The Committee met to discuss its programme for the upcoming terms of Parliament, the minutes of proceedings at the previous meeting, the issue of rhino poaching and the amendments to the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Amendment Bill.
The meeting started with a discussion around an issue that had been brought forward by a member of the public, who felt that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) should deal with the issue of rhino poaching. Members gave their input, and agreed the Department should include their plans on how they intended to deal with rhino poaching in their next presentation.
The Committee Secretary briefed the Committee on its programme and the minutes of proceedings. The programme was planned for the next two terms. She did not go into detail with the programme, but rather gave an outline of the programme. Some of the highlighted issues were the Committee’s activities, their last meeting for the term and their site visits. Members stressed the importance of having stakeholders involved and all agreed on the adoption of the programme. Corrections were made to the minutes, and Members raised concerns about not having received documents on time in the past.
The DEA briefed the Committee on the amendments to the ICM Bill. Some of the amendments dealt with the ownership of land by foreigners, and accessibility of the land to people who had no ownership, or where only certain people had access to it. There were also amendments to the definitions of terms used in the Bill. The Minister added that Members had to remember that the Bill was all about transformation -- not only transformation in the environment, but among the people. People wanted to access land that they did not have access to before. She hoped the Bill would be adopted.
During discussion on the Bill, some Members expressed confusion on the process of the Bill and said they would have to consult legal advice on the matter. However, the Chairperson reminded them that the briefing was only a matter of informing the Committee of the changes, and no formal debate had to take place. The majority of the Members seemed satisfied with the Bill, and proceeded to adopt the amendments made.
Introduction by the Chairperson
The Chairperson opened the meeting and reminded Members of the environmental awareness conference that would be taking place in Peru. He explained how Members would be selected to attend the conference -- they would be selected according to the number of votes each party had received in the election.
Ms T Stander (DA) commented on the issue of rhino poaching that had been brought forward to the Department. She suggested that an inquiry be set up to find out what the Department had done to deal with this issue. She reminded Members that South Africa was a tourist destination, and this should give the Department even more reason to try and stop the poaching. It is not only an emotional issue, but an economical one as well.
Mr A Mngxitama (EFF) suggested that a broader conversation on the issue would be a more suitable approach, rather than looking to the Department for answers. It did not seem as if people were aware of the kind of effect rhino poaching had, especially those that were affected. They needed to involve the public in conversations where the issue was being dealt with.
The Chairperson replied that a broader conversation was indeed needed, because people were not aware of the effects of killing the rhinos. Poaching had now become similar to organised crime, and people simply did not report it because they lacked the necessary knowledge.
Briefing on draft programme of the Portfolio Committee
Ms Tyhileka Madubela, Committee Secretary, said she would not be going into detail because the programme has been made clear. However, the draft presented to the Committee might change due to unforeseen circumstances, although it had been drafted with the intention that it would not change.
The Committee would be taking a break before meeting again in the next term. In addition, she mentioned some of the activities that the Committee would be taking part in, including site visits and attending events related either to the Committee or to Parliament.
Mr P Mabilo (ANC) said he supported the programme, and added that the Committee should not allow political parties to try to take over certain issues. The notion of having an inquiry should not be accepted. The Department should rather be allowed to present on how they had dealt with the rhino poaching issue.
Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) agreed with Mr Mabilo on supporting the programme.
Mr T Hadebe (DA) responded Mr Mabilo comments, saying the rhino poaching issue was a matter brought forward by a member of the public, and was not an issue from the DA.
Ms Stander said relevant stakeholders should also get involved in the conversations that had been suggested, and show how they were planning, or were dealing with rhino poaching. It was not only the Department’s responsibility, and all stakeholders had to show commitment to solving the issue.
The Chairperson replied that the Department should include their plans on how they intended to deal with rhino poaching in their next presentation. He agreed with Ms Stander, and commented that the stakeholders operate within the communities where communities also become part of the decision-making processes and this has allowed them to build close relationships with the people. They, therefore, are in a much better position of convincing the public to engage in conversations relating to the environment and report on poaching incidents.
Ms Madubela said that Members were aware of the proceedings in the minutes, and read out the agenda of the meeting as well as the names of those who were present, those who were absent and those with apologies. The minutes went into the details of amendments to documents and spelling mistakes. The recommendations of the Committee were also recorded.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) made a correction to the spelling of her name.
