The Committee heard three presentations by the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) and Environmental Affairs (DEA) on proposed amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, the National Environmental Management Laws Bill, and the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill.
The DRDLR said that the amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Bill provided for the reopening of the lodgement of claims for a period of five years, and described how the amendments would achieve this objective. The Democratic Alliance (DA) supported the reopening of the restitution claims on the basis that justice should not be denied because of poor communication and processes on the part of the state, prior to the 1998 deadlines. However, the DA's support for the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill was conditional on certain aspects which required amendment in order to ensure a process that would be orderly, fair, and transparent.
The DEA said that the purpose of the National Environmental Management Laws Third Amendment Bill (NEMLA) was to address the fragmented licensing mechanisms which were one of the key constraints to South Africa’s competitiveness in the global mining industry. The purpose of the amendment was to ensure the sustainability of state mineral resources, and sustainable economic growth. The DA did not agree with the “unique, illegal framework” of the Bill, whereby the Minister of Mineral Resources was made a competent authority for granting environmental authorisation for mines. Nonetheless, the DA still supported the legislative amendments to bring the environmental authorisation under the sole competency of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, and gave its support for the Bill.
The DEA said the amendments to the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill were intended to improve waste management in South Africa, to stimulate the recycling economy in the state, to provide much needed institutional capacity for the main-streaming of industry, and to integrate waste management plans. The state possessed a potential recycling economy of R50bn, with the potential to create 10 000 jobs per annum. The Department was seeking the transformation of the waste sector, the harmonisation of legislation, and the creation of viable economic instruments. While it predicted capacity challenges, the DA offered its support to the Bill.
The ANC raised questions regarding the revenue raised by the plastic bag levy, and the implementation of the carbon tax. The DEA responded by noting that the revenue received from the plastic bag levy was collected by the South African Revenue Service, and returned to the National Treasury. The carbon tax would be implemented in 2015 so as to ensure that the tax was aligned with other carbon emission reduction initiatives.
The Chairperson welcomed the departments to the meeting and highlighted the three items which were to be presented on. While Committee Members would be allowed to ask questions on the presentations, the responses by the departments were to be submitted to the Committee by Monday, 3 March 2014.
Briefing by Department Rural Development and Land Reform
Mr Thami Mdontswa, Deputy Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Department of Rural Development and land Reform (DRDLR) made the presentation to the Committee on the Restitution of land Rights Amendment Bill [B35-2013]. He provided the Committee with an overview of the restitution programme of the DRDLR by indicating where the programme derived its mandate from, what the Restitution Act provided for, and the criteria for those who wish to lodge a land claim.
As a result of the interactions the Department had had with various stakeholders, the Green Paper on Land Reform (2011) had restricted certain persons who failed to meet the deadline to lodge a claim from participating in the programme. The Bill thus proposed the amendment of the Restitution of Land Act to provide for the reopening of the lodgement of claims for a period of five years.
Mr Mdontswa then explained how the 14 clauses of the Bill would go about amending the Act in achieving its purpose. This included an amendment to the time frame allotted for lodging claims, the creation of an offence for a person who would unlawfully prevent a person from pursuing his/her rights in the Act, and where a person lodged a claim with an intention to defraud the state.
He described the means by which the DRDLR would increase its administrative capacity. This would include establishing 12 lodgement offices across South Africa; employing 304 additional staff members to assist in the lodgement of land claims; and partnering with universities and research institutions with regard to researching the claims, and skills transfer. He concluded the presentation by reporting on the consultations undertaken on the Bill by the DRDLR, and the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform. He added that all of the inputs were taken into account before the Bill was introduced in the National Assembly (NA) of Parliament.
Briefing by the Department of Environmental Affairs (1)
Mr Alf Wills, Deputy-Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) made the presentation on behalf of the department on the National Environmental Management Laws Third Amendment Bill (NEMLA).
He said that within the mining industry that there was an environmental management approach under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill. Any related activity to that operation was regulated through an environmental impact process in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). Any water-related waste activity would be dealt with under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. In that regard, the South African waste management system was fragmented, and the purpose of the amendment was to ensure the sustainability of state mineral resources, and sustainable economic growth.
The presentation thereafter highlighted the effects of the proposed amendments. The amendments would have an effect on, among others, the definition of environmental management, the authority afforded to the Minister, and how -- notwithstanding the Companies Act of 2008 or the Close Corporations Act of 1984 -- the directors of a company or the members of a close corporation would be jointly and severally liable for any negative impact their businesses would have on the environment.
Mr Wills said that the Bill should be ready for implementation by 8 December 2014.
Briefing by Department of Environmental Affairs (2)
Mr Mark Gordon, Deputy Director General, DEA made the presentation to the Committee on the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill, 2013. He said that the reason for the amendments to the Bill were to improve waste management in South Africa, to stimulate the recycling economy in the state, to provide much needed institutional capacity for the main-streaming of industry and integrated waste management plans, to provide much needed capacity at a municipal level, to implement aspects of the Waste Management Act, and to create innovative economic instruments to stimulate the recycling economy.
The state possessed a potential recycling economy of R50bn, with the potential to create 10 000 jobs per annum. DEA was seeking the transformation of the waste sector, the harmonisation of legislation, and the creation of viable economic instruments. In addressing the challenges faced in waste management, the DEA proposed the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau as an institutional mechanism for the implementation of the waste hierarchy of reuse, recycle and recover. The objectives of the Bill were to establish the Waste Management Bureau, provide certainty and understanding of definitions and concepts, and to address the processing and approval process regarding the integrated waste management plans and industry waste management plans. The amendments to the Bill, as they referred to these three factors, were highlighted.
