PC Environmental Affairs: Adoption of Minutes

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

11 November 2014
Chairperson: Mr S Mabilo (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs was supposed to brief the Committee. However, this engagement was postponed because the Minister, her Deputy and the Director-General were unavailable to attend. Instead, the Committee considered and adopted the minutes of two previous meetings. Some discussion was held on whether the Committee’s catering was considered wasteful. It was decided this was a logistical matter. Members also discussed the idea of the Committee leading an initiative for a more “green” Parliament. 

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson 
Ms Tyhileka Madubela, Committee Secretary, opened the meeting by asking for nominations to appoint an Acting Chairperson in terms of Rule 130 of the National Assembly.

Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) nominated Mr S Mabilo (ANC).

This was seconded by Ms J Maluleke (ANC).

The nomination was accepted, and there were no further nominations or objections.

The Chairperson noted that he had visited Mr J Mthembu at his home in Witbank over the weekend and he was recovering very well and was in good spirits.

Apologies

The Chairperson noted that the Department was supposed to brief the Committee today but the Minister could not attend as she was attending the National Climate Change Dialogue in Johannesburg. The Deputy Minister was in Australia with the Director-General and the Department did not want to send junior officials to brief the Committee.

The Chairperson noted that the four-day dialogue on climate change commenced the previous day and was taking place at Gallagher Estate. There were 12 African countries participating with 600 delegates in attendance. He was afforded the opportunity to present a paper on behalf of the Committee and this was well received. The conference allowed for a clear position and understanding for those heading to COP20 in Lima, Peru.  

Ms H Kekana (ANC) was also absent as she was recovering from an operation.

Adoption of Outstanding Minutes

Committee Minutes Dated 21 October 2014

The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration.

The Committee noted minor amendments related to spelling and incorrect initials of Member’s names.

One of the matters arising from the meeting under discussion was Ms T Stander (DA) raising the issue of catering. Mr T Hadebe (DA) felt this was a critical issue for the Committee to consider. The Committee needed to ensure it saved as much as possible to lead by example. 

The Chairperson thought this was a logistical matter for the Secretariat to sort out.

Ms Maluleke was concerned by the job losses from reduced catering. The Committee needed to think twice about dealing with such issues.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) noted the concern from this particular meeting was around wastefulness. The point of the Member was not that there should be no catering but rather that the Committee needed to be considerate to prevent wastefulness.

Mr Hadebe agreed with Mr Makhubele. The appeal was for the catering arrangements to be considerate of the exact number of attendees to cater for and, for example, not to cater for lunch when the Committee was just meeting for the morning. The point was to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure on catering. 

The Chairperson understood the spirit of these concerns but the Committee could not get involved logistically. It was also important to be balanced and not punish Members as this was part of the privileges to enjoy.

Committee Minutes dated 21 October 2014 were adopted with minor amendments.

Committee Minutes dated 28 October 2014

The Chairperson tabled the docment for consideration.

The committee minutes were adopted without amendments.

Other Matters

Ms Stander reminded the Chairperson that she wanted to see the Committee’s budget for Members to see what was happening in this regard.

Ms J Steenkamp (DA) suggested that the Committee initiate a green project for the Parliamentary precinct next year. It would also be useful to receive a report on what projects of this nature already existed. 

Mr Makhubele thought the Committee could rather request the Department of Environmental Affairs to undertake such a project on the precinct of Parliament because the capacity of the Department in this regard was bigger than the Committee’s.

The Chairperson thought the essence of the idea was well captured.

Ms Steekamp clarified that she did not mean that the Committee should run the project but rather that the Members should initiate such an idea as the Environmental Committee. It went without saying that the Committee could not run projects on its own.

Mr Hadebe added that the Committee could encourage less unnecessary printing of documents but rather for Members to use their i-pads. It was important for the Committee to lead by example.

The Chairperson highlighted this was an ideal for the Committee to work towards.

Other Committee Business

The Chairperson highlighted the Committee would be holding its last public hearings for the week from 24 – 28 November. He asked Members to avail themselves for these hearings.

Ms Stander thought it was unacceptable that the Committee programme was decided weeks ago and the Department could not meet its obligation for today’s briefing. She asked when the agenda item would be dealt with.

The Chairperson already noted apologies at the beginning of the meeting. He wanted to avoid dialogue as all outstanding matters would be addressed next week.

Mr Hadebe asked for clarity around the representations for the public hearings.

The Chairperson noted this was the Committee’s public hearings so all Members were to be present.

Mr Makhubele added the public hearings were no different from other Committee meetings – the only difference was the location.

The meeting was adjourned.

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