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SA: Saaiman: Northern Cape Tourism, Environment and Conservation Prov Budget Vote 2008/09 (12/06/2008)

12th June 2008

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Date: 12/06/2008
Source: Northern Cape Provincial Government
Title: SA: Saaiman: Northern Cape Tourism, Environment and Conservation Prov Budget Vote 2008/09

Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, Budget Speech address by Mr PW Saaiman, MEC for Economic Affairs, Tourism, Environment and Conservation in the Northern Cape Legislature

Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Honourable Premier
Colleagues in the Executive Council
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Environment and Conservation
Honourable Members of the House
Mayors and Councillors
Heads of Department and other Managers in Government
Head of Department, Senior Management and Staff of the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation
Chief Executive of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority
Invited Guests and Members of the Provincial Tourism Industry
People of the Northern Cape, our Compatriots, Comrades and Friends

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Speaker, a long political struggle with its roots spanning centuries, augmented by the efforts of the freedom fighters and the true spirit of Ubuntu, delivered South Africa's first democratic dispensation. All our people now participate in democratic processes because they have hope. As Martin Luther King once said, everything that is done in the world is done by hope!

Today I will focus on key programmes of the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation. Their programmes are aligned to the government's Apex priorities, the successful implementation of the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS) and other key initiatives such as Batho Pele, Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the National Industrial Policy Framework and Five Year Strategic Agenda for Local Government. As such this budget is designed to speak to what is commonly referred to as the "triple bottom line" - human capital, natural capital and economic development - in order to realise the departmental vision of a destination in harmony with nature.

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An old African proverb serves as a timely reminder that the earth is not ours but the inheritance of our children. The implication of the wisdom as locked in this proverb is that we have to secure a sound environment to enhance our people's quality of life and manage our biodiversity to ensure an attractive destination from which we all can benefit in one way or another. This budget will therefore underline the important interlinking role of environment and conservation to lay a solid foundation for a vibrant and competitive tourism industry, as well as the build up to the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Tourism arrival patterns in the Northern Cape points to a rising trend but we are still subject to cyclical ups and downs. Our departmental staff and the Northern Cape Tourism Authority is working very hard to increase our market share, grow the number of beds sold and ensure that the Northern Cape becomes and ever more competitive destination. We have experienced a slight down turn in recent months where it concerned tourist arrivals and the number of beds sold. This is in all probability due to an environment of rising interest rates and rocketing fuel prices.

The general performance of the provincial tourism industry remains vibrant. South African Tourism reported that the Northern Cape grew its market share from two comma six percent average in 2004 to three comma five percent in 2006. During the same time, 49 percent more bed nights were sold.

I am pleased to announce that great strides have been made to grow the number of small tourism enterprises owned by historically disadvantaged people. The total number of trading businesses owned by emerging tourism entrepreneurs in 2005 was 15. This number grew to 49 in 2008 which represents a growth of 226 percent over the past four years.
Speaker, our efforts have been greatly rewarded in the past year and this means that we are meeting the highest industry standards.

The Northern Cape raised interest from the select international panel of the prestigious Luxury Tourism Awards who nominated our province for an award. They based their nomination on the following, and I quote: "rich archaeological heritage, tribute to the great diamond days and the very origin of humankind, its unique naturalistic richness, the Flower Route with its enchanting biodiversity where some species are found nowhere else on earth, the Orange River Wine Route offering an extensive range of wines, the colossal Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - land of prancing springbok, black-maned lions and leopard and cheetah, the legendary hospitality and accommodation with sophisticated and exclusive lodges and resorts offering guest service in a superb location". Close quote. Speaker, we were the only destination in southern Africa to have received such a nomination. This nomination would not have been possible had the department failed to live up to its mission - A Destination in Harmony with Nature!

Conrad Mouton, a tour operator from Port Nolloth, was voted the national winner of the Tourist Guide category in the 2008 Welcome Awards for service excellence while Benny Setsetse, a tour operator from Kimberley, was voted runner-up in his category. Furthermore, the Small Tourism Enterprise Support Programme was nominated for the esteemed Premier's Service Excellence Awards and received a certificate of commendation. Both Conrad and Benny benefited greatly from this programme and it serves as proof that our efforts to support historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs creates an environment for them to excel even at national level. The McGregor Museum was voted Welcome Award national runner-up in the category for museums thus beating much more famous museums where it concerns service excellence, an achievement of note.

