Report of the Portfolio Committee
on International Relations and Cooperation on its Oversight Visits to the
International Conference Centre (ICC Durban) and the
The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, having
undertaken two oversight visits to
The oversight visit comprised a multi-party delegation as follows:
African National Congress
Mr HT Magama, Chairperson and leader of delegation
Ms C September
Ms L Jacobus
Mr E Sulliman
Ms RK Magau
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen
Mr M Booi
Mr S Mokgalapa
The support staff that accompanied the delegation was Ms Bulelwa Bottoman (Committee Secretary) and Ms L Mosala (Content Adviser). The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was represented by Mr Pieter Coetzee (Parliamentary Liaison Officer).
2. Background and introduction
The Committee conducted oversight on two major issues: the state of
readiness of the venue for hosting the 17th Conference of the
Parties (COP17) on Climate Change, the International Convention Centre in
2.1 The ICC Durban
The Honourable Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms
Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, briefed the Committee of the preparedness and readiness
of her department with all the processes in place for hosting the United
Nations conference on Climate Change, COP17, in
The Committee then resolved to conduct a verification oversight visit to have an inspection, in loco, on the readiness of the venue for the conference.
3. Outline of the process
The Committee’s verification tour of the facilities at the ICC Durban was divided into two major events: the first leg was dedicated to a tour of the conference facility where COP17 will be held; and the second part was the briefing by relevant stakeholders on the preparations for hosting the conference. The stakeholders comprised the management of the City of Durban, the ICC Durban management, Corporate Services branch (DIRCO) and the United Nations representation.
Thereafter, the Committee had a walkabout through the State Protocol
Lounge at the
4. The oversight process in detail
– On arrival at the ICC Durban, the Committee’s delegation was met by the municipal
manager of the City of
During the tour the Committee delegation noted the following with regard to the readiness of the venue:
· The site plan of the ICC Durban was approved as compliant to the United Nations’ specifications by the UNFCCC on 17 August 2011.
· The ICC Durban, as a venue, will be handed over to the UN on 21 November 2011. (Progress report is that the venue was indeed ready and handed over on 21 November 2011).
· The sheer size of the conference required that temporary structures be built. Bio-degradable material is being used to build partitioning walls at the venue.
· The venue is divided into three levels:
The lower level
· The lower level is a parking basement; it was being partitioned to host the UN VIP offices, UNFCCC staff offices, media and broadcasting services, country delegates, COP17 Presidency South Africa.
· The media centre will host 1100 accredited journalists.
· There were already 194 countries registered for participation and space is reserved for them on commercial basis.
· Security issues have been taken into consideration. There will be 200 South African security police on site; they will be complimented by 65 UN security team and additional security from the ICC Durban.
· In case of fire or any emergency, there is an escape route connecting the three levels of the conference venue. Fire marshals are on stand-by in case of need.
· The construction of the temporary units was not yet completed. However, the process of erecting the walls was reported to take 4 days, and the management was convinced the process will be accomplished on schedule.
The Red Zone
The UN has demarcated the area between
The registration of delegates will be placed at the park/city gardens. There will be a walkover bridge which will lead the delegates into the ICC Durban exhibition centre, which will have climate response units displaying kiosks local artisans, the African Union Pavilion, the main access point and VIP parking.
Authorised demonstrations and side events have been allocated space adjacent to the main venue area. Dedicated transport will collect delegates from the airport at a cost of R130 one way, and collect them daily from hotels to the conference venue and back.
The taxi rank on
Accredited civil society will be housed at the
The Blue line
The Blue line, which extends to the beach front, has been demarcated by
the city of
Security will be tight around the city, with lights along the pathways for delegates’ safety and security.
5. Briefing by the stakeholders
After the tour of the ICC Durban venue, the Committee was afforded a briefing with regard to logistics for hosting by different relevant stakeholders as follows:
Presentation by Corporate Services DIRCO
The Department reported that the estimated cost of the conference is R499 million. A budget for hosting exists, and there have been contributions from both the UN and the EU towards the running costs. A shortfall of R10 million has been detected and Treasury has been consulted on the possibility of overspending by the same amount. However, police services have agreed to cater for own needs. Protocol services for VIPs who will attend the conference were reported to be in place both at the airport and the venue of the conference.
The Department further explained that the demands of the UN for hosting were huge, in order to maintain the required standards for a conference of this magnitude. There is an agreed conference menu, detailing agreed standards and prices of services and selected items. The costs of services are kept at minimum to protect the delegates from unscrupulous vendors and businesses.
The Committee delegation raised pertinent questions relating to the hosting of the conference and sought assurances that there will be legacy projects left for the people in the aftermath of the conference; security will be adequate to handle any eventuality including surprise demonstrations; cost of the conference will be kept at minimum.
