Hansard: Resignation of President of the Republic: T Mbeki

House: National Assembly

Date of Meeting: 22 Sep 2008

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Minutes

START OF DAY

MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2008

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

_______

The House met at 14:16.

The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.

The SPEAKER: Hon members, may I first of all apologise that we delayed the start of the House by 15 minutes just to allow more time for some consultation.

RESIGNATION OF PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

(Announcement)

The SPEAKER: Hon members, I wish to announce that I have received a letter from the President, which reads as follows:

Dear Madam Speaker and hon Members of Parliament

On 23 April 2004 I stood before you to thank you for the honour you bestowed upon me by electing me to the High Office of President of the Republic of South Africa.

On that occasion I asked that we join hands in a popular national movement to speed up the process towards the achievement of the goal of a better life for all our people.

I can say without equivocation that all of you, each in your own way, responded positively to this call to join hands in the effort to ensure that for our people tomorrow would be better than yesterday.

On 27 April 2004, I took the oath of office as President of this country and swore before the entire nation that I would always

· promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that will harm it;

· protect and promote the rights of all South Africans;

· discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience;

· do justice to all; and

· devote myself to the wellbeing of the Republic and all its people.

I want to assure hon members that the promise that I made to the millions of our people informed all my actions throughout the period that I was privileged to serve as President of this country.

The leadership of my political organisation, the African National Congress, has informed me that they have decided to recall me as President of the country.

This letter serves to inform you, honourable members, that I have therefore decided to resign my position as President of the country, effective upon receiving your advice that Parliament has finalised this matter.

I have no doubt that the time we spent together in these Houses of Parliament were really fulfilling, enriching, and, in many ways, empowering to all of us. Indeed, when historians look back at the period since our freedom in 1994, they will tell a story of a very rich democratic revolution of our society ably led by this Parliament.

This is so because while the multiparty negotiations and the first democratic elections in South Africa were important, the legislative process of dismantling the apartheid legal edifice was critical to the entrenchment of democracy. Equally, it was this Parliament that gave birth to our Constitution, hailed as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.

Together, we have contributed to the important legacy of deepening democracy in our country.

Once again, I want to thank the hon members for allowing me to serve the country in the High office. I thank you also for your support, and candour, during the time we worked together.

Thank you very much and continue with the good work.

Yours sincerely

Thabo Mbeki

ACCEPTANCE OF THE RESIGNATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House –

(1) notes that the President of the Republic of South Africa has submitted his resignation to the Speaker of the National Assembly on 21 September 2008;

(2) further notes that the letter by the President states that the resignation would be effective upon being informed that Parliament has finalised the matter;

(3) agrees that the resignation of the President of the Republic of South Africa will take effect on 25 September 2008; and

(4) takes this opportunity to thank the President for his dedicated service to the nation, both in his capacity as Deputy President and later as President of the republic.

The SPEAKER: Hon members, the motion has been moved. Is there any objection to the motion without notice?

Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, this is a motion without notice and, in terms of the rules, it has to be accepted by everyone in the House. I object.

The SPEAKER: With that objection having been put before us, what we will do is that this motion without notice will turn into a notice of motion and the motion will be put on the Order Paper to be dealt with tomorrow.

NOTICE OF MOTION

 

Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, the Freedom Front Plus hereby gives notice of the following motion:

That the House –

(1) takes note of the statement by the hon the President of the Republic of South Africa that he in no way interfered in with any of the decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority; and

(2) further takes note of the fact that the national executive committee of the ANC recalled Mr Mbeki and that some of the things said by Judge Nicholson were instrumental in that decision.

I, therefore, propose that we hold a special debate in this House in which we afford the hon the President of the Republic the opportunity to put his side of the story before we take any final decision.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN PARALYMPIC TEAM ON ITS ACHIEVEMENTS AT THE BEIJING PARALYMPIC GAMES

(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN ORDER PAPER]

Agreed to.

CONGRATULATIONS TO NATALIE DU TOIT ON HER AWARD-WINNING ACHIEVEMENTS AT THE BEIJING PARALYMPIC GAMES

(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]

Agreed to.

MOTION OF CONDOLENCE

(The late Mr Derrick Moyo)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]

Agreed to.

MOTION OF CONDOLENCE

(The late Mr Bheki Mseleku)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]

Agreed to.

HOURS OF SITTING OF HOUSE

(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker, I move the draft resolution printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]

Agreed to.