The Northern Cape continued to make its mark in the international tourism trade by winning the silver award for best stand at the annual tourism Indaba this year. The Northern Cape Tourism Authority also won "best stand" awards at various consumer tourism expos in South Africa during the past year which is an indication of their professionalism and success in promoting the province as an attractive destination.

On the environmental front, the department approved 135 environmental impact assessments (EIA's) for development projects and 452 EMPR's for mining and mineral development projects in 2007/08. The estimated value of these projects is in the vicinity of three thousand million rand. The department further succeeded in reducing the total turnaround time in processing EIA applications from eight weeks to less than six weeks, an achievement to be welcomed by the private sector. This is further proof that economic development, while we are always aware of its environmental impact, is indeed important to this department.

On the conservation front, Ekapa Mining won the prestigious Nedbank Capital Green Mining Award for building the artificial flamingo breeding island at Kamfers Dam while Eric Hermann, a mammalogist in the department, won an award for the best poster presentation on distance sampling of an avian species at the recent South African Wildlife Management Association. Our departmental scientists also continue to publish articles in respected journals and make presentations at scientific symposia, a feat that can only be accomplished if they are respected by their peers.

The department as a whole won a silver award from the prestigious Professional Management Review. This award is a sign of the good governance practised in the department.

The Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, Northern Cape Tourism Authority, the district and municipal tourism structures and the tourism industry as a whole need to be applauded for the advances and strides we made in the past year. At the same time, I would like to rally them once again to dig deeper and work even harder to make a real impact, an impact that will successfully answer the hope of our people, as well as the hope of the conservation and tourism industry players.

Broad Outline of Budget

During 2007/08 the department completed the process of aligning its functions to the newly approved budget programme structure put forward by National Treasury. The newly aligned structure of the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation consists of the following seven programmes and the budget for 2008/09 amounts to R 95 459 million:

Programme: Administration
Budget: R28 973 million

Programme: Policy Co-ordination and Environmental Planning
Budget: R 5 013 million

Programme: Compliance and Enforcement
Budget: R 3 442 million

Programme: Environmental Quality Management
Budget: R 7 726 million

Programme: Biodiversity Management
Budget: R17 515 million

Programme: Environmental Empowerment Services
Budget: R 3 506 million

Programme: Tourism
Budget: R29 284 million

High priority projects

Speaker, the department made several budgetary shifts to ensure a higher impact and to improve the lives of our people in the province. I will elaborate on some of these projects during the course of this address. These projects include:
* Facilitation of social tourism by stimulating a local travel culture and supporting the building of stronger domestic tourism industry benefiting the designated groups. The department will commit one comma two million rand for this initiative. Some 300 poor and vulnerable people and 200 youth will benefit from this project.

* Develop commercial tourism infrastructure in Doornkloof, Rolfontein and Goegap provincial nature reserves on a public-private partnership basis. Funding to the value of one million rand has been allocated to the project and we expect that 50 permanent jobs and 180 temporary jobs will be created, thus benefiting poor rural areas in the vicinity of the Vanderkloof Dam.

* Utilising the Vanderkloof and Gariep dams for water-based tourism activities as a public-private partnership initiative. One million rand was set aside for this project and we expect to create 20 permanent jobs and 25 temporary jobs.

* Development of a science visitor centre in the Karoo to create a niche tourism offering in the province. R600 000 was committed to the project and 30 permanent and 35 temporary jobs will be created.

* Establish a call centre for the hospitality industry and the development of an e-tourism capacity in the Sol Plaatje municipal area. R350 000 was budgeted for the viability study and we expect to create 40 jobs through this project.

* Development of an adventure centre in the Kalahari where all adventure activities such as 4x4, mountain bike, abseiling and white water rafting can be practices in one venue. R350 000 for a feasibility study was budgeted for a project which we expect will create 50 permanent jobs.

* A project to erect a fence and entrance at the Orange River mouth conservation area, as well as a reception and entrance to the Doornkloof provincial nature reserve. We budgeted one million rand for this project and it will create 180 temporary jobs in the local communities of the Richtersveld and Colesberg to name a few.

Administration

Out of a staff compliment of 210, females occupy 47,6 percent of positions and fill 40 percent of all management posts.

In keeping with the requirement to deliver on the Government's Apex priorities, the department funded six training interventions benefiting 95 officials. These training interventions greatly improved the skills base in the department. Furthermore, we approved 15 bursaries for various departmental officials to participate in relevant tertiary-level courses.

