Camagu ~*~

Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Minister Valli Moosa's 2002 Budget Vote Speech

It's not really news, nor yet history, but I hope the sentiments expressed in this speech (full speech link above... excerpted below) are carried through by the SA government.

There has been ominous posturing and shuffling of issues and circumstances to try and cater towards the estimated $70 - $220 Bn wealth in the heavy sand deposits of Xolobeni and its surrounds. (E.g. exclusive powers of DME not subject to EIAs, removal of smelter from TEM's EIA until a "Bankable Feasibility Study" is undertaken... pursuant to the issue of a mining license... Eskom's power upgrade (to 5 x current capacity) and extension to TEM's doorstep in Xolobeni, Jeff Radebe's and the ANC's party line (read ORT and KSD municipalities public attitude of welcome) toward the N2 toll road and all its ramifications... And most importantly: the combined effect of all these environmental threats smack in the centre of the Pondoland Centre of Endemism and the greater Maputoland Corridor.

LEND A HAND FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PEOPLE, PLANET AND PROSPERITY

Two principles -- sustainability and partnerships -- have become imperatives in almost all human activity. Just as the system of apartheid was unsustainable -- it imploded on its own immorality -- so, too, will a world which feeds on the earth at a rate faster than it is able to replenish itself. Today, the world harvests fish faster than the fish reproduce -- will future generations have fish to eat? We pump carbon dioxide into the air faster than the production of oxygen by forests. We destroy the earth as we develop. Sustainable development is principally about human welfare rather than merely a "green" question.

It is no accident that the programme for the African renaissance is entitled the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). For the poor of this world, for the marginalised, for the African, the words of poet John Donne ring truer than ever.

"No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main."

Working in partnership -- acting together with others -- makes it possible to tackle local and international needs with the urgency needed.

In his novel, The Heart of Redness, Zakes Mda takes us to Qolorha-by-Sea on the Wild Coast:

"The developers, two bald white men and a young black man, come early on a Saturday morning and insist that the meeting be held at the lagoon. ... The young black man is introduced as Lefo Leballo, the new chief executive officer of the black empowerment company that is going to develop the village into a tourist heaven. ... The two elderly white men -- both in black suits -- are Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. ...

"Mr. Smith talks of the wonders that will happen to Qolorha-by-Sea. There will be boats and water-skiing and jet-skiing. ...

"'Right here,' says Mr. Smith, 'we shall see the biggest and most daring rides of all roller coasters in the world ... over the rough sea.'

"'That is not all my dear friends,' says Mr. Smith excitedly. 'We are going to have cable cars too. Cable cars shall move across the water from one end of the lagoon to the other.'

But Camagu is not impressed.

"'You talk of all these rides and all these wonderful things,' he says, 'but for whose benefit are they? What will these villagers who are sitting here get from all these things? ... These things will be enjoyed only by the rich people who will come here and pollute our rivers and our ocean.' ...

"[Zim, an elder, says] '...This son of Cesane is right. They will destroy our trees and the plants of our forefathers for nothing. We, the people of Qolorha, will not gain anything from this.'

"'You have nothing to offer these people,' says Mr. Jones to Camagu. 'If you fight against these wonderful developments, what do you have to offer in their place?'

"[Camagu replies] 'The promotion of the kind of tourism that will benefit the people, that will not destroy indigenous forests, that will not bring hordes of people who will pollute the rivers and drive away the birds.'

"'That is just a dream,' shouts Lefa Leballo. 'There is no such tourism.'"

This is the universal challenge of sustainable development faced by humanity today! This is the challenge before the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The Johannesburg Summit is about the construction of a global partnership for the environmentally sustainable social and economic development of the poor.

The decade since the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992 has seen the process of globalisation create unprecedented wealth, productivity and trade, while many developing countries, and Africa in particular, have been pushed to the fringes of the global system. Each year in the past decade an additional 10 million people have joined the ranks of the very poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For these people, the fine words of Agenda 21 has meant little.

The last decade was marked by unprecedented level of global concern for the protection of the Earth's fragile environment. South Africa is of the view that the Johannesburg Summit must negotiate a new global deal or partnership that brings the economic and social pillars of sustainable development back into the equation. Our watchwords are "People, Planet, Prosperity".

A new global deal on sustainable development is possible because of certain key international developments:

* the decision of the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 to halve world poverty by the year 2015;
* the World Trade Organisation's Doha decision to embark on a development round of negotiations; and
* the adoption of the Monterrey Consensus by the UN Finance for Development's conference, providing a framework for development financing.

The main task of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development is to focus on implementation plans. It must result in a programme of action whose elements will include access to fresh water and sanitation, access to energy, food security, health care, primary education and technology transfer.