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES.]

Agreed to.

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY:

[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES.]

Agreed to.

PROVISION OF LAND AND ASSISTANCE AMENDMENT BILL

(Second Reading debate)

The MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS: Madam Speaker, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, allow me to borrow the words of wisdom used by the veterans of our struggle and the heroes and heroines in the Congress of the People some 53 years ago:

Restrictions of landownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land redivided among those who work it to banish famine and land hunger.

Since 1994 our new land laws have helped to create an enabling environment to address the racial land dispossession of the past. They have assisted us to achieve some of our goals, yet we still need to do a lot to reverse the legacies of past inequalities. This statement made by the Congress of the People on banishing famine and hunger is even more relevant today in the light of the high food prices. It underlines the need for the masses of our people to be given land and resources to grow their own food.

This Bill will enable us to effectively implement our Land and Agrarian Reform Programme, Larp, being the seventh of the 24 Presidential Priority Projects. Like the Congress of the People, we strongly believe that –

The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers; …

This Bill constitutes our shot in responding to this powerful statement. Our people need those moveable assets that will enable them to make a success of farming the land that we make available to them.

We never intended to just transfer landownership to our people, but we wanted to see such land continue to be productive in the hands of the new black emerging farmers. Mindful of the responsibility and trust that our people placed in us, we have decided to identify and correct gaps in our policies and programmes to ensure sustainable land reform.

We have looked at what is constraining us from delivering to our people the better life that we have promised them. Through this amendment we have ensured that we will deliver going concerns that will make us a more efficient and prosperous agricultural sector.

Our diagnosis tells us that land reform will not yield the desired results unless our legal framework and policy funding instruments acknowledge and respond to the reality that agriculture has become more modernised and sophisticated. We have to appreciate that a massive investment in agriculture is necessary and required to increase the contribution of agriculture to the creation of wealth, employment and prosperity. Our competitiveness in global markets will remain a dream, unless we do something now to support agriculture.

We have been criticized heavily for not immediately acquiring land that becomes available on the market, since our approach to land redistribution has been mainly dependent on demand as opposed to supply. To respond comprehensively to this in a manner that does not result in a wholesale acquisition of marginal land, we have had to adopt a proactive land acquisition strategy together with area-based planning. This allows us to approach a geographical area within a municipality on the basis of a local development vision and to have a better sense of the current and future status of the supportive physical and transport infrastructure necessary for agriculture to flourish.

It further allows us to determine land needs and also scientifically identify suitable agricultural land. As we continue to identify suitable land at scale, it will become necessary that we acquire such land proactively, even in circumstances where we either have not identified potential beneficiaries or the identified beneficiaries that have the necessary skills.

Our land acquisition component, Larp, will focus on the beneficiation of farms and also ensure that farmworkers acquire the necessary skills. To date we have ensured that 17 267 ha have been transferred to labour tenants and farmworkers in the 2007-08 financial year. This Bill will enable us to help these beneficiaries to operate these farms immediately on land transfer.

The historical "racialisation" of almost every aspect of our social and economic life had the effect of condemning farmworkers to being mechanical beings that only did, and in some cases continue to do, what "die baas" [the boss.] tells them to do. The concept of the division of labour was not just applied to promote specialisation and profit-making, it was also meant to create disconnection between farmworkers. The effect of this was that the only nexus among different farming activities was the farm owner, without whom farming operations would collapse.

The net effect of this historical reality is that no matter how much farming experience farmworkers have accumulated, they still cannot independently run successful operations, as they've never had a chance to experience the connectedness of their activity with that of others. This Bill creates the possibility of skilling and capacitating our land reform beneficiaries so that they are not condemned to being career subsistence farmers. It is in the interests of all that our emerging black farmers are not only successful, but become prosperous farmers.

The Constitution requires of us to take reasonable legislative and other measures to foster conditions that enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis. The foundations that we have laid and continue to lay down through legislation like this Bill constitute a firm commitment and acknowledgement that we cannot do less than deliver on the promises that we made in 1996 when we passed our Constitution into the supreme law of the land.

I would like to thank all hon members, particularly the members of our portfolio committee who, in their diversity, were unanimous in supporting this Bill and gave us guidance and better insight into going forward. I recommend this Bill for adoption by this House. Thank you. [Applause.]