In support of our youth, the department appointed 14 learners in the hospitality industry and provided 20 internships within Nature Conservation, Travel and Tourism, Marketing, Human Resource Management and Information Communication Technology.

Madam Speaker, the department has also been successful in the establishment of five fully operational regional offices with line function and support staff. With Batho Pele in mind, this forms part of our pledge to ensure accelerated service delivery and the search for people-friendly approaches to the people in the province.

Through the Special Programme Unit the department hosted several community outreach programmes for youth, women and children to promote the department's social investment initiatives. During the implementation of these programmes 150 women and 685 youths were reached.

In 2008/09 we endeavour to train 80 officials in different skills programmes and will award 10 post graduate bursaries. In addition, in an effort to address the skills shortage within the Province, the department will appoint 20 interns and provide 100 learnerships, to prepare them in an experiential manner for their future careers and give them the best possible chance to secure employment.

Tourism

Small Tourism Enterprise Development

A new era dawned for emerging small tourism enterprise development in the 2007/08 financial year as we are turning the tide to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of emerging small tourism enterprises in the Northern Cape.

Our emerging tourism enterprises face a huge challenge to remain viable and sustainable in an extremely competitive tourism market while the mainstream tourism businesses go from strength to strength.

Speaker, government acted to address this challenging situation. In response, the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation developed the Small Tourism Enterprise Support Programme and a policy on the funding of small tourism enterprises. This strategy addresses the most critical needs of emerging small tourism enterprises and pivots on business skills development, stimulating new venture creation, enhancing the excellence and market access of emerging tourism enterprises, as well as addressing the needs of rural communities in an effort to launch them from the "second economy" into the mainstream economy.

I am pleased to share with you that in keeping with our small tourism enterprise support programme directives, the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation invested R750 000 to address the most critical business shortcomings of the six past provincial winners of the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year award, as well as the four provincial 2007 finalists in the competition also know as the ETEYA competition.

As a result, the Northern Cape government significantly contributed to establish these ten emerging tourism enterprises as highly competitive and fully integrated tourism businesses in the mainstream provincial industry. In addition, each of these emerging small tourism enterprises now offer more value for money and a much more attractive tourism experience.

Klipkolk Lodge, situated in the Mier Kalahari - and we all experienced the famously hot Kalahari summers! - now does business all year round and not just in winter thanks to air-conditioners fitted to all their rooms and their conference centre. Mannyes Guest House, owned by one of our dearest veterans, Mittah Seperepere, will soon have a fresh look thanks to complete room make-overs. Scotia Inn Hotel in Port Nolloth increased their occupancy rates as a result of the make-over of all their rooms and so I can go on.

The Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, together with is partner - the Tourism Enterprise Programme - seized on the ETEYA competition as a valuable opportunity to improve the product quality, management culture and marketing skills of the five provincial finalists selected last year. Each of the finalists was subjected to a number of strenuous product assessments and training sessions to prepare them for doing well in the national competition. In the end, the national panel of judges voted Heerengracht Guest House as the provincial ETEYA winner in 2007, with Strelitzia Guest House in Upington and Repa Guest House in Kimberley, as runners-up. Scotia Inn Hotel was voted the most improved emerging tourism enterprise of 2007. I would like to congratulate them on a fine achievement and wish them well as they continue to improve and expand their businesses while they too go from strength to strength!

Madam Speaker, the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation supported eighteen emerging tourism enterprises - 50 percent are women-owned businesses - to enhance their market access by taking them to important tourism exhibitions such as the Indaba, Getaway, Cape Outdoor Adventure Expo and key international shows. In addition, the department facilitated a two-day exhibition marketing workshop to improve their selling skills and conduct themselves more professionally at these expos. Support was given to Heerengracht Guest House, to attend the World Travel Market (WTM) tourism expo in London, the International Tourism Exchange Berlin (ITB) in Berlin and a large tourism expo in Sweden. The department further supported an additional two emerging small tourism enterprises, Pulai 4x4 Adventures and Autshumao Safaris, to attend the ITB in Berlin, Germany. I am pleased to report that all of the supported emerging small tourism enterprises indicated that they gained additional reservations after attending the expos and that this contributed to their long-term sustainability and further integration into the mainstream provincial tourism industry.

