Date: 23 June 2008
Source: Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, Gauteng Provincial Government
Title: SA: K Mosunkutu: Budget Vote Speech of the Gauteng MEC for Agriculture, Conservation and Environment
Honourable Speaker: Mr Richard Mdakane
Deputy Speaker: Madam Sophie du Bruin
Members of the Executive Council
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Friends and colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am privileged to again present my department's budget vote at this august gathering of political leaders. This sitting is the last of its kind for our current term of office. It may be the last series of sittings of this nature during this term of office, but it certainly is not the last sitting with the African National Congress (ANC) at the helm.
Confident that this is not the last stewardship of the ANC, particularly in Gauteng and at the national level, I must take this opportunity to commend, in advance, the people of Gauteng for voting to return the ANC into power. It is these masses of our people who know as a matter of fact that their today is better than their yesterdays. These people also know that the sun will shine even brighter in their tomorrows. This is guaranteed by the progressive policies and programmes of their liberation movement - the ANC.
I must take this opportunity to also thank the Premier of Gauteng, Mr Mbhazima Shilowa, for his very progressive leadership of the province. During his terms in office, the province did not cease to be the economic hub of the country. Actually, we now are one of the largest economies in Africa. This boom has translated into material benefits for all classes and strata of our people. It will be amiss not to also commend the collective leadership of my colleagues in the Executive Council (the MECs) and in the Gauteng Portfolio Committee for Agriculture, Conservation and Environment.
I also commend all the Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) who put shoulder to the wheel to ensure that our people's dreams do not end up being hollow shells. I have learnt so much from what they have said and even more from what they did over the years. Together we have shared quality time and space contributing to one of the greatest goals on earth - the liberation of our people.
To me it is an honour to again present my department's annual budget and to do so at a time when all awakened people of our country are celebrating the role that the youth of our country played in hastening the demise of apartheid. I wish to add my voice in saluting the youth - particularly of Gauteng. Among the challenges that the present youth have to overcome, is the scourge of illiteracy. The youth have relatively easy access to the objective and other material conditions to win this skirmish. In memory of their forebears, some who were forced into exile and became guests in houses and lands of citizens of other countries, our youth have a duty to fight against crime, including criminal acts that take the form of xenophobia.
Aware that today we are observing the Africa Public Service Day and the beginning of the provincial Public Service Week, I wish to assure this sitting and the public at large that we shall use this opportunity to redouble our service delivery efforts.
With this brief introduction, I now wish to focus on the budget allocated to my department and the projects and programmes, including successes and challenges of the past financial year. In doing this, I must present a brief background, starting with an overview of the past few years.
B. Overview of budgetary allocation since 2004
Responding to the growing needs of our communities and the recognition of the appropriateness of a number of our service delivery projects, our expenditure has been growing steadily since the 2004/05 financial year. The growth, by approximately 20 percent, in expenditure, has seen concurrent growth in service delivery.
Part of this expenditure went to our infrastructural development programme and a portion was spent on financing departmental growth in terms of personnel, office space and related office infrastructure. A sizable amount of the budget allocated went to service delivery areas in the following manner:
Agriculture programme: The budgetary allocation for the agriculture programme rose by 87 percent between the 2004/05 and the 2008/09 financial years.
The increase in goods and services between 2004/05 and 2007/08 of 234 percent was mainly due to increases in the allocations for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and establishment of the Agricultural Economics Directorate. These allocations grew by 234 percent and 186 percent respectively.
Sustainable Resource Management: Allocations to programmes of sustainable resources management grew by 657 percent between 2004/05 and 2008/09 financial years.
Environmental allocations: The allocation for service delivery in this branch grew by 101 percent between 2004/05 financial year and the current financial year. The increase was mainly due to the shifting of Compliance and Enforcement sub-programme from Programme 1: Administration to Programme 4: Environment as per the new gazetted programme structure from the National Treasury. We do not envisage any significant increase over the 2008/09 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) other than the inflationary adjustments.
Conservation Component: The expenditure for the Conservation programme increased by 11 percent between the 2004/05 and the 2007/08 financial years. The increase was mainly due to the transfer of infrastructure funds to the Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works. It will be recalled that we lifted the suspension placed on these payments. No significant increases are envisaged over the 2008/09 MTEF other than the inflationary adjustments.
The conservation component is linked to a cost recovery trading entity that is used to augment some of the costs of running the nature reserves of the department. In future the costs that will be covered from the cost recovery trading entity should increase.
