Department of Environmental Affairs on Benguela Current Convention briefing; Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [B10B-2013]: adoption; Nomination to the National Agricultural Marketing Council

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

21 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms A Qikani (ANC; Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a briefing by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on the Benguela Current Convention on Environmental Protection and Conservation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem between the Governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

South Africa, Angola and Namibia had worked collaboratively since the decolonisation of this region, which stretched from Port Elizabeth to Cabinda in Angola.  The area was very rich in biodiversity, food production and mineral products, which were exploited by the people for their benefit.  The upwelling system made it the most unique ocean environmental area in the world and the DEA felt it was necessary to conserve and rehabilitate the area.  The legal framework had been negotiated from 2010 to 2012 and Angola, South Africa and Namibia had signed the Convention on 18 March 2013.  Namibia had ratified it in 2013 and the Commission would be established through the Convention when all three countries ratified.

The objective of the Commission was to coordinate the regional approach to the long-term conservation, and protection, rehabilitation, enhancement and sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem that provided economic and social benefits.  The Commission would give effect through the minimising and abating of pollution, and the protection of the marine and coastal environment against adverse impacts.  Other results would be the application of management measures, the establishment of mechanisms for data collection, the reversal and prevention of habitat destruction or alteration, the protection of vulnerable species and taking all possible steps to strengthen and maintain human and infrastructural capacity.  The institutional agreement between the countries was that the Secretariat would be based in Swakopmund in Namibia.    

Members asked what factors were creating the need for rehabilitation, who was exploiting mineral resources in the region, who was providing funding for the Convention, and whether there were plans to expand the agreements to other African countries.

The report on the Benguela Current Convention, tabled in terms of Section 231(2) was adopted.

The Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [B10B-2013] (National Assembly – Section 75) was adopted without amendments.  

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Environmental Affairs on Benguela Current Convention       

Mr Gcobani  Popose, Director of Ocean Conservation Strategy at the DEA, said South Africa, Angola and Namibia had worked collaboratively since the decolonisation of this region, which stretched from Port Elizabeth to Cabinda in Angola.  The area was very rich in biodiversity, food production and mineral products, which were exploited by the people for their benefit.  The upwelling system made it the most unique ocean environmental area in the world and the DEA felt it was necessary to conserve and rehabilitate the area.  The legal framework had been negotiated from 2010 to 2012 and Angola, South Africa and Namibia had signed the Convention on 18 March 2013.  Namibia had ratified it in 2013 and the Commission would be established through the Convention when all three countries ratified.

The objective of the Commission was to coordinate the regional approach to the long-term conservation, and protection, rehabilitation, enhancement and sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem that provided economic and social benefits.

Mr Popose outlined the principles of the Convention, and said the Commission would give effect through the minimising and abating of pollution, and the protection of the marine and coastal environment against adverse impacts.  Other results would be the application of management measures, the establishment of mechanisms for data collection, the reversal and prevention of habitat destruction or alteration, the protection of vulnerable species and taking all possible steps to strengthen and maintain human and infrastructural capacity.

The institutional agreement between the countries was that the Secretariat would be based in Swakopmund in Namibia.  Officials in the three different countries represented the Commission, and South Africa’s officials included representatives from the Departments of Transport, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Mineral Resources.  The Ministerial Conference, the highest decision-making body, would meet every two years.

Discussion
Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) referred to the rehabilitation that was to take place, and asked what the cause of the destruction was. 

Mr Popose replied there was a lot activity happening within the system for both the social and economic benefit of the people of the region, such as oil in Angola and fishing in South Africa, and this led to marine habitat destruction.   While the benefit should be exploited, there needed to be awareness of the environment from which the benefit was derived.

Mr Mokgoro asked what the major provision in the legal agreement between the countries was.  What were the mineral deposits in the region, and who was exploiting them?