Based on the success of the Small Tourism Enterprise Support Programme, we have budgeted just short of two million rand to benefit even more small tourism enterprises owned by emerging entrepreneurs, the highest amount ever budgeted for such tourism initiatives.

Tourism Investment

I now would like to turn my attention to our efforts to attract tourism investment to the Northern Cape.

I am pleased to report that the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation secured R750 000 in co-funding from the National Treasury's Public Private Partnership Unit to conduct feasibility studies with the view to establish accommodation and other commercial tourism infrastructure in Goegap, Rolfontein and Doringkloof provincial nature reserves. The department will make available an additional amount of funding to implement recommendations of the study before the end of the 2008/09 financial year. Should this project be successful, and we manage to attract investors, we expect this initiative to have a positive impact on the economy of the rural areas where our nature reserves are situated.

The department will launch a unique initiative this financial year to use the growing interest in camping holidays to establish camp sites in the rural areas to be operated by the local communities. The beneficiaries will provide the necessary training and promotional support and we have faith that this initiative will significantly address the "second economy" in the remote parts of our province that are popular with adventure tourists and explorers.

The Northern Cape Economic Development Agency will this year complete the feasibility studies on the first five flagship tourism investment initiatives and commence with the business planning phase of each project. They are the expansion of the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, Douglas Holiday Resort, Die Bos Holiday Resort, as well as the establishment of an eco-lodge at Boesmansput near Danielskuil and the "Gems on Track" tourism steam train initiative. The steam train tourism initiative stands to benefit the Pixley ka Seme region in particular. It is expected that once we have completed all the phases of these projects, some 65 new permanent jobs would have been created. I would like to thank Northern Cape Development Agency (NCEDA) for the funding they provided and the work done to move these projects from the feasibility phase to the planning phase.

Further Tourism Development Projects

The Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation will co-fund a number of large tourism development projects during the 2008/09 financial year. Some of these are as follows:

* R500 000 was budgeted for the Lake Gariep project to benefit the Umsobomvu and Renosteberg municipal areas in an effort to address the "second economy" challenges in the province. The Lake Gariep initiative came to a near standstill last year but I am pleased to inform the house that it is back on track and that the department is a key driver of the project.

* R100 000 was budgeted to construct a flamingo viewing platform at Kamfers Dam near Kimberley. Flamingo watching is becoming an industry in its own right worldwide and we need to be prepared to take advantage of such trends.

Municipal Tourism Infrastructure

Madam Speaker, in preparation for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup, the department invested one comma four million rand in the upgrade of equipment at 15 municipal operated tourist information offices in all district municipal regions. This included not just new furniture and office equipment, but digital equipment too such as televisions, DVD players and cameras, in order to put them in a position where tourist information officers can also better market and promote their respective destinations. Once the upgrade is fully completed, our tourist information offices will not just be better equipped, but also able to host organised tourism forums and thus once again become hubs to community-based tourism initiatives as it should be.

In addition, the department will roll out the next phase of preparing our tourist information offices for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. This entails launching a wide-scale customer care programme in conjunction with the organised business movement to improve client service levels and knowledge of their respective destinations. For this purpose, the department budgeted R250 000.

Hunting Industry

The Northern Cape is the runner up in the stakes for generating income from the hunting industry. However, we are of the opinion that we can generate even more income from this industry and the department joined hands with the organised hunting and game breeding industry to develop an action plan to further propel the hunting industry as a key economic driver for the province. In addition, the department budgeted R200 000 to update a study on the economic impact of the hunting industry to establish fresh baseline data on the performance of the industry.

Tourist Guide Industry

Thirty tourist guides are on the last lap to complete their foreign language training in French and German. The learners are mostly from the disadvantaged communities and with strong mentorship base will become business people in their own right and advance the transformation agenda in the tourism sector. These newfound language skills will stand them in good stead during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup event.

Ten new tourist guides will be trained and registered as small tourism enterprises. In addition, the department will work with them to establish them as local tour operators in order to accelerate the transformation of the tourism industry.

Grading of accommodation establishments

Speaker, it is with great satisfaction that I announce today that to date 366 tourism accommodation establishments have been graded out of a total of 706 establishments. This provides the Province with 3 963 quality graded beds out of a total of 8 135 beds. The department will vigorously pursue the popularisation of the national accommodation grading system as we believe that it will enhance the attractiveness and reputation of the province as a destination. The department endeavours to grade a further 200 accommodation establishments during the 2008/09 financial year.

