The Committee met with the legal team from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to pass the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment (NEMLA) Bill 3 and the National Environmental Management Waste Amendment (NEMWA) Bill, bringing to a close a long passage of amendments and deliberations to these key pieces of legislation. The opposition Members abstained from voting, because they did not have the time to caucus the pieces of legislation with their parties.
On NEMLA 3, the Committee voted on the Bill and all clauses, and it was adopted on a majority vote.
The Committee also adopted the National Water Amendment Bill and all its clauses on a majority vote.
After going through NEMWA one more time, the Committee noted a number of further, although largely minor, amendments which needed to be made. With the DEA legal team making these amendments on the spot, the Committee proceeded to vote on each clause, thus adopting the Bill and all the clauses on a majority vote.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that a letter to the Speaker was on the Order Paper for today and asked Members to let their parties know what that was about. This letter was to request permission to allow the Committee to continue with the Committee Bill.
The agenda for today’s meeting would see the Committee voting on, and passing, three pieces of legislation -- the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill (NEMLA) 3, the National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Bill (NEMWA) and the National Water Amendment Bill. There was also a resolution to go through. If the Committee finished all this work today, they need not meet tomorrow.
Two Members from outside the Committee joined to form a quorum. The Opposition was abstaining at this stage as they had not had a chance to process the Bills through their caucuses yet. This did not mean the opposition Members were not in support of the legislation. The Chairperson was adamant that this be made clear.
NEMLA 3: Third amendment Bill – clause by clause voting
The Chairperson emphasised that even though Members were abstaining, they could still discuss the Bill.
The Committee voted on each clause, thus approving clauses 1 to 32. There were six votes in favour and three abstentions for each clause up until clause 6. Thereafter a Member of the Opposition, arriving late, joined the Committee and from clause 6 to 32 there were six votes in favour and four abstentions.
The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill 3, in its entirety, was passed with 6 votes in favour and four abstentions. The Chairperson again made it clear the abstentions did not mean the Opposition Members were not in support of the Bill.
The Chairperson congratulated the Department, saying that this was good legislation. Whoever started the new administration would have laws working a little bit better.
National Water Amendment Bill – clause by clause voting
The Committee voted on each clause, approving clauses 1 to 7. There were six votes in favour and four abstentions for each clause.
The National Water Amendment Bill, in its entirety, was passed with six votes in favour and four abstentions.
National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Bill
The Chairperson went through this Bill carefully, as new amendments had been made since the Committee last met to deliberate on the Bill.
On clause 1 (g) there was a rearrangement of the wording of the definition of “re-use”. The definitions would now read: “’re-use’ means to use the whole, a portion of, or specific substance, material, objects from the waste stream for a similar or different purpose without changing the form or properties of the articles”.
On clause 1 (i) (iii) the definition had been slightly amended to read: “where the Minister has, in terms of section 74, exempted any waste or a portion of waste generated by a particular process from the definition of waste”.
Under the same clause, (i) (iv) had been amended to read: “where the Minister has, in the prescribed manner, excluded any waste stream or any portion of waste stream from the definition of waste”.
On clause 2: “section 4 of the principle Act is herby amended by the deletion in subsection (1) of paragraph (d)”.
Mr F Rodgers (DA) asked how the Department would deal with the revision of the charges, going forward. He thought there should be something to deal with this. This was in reference to clause 7, section 13B – application of pricing strategy.
Mr Alf Wills, DDG: Environmental Advisory Services, DEA, replied that the Money Bill would deal with this revision, otherwise a subsection could be inserted to deal with it.
The Chairperson asked the Department’s team to draft something quickly along the lines of “and to allow for the review of charges from time to time” for the Committee to vote on.
The amendment to 13B (b) would be made to read: “the determination of waste management charges and the allowal of renewal of charges from time to time”.
The Chairperson questioned the addition of “within the framework of the Public Service policy, legislation, determinations and circulars” under clause 13, section 34B (1).
Mr Wills suggested this wording be deleted.
The section would now read: “The Minister must, after consultation with the Bureau, determine and publish the policy within which the Bureau must exercise its powers and perform its functions”.
Amendments had been made to section 34D, “objects of the Bureau”. Under (e), the word “of” had been removed so the section would now read: “progressive building capacity within the Bureau to provide specialist support for the development and implementation of municipal waste management capacity and building programmes”.
