50) of the reports were reviewed within the timeframe;
· Target to finalise 100 per cent of applications for Marine Research Permits within the timeframe of 50 days, was substantially achieved as 85 per cent (58/68) of the permits were issued within the timeframes;
· The 100 per cent target to finalise applications for off-road vehicle permits within the timeframe of 40 days, was significantly achieved, as 83 per cent (34/41) of the permits were issued;
· Target of 100 per cent issuing of permits for activities within marine protected areas (i.e. filming and transport of marine protected species) within the timeframe of 10 working days, was substantially achieved, with 80 per cent (48/60) of permits issued on time;
· Target of 100 per cent issuing of dumping permits within the timeframe of 45 days was significantly met (75 per cent [6/8] permits issued on time);
· Responding to 95 per cent of the Promotion of Access to Information Act [PAIA] (Act No 2 of 2000) requests on time was exceeded, as 96 per cent (25/26) of the requests were dealt with in terms of the PAIA requirements;
· Target of 100 per cent response to parliamentary questions and requirements within the timeframe, was significantly achieved, as 95 per cent (75/79) of parliamentary questions were responded to within timeframes; and
· The target of responding 100 per cent to Presidential Hotline queries on time, within three working days, was successfully met at 100 per cent (9/9).
The purpose of the Administration Programme is to provide leadership, strategic centralised administration and executive support, corporate services and facilitate effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness. The Department achieved the following in the Administration Programme:
· Received an unqualified Audit Report and spent 99.9 per cent of its allocated budget;
· Managed to attain its 100 per cent compliance target with key governance requirements within the set timeframes;
· Implemented the Transformation Strategy and met the target of 56 per cent target in the appointment of women (891/1588), 90 per cent (1437/1588) blacks and 2.2 per cent people with disabilities;
· Finalised the construction of the new Head-Office Building;
· Skills Development Strategy was also implemented, resulting in the awarding of 38 bursaries, 100 interns recruited, 145 teachers trained in Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statements and 172 officials completed NEMA Training; and
· US$40.50 million of donor funds were mobilised, against the target of US$25 million, to support environmental and sustainable development programmes.
However, the Department was unable to fill vacancies as per the approved structure and there were delays in some of the programmes that relied on donor funding such as Climate Change, resulting in non-achievement of planned targets. Furthermore, the polarised stakeholder perspectives on regulatory aspects, delayed the gazetting of the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Regulations in the case of Biodiversity and Conservation Programme.
4.2.2 Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement
The purpose of the Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement Programme is to promote the development and implementation of an enabling legal regime and licensing/authorisation system to ensure enforcement and compliance with environmental law. In this programme, the Department achieved the following targets:
· Inspected 135 environmental authorisations for compliance;
· 26 criminal investigations were finalised and dockets handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority;
· Trained 1 003 wildlife monitors and deployed them with host employers across the country;
· Implemented the interventions for safety and security of wildlife, including Rhinoceros populations in South Africa. This comprised the agreement on areas of cooperation with Safety and Security Agencies such as South African Police Service (HAWKS), Intelligence and Defence and other countries such as Mozambique, China and Hong Kong, Rhino funding mechanism, construction of border fence between South Africa and Mozambique, verification of Rhino horn stockpiles as well as the recognition of Rhino as a national security threat and the establishment of a Priority Committee on Wildlife Crime, which has developed the joint action plan on Rhino.
The biggest challenge in this Programme has been the relentless killing of South African Rhinos despite the huge commitment of resources to monitor and enforce law.
4.2.3 Oceans and Coasts
The purpose of the Oceans and Coasts Programme is to promote, manage and provide strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation. For the period under review, the Department realised the following:
· The Ocean Management White Paper was approved by Cabinet;
· Developed and implemented the Plan for the Southern Oceans and Sub-Antarctic Islands Management Strategy;
· Finalised the Wild Coast Oil Spill Contingency Plan and drafted the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan;
· Five estuarine management plans for Mngazi, Mngazana, Grootbrak, Ntafufu, Thukela and Nahoon were developed; and
· Three relief voyages were undertaken to SANAE, Marion Islands and Gough Islands.
4.2.4 Climate Change and Air Quality
The mandate of the Climate Change and Air Quality 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. It is in this respect that the Department achieved the following outcomes in this Programme in the 2013/14 financial year:
· Finalised the recommendations on mainstreaming of mitigation action into five sectoral policies and plans;
· Finalised Long Term Adaptation Scenarios Phase 1 reports on Climate Scenarios, Impact Scenarios and Adaptation Options for five sectors, namely, Biodiversity, Human Health, Water, Agriculture and Marine Fisheries;
· Reviewed and finalised the climate change policy alignment and review reports for the four planned sectors (Water, Agriculture/Commercial Forestry, Biodiversity and Eco-systems, and Health);
· 107 air quality monitoring stations (including 84 Government-owned) reported data on South African Air Quality Information System;
· Promulgated the 2012 National Framework for Air Quality Management; and
· Draft Offset Policy was finalised and cabinet memorandum submitted for approval.
