The Western Cape Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism met virtually with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) for a briefing on the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill which included background; overview of related legislation; process followed; objects and provisions of Bill; and way forward.
The discussion between Members and DMRE covered participation of black persons and the stipulation of the minimum of 10% black ownership; petroleum companies being predominantly white-owned and/or foreign-owned; limited black and/or local ownership; state participation set at 20%; the current legal standing for exploration and production of gas and petroleum in South Africa; challenges within the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and "once empowered; always empowered"; contested percentages afforded to black participation during public consultations; assigning a minimum threshold to reporting discovery of petroleum and gas; protection for the environment and rehabilitation funding.
Further discussion was on efforts to broaden the base of people benefiting from this legislation; community beneficiation; the impact of mineral exploration such as environmental degradation, change in the economic landscape of communities and generational poverty; interplay between the Bill and Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA); benchmarking comparison with other countries; penalties for those not adhering to their rights for exploration, discovery and licensing; share classes and voting rights; limitation of dilution to 30%; linkages to South Africa’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; climate change impact on infrastructure planning for petroleum sector; role of the legislation in the integrated energy plan; disposal of waste products during exploration phase; and protection of landowners from petroleum exploration infringement.
The Committee discussed the way forward for the Bill. The National Council of Province (NCOP) programme for the final term before 2024 elections stated that public hearings on Bills were to be held in February 2024, with negotiating mandates completed by 5 March 2024 and final mandates due on 19 March 2023. The Committee would have four public hearings and advertising calls for public comment would stretch through January 2024.
The Chairperson noted they would receive a briefing from national government on the Bill. She had received apologies from Mr I Sileku (DA), who had asked Ms W Kaizer-Philander (DA, Alt) to stand in for him, as well as from Ms C Labuschagne (DA), Western Cape permanent delegate to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), as well as the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill [B13B-2021]: DMRE briefing
Dr Nkhesani Olga Masekoa, DMRE Chief Director: Mining and Petroleum Policy, explained that Upstream Petroleum development means exploration and production of oil and gas. Development of petroleum resources is currently regulated under Chapter 6 of the MPRDA but its provisions do not sufficiently address pertinent matters required for the development and growth of the upstream petroleum industry. The Bill is meant to strengthen upstream petroleum provisions and presents a value proposition for South Africa.
An overview of related legislation: The Minerals Act 50 of 1991 defined oil and gas resources as minerals but there were no dedicated provisions. In 2002, the MPRDA moved oil and gas provisions from the Minerals Act as an appendage to mining. In 2021, the Department started the process of developing the Bill. The process followed included:- Research and benchmarking; Drafting of the Bill and consultation with relevant stakeholder; In November 2019 Cabinet approved Bill to publish; Gazetted for public comments in 2019. Since gazetting there has been broader stakeholder consultations, redrafting, constitutional certification, cluster consultations, submission to Cabinet, submission to Parliament in June 2021 and published for comments in June 2022, and deliberation and adoption by the National Assembly on 26 October 2023 before passing on to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The objects of the Bill are to: Recognise the internationally accepted right of the State to exercise sovereignty over all the petroleum resources within the Republic; Give effect to the principle of the State’s custodianship of the nation’s petroleum resources; Promote equitable access to the nation’s petroleum resources to all the people of South Africa; and Substantially and meaningfully expand opportunities for black persons, to enter into and actively participate in the upstream petroleum sector and to benefit from the exploitation of the nation’s petroleum resources (see document).
The Chairperson commended DMRE on how they had presented the Bill.
Mr L Mvimbi (ANC) thanked DMRE for a comprehensive, enlightening and well-crafted presentation. He had two questions on section 30 or 31 that had to do with the participation of black persons, as well as with the participation of the state. He saw that when it came to black persons, it said that the minimum was 10% ownership. What formula informs that? How did DMRE arrive at 10%? He thought it should be more but there might be convincing reasons for 10%. The black population probably amounted to more than 80% of the population, but of course there might have been a good reason why it was put at 10%. On the involvement of the state, there was a figure of 20%. If the state was the custodian of the country’s mineral resources, would it not be better for DMRE to propose at least 50% state ownership? He knew that in corporate law the percentage ownership also had to do with voting rights.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) referred to the historical evolution of this legislation. Outside of the DMRE starting to annex petroleum and gas legislation, had there not been any legal standing about gas and petroleum exploration or production in South Africa? What is giving legal grounds for the current gas exploration in the country such as in Mossel Bay and Central Karoo?