Mr D M DLALI

 

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS

Mr D M DLALI: Madam Speaker, I want to raise two issues in relation to the Amendment Bill before this Chamber today. It is one of the pieces of legislation which is critical to the ANC's efforts to revolutionalise the Land Reform. The land issue is one of the most important parts of our struggle. Without land, there is no nation, food or dignity whatsoever.

Therefore agrarian transformation is most important in this regard. People out there want land, implements, seeds, fertilizer and many other things, in order for them to work the land.

The White Paper on South African Land Policy is clear that underused farm land should be expropriated; there should be restrictions on the size and number of farms that an individual can own; and the situation pertaining to absentee landlords needs to be investigated. Therefore, on the basis of the above, the agrarian revolution is critical to address most of the red tape and to unlock the blockages delaying land reform.

This is an Amendment Bill which seeks to amend the Provision of Land and Assistance Act of 1993, the principal Act. This Act makes provision for the designation of certain land; regulates the subdivision of such land and the settlement of persons thereon; the rendering of financial assistance for the acquisition of land; and to secure tenure rights.

The principal Act was amended by the Development Facilitation Act, Act 67 of 1995 and later by the Provision of Certain Land for Settlement Amendment Act, Act 26 of 1998 because of a number of gaps in it. The current amendment, therefore, takes place within the context of the number of amendments that have taken place in the past in relation to this Principal Act.

As such, the current amendment seeks to provide for clarity and extend the application of the provisions on the acquisition, planning, development, improvement and disposal of property; the provision of financial assistance for the Land Reform processes; and the maintenance of property for land reform.

The Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill is located within the broad political imperative of ensuring agrarian transformation. The political imperatives of agrarian transformation are a range of fundamental tasks that relate to the restructuring and dislodging of the current agrarian accumulation logic located in the agrarian business paradigm, towards a more inclusive agrarian path for self-sustenance and to ensure food security.

Agrarian transformation is not simply about the production of the agricultural products in order to gather export earnings and accumulate wealth, but is largely about sustainable food security, ensuring tenure rights and altering the ownership pattern of the agricultural sector. In this context, agrarian transformation also ensures that the policy harmonisation between all spheres of government on land ownership and disposal are adhered to. Most importantly, the political objective of agrarian transformation is to ensure that agricultural sector and other policies have a positive impact on household food security, food prices and environmental sustainability.

Central to the ANC outlook of agrarian transformation is the elaboration of a clear agenda to implement the integrated food security strategy, as adopted by the Cabinet in July 2002; and to further develop a sustainable food policy strategy that ensures food security at all times, especially in times of vulnerability as a consequence of natural disaster, price hikes and so on, which impact directly on food prices for the poor with a specific focus on women, the elderly, people with disability and children.

These aspects of agrarian transformation for South Africa were further emphasised by the 52nd National Conference of the ANC. Challenges to agrarian transformation which concerns rural areas are: The lack of infrastructure which entrenches the problem of chronic poverty and limit the potential of communities to sustain economic growth, rural livelihoods and social development. As such, and, in essence, agrarian transformation is without poverty eradication to ensure sustainable rural livelihood. The current Amendment Bill facilitates the very essence of land reform as an integral part of the broader agrarian reform.

The Amendment Bill seeks to resolve certain interpretation problems and critical deficiencies in the principal Act, especially with regard to ministerial powers to acquire movable and immovable property; acquire economic enterprises; acquire shares or rights title or interest in or to juristic persons; and grant financial assistance for the acquisition, planning, development or improvement of various types of property including economic enterprises, which are clarified and extended in the process.

The objects of the Bill seek to deal with the following issues: to give effect to the land and related reform obligations of the State in terms of section 25 of the Constitution; effect, promote, facilitate or support the maintenance, planning, sustainability, use, development and improvement of property contemplated in this Act; contribute to poverty eradication; and promote economic growth with regard to the agricultural sector.

The most important aspect of the Bill is the insertion of the objects in the principal Act. These specifically speak to giving effect to land and related reform obligations in terms of the Constitution, as referred to above - to give, promote, facilitate or support the maintenance, planning and sustainability of rural development as such.

Another critical area is the provision of property for land reform purposes set out in the clauses which substitute section 10 of the principal Act. Accordingly the clauses that make provision for property for land reform purposes empower the Minister to acquire immovable property, including land; movable property, including corporate property; acquire businesses or other economic enterprises as a going concern; or shares in or the right, title or interest in or to a juristic person, other entity or a trust owning, controlling or administering property. These clauses also make provision for financial assistance by the way of an advance subsidy, grant or otherwise, to any person for their acquisition, maintenance, and so on.