4.2.5 Biodiversity and Conservation
The mandate of the Biodiversity and Conservation 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. In this Programme, the Department realised the following achievements:
· Legislative tools for Threatened and Protected Species;
· Norms and standards for BMP ecosystems published for implementation;
· Secured one additional investment of R50 million from Boundless Southern Africa Catalogue;
· Established the very first Transboundary World Heritage Site — Maloti Drakensburg; and
· Published the Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines.
4.2.6 Environmental Programmes
The purpose of the Environmental Programmes Programme is to facilitate implementation of expanded public works and green economy projects in the environmental sector. This is the largest departmental Programme, and plays a critical role in job creation, consistent with the objectives of key Government macroeconomic frameworks, notably the NGP and NDP. Consequently, the Department made these significant strides in the year under review:
· 80 658 work opportunities were created, exceeding the 65 494 target;
· Attained 53 per cent women beneficiaries against the set target of 55 per cent;
· Achieved 62 per cent youth beneficiaries against the set target of 55 per cent;
· Achieved 1.73 per cent recruitment of people with disabilities against the set target of 2 per cent;
· 900 young people benefitted from the Youth Environmental Service;
· 137 overnight visitor and staff accommodation units were established and renovated, narrowly missing the target by a per cent;
· 122 wetlands rehabilitated, exceeding the 110-wetland target;
· 945 276 hectares of invasive alien plants cleared, more than the 863 067-ha target;
· 46 181 ha of land restored and rehabilitated, more than the 28 428-ha target; and
· 2 174 km of accessible coastline cleaned, exceeding the 2 113-km target.
4.2.7 Chemicals and Waste Management
The purpose of the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme is to manage and ensure that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements. In the past 2013/14 financial year, the Department accomplished the following:
· Promulgated the Waste Classification and Management Regulations;
· Published Waste Management Activity List for implementation;
· Set the waste tyres recycling targets as follows: 2014–59000, 2015–90000, 2016–120000 and 2017-175000;
· 84 Basic Assessment Reports for unlicensed waste disposal sites were finalised and submitted to the provinces of the Western Cape, Limpopo, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape for the issuing of decisions; and
· The Methyl bromide was finalised and implemented through the processing of permit applications.
It is noteworthy that recycling has important bearings on Job-creation. The sector has a huge potential in terms of financial turnover, and is envisaged to inject 1 000 jobs in 2014/15 and 10 000 by 2018/19 in the economy. The Committee looks forward to 2016, when suitable and innovative legislative mechanisms on waste take off, especially the separation of waste from the source, and cumulatively change the way how South Africans perceive waste.
4.3 Performance of the Departmental Entities
Performance by the Department’s four entities are as follows:
4.3.1 iSimangaliso Wetland Park
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.
Since its inception, the Wetland Park Authority has established an excellent record of clean (unqualified) audit opinion from the Auditor General, with the past 2013/14 financial year not being an exception. The key achievements for the 2013/14 financial year are as follows:
· Exceeded seven KPIs and only four were not met due to delays in grant funds;
· Achieved 1 514 temporary jobs and 23 permanent jobs;
· 33 000 people were trained, including 57 young people in university;
· Park revenue increased up to R12.4 million;
· Visitor numbers also increased to 533 451;
· Supported 174 small businesses;
· Revenue shared with land claimants amounted to R800 000 per annum;
· R200 million invested in infrastructure development and upgrade;
· Cleared 14 000 ha of plantations;
· R86.2 million revenue was generated;
· Increased tourism establishments by 84 per cent in the areas surrounding the Park; and
· Was awarded the 2014 Greening for the Future Award in Youth Leadership and Job Creation from the Mail and Guardian.
Despite these significant achievements, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority registered a non-cash deficit, amounting to R21.3 million due to the liquidation of Sinyati (the contractor), obliging the Park Authority to write off the balance.