Administration: The budget programme has seen an expenditure increase of 42 percent between the 2004/05 and 2007/08 financial years. Allocation for the department's general administration, human resources management and facilities' management was, during the 2004/05 financial year, just more than R74 million. The amount has increased to almost R112 million during the financial year under discussion. This increase is, to a larger extent, due to increase in staff expenditure and office infrastructural requirements.
Devolution of functions from the national sphere to provincial sphere of government has also had a fair share in the increase in personnel and office infrastructural requirements as well as human resources development.
C. Synopsis on achievements
The budgetary allocation for agriculture has increased by an amount that is more than 50 percent. This has been necessitated by the growing need and urgency to contribute towards enhancing a cycle of social and economic development which progressively improves the quality of life of all citizens and concurrently rolls back the frontiers of poverty.
In this drive to halve poverty by 2014, twenty nine thousand five hundred and seventy nine (29 579) homestead food gardens were established between the 2004/05 and the 2007/08 financial years. Additionally, over R108 million was spent on establishing 2 447 community food gardens.
In terms of business plan development support 58 business plans were compiled and 32 were evaluated. Through this process, disadvantaged farmers were granted access to finance through collaboration with the Farmer Support and Development (FSD) programme, Technology Development and Support (TDS), Gauteng Provincial Land Reform Office (GPLRO), Commission on Land Restitution, Local Municipalities and the national Department of Agriculture (DoA).
One of our major achievements in the veterinary services arena was being awarded the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 17 020 accreditation. Our veterinary services unit is the first such unit in South Africa and Africa to be granted this recognition. It is a recognition bestowed upon the department for our vigorous meat inspection standards. These standards assure the public of wholesome meat at the point of leaving a registered abattoir. The International Standard Organisations (ISO) 17 020 certificate also assures the international market of high quality meat exports from recognised participating abattoirs. The department's veterinary services also treated and vaccinated over 13 407 livestock. The Veterinary Mobile Unit was successfully deployed during these campaigns. It has been recognised that its presence has a significant impact on the community's response to campaigns.
Building an effective and caring government
* Part of our contribution towards deepening democracy and building a caring government entailed participating in the provincial 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign. As part of this campaign we had the following events:
* launch of the internal 16 Days of Activism Project Plan and Staff Social Responsibility Programme,
* establishment and revitalisation of food gardens,
* conduction of door to door campaign and handover of donations,
* talks on HIV/AIDS and the role of men in stopping violence against women and children,
* staff debriefing, certificate ceremony for all participants.
* Also in line with the strategic objective of deepening democracy and building an effective and caring government, we looked at our employment practices. The results of this examination, is that the departmental staff complement is consistent with the Equity Employment Act and the provincial policies.
* Established during 2006 to ensure adherence to section 24 of the country's constitution, our Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) are already leaders in the environment awareness and environmental regulatory compliance arena. The unit brought to Gauteng the Impumelelo Awards, platinum prize. Some amongst us will recall that I brought the prize to this House during one of our previous sitting.
* By expanding and improving our information technology (IT) infrastructure, our Knowledge and Project Management (KPM) unit also ensured that our levels of effectiveness are not unnecessarily compromised. Notwithstanding load shedding challenges IT system availability was maintained at an average of 85 percent for the year. Average response time to IT incidents in the last quarter of the year averaged four hours, a significant improvement on the target of eight hours.
* Work to upgrade key IT systems to a more enterprise appropriate environment to better enable service delivery and e-government continued. This project however required an extensive use of resources limiting the unit's ability to deliver on other IT systems and e-government projects. Updating of the department's strategic information systems plan commenced late in the year as part of a wider Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC) led project.
* Committed to also contribute to this strategic goal, our Legal Services, Policy, Research and Co-ordination unit overall, also achieved its set targets and, in some instances, exceeded them. It must be borne in mind that the number of litigated matters is dependant on the number of applications brought against or in favour of the department.
* Dedicated to the goal of ensuring that we continuously build an effective and caring, government, our Human Resources unit has ensured that we complete the previous financial year with 14,98 percent of interns or learners. This is clearly far above the nine comma five percent target set for the province. To meet the new challenges and to better serve our communities with such notable results, the department had to undergo some growth and realignment of its service delivery unit. The department managed to reduce the vacancy rate that had soared to 26 percent at one point due to the expansion, back down to an exemplary 15 percent, despite challenges in scarce skill areas. These efforts will continue unabated to reduce the vacancy rate even further.