On black participation, is not the notion of “once empowered, always empowered” raised as one of the challenges within the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) process? It gave a falsified impression about the BBBEE status of an entity, which could include fronting if such a blank cheque were provided. Had DMRE provided a basis for such a principle in the petroleum and gas environment in this particular Bill? How would it avoid repeating such a limitation on the noble intent of black participation? Lastly, what is the extent of contestation given how the notion of government allowing black participation percentages has been contested in the public discourse. The presenter mentioned it had been contested during public consultation.
Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) said that it was clear that the Committee was dealing with a significant piece of new proposed legislation. He referred to the term “discovery” and “commercial discovery” of petroleum products and the obligation to report any discovery within five days. He had an issue with “discovery” as one could have various quantities. When one sniffed some gas through one's probes, would even the minutest presence of fossil fuels or fossil products be seen as a discovery? Should there not at least be a minimum threshold above which this should be reported to DMRE?
Secondly, as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Environmental Affairs, he knew that whilst fossil fuels had brought huge financial benefits to a number of countries, and even to South Africa through the Mossgas plant when it was still operational and the reserves that existed at the time were still accessible, that the use of fossil fuels was highly controversial. He asked for an indication of what protection there would be for the environment – apart from the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). For example, South Africa had legislation that money should be set aside for rehabilitation once a mine closed down.
The exploration of petroleum did not always lead to the same level of environmental disruption, but there should also be the ability to have money available once petroleum and gas exploration and production had closed down, that the environment should be restored – yet he did not see rehabilitation funding provided for in this legislation. On the effort to broaden the base of ownership or people benefiting, it seemed as if the same few people might take up these percentages and just increase the gap between those that had already benefitted from such schemes and those that would forever be excluded because they were not able to contribute capital and buy shares into ventures of this nature.
Ms Nkondlo added that she had not heard about community beneficiation. She was raising this because one of the big issues Members had seen in mineral exploration was the protest from communities about the environmental degradation, the change in the economic landscape of those communities, and generational poverty that remained and poor people did not benefit. Some dispensation has to be declared as part of the legislation as well as obligations of those who took this up. Had this been included in this legislation?
The Chairperson asked if there would be interplay between the Bill and the MPRDA? Does this mean that the regulations that deal with gas and oil under the MPRDA will fall away and be replaced by this new Bill? On the benchmarking comparison with other countries such as Congo, what were the findings on what this Bill should be doing? Does the Bill define the difference between deep and shallow waters? This was important to consider, particularly for the country’s international security.
She wanted to understand if there were punitive measures stipulated in the Bill for those who acted outside of their rights for exploration and discovery and licensing? If not, why not? She also wanted to get a better understanding on the classes of shares. Does it provide any voting rights, particularly for a petroleum entity? She asked why dilution was limited at 30%.
Dr Masekoa replied that section 31 referred to participation by black persons and section 34 by the state. Mr Mvimbi’s view was why limit the shareholding of black persons to 10%. One of the considerations that DMRE made in participation in ownership was the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA) had done some work to look at the cost and besides the cost, the intensive nature in which this exploration took place. There were five phases of upstream project development which was the exploration, appraisal, feasibility studies, project development, and production. The analysis DMRE had done was just to have a petroleum right, for example, in onshore would cost US$451. DMRE believed that 10% of that as a minimum would at least be reasonable, but those that had enough capital could participate more than 10%. It was not limited to 10%.