Youth Tourism Awareness

The department in conjunction with the Tourism Ambassadors Programme will launch a youth initiative called "Information on the Beat" in 2008/09. This initiative will be developed together with the Northern Cape Youth Commission and SA Host Programme and will focus on training in life skills, customer care, tourism awareness and distributing detailed information on the area where they will be based. Once trained these youth will be deployed at tourist attractions in the peak holiday periods to ensure that visitors have access to tourist information and are aware of what the province offers its visitors. A database will be developed of al "Information on the Beat" trained youth and they will be utilised for example as ushers at government events which will contribute to creating a sustainable livelihood for them. For this purpose, we have budgeted R600 000.

The Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation staged three youth tourism awareness programmes in conjunction with the Northern Cape Youth Council. The programmes stretched over two days and was designed to empower our youth with information on how the tourism industry functions, the role of government in tourism development and promotion, career opportunities in tourism, how to start a tourism business and where to get assistance, as well as how and why to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The youth delegates also participated in lively debates on the pros and cons of the provincial tourism industry while they were afforded an opportunity to know their regions better by going on a guided tour, all funded by the department. The winners of the debate received river trips as prizes to demonstrate tourism in action and create a travel culture amongst the youth.

The programmes were hosted in Kimberley, Upington and Springbok and a total of 300 youth was reached with this initiative. A further number of these programmes will now be rolled out in the Kgalagadi and Pixley ka Seme regions with the aim to reach another 150 youth.

Tourism Resource Audit

With that in mind, Madam Speaker, the Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation will by August 2008 complete one of the most important and significant tourism projects ever undertaken in the Northern Cape - the provincial tourism resource audit. The department will invest R850 000 in this project. This project will see the development of databases on all tourism businesses, activities and attractions in the province.

FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup

The department appointed a "2010" co-ordinator, while we are busy developing action plans to amongst other establish attractive public viewing areas in the designated towns. Other tourism opportunities associated with the event is also being investigated and further announcements in this regard could be expected later in the year.

Northern Cape Tourism Authority

The Northern Cape Tourism Authority is responsible for the strengthening of the destination brand and the promotion of the province as a competitive destination. They have been given their biggest budget to date and I am pleased to inform the house that some R10 million was budgeted to fund the activities of the authority.

Speaker, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority should be congratulated and commended for the manner in which they managed our new tourism brand. Their effort propelled the Northern Cape to the fore as an attractive destination, not only in South Africa but in our international markets too.

Tourism Black Economic Empowerment Strategy

Speaker, I am happy to inform this house that the departmental tourism Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Strategy is now in its public consultative phase. Workshops were already held in Kimberley, Upington, Springbok and Calvinia while the next workshops are planned for the Kgalagadi and Pixley ka Seme regions.

I am pleased to share with you some encouraging stories regarding racially integrated transformation within the tourism industry.

* The Kamiesberg Municipality, in collaboration with Conservation International, established an integrated tourism forum. They are currently busy converting this forum into a Section 21 company which will collectively advise the municipality on tourism development matters and marketing.

* The Colesberg product owners, white and black, are currently busy with a process of establishing a well representative tourism association which is exactly what we as a department would like to see happening. The same applies to Carnarvon, and we hope to see a duplication of this process in all the districts.

* One of the empowered tourist guides in the Richtersveld recently entered into a business relationship with a white tourist guide.

* Some white product owners in Colesberg are currently busy engaging emerging product owners for a mentorship programme and they have also allowed some prospective tourism graduates to gain practical exposure to the industry.

* Two female product owners of our province, one from Pabalello in Upington, and another from Leliefontein in the Namakwa district, have also been supported by "Dreamcatcher", a private tourism organization with business and marketing skills. This organization funded these ladies to attend the annual Vakantiebeurs tourism expo in the Netherlands.

Policy co-ordination and environmental planning

Climate Change:

Speaker, climate change is possibly the greatest environmental challenge facing the world and experts predict that the Northern Cape will become the most affected region in South Africa. To offset the impact of this phenomenon it is essential that we need to learn from the lifestyles of the indigenous peoples of the province who over ages had to deal with a changing environment for their survival and well-being. Indeed, Speaker, the Northern Cape has for long been referred to as the cradle of mankind and it is here where the San, Khoi, Nama, Koranna, and later the Tswana people too, had to become innovative in securing their survival. We should learn from them if we want to find any meaningful plan to deal with climate change.