* Government's policy approach to communications is that its communication must be geared towards promoting two-way communication between its stakeholders and government. The policy also advocates for communications that encourage active participation by citizens in the transformation process. In this regard, our communications branch ensured active participation by citizens in almost all of its areas of service delivery. In this regard, over 131 Bontle ke Botho (BKB) briefing sessions, 11 capacity building workshops and 10 MEC stakeholders meetings were organised over the last financial year alone.
In relation to commercial broadcast and print media communications, the branch managed to generate media coverage valued at more than R16,86 million. Internal stakeholders were not left out in this communications loop. Regular internal publications, Kgatelopele and the Weekly Briefs, were issued. The intranet was also used to keep staff members abreast of departmental developments. Our website communication has also improved to focus not only on provincial or national stakeholders. We now also focus on sending positive messages even to potential international stakeholders, including investors.
* The BKB Clean and Green project, a legacy of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Gauteng during 2002, has grown from strength to strength. In its five years of fruitful existence, it has created numerous legacy projects, some creating permanent jobs, wealth and sustainable environmental and agricultural projects. Well over 320 schools, 250 wards and 10 municipalities have been eager participants in the project.
During the last financial year alone, we managed to:
Contribute towards fighting poverty and building secure and sustainable communities by
* providing advisory and extension services to over 115 vegetable and poultry production units,
* we also developed 23 new community food projects, with 1 246 beneficiaries and we will continue assisting these projects with infrastructure and agricultural inputs over the next three years (until 2010). Some of these projects, including the Winnie Mandela, Rethabiseng, Iswahina and Filadelfia community food projects won prizes in the provincial Female Farmer of the Year contest, and
* with a budget of R14,5 million, our Sustainable Resources Management (SRM) Component contributed significantly towards promoting sustainability of our communities. 2 400 trees were planted at various schools within the province. Through the Extended Public Works Programme, 10 600 hectares of land were cleared of invasive plant species and 120 firebreaks were created.
Stimulating faster economic growth and drastically reduce unemployment
* Through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), 99 farmers were supported. Through this support, 118 poultry projects, 103 hydroponics projects, 99 piggery structures, 20 boreholes and 20 irrigation systems were established to assist emerging farmers.
* 9 280 individual homestead food gardens were also developed.
* We also established a co-operation agreement between the department and Ile de France. This agreement has led to the establishment of a technological pre-advice (TPA) programme. This programme is aimed at stimulating and supporting diverse forms of innovation and enterprise development in the life sciences sector. The TPA also aims to assist innovative projects with resolving technological problems, particularly during the pre-commercial phase, utilising expertise from the Ile de France as well as the department.
* During the past financial year we also undertook biotechnology adaptive research, though a demonstration and trial unit programme. Five Bt-Maize demonstration sites were identified and the trials on all the sites are under way. The sites include Ntwanano Food Garden Project, in Devland, Mr Morgan Tsime, in Doornkop, Fairdeal Training Centre in Zuurbekom, Mr M Mmusi in Olifantsvlei and Indali ACPA in Vereeniging.
* We planted hybrid white maize cultivar CRN 3505 (Monsanto) and hybrid white maize cultivar DKC 78-15B (Yieldgard, Monsanto) for comparison at all sites. Information days are to be held at the sites and the Bt-maize is currently being harvested.
* To promote faster economic development, especially by encouraging diminishing the gap between the first and the second economy, 1 963 emerging farmers were provided with agribusiness and entrepreneurial skills.
* The departmental project, Abattoir Hygiene Rating Scheme, which is aimed at promoting consumption of wholesome meat, is now going to be rolled-out in other provinces. This confirms the view that Gauteng is not only a better place to live in, but that we also are a creative province.
* As part of stimulating faster economic growth, using the Gauteng Agricultural Development Strategy (GADS), we initiated, during the last financial year, eight agricultural hubs - these are centre directed at producing world class agricultural products for the local and international markets.
* We established the following agro-processing facilities:
* milk parlour in Devon
* fresh produce packhouse in Midvaal
* organic products packhouse in Centurion
* fruit pack house in Randfontein
* fresh produce packhouse in Heidelberg
* fruit and vegetable packhouse in Winterveld
* egg processing unit in Bronkhorstspruit
* feed milling plant in Tarlton
* We also managed to upgrade skills of 1 960 emerging farmers on marketing of agricultural products.