Mr Gordon expanded on the topic of the Waste Management Bureau by noting its objectives. The Bureau would manage the disbursements of incentives and funds derived and allocated from waste charges for the minimisation and disposal of waste, monitor the implementation of waste management plans and the impact of incentives provided, and function as an implementing agent for the Department of Environmental Affairs in respect of matters which it would be delegated. The Bill would come into force immediately on the day of its publication in the Government Gazette by the President.
The Chairperson stated that the DRDLP intended to employ 304 individuals, but did not state what qualifications were required by those individuals. She added that when the Committee went on oversight visits, there would be an outcry that claimants had not yet received what they had claimed. She questioned the DRDLR on how it would meet its new goals, when it had not met those previously set.
Mr D Worth (DA) said that the Democratic Alliance supported the reopening of the restitution claims on the basis that justice should not be denied because of the poor communication and processes on the part of the state prior to the 1998 deadlines. However, the DA's support for the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill was conditional on certain aspects which required amendment in order to ensure a process that would be orderly, fair, and transparent. It was particularly conditional on:
• an intensive communication process to ensure that all those with a legitimate right would be made aware of the process and its deadline.
• there should be a limited claim window period during which claims could be lodged.
• persons who failed to meet the 1998 deadline would have to show good cause as to why their claims should be considered eligible in the reopened claim window.
• the claim verification process would have to be managed by an independent body, which would be appointed through a competitive bidding system.
• land claims commissioners would have to be appointed through a parliamentary procedure, rather than by the Minister.
• claimants and land owners were to receive state-funded legal assistance, as opposed to only claimants receiving such assistance, if it was necessary to challenge matters through the land claims court.
• the necessary funding would have to be made available in the medium-term expenditure framework, before the window was reopened.
• setting a six year deadline for the closure of the claims window for the settlement of all claims.
Mr Worth added that the DA also proposed measures to ensure that the productive farmlands would remain productive. If these amendments were rejected, then the DA would withdraw its support for the Bill.
On the issue of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment (NEMLA) Bill, Mr Worth thanked the department for it presentation. However, the DA did not agree with the “unique, illegal framework” whereby the Minister of Mineral Resources was made a competent authority for granting environmental authorisation for mines. Attempts to bring environmental authorisation for the mines under the competency of the Minister dated back to 2008, and had been repeatedly opposed by the Department of Mineral Resources. There was no logical argument as to why mines should be treated differently from other developments. Recent experience revealed that the environmental competencies of the Department of Mineral Resources were considerably weaker than those of the Department of Environmental Affairs. Despite existing laws that made the Minister for Mineral Resources the competent authority for the environmental authorisation for mines, there were various other components of mine development which still required approval from the Minister of Environmental Affairs. This had the effect of creating confusion, and was another reason why there should be a single competent authority. The DA still supported legislative amendments to bring the environmental authorisation under the sole competency of the Minister of Environmental Affairs. As some of the questions had been answered by the amendments, Mr Worth stated that the DA supported the Bill.
On the second presentation by the DEA, Mr Worth said that the DA supported the Bill. However, the DA foresaw capacity challenges, and the limited number of posts remained a concern.
A Member of the Committee raised a concern regarding the plastic bag levy, and questioned whether the levy was having its desired impact.
Mr Gordon said that the DEA had done assessment studies on the matter, and the results of that study could be made available to the Committee. One could observe across the country that the plastic bags which once littered fences, free-ways and cities were no longer there. The plastic bag regulations had made a positive impact, and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), together with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) would monitor their impact. The DEA had studies which proved that there had been a marked improvement in plastic bag litter reduction since the implementation of the levy.
The Member asked whether big businesses were seeing the plastic bag levy as a revenue stream. The original intention was that the funds would be put back into waste management.
Mr Gordon said that the plastic bag levy was collected through the South African Revenue System (SARS), and none of the funds went to the big businesses. The amendments created a way for the environmental sector to get more funds from the National Treasury to improve the state's waste management. The amendments were geared towards deriving more funds from the plastic bag levy and other environmental taxes, and to redirect them to more waste management projects.
Mr Worth added that the plastic bag was once South Africa's national flower. He also requested information on the project for the recycling of vehicle tyres.
Mr Gordon said that the tyre industry waste plan had already been in effect since June 2013. It was an effective mechanism for getting tyres recycled. However, there was a large backlog in the project, amounting to 65 million tons of tyres stockpiled.
Mr Will responded to the issue of the carbon tax by noting that the Minister of Finance had stated that the implementation of the carbon tax would come into effect in 2015 in order to align with other climate change and omission reduction initiatives.
The Chairperson concluded the meeting by noting that representatives of the provinces who were present at the meeting should take cognisance of the presentations on the Bills. They were to give the Committee dates by Monday, 3 March 2014, regarding their provincial briefings on the Bills. The Chairperson expressed the intention of the Committee to have the Bills finalised before Parliament recessed.
The meeting was closed.
- National Environmental Management Laws Third Amendment Bill [B26B-2013]: Presentation
- National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Bill [B32B-2013]: Presentation to Select Committee
- Briefing on the National Environment Management: Waste Amendment Bill
- Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [B35-2013]: Presentation to Select Committee on Land & Environmental Affairs
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.