For us on the African continent, this programme of action will be informed by NEPAD.

The formal intergovernmental negotiations will be paralleled by a wide range of side events, cultural activities, the Civil Society Forum, and many interest groups expressing their views and contributions on a sustainable future for the planet. These activities are where some of the real dynamism and creativity of the Summit will be expressed, and where most of the large number of people visiting the Summit will be engaged.

Parliamentarians from around the world will also be gathering in a special stakeholder event. Members of this House are playing a key role in facilitating this event. I would like to commend the role played by the Portfolio Committee and its chairperson, together with Globe South Africa, in promoting dialogue on the key issues to be addressed at the Summit.

Logistical preparations for the Summit are at an advanced stage.

Government has established a dedicated non-profit organisation, the Johannesburg World Summit Company (Jowsco) to manage these preparations. Jowsco is managed jointly by national government, the Gauteng Province and the Johannesburg Metro.

In preparing the logistics we have paid careful attention to issues such as black economic empowerment, community participation and environmental best practice.

We aim to make the Summit "carbon neutral' by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and investing in forestry projects that will absorb the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions generated by Summit activities. Gauteng is leading the project to "green" the Summit, and I would like to commend MEC Mary Metcalfe for her visionary role in this regard.

The three spheres of government are also jointly making key financial contributions to running the Summit, with a total government contribution of R200m. These funds are being leveraged with donor and corporate sponsorships to make up the total Summit budget of R551m. I would like to give special thanks to those sponsors who have generously assisted South Africa to pull off a major event of this scale. In all, we aim to leverage the national government's budget of R140m four times over. We estimate that this will bring at least R1,5 billion into the South African economy, in addition to the benefits associated with branding, imaging and tourism, which are less easy to quantify.

Madam Speaker, the preparation time South Africa has had for this Summit has been extremely tight. I am nevertheless confident that all our arrangements are on track, and that we have both the capacity and commitment in our management team to do this country proud in hosting this Summit. We look forward to hosting you, Madam Speaker, together with other members of this House, in Johannesburg, and hope that we can continue to rely on your support in the complex preparations for the Summit over the next few months.

The Johannesburg Summit takes place at a time when South Africa's position as a world tourism destination continues to strengthen.

The year 2002 started well for tourism to South Africa, with a growth of 3,7% in foreign arrivals in January. The monthly figures show an increase of 18 479 compared to January 2001.

The growth occurred largely out of the UK and Germany, two of South African Tourism's high-priority markets. Growth from the UK was 14,6%, and growth out of Germany was 14,7% for January 2002 compared with January 2001.

While there was growth out of China and Thailand off a lower base, the biggest gains for Asia were made from India, with a 18,2% increase. Total tourist arrivals out of Africa increased from 362 794 to 374 269 (up 3,2%), despite arrivals from Lesotho continuing its downward trend. The downward trend of Lesotho arrivals has been continuing for the past three years following the restructuring of the gold industry.

Total tourist arrivals in 2001 were 5,78 million, compared to 5,87 million in 2000. The arrivals for the rest of Africa in 2001 increased from 2 668 407 to 2 836 637 (up 6,3%). Total arrivals, without Lesotho, in 2001 was 4 504 585, which is higher than 2000 by 185 697 (up 4,3%).

Arrivals for the year 2001 from the UK grew from 349 652 to 356 759, an increase of 7 107 tourists (up 2,0%). The year 2001 also showed growth out of the East, with Japan up 8,5%, China up 3,2% and India 7,9%. The Netherlands showed the results of continued market activation by the trade in growing by 5,4% in 2001.

Travel patterns out of the USA, one of South African Tourism's keys focus areas, were dominated by September 11. Growth out of the USA pre-September 11 was 2,31%, with 124 153 arrivals up to the end of August 2001, compared to 121 344 arrivals in the same period the previous year. However, again reflecting global experience, the year ended with an overall 2,4% decrease in US arrivals (170 611 compared with 174 728 in 2000).

Domestic tourism remains the bedrock of our tourism industry. The country's domestic market attributes some 67% of the total South African industry and contributes more than R16 billion of the R24,5 billion generated from the combined and foreign tourism spend.

During the period April 2000 to May 2001, 15 million South Africans undertook more than 34 million domestic trips, providing a R9,7 billion boost to the economy.

During President Mbeki's official visit to China in December last year, President Jiang Zemin agreed to grant South Africa the coveted "approved destination status". This places South Africa among only 17 countries of the world that can be promoted as a tourism destination in this huge market. Moreover, South Africa is only one of two countries enjoying this status outside East Asia.

One of the projects which lie close to my heart is ensuring that our country fully exploits the benefits of e-business to leapfrog into the new millennium.