In addition, the Amendment Bill also speaks to issues of land expropriation in the context of section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa which states that:

(2) Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general

application -

(a) for a public purpose or in the public interest; and

(b) subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have neither been agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.

This Bill is critical because of the political challenges that the ANC is facing with regard to the agrarian reform and changing the current agribusiness accumulation of logic that still remains located in the power relations of the special architecture of apartheid social engineering. There is also a social basis for the ANC to be more robust in altering the ownership patterns in the agricultural sector due to a number of problems faced by farm dwellers and the evictions that continue to undermine peoples' basic human rights. This is central to ensuring tenure rights and fast-tracking emerging farmers to be central to food production for domestic consumption and food security.

Because land is a highly contested terrain and because of the fact that agriculture and land owners are predominantly the white elite, the opposition parties are going to ring alarm bells on this. The social basis for expropriation and provision of land assistance is at the centre of meeting the national development goals as well as meeting the challenges of poverty in the context of the millennium development goals. The ANC has a revolutionary obligation to make sure that we do realise this goal. Thank you.

MR A H NEL

 

MR D M DLALI

Afrikaans:

Mr A H NEL: Dankie Speaker. Hierdie wetgewing maak dit vir die Departement van Grondsake moontlik om nie net grond aan te koop vir doeleindes van grondhervorming nie, maar ook lewende hawe, implemente en moontlik besighede wat direk met die spesifieke boerdery te doen het. Sodoende sal die begunstigdes van die transaksie beter daaraan toe wees om volhoubaar te produseer en die boerdery beter te bestuur. Dit stel ook die departement in staat om grond, wat in die besit van 'n maatskapy of 'n trust is, aan te koop.

Hierdie amendemente verbeter die oorspronklike wet en daar is redelike algemene instemming daarmee. Ons het egter sekere voorbehoude oor twee van die doelwitte van die wetgewing, naamlik om armoede te verlig en om ekonomiese groei te bevorder.

Daar is geen probleem met die doelwitte op sigself nie, maar as die wye magte van die Minister en die Minister se mag om te kan onteien, ingesluit en in ag geneem word, dan word dit problematies. Ons het daarop gewys dat sulke doelwitte eintlik die gevolg sal wees as die Minister en die department die wet reg toepas. Dit sal dus onnodig wees om sulke doelwitte in die wet te sit. Dit kan net daartoe ly dat, in die verkeerde hande – en dit is iets waarvan u miskien meer sal weet as ek, deesdae – dit misbruik kan word om onteiening te gebruik vir redes wat niks met grondhervorming te doen het die. Ons betoog is egter nie aanvaar nie.

English:

There was a section in this Bill which tried retrospectively to approve anything that the Minister had done before, which she could not have done under the present Act. To my surprise this was scrapped because of ANC members who did not trust their Minister and who said, correctly, that one cannot make legislation which retrospectively approves action which is unknown to the legislators.

This is just one example of how members of the ruling party have conducted themselves in holding the executive authority to account. It seems that there is a healthy questioning of the executive and officials with regard to the execution of power by members of the ruling party which, of course, is what Parliament is about. I sincerely hope that this is not only because of Polokwane and the ANC infighting, but that it is also because they have come to accept the oversight role of Parliament as it should be. For South Africa's sake, don't let this Prague Spring collapse into a winter of discontent. Thank you. [Applause.]

MR N SINGH

 

MR A H NEL

Mr N SINGH: Madam Speaker, the dramatic events over this weekend still occupy our minds, and I think they also occupy the minds of many South Africans and people abroad.

Yes, we need a revolution; but we need an agricultural revolution. As the IFP, we believe that this Bill is geared towards ensuring that agriculture takes its rightful place in ensuring that economic growth and development take place in our country.

The land reform process has been dragging on for a long time and has not been very effective and efficient during that time. Many farmers and beneficiaries who were placed on land were doomed to fail. They were doomed to fail because they were given land, which was very necessary, but they were not given the implements and the technical expertise that were required for them to cultivate that land efficiently and properly.

This Bill will, no doubt, go a long way towards ensuring that would-be beneficiaries will have the necessary capacity, financial resources and human resources to make agriculture viable once again.