Ms Stander asked if Members would be receiving the amended documents before the actual meetings took place.
Mr Hadebe commented that in the past they received their documents late, and he wished that the matter could be dealt with.
Ms Maluleke proposed the adoption of the minutes, to which the Members agreed.
The Chairperson then welcomed the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, and officials of her Department, to the meeting.
Briefing by Director General on amendments to the Integrated Coastal Management Bill
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General: Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and other representatives from the DEA presented on the amendments to the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Bill. She was assisted by Adv Radia Razack who went through some of the reasons for the amendments in the Bill. Some of these reasons were the issue of land being owned by foreigners, the sea being transformed -- through drastic procedures -- into land, the collapse of coastal houses, and ensuring that land was state-owned.
A big part of our coastal land is owned by foreigners who do not agree with the changes that the Department proposes. It had become a difficult issue because there was a lack co-operation from the owners. Also, many parts of the land have restricted access, so many people did not have the opportunity to enjoy what it offered, due to these restrictions. Adv Razack suggested that the land should be state-owned so that there could not be so much privatisation.
Pictures were showed during the presentation to explain why the amendments had to be made in order to address these issues. In the past, there had been incidents where coastal houses had collapsed, and Adv Razack said that they could have been prevented if the necessary steps had been taken beforehand. The ICM sought to achieve that, and this was why they needed the co-operation of land owners. The collapse of houses into the sea not only hurt the people involved, but the sea life as well. Preserving sea life was a priority for the Department, and as the Committee had already mentioned, South Africa had become a tourist attraction and so it made sense to preserve it.
Amending the Bill meant that certain definitions were needed to clarify and expand the provisions on reclamation, to revise offences and increase penalties, to simplify and amend powers relating to coastal authorisations, to simplify the administration of coastal access fee approvals, to remove the power to exclude areas from coastal public property, to clarify coastal public property and the ownership of structures erected on and in coastal public property, and to limit the renewal of dumping permits.
The Minister added that Members had to remember that the Bill was all about transformation -- not only transformation in the environment, but among the people. People wanted to access land that they did not have access to before. She hoped the Bill would be adopted.
Before the discussions began, the Chairperson reminded the Committee that they had already made comments on the Bill, so this was an opportunity for Members only to get clarity, or to support the amendments.
Mr Bonhomme commented that the amendments were clear.
Mr Mgxitama said they would need to be assisted with the report, because some of the amendments might not be clear. The report had to be specific when the term “benefit” was used -- how exactly would the people be benefiting from the Bill, and would the public have an opportunity to engage in discussions relating to the Bill?
Ms Stander asked what was meant exactly when “the mediation is binding.”
The Chairperson responded that mediation is binding when both the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) can not agree on the provisions of the Bill. Therefore, amendments have to be made so that the Bill can proceed and be adopted.
The Minister reminded the Committee that the Department’s responsibilities included aqua-culture, marine transport, oil and gas elimination and poaching. Aqua-culture involved preserving sea life by limiting the spill of oil and gas into the sea.
Ms Stander asked for clarity on why the Bill was changed, and whether they would receive the latest version of the Bill with its amendments.
The Chairperson responded that changes needed to be made because the Bill was in the mediation stages, and it was binding; both Houses of Parliament could not agree with each other on the Bill.
Mr Mngxitama expressed his concern over the lapse of the Bill, saying that the EFF would be seeking legal advice on the matter and what exactly it indicated when a Bill lapses. He asked how the Bill could have lapsed if the Committee had agreed on the changes that had been made, because the Committee was part of Parliament. The EFF did not agree with the notion that a Bill could lapse without it being presented to the NA and NCOP first.
Mr Mabilo said he supported the amendments made by the Department.
Ms Stander also agreed that the Bill had followed the correct processes, and she supported the amendments too.
The Chairperson thanked Members and staff for their time and asked for closing comments.
The Members indicated that they all understood the presentation’s processes, and were satisfied with the amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
- International Environment Agreement (2013-2014) Annual Report to Parliament
- Revival of National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill, [B8F-2013] (ICM Amendment Bill)
- National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill [B8-2013] presentation