I am proud to say that South African Tourism will launch a state-of-the-art e-business platform at the Tourism Indaba this weekend. It will place us up there among the best in the world and will bring great benefits to provinces and business.

I would like to express appreciation to the tourism industry for the strides being made on quality control and consumer protection. The Tourism Grading Council of SA, appointed by Cabinet in September 2000, has already graded 700 establishments as part of the Star Grading System. An establishment is awarded stars by registered assessors. Of the 33 assessors registered by the Council, 18 are historically disadvantaged individuals. The star grading is the only system recognised by government and the Tourism Business Council.

Black economic empowerment and the promotion of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises continue to be an integral part of government strategy. Last year a record 138 black-owned enterprises were represented at the annual Tourism Indaba. This year the number will increase by 23% to 193.

Madam Speaker, in order to realise higher levels of growth in tourism, we need to increase the number of tourists to South Africa; we need to find ways to increase how much tourists spend; we need to get a broader geographic spread; we need to decrease the seasonality patterns and we need to make more conscious efforts to ensure that tourism growth creates opportunities for empowerment.

[. . . snip . . . Ooh this is interesting]

The creation of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal has consolidated 16 parcels of land into a single world heritage park. To date 87 expressions of interest for the investment opportunities in the park have been pre-qualified. It is expected that contracts will be concluded in the course of this year.

South Africans can truly be proud of the success in the sustainable use of our valuable marine resources. Not only are our fish stocks among the best managed in the world, but it is also a sector in which very satisfactory advances have been made in transformation, transparency, fairness and black economic empowerment.

I am pleased to report that in 2001 the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism took its most confident step yet towards resolving the issue of black economic empowerment and the role that it should play in the allocation of commercial fishing rights.

The first phase of the rights allocation process was completed in February 2002.

Throughout the process, the Department was mindful of the allegations of corruption, racism and nepotism that have for decades plagued the allocation process. Indeed, one of the Department's most significant achievements has been to establish a fair, rational and transparent system for allocating rights -- a system that has been praised by a wide range of stakeholders in the fishing industry.

Furthermore, a preliminary analysis of the Department's allocation records indicates that the South African fishing industry has transformed into an industry that reflects a high degree of black economic empowerment, both in terms of asset ownership and employment equity, specifically at senior management level.

[. . . snip . . . It's still long as hell... but hang on a bit, it's getting interesting again]

Madam Speaker, the Deputy Minister will in her speech address, among others, matters related to pollution and waste management.

The recent period has been characterised by heightened awareness among South Africans about waste management and the litter that pollutes our living spaces. The publication of draft regulations almost two years ago proposing a prohibition on the production, trade and distribution of thin plastic bags had the effect of focusing the public mind and, in particular, that of industry on the problem of litter.

Today, having taken into account, the results of an extensive consultation process, we promulgate regulations ending the free-for-all in the production and distribution of plastic bags. Rather than a blanket prohibition, the product is subject to regulation. The regulations place a lower limit of 30 microns on the plastic bags, and prohibits advertising on bags thinner than 80 microns. Acceptable industrial tolerances, SABS standards and acceptable levels of printing will be developed in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry. An important challenge is the need to promote collection and recycling. Consideration is therefore being given to a new tax on plastic-bag production in order to subsidise collection and recycling in accordance with the polluter-pays principle. In order to ensure sufficient time for implementation, these regulations come into force 12 months from today. We believe that this approach takes into account the main concerns of labour and industry and, at the same time, achieve the anti-litter and anti-waste objectives of broader society.

[. . . snip . . .]

I thank you.

Issued by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 9 May 2002

Comments

Read what you will into it, but the prevailing sentiment (for lobbying ministers as well as the general public) is, and always has been, pro environment.

I can't catch all the nuances of the speech, frankly, and realize that the then minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism was in favor of the N2 toll road from the beginning; but it has to be said that eco-tourism and the N2 toll road do not go hand in hand.

The aim of bringing roads, water, and electricity to the people of the area is a noble one, but the fact is that the targeted area is /very/ sparsely inhabited by humans; yet is at the same time an internationally recognized bio diversity hotspot with almost twice as many plant species as the Kruger National Park... in a fraction of the area.

Opening up this area to tourism and industrialization, with roads and infrastructure, can only lead to population influx and commercial development right in the heart of the Pondoland Centre of Endemism.

That must not be allowed to happen - as it would inevitably destroy our children's eco-logical heritage.

That is indeed a true fact. We pump carbon dioxide into the air faster than the production of oxygen by forests. We destroy the earth as we develop. I hope people understand the seriousness of this issue. Thanks a lot for the update.