The Committee met to be briefed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development, and to adopt the ‘B’ version of the Marine Spatial Planning Bill.
The purpose of the DEA brief was to request that Parliament, in terms of Section 231 (2) of the Constitution, approve the ratification of the SADC Protocol. The DEA also indicated that it wanted clarity on whether the Protocol would be processed based on Section 231 (2) or Section 231(3) of the constitution. The Committee asked for the difference between processing under the two Sections, the implications of Section 231(2) processing, and whether this would involve public participation. The Committee resolved to seek legal opinion to clarify if the SADC Protocol should be processed under Section 231(2) or Section 231(3), and the implications.
The DEA stressed the vital issue was for the Protocol to come into force. If South Africa, as the Chair of the SADC, ratified the Protocol it would send signals that South Africa priotised it, as it would contribute to the regional industralisation strategy and action plan, which would promote sustainability.
The Committee wanted the DEA to take the Committee through contents of the Protocol, as it had about 46 Articles. Members would appreciate a better understanding to ensure informed decisions could be taken. However, as this had not been part of the DEA’s brief, it resolved to prioritise a meeting with the Department early in the next term to deal thoroughly with the matter.
The Committee also considered the adoption of the final text, or ‘B’ version, of the Marine Spatial Planning Bill. After it had been confirmed that all the amendments as captured in the A list had been incorporated in the final version of the Bill, it was adopted as amended.
SADC protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development
Ms Judy Beaumont, Acting Director General: DEA, said the purpose of the Department’s brief was to request that Parliament, in terms of Section 231 (2) of the Constitution, approve the ratification of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development. She gave a brief background and objective of the protocol.
The Chairperson asked her to clarify if the DEA briefing would also deal with the Mercury Protocol.
Ms Beaumont replied that she had not been aware that there should be a brief on the Mercury Protocol during the day’s meeting. She would seek clarification from Mr Mark Gordon, Deputy Director General: Chemical and Waste Management, DEA, and revert back to the Committee.
She continued that the DEA needed clarification on whether the SADC protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development would be processed in Section 231 (2) or Section 231(3) of the constitution. The DEA was processing the Protocol under Section 231 (2), but the Committee was processing it under Section 231(3).
The Chairperson asked for the difference between processing it under the two Sections.
Ms Beaumont said the State Law Advisor could assist with the differences, but Section 231(3) of the constitution dealt with the technical administration of international agreements of an executive nature, while Section 231(2) of the constitution was more aligned to international agreements that were of a conventional type. A climate change convention would be processed under Section 231(2), but this protocol was a treaty under the SADC, so the DEA needed clarity.
Ms Veounia Grootboom, Senior State Law Advisor, said that the Section 231(2) process would require Parliament’s approval, while the Section 231(3) process would only require the Protocol to be tabled in Parliament.
The Chairperson asked for the implications of a Section 231(2) processing, and whether it involved public participation.
Ms Grootboom replied that it depended on Parliament’s rules. Also, for the ratification to be binding, Parliament needed to indicate how it should be done.
The Chairperson commented that the Paris Agreement had been ratified through Section 231(2) processing without public participation, and said that the Committee would get an opinion from the legal department to confirm what processing method to take.
Mr Stuart Mangold, Director: Africa and Bilateral Relations, DEA, indicated that the legal opinion from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) favoured a Section 231(2) processing.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mangold to confirm if there was public participation.
Mr Mangold said that there had been no public participation during the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation meeting.
He highlighted the background, the objectives, what the protocol covered and the specific objectives. The SADC protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development had been signed by President Zuma on 18 August 2014, at the 34th SADC Summit held at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The objective of the Protocol was to promote sustainable utilisation and trans-boundary management of the environment. The Protocol covered environmental issues such as climate change, waste and pollution, management of chemicals, bio-diversity and natural heritage, sustainable land management, marine and inland resources, as well as cross-cutting issues on gender, science, technology, trade and investment.
The specific objectives of the Protocol were to enhance the protection of the environment; promote equitable and sustainable use of natural resources and the environment; promote shared management of trans-boundary environment and natural resources and promote effective management and response to impacts of climate change and variability. The protocol facilitated harmonisation of policies, strategies and legal frameworks to enhance regional coordination of environmental management, as well as regional integration and provided a legal framework for trans-boundary environment and natural resources.