It was the same for the state – it was 20%, but it was a minimum. DMRE knew that right-holders would have spent a lot of money on this development of the resources. DMRE believed that when the state had a company, they also had a right to participate on their own. It did not limit them. However, at the beginning of this process when the state would be part of the shareholding, they would probably learn a lot and be in a position to acquire petroleum rights on their own. 20% was found to be reasonable looking at the amount of capital that was required, as well as other issues required such as environmental authorisations; there was a lot. DMRE believed that if the state were given that fair initial participation, from there they could increase as they wished.
On the legal standing of petroleum resources, oil and gas had been regulated from 2002 using Chapter 6 of the MPRDA, and DMRE believed that because of its intensive nature and the complexity of the oil and gas sector, and its economic value, it was important for them to have dedicated legislation.
He noted concerns were raised about fronting and the BBBEE Act. Even in the mining context, the “once empowered, always empowered” had always been an issue and DMRE had had court challenges about that. DMRE had learned from the mining industry where 26% shareholding was prescribed by the MPRDA to be compliant and there was the issue of black people entering and just leaving, and then the right-holder would need to replace them and their shareholding would not be said to be compliant. In this Bill, DMRE is saying that if the black persons exited the right, the right holder still complied with that transformative imperative or with transformative credentials. So DMRE had sort of circumvented that in this Bill. DMRE was learning from the mining experience and making sure that in this Bill they provided that once a right-holder had empowerment from black people, if they exited, that the empowerment credentials remained compliant up until the term of the right has ended.
In terms of percentage black participation, consultation relating to the communities or contestations raised within that petroleum right, and where communities raise issues and they are not attended to, section 19 of the Bill provided for consultation by PASA. This meant that when the right-holder had submitted the application to PASA, PASA had 30 days to ensure that within that period they notified and invited the communities and did a consultation with those communities or interested and affected parties. It might be that the interested parties are investors from overseas or it might be communities, that is why DMRE spoke to interested and affected parties. That consultation was meant to address issues that the communities or parties around the area might have raised.
If there was no agreement, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy could appoint a Petroleum Resource Development Committee in terms of section 21 that would then address those contested issues raised by the concerned parties until they are resolved. The production or development of the resources does not proceed up until there is an agreement. Section 20 provided for an alternative consultation in that the applicant must go into those communities or into areas where there are interested or affected parties and do a consultation. The same process was followed in the event that there were contestations or issues were still being raised. That committee would then also be appointed to ensure that those issues were resolved. So DMRE had learned that consultation was a contested area, and they were trying to ensure that that was fully catered for in this Bill.
On community beneficiation, one of the objects of the Bill was to ensure that it provided for local content and there had to be the development of a strategy to enable skills development. There should be local recruitment and national participation through the supply of goods and services. One of the critical areas for DMRE that would form part of community beneficiation was that the petroleum right-holder had to ensure that they procured goods and services in those areas. They also had to ensure that they created skills programmes to ensure that the community around there was empowered as this was also an area of development which was a bit technical. Those who had the skills should not go into communities and leave them without imparting knowledge in terms of petroleum resources.
Ms Stella Mamogale, DMRE Director: Mining and Mineral Policy, replied if fossil fuel would be seen as a discovery. DMRE knew that there was a debate going on – oil and gas were classified as fossil fuels, however there were benefits in the exploration and production of gas as it was known that gas emitted less greenhouse gases. So, for DMRE “discovery” referred to oil and gas as this legislation was dedicated to the exploration and production of oil and gas.
On penalties for those acting outside of the right, indeed, there were punitive measures. Section 102 in the Bill provided for penalties, as well as section 103 which provided for administrative penalties for any person who failed to comply with the Bill.
On the Beaufort West gas that was discovered, she understood this as meaning the shale gas discovery discovered in the Karoo. Members were aware a moratorium was put in place by DMRE. One of the reasons for the moratorium was to allow for the development of regulations that would regulate the shale gas. Currently, the Departments of Environmental and Water Affairs were currently developing those regulations on shale gas.
Dr Masekoa replied about what environmental protections there were apart from NEMA in the development of petroleum resources. Section 87 in this Bill provided for a financial guarantee to ensure that there was rehabilitation. DMRE was of the view that the state could not carry the liability as there were challenges relating to this in mining. The liability had to remain with the right-holder to ensure that when the Minister issued a closure certificate and that there is compliance fully in line with their environmental authorisation before that certificate is issued. The financial guarantee had to demonstrate capacity and sufficient funds to ensure that closure process. That was another leg of protection that the Bill offered.