* Our Sustainable Resources Management Component created over 700 jobs. Of importance is that up to 70 percent of people engaged in some of our projects on short-term employment basis, were able to find permanent employment through our inter-action with the private sector, including the security industry that has employed some of the beneficiaries on a full time basis.
Contribute towards developing healthy, appropriately skilled and productive people
* Our veterinary services again managed to ensure that our communities are not made victims of the Rift valley disease, an animal disease that also affects people in many ways.
* Both as an animal care project, as well as a human health project, our veterinary services launched a series of pet care, rabies and sterilisation projects in the major metropoles and districts of Gauteng.
* Part of discharging the duty of building healthy, appropriately skilled and productive people entails embracing people with disabilities. In relation to these goals, a total of 25 employees who qualify in terms of employment equity and disability were appointed.
D. Reflection on projections and budgetary allocations for the 2008/09 financial year
Our budgetary allocation for the financial year under consideration is R353 812 million. This budget will be divided into the various service delivery programmes of the department in a manner that seeks to further advance the Gauteng Provincial Government's strategic objectives. With this in mind:
Programme 1: Administration has been allocated R111 996 million
Programme 2: Agriculture, including for veterinary services, has been allocated R146 077 million
Programme 3: Conservation is earmarked to receive R43 160 million
Programme 4: Environment is budgeted to receive R52 579 million.
Before I talk to the programmes that seek to ensure that resources availed are judiciously used to better the lives of all our people, I wish to make a critical observation and announcement.
Communities here and abroad are confronted with dire challenges. The majority of people in most parts of the world are witnessing a new face of hunger - people who suddenly can no longer afford the food they see on store shelves. This food inflation comes on top of a challenge that has been with us for decades - the challenge confronting millions of marginalised communities who are forced to live below the bare minimum required to merely survive.
Being a part of this caring government, we have, in partnership with the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, scheduled a food summit to discuss the recent food price hikes. The summit will take place on the 10 to 11 July 2008 in NASREC, South of Johannesburg. Together with the various stakeholders - farmers, wholesalers, input suppliers and consumers - we shall examine the various factors that drive this food inflation. We shall examine solutions and together as partners, we must emerge from the summit with practical recommendations on how to tackle the challenge. As a collective in that summit, we must acknowledge that some in the processing sector were found guilty by the Competitions Commission for price-fixing, as an example. Importantly, we must chart a practical way forward.
As a department we have not been folding our arms in the face of this threat to one of the millennium goals - that of halving extreme poverty. Rather, time, space and other resources have been spent on fighting poverty and building secure and sustainable communities.
E. Projections for the budget year under review include:
In relation to the continuing fight against poverty and build secure and sustainable communities
* Elements of the biotechnology strategy that was completed last year will be implemented during the year under consideration.
* We plan to establish 32 new community food gardens and 9 212 homestead food gardens. These are expected to benefit well over 45 000 people.
* Having evaluated our extension services rendered to farmers, we shall implement the results of this evaluation to enhance quality extension services. We are planning to reach over four thousand farmers providing them with various agricultural skills.
* we also plan to benefit, through the Gauteng Farmer Settlement Project (GFSP), the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD), 342 farmers. We shall also facilitate the development and evaluation of 145 agricultural business plans as a process of further enhancing Gauteng agricultural viability and changing the existing unfair race and gender pattern in the sector.
* We envisage continuing with an evaluation and transfer of affordable nutritional management techniques for livestock farmers in Gauteng. The project is scheduled for three seasons from 2006 to 2009. The main objectives of this project is to identify nutritional deficiencies in livestock of Gauteng, develop means of correcting identified nutritional deficiencies, and assess feeding value of alternative feed resources. The outcomes of this project include a database of veld nutritional composition across the province, a list of affordable and accessible animal protein resources, alternative animal feed sources and data on workable nutritional management systems.
* During the year under consideration we shall, through the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), commission research on, amongst others:
* development of veld and livestock management on the farm Cyferfontein in Walkerville
* development of low cost input, socially and environmentally sustainable systems involving the integration of aquaculture and layer hens' production in the province
* isolation and characterisation of cowpea genes for improvement of drought tolerance crops.
Projections in relation to stimulating faster economic growth and drastically reducing unemployment
* Together with the Gauteng Provincial Land Reform Office (GPLRO) we started a co-ordinated effort conducting feasibility studies for the farms that are procured for land reform purposes. This joint effort is concentrated in areas that have been demarcated as agriculture hubs. The Agriculture Plan (A-plan) which is the defining programme of action for the agriculture hubs is expected to be completed by the end of June 2008.