With this in mind, and realising that much of the work done on climate change today is of a purely academic nature, a need for a different kind of conference on climate change in the Northern Cape has been identified. Such an event will focus on how best to tap into indigenous knowledge of people in the worldwide search for ways to mitigate the impact of global warming. Such a conference will have to come up with very simple and practical ways to protect our people and the places where they live and work against the effects of global warming.

I am pleased to inform the house that a planning workshop in this regard was held recently and that esteemed organisations such as the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Conservation International and the Succulent Karoo Eco-System Programme was involved. I am further pleased to inform the house that our department will share the responsibility for staging this important conference with the provincial Department of Agriculture and Land Reform.

Trees - a Barrier to Global Warming and Instrument for Food Security

Trees are regarded as the lungs of the earth and they are valuable in the sense that they remove the excess of harmful emissions in the air. In fact, trees play an important part to purify the air that we breathe.

Speaker, mindful of the fact that we have to mitigate the effects of global warming and at the same time be sensitive to the vulnerability of the poor and unemployed, the department will take advantage of an initiative to plant more trees but this time we will plant trees that will contribute towards a balanced food security and growing the economy simultaneously.

A total of 540 fruit trees were already planted in five food gardens in five communities in Moshaweng Local Municipality. The variety of fruit trees includes Lime, Navel oranges, Clementine/Tangerines, White Genoa Fig and Santa Rosa plum and peach.

A further 100 olive trees were planted in eight schools and will be cared for by the individual enviro-clubs in the schools. The olives will be harvested and processed to create income for vulnerable sections of the local communities.

The department, together with Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Department of Agriculture and Land Reform, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and Local Government will join hands to continue with this initiative in 2008/09 by planting 100 000 trees each year over a three year period throughout the province.

Blue Flag Status

Speaker, Port Nolloth was once again invited to apply for temporary Blue Flag beach status. This is a good sign that we are on track to eventually secure permanent status once we have complied with all required criteria. The Blue Flag status is an important achievement as it assists us to develop beach-related tourism in the province which will open up opportunities for communities to participate in the tourism economy.

The department contributed R100 000 to the Richtersveld Local Municipality for the purchase of a "ski boat and mat" in a further effort to comply with all Blue Flag status criteria as such equipment is essential and mandatory to progress to permanent Blue Fag beach status.

Coastal Programme/Kelp

The west coast of the Northern Cape has an abundance of kelp. This valuable natural product will be collected for processing as part of a departmental employment creation initiative under the auspices of Fishing and Mariculture Development Association (FAMDA). In the process, shallow water divers grouped into community co-operatives, will harvest the kelp in waters less than two meters deep.

This year the department will be training 20 community members from the coastal areas in Kamiesberg Municipality, Nama Khoi Municipality and in Richtersveld Municipality, as shallow water divers at the Marine Academy in Alexander Bay. All their kelp will be bought by FAMDA and exported to end users.

Recycling

Recycling has always been an objective of the department. This year the department budgeted one million rand to run a feasibility study on a waste recycling project in the province and establish an important recycling pilot plant. This study will assist us in defining the logistics on establishing viable profit-generating waste recycling projects. Depending on the outcome of the study, five similar plants, one per district municipal area will be established in 2009/2010.

Asbestos

Combating the after-effects of primary and secondary pollution continues to be a major challenge in the province, especially dealing with the legacies left by previously irresponsible mining companies. In the past I have reported to this house on progress made to tackle this issue.

The position, Speaker, is that primary rehabilitation of asbestos in derelict and ownerless mines by the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs is on course. An initial study on secondary pollution has been undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Our department has also undertaken a micro-study - literally taking samples from house to house and stand to stand in the Prieska area - while initial studies have also been undertaken in the Kgalagadi. A further micro study in the Kagalagadi region is being planned.

All this information has been brought under the attention of the Executive Council in the Northern Cape which directed the existing inter-governmental committee of environmental affairs, local government, social services and health to work together and bring the implications of secondary asbestos pollution to the attention of the relevant national departments.

The MECs and departments of the other affected provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West engaged the national minister of DEAT on the subject. Consequently DEAT will collate all costs needed to launch a more aggressive rehabilitation of secondary pollution in the four provinces and to use these figures in the upcoming engagement with National Treasury for funding.

An information-sharing workshop with all stakeholders was held recently, including affected local governments, the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases, the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), the asbestos relief trusts and government departments including our department, Housing and Local Government, Social Services and Health. This workshop took place in preparation of upcoming Imbizos to be held in Prieska and the Kgalagadi region to inform local communities.