In answer to the question by Mr Van der Westhuizen about there being no effort to broaden the empowerment ownership level. She thought that DMRE had answered that question in another manner in saying that 10% was just the minimum. Members also had to remember that black persons could also participate on their own where the participation could not be diluted by less than 30% if they were getting into shareholding on their own. So there was an effort. That 10% minimum, DMRE believed, with the wealth gap in South Africa, would allow anyone with less capital or anyone with enough capital just to enter. If DMRE had put it at 50%, those with little or limited resources would not be able to enter the sector. However, the 10% at least was a starting point. Those with more could be allowed to enter into empowerment transactions of more than 10%, up to 50%, to whatever level they could at any percentage. Those were efforts that DMRE believed the Bill offered.
On what would happen to the MPRDA regulations on oil and gas, DMRE had provided transitional arrangements and where there were other provisions which were new in this Bill, DMRE would develop regulations. There were certain things brought into this Bill that would require them to develop regulations. DMRE would migrate existing regulations which were still relevant to the new Act once it was enacted.
On the metrics of the research, DMRE had looked at similar jurisdiction in terms of licensing, administration, and funding. Off the top of their heads, the DMRE team could not remember exactly. Obviously, South Africa’s context would be different about empowerment and transformation – that was a unique environment which DMRE would not really be able to benchmark. However, for technical and related matters South Africa could not have done without benchmarking.
On the limited dilution, indeed, if the ownership was up to 10% DMRE believed that there should at least be a limit for those that wanted to exit. This was so that even the right-holder, if they had the desire to still add on the 5% to remain with 10%, it was not like they were starting from scratch. The basis of the dilution was also related to the amount of work that needed to be done and the amount of capital that needed to be raised. The main reason dilution would be allowed was when the black persons wanted to raise capital. That was the only reason mainly that DMRE would allow dilution. There were various dimensions that DMRE looked at, but it believed that dilution should be limited. There was a view that perhaps DMRE should do intra-dilution, but that was not something that DMRE could control because these were empowerment transactions within commercial terms.
Mr Mvimbi thanked DMRE for their answers. He had a follow-up on 10% black ownership. If one looked at most petroleum businesses in the country, most of them where white-owned. There was actually minimal to almost no existence of black ownership in the petroleum industry. It was not only white-owned, but it was also foreign-owned. Petroleum operators in South Africa were not only predominantly white, but they were also foreign-owned. There was completely limited ownership of not only black people, but also of local South Africans. It was really in that context that he was raising the 10%. He asked that it be explicitly stipulated in the Act that it was a minimum of 10% up to more than 50%. He feared when petroleum owners and operators negotiated, they were very hard negotiators and they would always pin black people to that 10% and nothing more.
The Chairperson reminded DMRE about the question on share classes and voting rights, particularly to black persons. She further asked what linkages there are to South Africa’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global COP27 commitments, which would probably be revised quite soon with COP28. How might climate change impacts require changes in infrastructure planning for the petroleum sector and has this been considered in the Bill? Why is there no mention of climate change in the Bill? Also, she was not clear about the role of the legislation in contributing to integrated planning around energy, particularly for the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP). Lastly, what clarity is needed in the management and disposal of petroleum extracted during the exploration phase of applications, given the concern about the potential duration of exploration rights?
Dr Masekoa agreed that there was definitely a dominance of white companies and foreign companies in South Africa when it came to petroleum resources. That was why there was a need for DMRE to ensure that there was black participation. If one looked at the current Chapter 6 and the way it was crafted, there was not going to be any participation or allowance for black entrants in the sector. Obviously it was related to the old dispensation that was dominated by other people rather than black. However, the minimum of 10% was clearly allocated and it said, “undivided participation.” She thought that if DMRE said, “up to 50%”, DMRE was going to be interfering with commercial terms of business.