A concern that we have though is the slow pace of the land claim process. The gazetting of land claims ended in 1998. But even until today, 10 years later, thousands of claims have still not yet been gazetted. The fears of landowners and the aspirations of beneficiaries are brought into question and fuel unnecessary tensions. We do hope that the department will give all its attention to ensuring that all outstanding land claims are resolved as quickly as possible.

In allocating land and in providing these grants, we certainly hope that proper evaluation of all farms is done and that economic viability is of the greatest concern. Farmers must not be set up to fail. They must be able to get out of the trap of poverty poverty and deprivation. We trust that this Bill will contribute to many, many poor people out there making some sort of sustainable and viable living. As the IFP we will support this Bill. Thank you.

MR J BICI

 

MR N SINGH

Mr J BICI: Madam Speaker, hon members, the Bill before us seeks to amend the Provision of Land and Assistance Act. The core of the Bill is found in clause 4, which provides for a new section 10 that defines the powers of the Minister more clearly. As always, one needs to caution against too much executive power even whilst acknowledging that a certain amount of power is required in order to implement the policy.

Land reform remains one of the most emotive and potentially explosive issues in South Africa today. It is vital, therefore, that this issue be handled with utmost sensitivity. It is absolutely critical that we ensure that existing and emerging farmers are supported and allowed to flourish. The UDM will support the Bill. Thank you.

MRS C DUDLEY

 

MR N SINGH

Mrs C DUDLEY: Madam Speaker, the ACDP acknowledges the need to undo the legacy of unequal land distribution, and the critical importance of ensuring that there is continued productive use of agricultural land once it has been transferred. This Bill amends the Provision of Land and Assistance Act of 1993 by increasing the powers of the department in order for it to acquire movable and immovable property as well as economic enterprises and shares. It also grants financial assistance for the development of various types of property and commercial enterprises.

The ACDP is hopeful that these amendments will ensure that the obstacles presently experienced are more efficiently and effectively dealt with. For example, until now the department has been unable to buy a fully functioning farm and is limited to land only. This has been detrimental to both the prospective new owner and the farmer wanting to sell the going concern.

The ACDP notes concerns that enabling government to take transfer of expropriated land before a suitable farmer is identified have been expressed, but is satisfied that both new and existing farmers' interests are served by this new arrangement. The ACDP will support this Bill.

MR R B BHOOLA

 

MRS C DUDLEY

Mr R B BHOOLA: Madam Speaker, if anything, the MF is well aware of the challenges the Department of Land Affairs has been experiencing in delivering on land redistribution since the birth of democracy. We are, however, encouraged by the department's identification of a potential problem and the introduction of the amending Bill to address the shortfall and speed up delivery.

The MF also believes that as a people we do not realise how cumbersome it is to attain land and to distribute it, nor do we realise the number of people waiting to be catered for.

The Bill certainly provides greater clarity in terms of the management of both immovable and movable property. The MF hopes that this amending Bill will be effectively and efficiently implemented to attain the results of delivery that we all desire. The MF will support the Bill.

MS B THOMSON

 

MR R B BHOOLA

IsiZulu:

Nk B THOMSON: Ngiyabonga, Somlomo.

English:

The Provision of Land and Assistance Bill amends the Provision of Land and Assistance Act of 1993. The aim of the amendment is to facilitate sustainable land reform.

IsiZulu:

Inhloso yalesi sichibiyelo ukunikeza uNgqongqoshe amandla okwelekela labo abafanelekile ukuba bakwazi ukuthengelwa lokhu esikubiza ngokuthi i-movable and immovable property ngenhloso yokuqinisa intuthuka nokuqeda ubuhlwempu kubantu bakithi.

English:

The Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill intends to repeal the original Act that had allowed the department to buy land, but not assets and equipment, as desired by the sellers of the land.

IsiZulu:

UNgqongqoshe simgixabeza ngamandla amakhulu okuthenga izinsiza zamapulazi ngesicelo salowo obengumnikazi wepulazi. Le ndlela yokuthenga izolekelela ekuqiniseni lokhu esikubiza nge-land reform programme ngoba umdayisi akazukukhahlanyezwa ukusala nezinsizamsebenzi umhlaba esewuthengisike. Ngolimi lukaJoji yilokhu esikubiza ngokuthi yi-going concern okusho ukuthi ibhizinisi elisebenzayo. Lokhu phela kusho ukuthi umthengi omusha okwakhe ukungena nje emsebenzini aqhubeke nomkhiqizo ngoba izinsiza zizobe zikhona zilindele ukusebenza.