The integrated stakeholders reassured the Committee delegation that in actual figures of COP17 were kept at cost below that of hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. The service providers will also be monitored to keep the agreed service charter. The security sector will maintain a visible presence, the police will have foot patrols and streets and pathways will be well lit. Police will allow authorised activity by the accredited civil society; however, contingency plans are in place to handle surprise demonstrations. Other spin-offs from hosting has been the upgrading of ICT systems at rural schools around Durban; the city’s integrated transport system launched for the conference will continue operating between buses, taxis and bicycles between the railway station and city centre.
Legacy issues were taken into consideration in that all the contractors of temporary structures in the ICC Durban are South African companies; the Wi-Fi network installed in the ICC Durban for the conference, will remain behind as a property of the conference venue; trees have been planted throughout the country as a way of minimising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the city of Durban has embarked on carbon neutral projects which will remain with the local communities long after COP17. Tourism facilities stand to benefit a lot in that the bed and breakfast facilities have been taken on board with a requirement for certain standards.
The relevant stakeholders and the Department expressed their commitment
to deliver an African COP which will project a good image of
The United Nations representative in attendance in the briefing
expressed its satisfaction to the commitment the South African government has
on delivering a successful United Nations conference on climate change. The
fact that Parliament as another sphere of government has interest to ensure
that indeed all systems are according to the plan for hosting, was a much
appreciated gesture and a source for comfort on the part of the United Nations.
The signing of a Host Agreement with the Government of South Africa was a
confirmation of trust, contentment and demonstration of confidence that indeed
6. Pronouncements by the Committee
In the light of the extensive briefing, the Committee made the following pronouncements to the effect that:
b. Cost will be kept at a minimum, while not compromising the quality of the conference services.
c. The remaining construction of temporary units must be completed and the ICC Durban as a venue handed over to the United Nations on the set date of 21 November 2011.
lasting legacy must be left behind after the conference for the people of
e. Security must be enough and well geared for security requirements requisite of the magnitude of the conference. The security services must be ready to tackle surprise demonstrations that may disrupt the conference. The city must be kept safe and friendly to the delegates.
f. Tourism facilities must be monitored to keep the costs of services at a bear minimum as agreed.
g. The local beneficiation projects must be created and remain with the local communities around the city which hosted the conference.
involved in the hosting of the conference must remain integrated for the
duration of the conference to avoid communication breakdown as highlighted by
the city of
7. Conclusions on the ICC Durban
In the light of the briefings and discussions that followed during the tour of the ICC Durban, the Committee delegation came to a conclusion that the country is ready to deliver on time the venue over to the United Nations and hold a successful African Conference of the Parties to the United Nations conference on climate change.
8. The State Protocol Lounge at
8.1 Background and introduction
Travellers are all aware of the hassle and pressure associated with travel through airports. The consequence of this is that the international community established a practice to facilitate departures and arrivals of dignitaries through or into other states through airports. Requisite immunities and privileges are extended to the deserving dignitaries on arrival and departure at airports of host countries to ensure comfort, security, a good first impression about the country and its people, the seriousness with which relations with such countries are taken, and many more reasons.
Before the kickoff in
9. The Committee observations during visit
Since there was no formal introduction and guide through the facility, on its own the Committee noted the following:
a. There was a visible designation sign identifying the facility as a State Protocol Lounge.
portrayed the strong, imposing image and leading role
c. It embodied the UBUNTU principles that can be easily related to by foreign visitors.
d. There were official portraits of the president and relevant ministers.
e. There was a clear display of national emblems, mission statement, compliments and complaints’ channel.
f. The lounges have comfortable seating, though not complemented with light refreshments, fresh fruit, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. To release the stress of long flights, they are equipped with showers.
g. It could not be established whether there is Internet WI-FI connection, newspapers and magazines in various languages.
h. There was no information whether catering is complementary or a small fee is charged to recover costs.
i. There was no information as to the categories of VIPs assisted through the lounges, and the form of assistance is offered VIPs.
not be established whether there was an information kit on
k. The lounge’s interior is partitioned for privacy in case of more than one delegation.
l. It could not be established if there is good cooperation with airport security and national security (police, intelligence) on VIP issues; nor a visitor’s book to record statistics of VIPs handled through the lounge.
m. There is ample designated VIP parking and for VIPs’ personal vehicles.
n. Personnel must be visible, and easily identifiable with uniforms; they must distinguish themselves by being professional, courteous, diligent, patient, good communicators and have good interpersonal skills, show etiquette and be a good image and ambassadors for the country. They must be seamless in their operation in relation to dignitaries. However, they were very busy.
o. The lounge facilities are not yet up to the standard where they can make it user friendly. Many items are still not in place and the ambience is not welcoming as a result.
10. Conclusions on the State Protocol Lounge
In light of the number of things which still need to be done to improve the functionality of the Lounge; the Committee deduced that more effort is needed to enhance the usability of the facility. Since the protocol officers were preoccupied with transfers to the main terminal, the result was the divided/inadequate attention to the Committee on its verification mission. The Committee members even had to leave the Lounge early as the place was not user-friendly as yet. The Committee appreciated the practical experience of being offered courtesies on departure to the next destination.