If they said a minimum of 10%, people could go up to 90% depending on their pocket. In that way, DMRE believed that that would open the market for black entrants. Members were not to forget that there was another section which spoke to black persons entering on their own. The Minister would also designate blocks, so there were a lot of avenues in this Bill that allowed for black participation because those blocks that the Minister would advertise were only for blacks. Also, they were blocks that would be advertised to ensure security of supply, which would also be opened for black people on a first-come first-serve basis. DMRE was of the view that in terms of black empowerment this Bill tries to open up the market.
On COP27 and climate change, the exploration of gas and oil would have to comply with carbon emission and environment legislation. Indeed, DMRE worked with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) on environmental authorisation. DMRE was not the competent authority and the DFFE worked closely with them. That was why all applications would go to the DFFE and it would be able to cover all avenues related to climate change and the environment.
Dr Masekoa replied that black persons would definitely have voting rights in the structure of their ownership.
The IEP spoke to energy security from petroleum products in the downstream. Members were to remember that DMRE was talking about oil and gas production in the upstream and the products became petrol, oil, and diesel in the downstream, where they became part of the energy planning value chain. If there was no exploration of oil and gas, the products would suffer on the other end and the security of supply of energy sources would be a challenge. That was how DMRE understood it.
Ms Mamogale replied that all applicable legislation would cater for the disposal and management of oil and gas during exploration and production. This would be administered and taken care of under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008 and health and safety legislation.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that he still had a concern about rehabilitation once exploration had stopped. DMRE was quite right that money had to be set aside or petroleum companies had to provide for a pool of funds to rehabilitate after exploration. What the Committee often saw was that the initial company was quite profitable, and it was often a subsidiary of a big international group because this kind of work required vast sums of capital investment which often South African companies did not have. However, as the profitability of the company went down and they had skimmed off the cream, they then sold the subsidiary to another company, and it sold it to a third smaller company and so it would continue until eventually it went bankrupt.
Could DMRE allay his fears and explain how one ensured that as the company’s financial position deteriorated that the pool of money set aside for the final rehabilitation is ring-fenced and therefore safe. His impression was that it remained the same company passed on to a smaller and smaller holding or parent company so there was no change in the rights. The rights remained with that original company as it was passed on from one parent company to another and one was then left derelict.
Secondly, unlike in the past, the water and minerals below the land now belonged to the state and not to the owner of the land. Members sometimes heard the landowner say that they had no control over what was happening on their land when it came to mining the resources below the surface. What protection would there be for a landowner so that their own activities are not infringed on? Members knew about the fears that ground water resources in the Karoo might be irrevocably damaged by shale gas exploration. To what extent will Members be able to assure the landowners that they will not be in a worse off situation once petroleum and other minerals are exploited from that land?
He requested the Committee be served with a copy of the MPRDA and its amendments since 2002 so the Committee was able to see which sections would now be repealed or amended by this Bill.
Dr Masekoa replied about how DMRE ensured that the pool of rehabilitation funds was safeguarded as subsidiaries moved from a bigger company to a smaller company and sometimes the issue of liability arose. Section 28 spoke to the transferability of the incumbent right. That provided how the right or ownership could be transferred if a company moved from one to the other. It was a process that was prescribed that included PASA and the Minister. It was a whole long process and nothing was left to chance in terms of that. The ring-fenced money was linked to the right and not the company, and because the right had ring-fenced that rehabilitation fund they would have to ensure that DMRE or PASA would monitor the use of the ring-fenced funds to ensure that there was no liability left unattended on land or offshore where the production was happening.
Linked to that was the closure certificate which was a whole process that was monitored step by step, up until there was transferability. On liability, the state had learned a lot from mining because they had around 6 000 sites that the state had to rehabilitate. So DMRE was making sure that they did not have that issue again. DMRE would provide the Committee with the MPRDA.