Bio-diversity management, compliance and enforcement

Flamingo Breeding Island

Speaker, a highlight of 2007/08 was the successful breeding of Lesser Flamingos on the artificial island at Kamfers Dam. This represents the first successful breeding event for Lesser Flamingos in South Africa and the first time they bred on an artificial island, a truly spectacular event in conservation terms.

Kamfers Dam is only the fourth breeding locality for the near-threatened Lesser Flamingo in Africa, and the sixth in the world. Lesser Flamingos breed at Etosha Pan (Namibia), Sua Pan (Botswana) and Lake Natron (Tanzania), as well as at Zinzuwadia and Purabcheria salt pans in north-western India. As all of these breeding sites are threatened by various human-induced factors, it is critically important that Lesser Flamingos had another breeding site.

Although the most numerous of the world's flamingos, the Lesser Flamingo is classified as "Near Threatened" in the 2006 IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, indicating that it is considered likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future. The breeding event at Kamfers Dam is therefore of great significance for our efforts to preserve this beautiful bird species, especially when one takes into account that by early-March 2008, there were approximately three thousand chicks on the island.

Areas under conservation

Speaker, we in the Northern Cape are entrusted to preserve and conserve a unique part of South Africa's fauna and flora. The Northern Cape Provincial growth and Development Strategy has set a target of six comma five percent of the total provincial surface area to be set aside for conservation by 2014 and plans are still on track to meet this objective.

A number of partnerships between the department and private individuals are far advanced, while the stewardship programme is also proceeding smoothly.

We have started with negotiations between Hunters Moon and Lao Valley, situated next to Doornkloof Nature Reserve, for boundary fences to be removed. This development creates the opportunity for the establishment of meaningful public-private partnerships that can be used as a future blueprint. However, it is also a sign of confidence that eventually the entire area will be declared as a Nature Reserve which will expand Doornkloof with 42 000 hectare. This will be the first formal partnership in the Northern Cape for joined management under the protected Areas Act and will provide for other spin-offs in the near future, such as the upgrading of the Vanderkloof Resort in the Pixley ka Seme district municipal area.

Our partnership with SKEP (Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme) continues. Biodiversity assessments were done by the Bokkeveld Stewardship Programme for 22 properties, with the eight most important properties identified for entering into partnerships. We drafted legal documents and we are in the process of signing these documents.

Speaker, our partnership with The Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust (LHSKT) is paying off. The trust was created solely to purchase properties meeting specific criteria in terms of biodiversity in the succulent Karoo biome. The department successfully negotiated with them to purchase three properties of which one is situated next to Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and the other two next to Goegap Nature Reserve and we thank them for this valuable contribution.

Furthermore, the department will expand its involvement to develop and promote the Richtersveld World Heritage site after consultation with the community and the relevant government and non-governmental structures in the area.

Bio-Regional Plans

Speaker, negotiations with SKEP and various consultants led to the appointment of Dr Phil Desmet, who is leading the development of the Namaqua District Municipality Bioregional Plan.

This project is funded by Crytical Ecosytem Partnership Fund at 116 500 US Dollar and has two objectives - (1) the development of the bio-regional plan and (2) capacity building in Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation (DTEC) and the Namaqua District Municipality to manage and update this bioregional plan.

The project in its first phase will see the collection of biodiversity data to be used by an expert in a mapping exercise. The bio-regional plan will be a precious tool for decision making and planning processes such as environmental impact assessments (EIAs), Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and State of Environment reporting. The bio-regional plan will further be used as a tool to inform the District Municipality on environmental matters such as environmentally sensitive sites, potential agricultural sites and sites available for development expansion.

Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the department started negotiations with the DBSA (Development Bank of Southern Africa) with regards to seeking donor funding in order to develop four other bio-regional plans for Siyanda, Kgalagadi, Pixley ka Seme and Frances Baard District Municipalities.

These bio-regional plans will ultimately be used to develop the master conservation plan for the province which will be used together with the expansion strategy as the conservation blue print of the province.

Wildlife Management

Speaker, against the background of our limited resources and the vastness of our province, we managed to successfully attend to 1 272 wildlife related enquiries and conducted 371 inspections in relation to biodiversity or wildlife management. We investigated and conducted 107 law enforcement actions relating to wildlife offences and we confiscated 6 600 kilograms Hoodia with a value of three comma three million during law enforcement operations.