Under 34D (f), the spelling error of “advice” would be amended to “advise”. Also in this section, the word “and” had been inserted between the words “capacity” and “building” for consistency with the amendment made to the previous section.
Amendments were made to 34E, “functions of Bureau”. In 34E (1) (c), the words “and capacity building programmes” would be inserted at the end of the section and the words “and disincentives” would be added to the end of 34E (1) (f).
Under clause 13, section 34H (1) was slightly amended to read: “The Bureau must, in each financial year, or on before the date determined by the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act N. 1 of 1999), submit an annual report on its activities and a statement of its income and estimated expenditure for the next financial year to the Minister or Director General for approval”.
Under clause 13, section 34 K, functions of the Chief Executive Officer, there would be an insertion of a catch-all phrase under 34K (1) (e) to read: “and any other function provided for under this Act”.
Mr Rodgers questioned -- under functions of the CEO -- the limiting of “acting” positions, especially that of the CEO.
Mr Ishaam Abader, DDG: Legal, Authorisation & Compliance Inspectorate, DEA, indicated that the Public Service Act did not place a limit on the amount of time a CEO could be acting.
The Chairperson said that in reality, people were often in acting positions for a long time.
Mr Rodgers commented that the DG of the Department of Water Affairs had been acting for more than six months.
The Chairperson replied that the problem was that disciplinary procedures often took longer than six months. He suggested drafting something to limit the amount of time to six months for an acting CEO, for any reason other than a disciplinary matter. This would create some limitation to acting positions.
Mr Rodgers was pleased with this.
The title of clause 17 was amended to: “Transitional provisions in respect of any existing industry waste management plan”.
Under this clause, 17 (1) was amended to read: “Existing industry waste management plans approved prior to commencement of this Act are subject to the provisions of this Act, the waste charge pricing strategy referred to in section 13A and subsequent waste charge provisions and procedures of the Act referred to in section 13B”.
Under 17 (2), the word “who” had been changed to “that”.
Under clause 17 (12), the Chairperson asked why the plan would lapse after 30 days, and not immediately after non-approval.
Mr Wills explained that this allowed for the winding up of affairs.
On the Schedule 3: Defined Waste, the Chairperson explained to Members that the Department had now cleaned up the Schedule for the individual definitions of waste, especially where there had been duplication.
National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Bill: Clause by clause voting
The Committee voted on each clause, approving clauses 1 to 19. There were five votes in favour and four abstentions for each clause. The Bill was passed in its entirety, with five votes in favour and four abstentions.
Mr Rodgers noted it was Ms M Wenger’s last meeting with the Committee, as she would be undergoing knee surgery on Monday. He thanked her for all her assistance and advice.
The Chairperson said Ms Wenger was a huge asset to the Committee and he appreciated her open intellectual honesty, which had helped him as Chairperson. She had helped SA to be a better place through the work she had done.
He noted the Committee might meet in April to pass the Bills from the NCOP.
The Chairperson did not read through the resolution of the Committee on the Bills passed, as the document still needed work.
He asked Members to look at the Committee’s legacy report. His honest opinion was that the new administration never read these reports, so they were useless. When he was Deputy Minister of Justice, a long legacy report had been compiled but no one had ever phoned him to follow up on issues. Members should read the report in the context that no one would ever look at them and it would be passed by the end of March. He also asked Members to read through the rhino report.
He asked the Committee Secretary to draft a simple Committee report on the pieces of legislation passed and the Committee, in principle, would adopt this report with five votes in favour and three abstentions.
The Chairperson noted the Committee would not process the Water Research Commission Bill, due to time constraints.
The Committee would next meet in two weeks’ time to look at the Committee minutes and the two outstanding reports. This meeting would take place on Wednesday, 5 March 2014.
He asked that NEMLA 3 and the National Water Amendment Bill be debated together in the House.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked Ms Wenger to keep strong, and she was in the Committee’s prayers.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for their work on the Bills, which had been of a high standard. He asked that the DG be available for the Committee’s last meeting on 5 March to say goodbyes. He asked the Committee Secretary to draft an agenda for this day.
He thanked the Committee for their hard work, and the meeting was adjourned.
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