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MINERALS & ENERGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
6 September 1999
THE NUCLEAR ENERGY BILL, AND THE NATIONAL NUCLEAR REGULATOR BILL
The Portfolio Committee was introduced to the documentation on the two bills that were carried over from the previous parliament. The Portfolio Committee agreed to meet on the following day to hear a more detailed briefing, before making any resolutions on how to proceed with the two Bills.
The Chairperson, Mr Duma Nkosi (African National Congress), welcomed the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs and Portfolio Committee members to the meeting. In addition, he welcomed the representatives from Industry who were present, acknowledging the importance of the Bill to them. Similarly, he welcomed the media and other representatives of public interest. The chair invited the Deputy Director General responsible for energy in the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, Mr Mokoena, to go through the list of documents in the file.
Mr Mokoena introduced himself, and Mr Gudmandz and Dr De Waal, from the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs. He noted that the state law advisors would only attend the meetings of the Portfolio Committee at later stages in the deliberations, as these initial meetings were to go over the work of the previous committee. The file, which each Portfolio Committee member had been given, contained all the documentation from the previous Portfolio Committee on the two Bills. The file included the tabled Bills, the resolution to postpone the Bills to the current sitting of Parliament, the public submissions received during the public hearings, and the work and proposed amendments carried over from the previous committee. Mr Mokoena recommended that the Portfolio Committee take a new resolution outlining how the work would proceed.
The Chairperson noted the presence of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Environmental Affairs and Tourism chair, Ms Mahlangu. The chair stated that the interaction of stakeholders with the department during the parliamentary break had been encouraged. The process was not completely closed. The Chair would like to see the two Bills completed by the end of 1999. He suggested that the two-day briefings would provide the various parties with the necessary information. The Portfolio Committee could then be given until after the September recess to look at the information. The Portfolio Committee could then start detailed deliberation in early October.
Mr Oliphant (African National Congress) thanked the department and Portfolio Committee staff for the excellent documentation and file. He noted the importance and value of having the same chairperson from the previous Portfolio Committee. He proposed that a resolution from the Portfolio Committee only be adopted the following day, for reasons of consultation. In particular there were two concerns. The first dealt with a need for flexibility in the Portfolio Committee activities. If an issue required clarity from a stakeholder, there should be clarity that the stakeholder can be asked to brief the Portfolio Committee. Secondly, clarity was needed on whether the Bills had been further consulted with the NEDLAC constituencies.
Prof Mohammed (African National Congress) requested clarity on the NEDLAC issue. He asked whether the Chamber of Mines had met with the National Union of Mineworkers on the independence of the regulator, and whether the new Bill would cover the gold mines. Further, he suggested that the Chamber of Mines, the Council for Nuclear Safety and the department should give a new briefing on the key issues in the Bills.
The Chairperson noted that detail on the issues would be dealt with the following day. However, he would like the Department to respond to issues on the interaction with the stakeholders since March.
Mr Lucas (Inkhata Freedom Party) noted that the new members in the Portfolio Committee should take a lead in determining the Portfolio Committee process, and they needed to catch up with the members who were part of the previous Committee in terms of information. The Inkhata Freedom Party had no problem with the resolution.
Mr Van Niekerk (New National Party) noted that he was a new member of the Portfolio Committee, and still needed to look in detail at the work of the previous Portfolio Committee. Therefore he would like to be able to leave the door open to raise issues later.
The Chair noted that the Portfolio Committee had a right to call any group before it to make presentations, or to raise any issue. Following on from the discussion in the Portfolio Committee, the Chair stated that he would draft a resolution and present it to the Portfolio Committee the following day. Both Bills had been formally re-tabled in Parliament, and were officially on the Portfolio Committee agenda. He asked the Department to comment on their interaction with stakeholders.
Mr Mokoena stated that since the 10 March the Department had been interacting with the National Union of Mineworkers, who had inturn been meeting with the Chamber of Mines. An initial agreement had been reached on the issue whether gold mines would fall under the new Bills. The mines would be covered, based on a co-operative governance arrangement between the Mine health and safety inspectorate and the new nuclear regulator. The agreement would be commented on the following day. In addition, the Public Finance Management Act had been passed, which would require changes in the Bills in terms of the flow of money. On the issue of the independence of the regulator, the Deputy Director General noted that in the previous Portfolio Committee the Minister had appeared before the Portfolio Committee to address the issue. The new Minister would similarly address the issue, and the department would therefore not make any comment.
The chair noted that in the previous deliberations, and after the initial concerns that the NEDLAC process was not complete, that the Portfolio Committee was the platform in which the NEDLAC constituents would return to the issues, rather than in a separate NEDLAC process. The two key issues of the independence of the regulator and the inclusion of the gold mines under the scope of the Bill would be dealt with in the Portfolio Committee. The meeting was adjourned.
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