4.3.2 South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
SANBI was established in September 2004, in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No 10 of 2004). The mandate of the Institute is to monitor and report regularly on the status of South Africa’s biodiversity, all listed threatened or protected species, ecosystems and invasive species; and the impact of any genetically modified organism that has been realised into the environment. The Institute is also mandated to act as an advisory and consultative body on matters relating to organs of State and other biodiversity stakeholders; coordinate and promote the taxonomy of South Africa’s biodiversity; manage, control and maintain all national botanical gardens, herbaria and collections of dead animals that may exist; and advise the Minister of Environmental Affairs on any matter regulated in terms of the Act, and any international agreements affecting biodiversity that are binding on South Africa. It is in executing its legally conferred mandate that SANBI achieved the following targets for the reporting period 2013/14:
· 818 Groen Sebenza ‘Pioneers’ skilled and hosted by SANBI and 43 partners from public, private and NGOs;
· Established agreements for two new national botanical gardens in the Eastern Cape (Kwelera) and Limpopo Provinces (Thohoyandou);
· Ministerial launch of the State of South Africa’s Biodiversity;
· The production, ministerial approval and co-signing of the Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines.
· Strengthened relations with DEA and other departments/key stakeholders/partners;
· Employment equity targets achieved;
· Career path developed for scientists and horticulturalists;
· Increased generation and access to information and implementation of BRAHMS (Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System);
· Financial stability and unqualified audit opinions, at least in the past five consecutive years;
· Improved performance management and compliance; and
· More visitors to the Gardens, resulting in more income than in any other year, as Kirstenbosch turns 100 years old and SANBI celebrates 10 years of existence.
Notwithstanding, SANBI faced some challenges in the provision of evidence-based information for the Strategic Integrated Programme; financial and human resource implications for SANBI of coordinating Strategic Integrated Programme 19; implementation of the new Invasive Species Regulations and financial and human resources implications thereof; and the establishment of the two new Gardens in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces was met with certain challenges and thus required careful planning and allocation of human and financial resources.
4.3.3 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. It is in executing its legal mandate that SANParks achieved the following targets in the year under review:
· Received an unqualified audit opinion with emphasis of matter;
· Total number of free access entrance increased to 215 232, more than the previous financial year;
· Tourism revenue improved by 13.4 per cent to R970.8 million compared to the previous financial year;
· Visitor numbers also increased to 5 235 095 compared to 467 018 in the previous reporting year;
· Created 241 permanent jobs and 114 temporary jobs;
· Customer satisfaction index increased to 79.1 per cent against the set target of 77.3 per cent;
· Received the best People Project Award for the Alghulus Wetland Project;
· Created and supported 624 SMMEs; and
· Developed infrastructure, entailing the construction of the Skukuza Airport and restaurants in parks.
Despite these significant achievements, particularly in creating employment, consistent with the Government’s macroeconomic framework priorities, SANParks encountered certain crucial challenges. For example, although SANParks received an unqualified audit opinion, there were material misstatements to the annual financial statements and the rate at which South African Rhinos are killed continues to increase, with 868 animals already lost to poachers, as of mid-October 2014.
4.3.4 South African Weather Service (SAWS)
The South African Weather Services was established in terms of the South African Weather Service Act (Act No 8 of 2001), with the mandate 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 Government’s international obligations under the World Meteorological Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
For the period under review, SAWS achieved the following outcomes:
· Unqualified audit for the seventh year in a row;
· Met 80 per cent of its set objectives;
· Developed two hydro- and agro-meteorological applications to assist the agricultural and water sectors in the country;
· Developed web portal for disaster management to assist rural communities;
· Supported the aviation industry and complied 100 per cent with the International Civil Aviation Organisation audit and also developed South African Civil Aviation Authority Pilot Training curriculum;
· Developed and implemented a risk assessment pilot project with the Mopani Local Municipality In Limpopo;
· Finalised the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System and rolled out the South African Air Quality Information System phase II;
· Hosted the National Climate Services workshop dealing with Long Term Adaptation Scenarios and developed the Education Plan for the National Framework for Climate Services; and
· The CEO, Dr Linda Makuleni was appointed as the Co-Chair of the IBCS Management Committee in the year under review.
5. CONTRIBUTION of the Department and Entities to Key Government Macroeconomic frameworks
The prevailing economic circumstance has resulted in a situation where Government in general and the Department specifically, are required to deliver more with existing or reduced resources. Consequently, the Department is not always able to fund the approved structure, thereby impacting on its capacity and speed at which it delivers on priorities. It was in this respect that the Department continued to build strategic partnerships with donors and looked for innovative ways to address existing financial constraints and enhance efficiency to improve resourcing of departmental priorities. However, it is apparent that the global economic environment has also led to a decrease in funds raised from donors. The other complication with donor funds is seemingly the protracted processes to be followed before funds could be made available. This compelled the Department to introspect and emphasise resource efficiency and best value-for-money results in the implementation of all its programmes. The same emphasis also followed all the departmental transfers to its four entities, comprising the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, SANBI, SANParks and SAWS in the 2013/14 financial year.