Kafushane nje ngizothanda ukusho ukuthi njengoba iPhalemende beliye kubantu e-Bushbuckridge sihlangabezane nezinkinga. Uthola ukuthi abantu abasebenzisa umhlaba banalo ipulazi futhi nomhlaba ukhona abawusebenzayo kodwa izinsiza azikho. Sithole futhi ukuthi abantu bakithi laphaya basebenzisa imilomo yabo ukuthi bamome amanzi ukuze bachelele noma banisele ukudla kwabo. Umlomo-ke bakwethu awukaze ube yi-generator. Awunawo amandla okumoma amanzi kodwa bona bayakwenza ngoba bahluphekile. Ngakho sicabanga ukuthi lesi sichibiyelo sizobelekelela ukuthi kube khona izinsiza ezizoba khona emapulazini. Cabanga-ke nje ukuthi umuntu umoma amanzi ngepayipi ekade liphansi bese elithatha yena amome ngalo amanzi.

Ngicabanga ukuthi iningi lethu kule Ndlu liye ligijime naleli bhodlelana elincane lamanzi siwafake ezikhwameni ngoba sifuna amanzi ahlanzekile. Nokho, ngoba uNkulunkulu ubathanda bonke abantu esikuqaphelile ukuthi laba bantu baseMpumalanga abaguli. Thina kodwa esigijima namanzi amabhodlela ezikhwameni kodwa iningi lethu liyagula - libuthakathaka.

English:

Members of the portfolio committee unanimously support this provision as it will make it possible for the department not to just buy land, but also the assets and equipment that will make land reform projects more viable. However, the committee rejected the proposal to make legislation retrospective.

IsiZulu:

Kodwa lokhu akuhlangene nalokhu obekushiwo ubaba u-Nel.

English:

This has nothing to do with Polokwane. We were merely exercising our right as a committee. The proposal to make legislation retrospective means that whatever assets and equipment that have been bought by the Minister outside the mandate of the principal Act should be validated by the Bill. By accepting validation of anything that has been done or purported to have been done under the principal Act, the committee believes it would be signing a blank cheque without knowing what assets have been bought by the Minister and for what purpose.

IsiZulu:

Cha, ikomidi impela lisichithile lesi sicelo soMnyango.

English:

The committee requested the department to report to the Auditor‑General all illegal land and property transactions that have taken place contrary to the provisions of the existing legislation. In addition, Scopa should call the department to report on all the transactions that have taken place, if any.

IsiZulu:

Kubalulekile ukuthi iPhalamende lilandele ukusebenza kwemisebenzi yohlelo lwezomhlaba, ikakhulukazi ukuthengwa kwalezi zingqlazizinda. Kufanele siqinisekise ukuthi wonke lo mnotho uhlala ezandeni eziyizo nezifanele. Labo phela abahlomula emhlabeni.

English:

The Committee, therefore, needs to be provided with adequate resources to periodically monitor property acquired by the department for land beneficiaries.

IsiZulu:

Ngabe uMnyango unawo amandla okwenza lo Mthetho usebenze?

English:

It would require expertise in business management or in running farms to manage the farm acquired while beneficiaries are not yet identified or are not yet ready to take over the farms. This could be a costly exercise to the state if property was damaged, vandalised or abused during this period. We therefore suggest that property acquired by the state should not sit in its hands, but should be passed on - and in good condition - to the ultimate beneficiaries. There should be the provision that it would be properly cared for pending the final transfer.

The issue of capacity is critical, considering the fact that the department has been continually criticised for its lack of capacity to meet land reform targets. If the department was effectively resourced, it would be able to enter the market and acquire the necessary skills to attain this capacity.

In the memorandum of the Bill it is stated that there will be no financial implications. The explanation given is that the implementation of the Bill will be accommodated within the current budget of the department in terms of the medium‑term strategic and operational budget. This is understood, but what one fails to understand is that the department is already complaining about high prices of land that are squeezing its budget. Buying assets and equipment means that the department will have to spend more on acquiring land.

According to the Director‑General, Mr Thozi Gwanya, the department has already approached National Treasury for further funding. Relevant here is whether the grants that are made available to land beneficiaries are adequate to cover the full costs of procurement of property, including movable and immovable assets. At the moment grants only cover a fraction of the cost of property, and farmers have to take out loans in order to finance their agricultural activities. This squeezes them even more.