* We also intend launching the next hubs in Emfuleni and the West Rand.
* We also envisage compiling 41 production and weather trend analysis reports during the year under consideration.
* We are planning on facilitating the production and evaluation of 145 agribusiness plans for the current financial year alone.
* The Gauteng Agricultural Development Strategy (GADS) has identified agro-processing and biotechnology as strategic vehicles for job creation and economic growth and to enable emerging farmers to profitably participate in the mainstream agricultural economy.
* Informed by this strategic direction, our primary focus for the next three financial years will be designing and implementing programmes aimed at supporting small-scale farmers in the eight identified agricultural hubs.
* With a budget of R27 831 million, the veterinary services shall continue tending livestock and other pets, in particular of the disadvantaged communities. This is aimed at further closing the gap between the first and second agricultural economy. Our veterinary service shall reach over 117 000 animals, including cattle. These will be, among others, vaccinated, examined for diseases and given preventive treatment. As previously hinted, these activities are quite critical not only for our own health as human beings. The treatment is also of great importance in relation to stimulating economic growth.
* We intend to process over 575 EIA applications in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) within the stipulated time frames during the financial year under discussion. This process will certainly further contribute to the stimulation of economic growth. In this regard, it should be noted that the applications that are processed include development of infrastructure of both social and economic value.
* As the political head of this department, I also undertake to ensure that appeals lodged with me, if any, will be dealt with timeously to ensure that developmental activities are not delayed.
Plans relating to developing healthy and appropriately skilled and productive people
We intend to, during the financial year under discussion, set-up a protected areas register. The purpose is mainly to further enhance our capacity to manage and protect the registered areas. We also plan to implement an ecological plan for all our reserves.
Guided by the Cleaner Development Mechanism (CDM) and as part of a provincial initiative aimed at contributing to stemming the negative impacts of climate change, our Air Quality sub-directorate shall, during the year under discussion, also implement the alternative use of energy plan, focusing mainly on the twenty-township project.
Our conservation programme intends establishing 60 nurseries, implement conservation awareness projects that will reach at least 7 500 pupils. We shall also remove alien plant vegetation in 35 hectares of land and simultaneously make 96 fire-breaks and burn 1 050 hectares as part of fire management programme.
Further contributing to the development of healthy and productive people, we shall issue no less than 12 authorisations for health care risk waste transportation, transfers and treatment. We shall also review 250 generators of major health care risk waste.
Goals pertaining to further build an effective and caring government
As part of contributing to the strategic objective of further building an effective and caring government, our agriculture programme will develop and implement 4 agriculture risk and disaster management plans.
We shall also continue monitoring food prices with the purposes of, among others, inter-acting with national and provincial departments for short-term and long-term interventions.
As part of contributing to the ideal of further strengthening the effectiveness of our government, the department undertakes to make a supplementation to the National environmental impact assessment (EIA) Regulations. We shall also conduct workshops aimed at clarifying the implications of new provincial EIA regulations.
Effective and caring governance also contributes to the provincial goal of building Gauteng to be a Global City region. With this in mind, we shall schedule no less than 20 meetings with Gauteng local governments. The department shall also participate in the development of nine Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Strategic Development Frameworks (SDFs).
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate my confidence in the ruling party - the ANC. In its Polokwane conference, the ruling party resolved on a number of issues. Among these matters were issues pertaining to the environment. The directive issued in this regard is that we all need to ‘continue pro-actively building our capacity, and develop a comprehensive strategy, to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, including in the roll-out of basic services, infrastructure planning, agriculture, biodiversity, water resource management and in the health sector'. As active members of the ANC, we shall strive to ensure that these resolutions are implemented in our various areas of deployment. We shall do this simply because they seek to guarantee that the sun continue to rise and shine brighter for all our communities.
I will conclude by leaving you with the words of the President of the ANC, Jacob Zuma. Addressing a graduation ceremony at the University of Zululand, uMsholozi observed that nation building requires that we tackle the material differences between our people. We cannot have a united nation when a significant section of our society remains in poverty, or do not have access to quality education, or still live without basic services like water or housing. We cannot have a united nation when the bulk of the country's wealth is retained in the hands of an extremely small minority... Nation building means overcoming the economic and social barriers that, for centuries, have divided our people'.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, Gauteng Provincial Government
23 June 2008