The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs had been scheduled to receive a briefing from the Department of Environmental Affairs on the Panel Experts Report looking into the issue of compliance with the minimum emission standards; the status of application for postponement by industry with minimum emission standards (MES); and the status of Air Quality in South Africa. These briefings were however cut short due to load shedding which interrupted the power supply to Parliament buildings.
The Committee agreed that it was impossible for the session to proceed without electricity because any meeting of Parliament needed to be recorded for the public record. Also, the presenters could not make use of the projector or microphones, neither could copies of the documents be reproduced without electricity. The Chairperson commented that load shedding was really affecting Parliamentary business and imagined how much worse it must be for businesses.
The Chairperson further announced that he had just received “some good news” from the Director-General and the panel of experts, which changed the situation quite dramatically and significantly concerning the briefing and matters the Members had raised. This meant that the day’s briefing was no longer necessary.
The Chairperson apologised for arriving late on account of being held up while dealing with other matters. He welcomed Mr Olebogeng Matshediso, Deputy Director General: Atmospheric Policy, Norms and Standards, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Dr Tsakani Ngomane, Deputy Director General: Climate Change and Air Quality, and the rest of the delegation from the Department. He commented that he was glad to note that even though there was scheduled load shedding in the area, the Parliamentary chambers had not been affected possibly due to the fact that it was a national key point.
The Chairperson proceeded to give the apologies of the Director General (DG) of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, who was attending critical meetings in Durban, the Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, and the new Minister for Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, who was unwell and recuperating at home. The Chairperson also announced that Ms Mokonyane would also be unable to attend the COP Climate Change conference, but would instead be represented by Minister Derek Hanekom.
Dr Tsakani Ngomane introduced the rest of her delegation and gave the apologies of the Minister, Deputy Minister and Director General. She gave an outline of the presentation before the electricity cut out.
The Chairperson commented that it is impossible for the session to proceed without electricity because any meeting of Parliament needed to be recorded for public record. Also, the presenters could not make use of the projector or microphones; neither could copies of the documents be reproduced without electricity. He continued to comment that load shedding is really affecting parliamentary business and he imagines how much worse it must be for the business industry and that “the rest of the country gets to a standstill when there is no electricity.”
The Members agreed with the chairperson that it was impossible to proceed.
The Chairperson announced that the following day was the last day in the current parliamentary schedule. It was also impossible to schedule the meeting to the following day because there was a parliamentary caucus in the morning and in the afternoon.
The Chairperson announced that he had just received “some good news” from the Director-General and the panel of experts, which changes the situation quite dramatically and significantly concerning the briefing and matters the Members had raised. This meant that the day’s briefing was no longer necessary. He proposed that the Committee Members return early from the parliamentary recess next year to tackle the matter between the South African National Parks (SANParks) and private reserve owners.
Mr S Makhubele (ANC) added that the Committee schedule would need to be looked at for planning purposes.
The Chairperson apologised to those who flew in from different parts of the country, specifically the representatives from the Western Cape Provincial Department, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), and the civil society.
Dr Ngomane said she appreciates the Committee’s indulgence and said success on the various matters depended largely on the direction civil society takes on them. She proceeded to invite the members to attend the COP Climate Change Conference and gave an assurance that the Department was more than ready for that important conference.
The Chairperson suggested that the Members return the files given to them at the start of the meeting so that the Committee Secretary can update the files in light of the latest developments, so that when they return from the recess, the files will be returned to them.
Mr Makhubele agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal on the files.
The Members unanimously agreed with the proposal to adjourn the meeting.
The Chairperson wished the Department well in their participation at the Climate Change Conference and announced that three members of the Committee would be in attendance including himself. Other Members of Parliament (MPs’), who were not members of the Environmental Affairs Committee, would also be in attendance. He added that the Committee would plan on how to handle the Legacy Reports.
The Chairperson thanked everyone and wished them all a wonderful festive season.
The meeting was adjourned.