The agreement with SA Post Office for the selling of the hunting and fishing licenses proved to be very successful as revenue collection increased dramatically. Some R634 850 was collected via our agreement with the Post Office who issued a total of 4 830 Hunting- and Fishing Licenses on behalf of the department.

We processed 2 247 permits, certificates and license applications in accordance with applicable biodiversity legislation while the six permit administration databases were maintained and updated on a monthly basis. We issued 200 export permits, 73 hunting permits, 165 import permits, 103 prohibited hunting permits (permits for using prohibited hunting methods such as using of fishing nets) and 143 transport permits. The Permit Administration Unit managed the export, import and transport of 38 265 captured animals amounting to a sum value of R107 365 104 respectively.

The Authorisation and Verification Unit verified and authorised 1 496 permits before these permits were issued to clients. The turn around time for issuing these permits was reduced to the benefit of the professional hunting industry.

From our database we established that we had 275 clients from the United States of America (USA), 54 clients from France, 53 clients from Denmark, 34 clients from Czech Republic, 31 clients from Austria and various other hunting clients from the rest of the world. The mere fact that the department attended hunting shows abroad is starting to pay off as it seems that our clients now better understand how our hunting Industry works in the province.

Speaker, I am pleased to announce that we have collected two million rand income from selling of permits while we budgeted for one comma six million rand. This is no mean feat but it is at the same time an indication of the importance of the Unit that deals with permits.

Transformation in the Hunting Industry:

During the past year the department provided training and skills development and enabled 24 historically disadvantaged individuals to undertake 33 practical and theoretical examinations on professional hunting. The department also gave support to two Human Development Index (HDI) Professional Hunters to participate in the Professional Hunting Industry by exposing them to the international hunting industry.

Speaker, we are proud to announce that we have contributed to set up the first Black Professional Hunting Outfitter in the Province. This person recently opened his own company to deal with professional hunting matters in the province. The company is currently leasing 34 000 hectares of land from the Mier Municipality.

The hunting tender at Rolfontein Nature Reserve generated R114 150 for the past financial year. More than four thousand kilograms of meat was distributed to more than one thousand individuals in the surrounding disadvantaged communities at Petrusville and Vanderkloof. The Renosterberg Community Project, supported by the local municipality, was responsible for the distribution of the meat to the schools and old age homes in the selected area surrounding Rolfontein Nature Reserve.

Conclusion

It gives me great pleasure to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Ms Juanita Beukes and the members of the Portfolio committee for their support and constructive criticism.

Similarly, I would like to thank the Premier, Ms Dipuo Peters, and my executive council colleagues and the members of the Legislature for the part they played as we tackled the task of establishing this department after 2004.

Speaker, the progress made by the department in the past four years would not have been possible without the dedication of the Head of the Department, Ms Pat Mokhali and the senior managers, the staff of the department, the Chairperson, Ms Moira Marais-Martin, and members of the Board of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, Ms Sharron Lewis, and her staff, and the members of my support staff who have done their duties unflinchingly.

Speaker, I have outlined the major programmes which this department will embark on, in our joint effort to give our people much needed hope in these difficult economic times, thus keeping alive the candle of optimism for a better Northern Cape.

It is against this background that I would like to reiterate, just as Chief Albert Luthuli said many years ago: "I have a full sense of the responsibility that, under the auspices of the African National Congress (ANC), I have joined my people in a new spirit that moves them today, the spirit that revolts openly and boldly against any injustice, the spirit that offers hope and a voice to the vulnerable, the spirit that caringly takes them on a journey to a better life for all."

We have done so knowing quite well that the legacy of apartheid is still evident in the fact that all people of the Northern Cape are not free from poverty, discrimination, bias, underdevelopment, vulnerability and a struggle for equal opportunity. We still need to do more to empower our women, the youth and the disabled to make sure that our people do not hope in despair.

This, Speaker, calls for a continuation of the struggle for freedom and a deep realisation that we - the political leaders and government officials of our beloved province - simply have to keep shouldering more responsibility and make greater sacrifices to build a better Northern Cape, a Northern Cape that responds positively to our people's hopes and aspirations. Nothing less than all hands on deck will deliver this outcome!

It is now my privilege to submit the budget for Vote 13 to this august house.
I thank you

Issued by: Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, Northern Cape Provincial Government
12 June 2008

 

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