Grants are not adequate for one individual farmer. The grant is only about R111 000 to buy land. As a result, the number of recipients qualifying for the grant resort to pooling their money and buying as a group. This grouping has always been proved to be a recipe for economic disaster. Management problems are also likely to arise.

Analyses of projects that have failed or are on the verge of failing point to the urgent need to review the quality of support given to the land reform beneficiaries. They showed that singular emphasis on land acquisition and redistribution at the expense of equal efforts on postsettlement support provision can undo all the good work done towards achieving land reform objectives.

This has influenced policy shifts within the department. Part of the new approach is the revised legislative framework contained in the Provision of Land and Assistance Amendment Bill, which would give the Minister powers to acquire farms, land and shares in the agricultural for compensation on behalf of black people. This includes provision for postcare issues such as capacity. Ngiyabonga. [I thank you.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

IsiXhosa

UMPHATHISWA WEZOLIMO NEMICIMBI YEZOMHLABA: Ndiyabulela, Somlomo nakuwo onke aMalungu ePalamente, neNdlu ngokubanzi ngokuxhasa lo Mthetho uYilwayo nobaluleke kangaka oza kunceda abantu bakuthi ukwenzela ukuba xa sithenga ezi fama sikwazi nokuthenga iteletele kwakunye neenkomo ukuba yideri sithenge izixhobo eziyimfuneko zederi kunye nezo nkomo. Nto leyo eza kunceda ukuba abantu bakuthi...

English

...move right into commercial agriculture after we have given them the necessary skills.

IsiXhosa

Ndifuna ukuthi ke lo Mthetho uYilwayo usinika amandla okuba sifumane abaphathi abaza kuthi babenolwazi lokulawula amafama ngeli xesha sisafuna abaxhamli. Ndiyafuna ke ukuthi ewe zikhona iimpahla ezingahanjiswayo(immovable properties) esizithengileyo xa besithenga ezi fama ngoba kaloku nasithuka kakhulu nisithi sithengela abantu imihlaba esingaziyo nokuba baza kuyisebenzisa njani, kodwa ndiyafuna ukuthi isebe lenza uhlolo-ncwadi ukuze lijonge ukuba zonke ezo mpahla, iinkomo kunye nezixhobo ezithengiweyo ukuba zigcinwe kakuhle kusini na, kwaye iza kuza ke ngoku ePalamente ize kuphendula ngako konke oko.

Ndifuna ukubulela nakuBawo uNel ngokukhankasela uKhongolozi, ngoba uthethe kakuhle kakhulu ngalo mbutho namalungu ethu ePalamente. Ndifuna ukuthi ke ndiyabulela kule Ndlu ngoba iPalamente yonke iwuxhasile lo Mthetho uYilwayo. Siyathemba ukuba uyakupasiswa ngokukhawuleza, usetyenziswee ukuze siqhubeke ngokunikezela ngomhlaba nezolimo kubantu bakowethu, size siphelise ubuhlwempu kunye nendlala. Ndiyabulela. [Kwaqhwatywa.]

 

Debate Concluded

Bill read a second time.

MR M R MOHLALOGO

 

The MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS

LIQUOR PRODUCTS AMENDMENT BILL

(Consideration of Bill and of Report of Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs on proposed amendments by NCOP)

Mr M R MOHLALOGA: Madam Speaker, hon members, the Liquor Products Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Liquor Products Act of 1989 which provides for control over the sale and production for sale of alcoholic products for drinking purposes. It also provides for the composition and properties of such products and for control over the import and export of such products.

As indicated above, the Liquor Products Act therefore predates the period of lifting of sanctions. With our re-entry into the world economy, new obligations and opportunities arose, and the Liquor Products Amendment Bill seeks to respond to these obligations and opportunities thus presented.

The principal Act allowed certain wine cultivars for the production of wine, which is no longer the case. Thus, there was a need for the principle Act to be amended in this regard. One of the important aspects of the amendment Bill was the area of the Wine and Spirit Board. The principal Act provides, amongst other things, that members of the board, who speak on behalf of the producers and merchants, be nominated byKWV and the Cape Wine and Spirit Institute.

The problem with this arrangement is that there have been structural changes in the industry so the current composition of the board is no longer representative of all participants in the industry. The amendment Bill seeks to ensure that the composition of the board is in line with the changes that have occurred in the current structure of the industry. The Bill provides that the board will be composed of members with skills, knowledge or expertise in viticulture, oenology, distilling and the regulatory environment of the liquor products.

