Speech notes: Annual report 2014/15, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Hon Speaker

One of the findings tabled in the half year reports reads – a special intervention has been initiated for Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality due to the complexity of the challenges found at its waste management sites and the department must submit a progress report to our committee within 30 days.  I look forward to that report because the truth is that the BCM have been breaking the law for a long time now.

I raised the issue of the Stoney Drift Dump Site in Amalinda in a speech here in the Legislature in September.  The waste management license for this site expired on 31 December 2013 yet dumping continues daily with the apparent blessing of the BCM.

To make matters worse it seems the BCM are not complying with the National Environmental Management Act Compliance Notice issued to the BCM on 15 September.

A recent letter from the Chairperson of the Buffalo City Ratepayers Forum to the Mayor of the Metro states and I quote, “It would appear that the Compliance Order is just being regarded as another letter from DEDEAT, that does not need to be looked at and adhered to.”  Close quote.  Compliance orders have very strict timelines and it appears BCM are certainly not complying.

As we speak there is a bulldozer permanently at the landfill site that pushes piles of accumulated rubbish deeper and deeper into the wetlands destroying the once pristine wetland and polluting the stream that runs into the Buffalo River.  In a reply to questions I asked the MEC in September it was also stated and I quote, “Departmental officials have visited the site and noted that the status quo has remained unchanged motivating the continued administrative action.”

To make matters worse there are about 500 shack dwellers living on the dump site.  There are illegal power lines running everywhere.  A few weeks back a BCM refuse removal truck hooked wires on a street corner opposite the site and narrowly escaped electrocution.

This illegal housing settlement also poses environmental concerns as people are living in appalling conditions.

In a free and fair society no one should be scratching out an existence from garbage.  No one should live in a dump site.

Once again I would like to make an urgent appeal to the Department to enforce the BCM to adhere to the NEMA compliance notice and to take the necessary actions.

It is the function of the Green Scorpions to enforce Section 24 of the Constitution which guarantees that every individual enjoys the night to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing.

The waste management license expired two years ago and this dumpsite should be closed immediately.

Another finding of our committee emphasises the fact that bad access roads are affecting the delivery of farm products to markets and agro processing plants.  The most affected being citrus farmers who use the R75 to Addo, pineapple and dairy farmers.  In his recent adjustment speech the MEC announced an additional R29 million would be allocated to the Department of Roads and Public Works but sadly none of this is going into roads.  Rather it is for the shortfall on rates and taxes owing to the municipalities, land surveying, consolidations and security management for state assets.

Hon Speaker, we cannot have a situation where precious food cannot be transported along our roads.  Our country is in the middle of a devastating drought and luckily our Eastern Cape has been spared this time.  This country is facing food shortages and these roads have to be attended to urgently.  It is not only farm produce that is being affected.  Precious human lives have been put at risk.  (Story regarding – Ambulance getting stuck in Bathurst.)

Hon Speaker,

Allow me to focus on the Public Entities.

One of our most important findings affecting Coega and the East London IDZ reads – the lack of funding for capital projects continues because of incomplete Special Economic Zone regulations and transitional arrangements.

This has dragged on for too long now and it is high time that Provincial Treasury and the Department of Trade Industry finalise these regulations.  It is unacceptable that this is taking so long to complete.

To remind everyone – SEZ’s are geographically designated areas of a country set aside for specifically targeted economic activates, supported through special arrangements (that may include laws) and systems that are often different from those that apply in the rest of the country.

These zones are key contributors to economic development and growth for our province.

There have also been delays in transferring the Magwa Tea estate from the ECDC to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency.  We were told it is because of lack of transitional funding.  It was noted that the MEC allocated R15 million to Magwa in his adjustment budget.  The committee looks forward to a report on these arrangements.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board also has its challenges.

There are currently only 14 inspectors responsible for compliance enforcement and monitoring servicing a population in excess of 6 million.  Related to population figures and footprint considerations the Liquor Board should have about 41 inspectors. They are hopelessly understaffed and this affects the enforcement of compliance.

When we realise that 70% of crimes in our province are liquor related it is cause for great concern.

It does not help the Liquor Boards credibility that the dealings of the CEO are currently being investigated by the Hawks.  Charges of fraud and corruption had been opened in October and the investigation is still in process.

Madam Speaker,

Our committee also noted with concern that the public entity boards are not all functioning as efficiently as they should be and this needs to be addressed.  These boards are tasked to provide crucial oversight over the public entities.

It is interesting to note that there are great variations in the directors’ fees of the entities.

The East London IDZ has nine directors costing just over R1 million/ year averaging R117 000 each.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board has five members earning R1, 9 million at an average of R380 000 each.

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism spent R1, 4 million on directors ranging from R453 000 for the Chairperson to R113 000.

The ECDC spent R1, 5 million on non-executive director fees.

The total cost of company for Coega last year was R4, 9 million but this included R3, 9 million for the CEO.  Yes R3, 9 million for the CEO.  The CEO received R5 million in 2013 and R6, 2 million in 2014 so the R3, 9 million is substantially less than the last two years.

But Hon Speaker,

The champions are the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board whose seven directors earnt R3, 1 million last year at an average of R446 000!!  This certainly seems excessive.

These are very well compensated directors!  The annual report of the Gambling and Betting Board tells us that the Board Remuneration Policy was approved by the MEC, DEDEAT on 18 June 2013 and is the standing policy for members.

Hon Speaker,

I would like to suggest that as well as submitting a plan to the committee regarding the oversight over entities as requested, that the MEC also revisit the Remuneration Policy as soon as possible.