Dr Masekoa replied about protection so that a landowner’s activities were not infringed or left worse off than before there was the exploitation of the petroleum resources. Consultation was very important to outline all the concerns the landowner would have which had to be addressed before there was any activity by the petroleum right-holder.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that he heard the assurance that landowner’s rights would be protected but he asked if the Committee could perhaps just get the clause in which provision for that was made. The same with the ring-fenced money. As he had said, it was not as if the right would be transferred to the new owner. It was the company that would be transferred to a new parent company. There would not be any changes to the registration of shares – so DMRE would perhaps not even pick up that a company was being transferred to another holding company. How would DMRE then ensure that ring-fenced amount was protected to the very end? He did not see that and asked if DMRE could point him to such a clause to allay his fears.
The Chairperson told the Committee that if there were any follow-ups this was not the Committee’s first engagement with DMRE and the Committee would meet with them again. However, Members could also make a resolution for follow-up information if necessary.
Dr Masekoa replied that the ring-fencing of the financial guarantee would be done in line with NEMA. In terms of administration, section 84 spoke to the issuing of closure certificates and section 84(8) spoke about the financial provision process.
In response to Dr Masekoa asking to repeat the land question, Mr Van der Westhuizen said that the Committee was assured that there would be consultation with the landowner. Could the Committee get the clause ensuring that such consultation was protected?
The Chairperson replied that it was section 19 and 20.
The Chairperson thanked DMRE for the time they had taken to meet with the Committee, brief them, and to start getting their brains thinking about all things upstream. She excused the Department officials.
Way forward on Bill
The Chairperson pointed out that the NCOP had provided the provincial legislatures with a programme for bills. The public hearings, if the Committee chose to hold hearings, should be held in February 2024. The negotiating mandate should be completed by 5 March 2024 and the final mandate was due on 19 March 2023.
She asked if the Committee should have hearings, and if so, how many public hearings and where. She suggested the Committee move ahead with four hearings in Mossel Bay, Beaufort West, Cape Town and Saldanha given the prevalence of upstream in those communities.
Mr Van der Westhuizen supported the Chairperson’s proposals. The one on the West Coast could be even slightly more north or perhaps an extra one on the West Coast as this exploration often went with seismic activities which in the past had caused a lot of concern from fishing communities dependent on the sea for their livelihoods. He strongly urged that the Committee engage with the public there. The Committee could call for written comments and perhaps the type of response might guide it and also about the role players that had indicated interest in this legislation.
Ms Nkondlo supported these proposals. Whilst there was no exploration in the Metro, the financing was in the main in the city because all those explorations would indirectly have to be financed by the banks and the commercial sector – over and above what government or other funds were available. Since it was a technical bill, it was important to consider the experts and perhaps the Committee could in addition have a more targeted approach with direct invitations.
The Committee had done this with the Copyright Amendment Bill where the Committee had some academics from Stellenbosch University and others. It was important because it also enriched Members as lawmakers. If the Committee ended up being subjected to only the views of the technocrats, it limited the Committee’s understanding, especially on the nuances of these bills.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Nkondlo 100%. The Committee had received guidance from Mr Van der Westhuizen and Ms Nkondlo on the way forward with public hearings. Essentially, the Committee was happy with the four public hearings in principle but they would take guidance as well from the information received.
Mr Mvimbi agreed.
The Chairperson said that according to the NCOP programme, advertising should be placed between December 2023 and January 2024. She was personally not comfortable with running advertisements throughout December. Her feeling was that from January onwards people were back at their laptops and reading newspapers. The Committee had a choice between mainstream and community papers, as well as social media.
She mentioned some of the mainstream and community papers that the Committee had used for the Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill, as they struck a nice balance between regions and linguistic coverage. The publications were Die Burger, mainstream Argus, mainstream Die Son, mainstream Eikestadnuus, which could or could not be included as it was the Stellenbosch-Cape Winelands area, Oudtshoorn Koerant, Overberg Weslander, which was the West Coast, Knysna-Plett Herald, George Herald, Mossel Bay Advertiser, which were all Garden Route, Die Kourier, which was the Central Karoo area, Vukani, the isiXhosa newspaper, and Hermanus Village News. She wanted to check in with Members and see if they were happy with that mix of print media.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that as much as the Committee wanted to support the regional newspapers, Committee budgets were under severe pressure. Therefore, the Committee could leave it to the Chairperson and the Procedural Officer after they had studied the budget and liaised with the administration. However, the minimum criteria were that an advertisement be placed in all three languages in newspapers that served those particular language groups and that they at least cover all newspapers that had provincial wide coverage in their distribution. So, perhaps not in all the smaller regional newspapers, but at least those that covered the whole of the Western Cape in Afrikaans, English, and isiXhosa. If there were additional funds available, the Committee could spread the word as wide as possible and support the regional newspapers.