Notwithstanding, the Department obtained a clean (unqualified) audit opinion in the year under review, and is indeed a high performance-driven organisation that serves with integrity, as the custodian and ambassador for South Africa’s environment that should be bequeathed to future generations in a manner that encourages its sustainability indefinitely. In this regard, the Department has an established record of unqualified audit opinions ever since it came into existence as a separate Department in the 2010/11 financial year. However, the Auditor-General drew attention to a fruitless expenditure, amounting to R26 million, but underscored that this was not detected by the Auditor-General, but rather by the Department in its quest to properly close some of its projects from previous years. The Department further clarified this matter to the satisfaction of the Committee.
5.1 Performance against Key Macroeconomic Frameworks
New Growth Path (NGP):5 million jobs (2010-2020)
· Increase employment from 13 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2020.
· Employment needs to increase at an average estimate of 3.4 per cent/annum (2010-2020).
National Development Plan (NDP): 11 million jobs 2010-2030
· Increase employment from 13 million in 2010 to 24 million in 2030.
Outcome 4: Decent Employment through Inclusive Economic Growth
· Output 2: More labour-absorbing growth sub-output: Green Economy
The Department’s constitutional imperative to have the environment that is not harmful to the health or well-being of South Africans; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures, is further boosted by the vision of the National Development Plan (NDP), which is that of an environmentally sustainable, climate change-resilient and low-carbon economy for South Africa until 2030. The need to ensure environmental sustainability and climate change-resilient and low-carbon economy cannot occur in vacuum, without the requisite labour force. It is precisely on this premise that the above key Government macroeconomic frameworks emphasise job creation, with the expectation on the Department that good environmental management coupled with integrated development planning is fundamental in building a low-carbon economy that supports resilient ecosystems and economies. The Department believes that healthy and intact ecosystems offer more options for the country to respond to climate change, thereby alleviating poverty and building a green economy in the process.
The Department’s ability to create 80 658 work opportunities in the year under review is attributed to the significant allocation of a total amount of R 2.39 billion for the Expanded Public Works Programme located in the Environmental Programmes. This gave impetus to the attainment of the job-creation objective of Government by the Department, and secured vital environmental benefits from the work done. Jobs created in the 2013/14 financial year derived from the Working for Water, Working on Fire and the Environmental Protection and Infrastructure programmes, through their various sub-programmes that led to the rehabilitation of 122 wetlands; over 2 100 kilometres of coastline cleaned; rehabilitation of estuaries and dunes; construction of boardwalks to facilitate access; planting trees; building of waste buy-back centres; and removing invasive alien plants, provision of infrastructure to facilitate conservation and rehabilitation of thousands of hectares of land in the 2013/14 financial year.
It is in fulfilling the expectations on them to meaningfully contribute to Government’s key macroeconomic frameworks that the departmental entities took significant steps in providing employment. This is exemplified by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority that provided temporary employment to 1 514 and permanent jobs to 23 individuals in the year under, exceeding the respective targets earmarked. This, of course, excludes the 82 ownership of BEE SMMEs in the same year. Similarly, SANParks made huge strides towards Government’s macroeconomic frameworks, resulting in increased total number of person days on temporary jobs to 1 094 961; total number of temporary jobs created through EPWP to 13 141; and total number of SMMEs supported to 624, as opposed to the planned target of 444 SMMEs. Similarly, SANBI’s involvement in the Groen Sebenza initiative and SANParks ability to create 241 permanent jobs and 114 temporary jobs in the year under review indicate the commitment of these departmental entities to a more balanced and equitable approach to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
6. Conclusion and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee, in its conclusions, thanked the Department for its professional and highly skilled workforce that has over the past few years, not only managed to attain unqualified audits, but is continuously updating its knowledge base in line with key government policies such as the National Development Plan, and other international and regional agreements and conventions. The Portfolio Committee expresses its appreciation of the performance of the Department and its Entities in terms of Predetermined Objectives; Service Delivery and Governance, but notes and recommends the following:
· Overall, the Portfolio Committee was pleased with the performance of the Department, however, there was also a legitimate concern that the Department did not have sufficient funding and that this impacted on the Department’s ability to implement its constitutional mandate in terms of certain critical programmes, and associated outputs. It is unlikely for the Department to effectively deliver on desired economic, social and environmental targets in light of the declining budget allocation to the Department and hence its entities. This is especially true in the context of a recent study showing deterioration in the state of South Africa’s environment due to mounting pressures on the country’s environmental assets in recent years. Decreased budget allocations would also appear to be counter-intuitive to the strategic role that the environment plays in the nation’s economy. Indeed, South Africa’s natural environment is the bedrock of its economic and social development; it underpins our economy, health and safety, which are the very elements that encourage us as citizens to live and work in our country. This significance ought to be reflected in our budgetary commitments to the environmental sector; and it is in this context that the Portfolio Committee reaffirms that:
o The National Treasury should progressively increase budget allocations to the Department in real terms, considering the ever-growing pressure on South Africa’s environmental sector. Increased funding focus on the environment in the context of its multi-faceted role and contribution to our wellbeing and economy would not only safeguard our future, but also that of future generations of South Africans.
