The Department of Minerals and Energy briefed the Committee on the amendments proposed by the Department of Minerals and Energy to various clauses in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (the Bill), and in this regard tabled the D-version of the Bill, and a document that detailed all the amendments. The Department read through each of those amendments, and there were no questions of substance, merely a question of clarity asked by a Member in relation to clause 37. The amendments related to Clauses 8(a), 8(b), 13(g) 19(c), 21(a), 23(i), 34(g), 34(h) (the proposed new subsection 13). They further proposed changes to clauses 37(a), 37(b), 54(1)(a), 56, 57 (amendments to section 79(2)(b) and (c) of the principal Act), 59 (a) and 68 (a) of the Bill. The amendments to clauses 81 and 82 were tabled. However, the Department then noted that a new clause had been proposed by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy. The Chairperson of the Select Committee indicated that it was prepared only to consider and debate those amendments that had been proposed by the Department, that the Department should not act as a conduit for the Portfolio Committee, and that the onus was on the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to engage with the SC on his proposed new clause. It would therefore not be allowed.
The DA noted that it did not support the Memorandum of Desirability in respect of the Bill, but the majority of other Members voted in favour of it. They then voted to adopt Bill with the amendments proposed by the Department, but excluding the amendment proposed by the Portfolio Committee.
Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (the Bill): Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) proposals for amendment (D-version)
Ms Lindiwe Mekwe, Chief Director: Mineral and Mining Policy, Department of Minerals and Energy, briefed the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (the Bill), made by the DME. In this regard she tabled a document containing the proposed amendments (see attached document)
Ms Mekwe then simply read through the proposed amendments to Clauses 8(a), 8(b), 13(g5), 19(c), 21(a)(ii), 23(i), 34(g), 34(h) (the proposed new subsection 13). No comment was made by the Committee.
Ms Mekwe read out the proposed changes to clauses 37(a) and 37(b)
At this point Mr D Gamede (ANC, Kwazulu Natal) asked whether the amendments affected to clause 37 would have an effect on the numerical order of that clause.
Ms Mekwe replied that the amendments would not have an effect on the numerical order of the clause.
She then proceeded to read through the amendments proposed for clauses 54(1)(a), 56, 57 (relating to amendments to section 79(2)(b) and (c) and of the principal Act), and 59 (a).
In respect of clause 59, Ms Ntombi Mnyekiso, Senior State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, asked whether it would not be possible to retain both the words “and” in the clause.
Ms Mekwe pointed out that it would not sound correct within that context.
Ms Mnyekiso retracted her suggestion.
Ms Mekwe then read out the amendment as contained in clause 68(a). The amendments to clauses 81 and 82 were also tabled in the document.
Ms Mekwe then moved to a new clause that had been proposed by the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, relating to the time of operation of the Acts, linking these amendments with the amendments being made to the National Environmental Management Act.
The Chairperson interrupted and asked whether that particular amendment had emanated from the Department of Minerals and Energy.
Ms Mekwe replied that all of the proposed amendments “belonged” to the DME and that the DME had integrated the new clause proposed by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee (PC) as part of the amendments being tabled before this Select Committee (SC). She added that Hansard would contain audio evidence of this fact as it had been discussed in the National Assembly (NA).
Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) berated the DME for their absolute disregard of parliamentary protocol, and said that the DME had just created an impasse as the Chairperson of the PC had no right to impose upon the legislative process of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
She added that the DME should not have raised the issue of the proposed new clause and that the SC did not want to hear about what had been discussed in the NA.
The Chairperson said that the SC had already indicated to the Department that it was only prepared to consider and debate those amendments that had been proposed directly by the DME, and that the onus was on the Chairperson of the PC to engage with the SC on his proposed new clause
He added that it seemed as if the DME was acting as a conduit to convey the wishes of the PC and that this was unacceptable. This was not one of their amendments, but one that was made by the Portfolio Committee.
Mr Gamede said that the DME had to inform the PC that it had to follow normal parliamentary procedure.
Ms Mekwe replied that the DME had requested that the NCOP consider all the proposed amendments to the Bill, irrespective of the fact that the proposed new clause had been inserted by the NA.
The Chairperson said that the SC was not trying to make a scapegoat of Ms Mekwe, but that it was important that these issues were highlighted as they could lead to much bigger problems.
Ms Mekwe noted that it would be best to ask direction from the State Law Adviser.
Ms Mnyekiso said that the Portfolio Committee’s proposal for a new clause had not yet become part of the adopted Bill, being a proposal still at this stage, and that the issue at hand was of a procedural nature.
The Chairperson said that he saw no reason to discuss the proposed new clause and that no engagement would be allowed on it.
Motion of Desirability
The Motion of Desirability was read out by the Chairperson.
The majority of Members agreed to the Motion of Desirability.
Ms S Chen (DA, Gauteng) noted that the DA objected to the Bill
Ms Themba and the Chairperson said that the DA should have objected to the Bill during the early stages when the Bill was initially tabled before the SC.
Mr D Mkono (ANC, Eastern Cape) disagreed, and said that Ms Chen had every right to object to the Bill at this stage as the Constitution did allow for that
There was concurrence from the majority of Members that the Committee pass the proposed amendments, except the new clause that had been proposed by the Chairperson of the PC.
The Chairperson asked Ms Chen to convey a message of thanks to the DME.
Ms Chen said that even though the SC consisted of different political persuasions, it was grateful for the work that the DME had done in relation to the Bill.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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