The Chairperson noted the WCPP had used paid-for online advertising. The reach was significant and it was a more modern and up to date way of advertising but the cost was very high. However, she noted Mr Van der Westhuizen’s point and the dire financial place they were currently in.
The advert itself would request interested stakeholders to submit comments via email and WhatsApp, which included voice notes and messages, and that if stakeholders would like to make oral submissions at the public hearings, they should indicate that. WCPP communication sector would secure radio slots for broadcasting call for comments. She would provide voice notes that could be played on radio.
The Chairperson noted that the Media Officer, Mr Matthys Odendal, would provide a media plan once the advertising was finalised which would include posting on the WCPP social media pages as well as paid for social media advertising that the Committee had utilised before. She requested the assistance of the Public Education Office (PEO) with the public hearings. This list would include sending the advert to stakeholders, using the PEO network of community development workers, assisting with mobilising the public to attend the hearings and with transport requests to attend hearings.
Mr Thembalethu Keswa, Manager: Public Education and Outreach, PEO, replied that he was happy with most of that list. He also agreed with Ms Nkondlo on the targeted approach because this seemed a specialized kind of a bill. The PEO would definitely factor that in their request to mobilise participants.
The Chairperson requested that the Committee ask the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to send the advert and Bill to their stakeholders as a way for the Committee to broaden the reach, particularly to those who had specialised knowledge in the area. It would request the same from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (WCPP).
She noted that once the advertising period concluded, the Procedural Officer would have limited time to collate the voice notes, messages, emailed comments, requests for oral submissions and send to DMRE in order to collate the matrix of submissions for its responses.
Resolutions and Actions
The Chairperson asked for resolutions stemming from the meeting.
Mr Van der Westhuizen was concerned about the timeline and that the Committee would be under severe pressure to get their mandates to the NCOP. He had been told that the courts more than frowned on committees advertising between 15 December and 15 January. On the other hand, the Committee would like to give people at least 21 days to be able to prepare submissions. Could the Committee start advertising during the first two weeks of December, taking into account that people go on leave from 15 December to 5 January. At least they would have ample notice of a call for public comments. That was his suggestion for a resolution.
Secondly, for DMRE to provide not only the MPRDA and its amendments but also any socioeconomic risk assessments on the Bill as this was important information.
The Chairperson said that she was personally quite wary of advertising in December and her proposal would be that the Committee do the advertising from January to early February with the understanding that the Committee could continue advertising and public participation at the same time. She asked the Procedural Officer to comment.
Ms Zaheedah Adams, Procedural Officer, said that the Chairperson was correct – that was her line of thinking as well. The Committee could advertise in the first or second week of January and then extend the deadline for written comments into mid-February, when the Committee could possibly finish their public hearings.
The Chairperson asked if Members were happy with that approach.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that he was particularly concerned about advertising in the first two weeks of January when people were still on leave. Advertising in the first two weeks of January may be frowned upon by the courts as people may miss those advertisements. People also needed ample notice of intended public hearings and he was concerned about the timeline for 2024.
The Chairperson heard his concern about advertising and people being sufficiently informed ahead of time of the public hearings. She had the same concern but people might also be away in December. It was a “damned if you do, damned if don’t” situation. With the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill the Committee had advertised them at the beginning of January and still received sufficient responses. She thought that the Committee would get sufficient responses.
She thanked Members for helping her to interrogate this Bill. This was an interesting and exciting Bill, so Members would all enjoy getting their teeth into this one.
The meeting was adjourned.
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