o On its part, the Department should ensure compliance with the requirements of the National Treasury (e.g., Modified Cash Standard) to ensure that financial resources allocated to it and hence its entities are optimally used to achieve best results.
· The Department should ensure that existing and future projects are appropriately closed off to avoid any future incidents of fruitless expenditure.
· The Department should clarify the impact of its inability to meet its own recruitment target in the year under review (2013/14) on its performance.
· There needs to be a clear multi-pronged strategy for sustainably bringing down the growing number of Rhino killings in our national parks, clearly outlining those ‘low-hanging fruit’ interventions, with immediate results; medium-term solutions; and long-term solutions, not only to stabilise poaching, but to stem it out completely. Some of these interventions could be of an institutional nature, for example:
o The Department could engage the National Prosecuting Authority or other competent authority in Government to effect amendments in relevant criminal legislation (e.g., the Trespass Act, 1959 [Act 6 of 1959]) in order to enable the prosecution of armed poachers and their accomplices caught in protected areas for more serious offences, rather than merely for trespass and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition to deter illegal entry into protected areas. This is actually a request made by the Police Special Taskforce (one of the key members of the Rhino protection alliance) currently based inside the Kruger National Park.
· The Department should provide a written response to Parliament on the number of convictions in the case of Rhino killing, clearly identifying linkages between arrests and convictions. Reasons should be provided, in case of big disparities between the two.
· The Department should demystify ‘consultancy’ to clearly see which other categories of service providers were inappropriately categorised as such, in the year under review. Recruitment for provision of cyclical services could occur smartly under seasonal or contract employment, where payment for services occurs on DEA’s terms rather than on the terms of ‘consultants’.
· The Department should brief the Committee or provide a detailed written information in respect to compliance with the Air Quality Standards Regulation by major polluters in the light of the findings by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that air quality across South Africa often exceeded the country’s and the World Health Organisation’s limits for aerosols. The Department should state the extent to which companies are complying with the Regulation and name those compliant and non-compliant emitters, as well as what the Department is doing, in case of non-compliance
· SANParks should provide a written response on how its People and Parks Programme benefits communities that inhabit the margins of national parks, clearly stating where co-management and/or community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) initiatives are taking place. Who are those communities, what do they do and which parks are they involved in or derive benefits from besides the existing one percent gate fee that goes to communities?
o There is a need to deepen the ownership of national parks in the neighbouring communities; otherwise, we are fighting a losing war in the fight against poaching and other illicit practices in our national areas.
o There is a need to fully assess the existing inventions to fully transform the wildlife economy to make the black majority population benefit from this economy that currently appears to be hidden from them, although they disproportionately bear the costs of wildlife conservation in the Republic.
· SANParks should provide the Committee with a clear recruitment strategy for the currently vacant leadership positions, specifying timeframes for these senior recruitments in this premier conservation organisation. It should also (via the SANParks Board) explicitly indicate the steps to be taken, if the incoming CEO fails to secure unqualified audit opinions for two consecutive financial years, as it makes no sense to retain individuals who are non-compliant with Government policies, legislation and procedures for effectiveness in the public sector in such senior positions during the prevailing financial constraints in the public sector that demands a better-value-for-every-Rand spent on delivering public services.
· The Department should coordinate (efforts of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, SANBI & SANParks) and compile information on the current and potential magnitude of the ‘wildlife economy’ on the whole South African economy (e.g., on tourism and hospitality industry as well as the transportation sector) to fully understand the scope of the beneficial effects of the Department on the economy, and have it appropriately profiled in Government for increased budgetary support.
· The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority should have clear targets on Rhino protection, such as zero killing or 90 per cent arrest of individuals who breach the boundaries of the Wetland Park in the 2014/15 reporting year, considering that 400 Rhinos had been killed in the Park in the past few years.
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recommends the adoption of this Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) for the Environmental Affairs.
 Presidency (2010) Outcome 10: Environment. Delivery Agreement – Outcome 10. The South African Presidency, Pretoria.