Mr Popose replied that Namibia had diamonds that were being harvested along the coastal region, and the Commission had no power to tell individual countries not to look for economic benefits within the region.  There was also exploration for oil and gas reserves, which had been identified in this region.

Mr M Makhubela (COPE, Limpopo) referred to the financial section in the supporting document and asked, if the project was expected to flourish, why it needed a donor to carry some of the costs.  Was it not completely budgeted for?

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) echoed Mr Makhubela’s question, and asked if the R1.7 million was being paid by the DEA towards the maintenance of the office in Swakopmund.

Mr Popose said each country paid R1.7 million, which was basically to cover the salaries of staff and the executive secretary who would head up the office in Swakopmund.  Donor funding supported the science plans, and the Benguela Current Commission was currently funded by Norway with 9 million Euros, for a period of three to six years.   The time would come when the three countries would be totally independent of donor funding, but that would require a lot more financial contributions from the three countries.

Mr Mokgoro said there could be a lot of transportation of goods in the future from the western seaboard down south, and asked if there were any plans from the Ports Authority to develop Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape into a harbour that could receive goods.

Mr Popose replied that South Africa was perfectly located to be a transhipment hub to travel to any part of the world.  He did not have any information specifically related to the ports, but said if the economy was to be further developed, more strategic work needed to be done in areas like Port Nolloth, which was perfectly situated next to the border.   There could be a lot of collaboration with Namibia, and he hoped those that had the mandate to do so would start thinking along those lines.

Mr O de Beer (COPE, Western Cape) said the agreements seemed like a good initiative and asked if there were plans to expand these agreements outside the borders to countries such as Somalia, who exploited the minerals of the sea but did not have respect for research. 

Mr Popose said the problem with piracy was a negative factor, but collaboration between neighbouring countries like South Africa, Namibia and Angola strengthened surveillance and monitoring within the ocean environment.  There were no plans to include countries that did not really follow the principles entrenched in the Convention, but with future development and rehabilitation, piracy could be addressed.

Mr Mokgoro suggested that when the delegation presented to their department, they should state that a concern had been raised on whether the government was thinking of building a harbour in Port Nolloth.

The report on the Benguela Current Convention on Environmental Protection and Conservation of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem between the Government of the Republic of Angola, the Government of the Republic of Namibia and the Government of the republic of South Africa, tabled in terms of Section 231(2), was adopted.

The Chairperson thanked the DEA delegates for the presentation, and addressed the second part of the agenda.

Consideration and Adoption of the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [B10B-2013] (National Assembly – Section 75)

The Chairperson stated that this Bill had been dealt with before, but could not be adopted because there had not been a quorum.

Mr Mokgoro proposed the Bill be adopted, Mr Worth seconded the proposal, and the Bill was adopted without amendments.

Consideration and Adoption of Nomination to the National Agricultural Marketing Council

The Chairperson stated there had been one nomination from a Member of Parliament, for Dr Edwin Conroy.

Mr Mokgoro stated he had no objection to the nomination and Mr Worth seconded.

Mr De Beer asked if the Minister could send the outcome of the process to the Committee because there had been many nominations, but the Committee had not received any feedback.

Outstanding Committee Minutes

The draft minutes of the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs on 17 September 2013 and 8 October 2013 were adopted.

The draft minutes of the meeting on 15 October 2013 with the Department of Rural Department and Land Reform were adopted.

Sectional Titles Amendment Bill [B11 – 2013] (National Assembly – Section 76)
The Chairperson said she had received a request for an extension from Mpumalanga province on the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill [B11 – 2013] (National Assembly – Section 76). 

Mr Mokgoro said Limpopo province had requested a letter from the DEA that explained why the legal advisors had changed the Bill from Section 75 to Section 76.   They were also concerned that the programme of the days for public participation and public hearings had not been signed.  The letter had since been issued and Mr Mokgoro said he had confirmed with Limpopo province that the programme was valid.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and the meeting was closed.
 

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