The protocol should come into force 30 days after it had been ratified by nine member states. However, only one member states had ratified the protocol. To demonstrate commitment to strengthening regional efforts to conserve trans-boundary natural resources and promote sustainable development in SADC, South Africa, as the current Chair of SADC, intended to ratify the protocol.
Mr Mangold said the Protocol was in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and was consistent with Section 24 of the Constitution, which entrenched the right of everyone to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. He outlined the different steps taken in the ratification process, the benefits of ratifying the SADC environmental protocol, the implementation plan, and the implications and recommendations of the DEA on the protocol.
The Chairperson asked him to take the Committee through contents of the Protocol itself.
Mr Mangold said the DEA had not prepared a brief on the contents of the Protocol itself, but he could prepare a brief in a few minutes and present it to the Committee.
The Chairperson said he thought the purpose of the brief was to take the Committee through the contents of the Protocol, as it had about 46 Articles that addressed the Protocol. Members would appreciate a better understanding to ensure informed decisions could be taken. He sought an opinion from the Acting Director General.
Ms Beaumont apologised for not taking the Committee through the contents of the Protocol, but said that this could be done.
The Chairperson requested that another meeting be scheduled to take the Committee through the contents of the Protocol, article by article. Mr Mangold had provided the Committee with only an overview. It would be unfair to Members to receive the Protocol now and interrogate it immediately, so the Committee should follow the normal process of sending the brief to Members ahead of time, and find a date for a briefing to get their views.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) asked for a response on the timeframes for ratification before Parliament approves. If the Committee needed to interface with other relevant Committees for assistance, it must be made aware of this. He asked what had led to the slow processing of the Protocol by other SADC countries.
Mr Mangold said that there did not seem to be a timeframe for ratification of the Protocol. Only one member state had signed the Protocol ratification, and the vital issue was for the Protocol to come into force. If South Africa, as the Chair of the SADC, ratified the Protocol it would send signals that South Africa priotised it, as it would contribute to the regional industralisation strategy and action plan which would promote sustainability.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee schedule a meeting for the DEA to give a brief on the Protocol as soon as it resumed in the next term. The Committee should have been taking through the contents of the Protocol ratification process. The DEA should send the brief on the Protocol’s contents to Members’ early to ensure that an early date to interrogate the brief could be scheduled. It was vital for South Africa to ratify the Protocol to demonstrate leadership during its tenure. However, after the Committee ratified the Policy it still needed to go through the Parliamentary processes.
Marine Spatial Planning Bill: adoption
The Chairperson asked Members to move to the next agenda item, which was the Marine Spatial Planning Bill adoption. The Committee had actually approved the Bill, but had been advised that it had to adopt the final text called the ‘B’ version, since it had only approved the A list. He invited Members to check if anything was missing in the Bill.
Mr R Purdon (DA) said that he had not studied all the amendments, but a brief scan showed that all amendments had been incorporated.
The Chairperson asked Ms Grootboom to confirm if all the amendments on the Marine Spatial Planning Bill had been incorporated, as agreed.
Ms Grootboom confirmed that all amendments in the A lists had been incorporated into the Bill before it was sent to the printers, and the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (OCSLA) was satisfied with it.
The Chairperson asked Ms Radia Razack, Director: Legal Services – Law Reform, to confirm if the DEA was satisfied with the amendments.
Ms Razak confirmed that the DEA was satisfied with the amendments.
Mr M Mabika (NFP) sid that although he had been away when the process started, he was satisfied that the Committee had made all the amendments needed.
Ms J Edwards (DA), Mr Makhubele, Dr Z Luyenge (ANC) and Mr T Makondo (ANC) all agreed that all amendments had been incorporated.
The Chairperson observed that all Members and relevant stakeholders had indicated that the Marine Spatial Planning Bill was a true reflection of the amendments.
Mr Makhubele moved the adoption of the ‘B’ version of the Bill.
Mr Mabika (NFP) seconded.
The meeting was adjourned.
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