In terms of our appointment process, the Bill provides that the Minister will establish a selection committee which will recommend a shortlist of eligible candidates and submit its recommendations to the Minister. This will be preceded by a process of public participation through the invitation of interested parties to nominate any such persons that they think possess the necessary requirements as spelled out in the Bill.

The amendment that comes from the NCOP suggests that the Minister should appoint the board after consultation with Parliament. We understand Parliament, in this particular instance, to include the NCOP. In our view, as the committee, the process laid down in the Bill is sufficient for us to have the right persons appointed to perform their duties as spelled out in the principal Act and as further elaborated in this Bill. As indicated, it provides for public involvement and for the selection committee that will advice the Minister.

We could not in our understanding of the role of this board see the need for Parliament to be involved in the appointment process of this board. We think that the provision that obliges the Minister to notify Parliament of the appointment of the board 30 days after such an appointment is sufficient. We could not elevate the role of the Wine and Spirit Board to the Chapter 9 or similar institutions. So, there was no constitutional basis for us as Parliament to get involved in the appointment of the board, whose work is purely specialist and technical. It is our view that there is no constitutional basis for us to get involved as this is purely an executive function in which Parliament will not have any desire or interest to involve itself.

In considering this amendment from the NCOP, it was only one member that abstained from voting. Otherwise the committee was at one in rejecting the amendment from the NCOP. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

There was no debate.

Question put.

Agreed to.

Bill accordingly passed.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT LAWS AMENDMENT BILL

(Second Reading debate)

The MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM: Madam Speaker, the National Environment Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend the National Environmental Management Act of 1998 and all specific environmental Acts. In terms of the Acts, the amendments include, firstly, the National Environmental Management Act, Nema. It has become evident that whilst prison sentences are adequate in our suite of environmental legislation, where comparable with what is found internationally, our fines were too low. This Bill seeks to increase the fines in Nema and the specific environmental Act up to an amount of R10 million. The amendment seeks to limit costs to the state by giving magistrates' courts jurisdiction over environmental offences as well as the penalties provided for in the Acts.

The National Environmental Advisory Forum and the Committee for Environmental Co-ordination has also been dissolved in terms of this Bill. We are now empowered to establish fora and committees to advise us on various and specific environmental issues.

There is a need for less prescriptive and flexible ad hoc advisory committees that are less costly, provide better value for money and substantially reduce the administrative burden.

Secondly, with regard to the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act, it has no section providing for the ownership of wild animals occurring in protected areas. The proposed amendments now give ownership in trust to the state. It would also be the state's responsibility to manage animals that have escaped from protected areas.

Thirdly, with regard to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 2004, the amendment provides for general surveillance and reporting on all categories of genetically modified organisms once they are released into the environment.

It also provides that in cases where an environmental assessment is required for genetically modified organisms, GMOs, released into the environment, an environmental impact assessment should be carried out.

The amendment further makes provision for notification requirements when a person engages in the discovery phase of bioprospecting of indigenous biological resources. This amendment also seeks to incorporate the list of national botanical gardens under the Act and empowers the Minister to amend the schedule if necessary.

Fourthly, with regard to the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act of 2004, in order to determine whether a person is fit and proper for purposes of an application for an atmospheric emissions licence, a licensing authority must take into account all relevant facts.

The present wording of the Act excludes reference to a juristic person, which was excluded by error. It is important to have it included as its members may fall within the ambit of the section. This has now been remedied.

In conclusion, the main objective of this Bill is to enhance the enforcement and implementation of environmental legislation and to address a few and implementation challenges that exist in the current legislation. Thank you.

MR L ZITA

 

THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

Mr L ZITA: Chairperson, the National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill of 2008 seeks to effect changes to the National Environmental Management Act, Nema, of 1998, the foundational Act. The Nema also seeks to make changes to the Nema Protected Areas Act of 2003 and the Nema Biodiversity Act of 2004 as well as the Nema Air Quality Act of 2004.

In its current form, parts 1 and 2 of the second chapter of Nema provide for the establishment of a National Environment Advisory Forum and a Committee for Environmental Co-ordination alongside their functions, compositions and objects. However, clause 2 of the Bill proposes the repealing of parts 1 and 2 of the second chapter of Nema. It proposes the deletion of any references to "committee" or "forum" throughout Nema and proposes insertions wherever they are deemed necessary. For example, the Bill proposes in clause 3 the insertion of section 3A regarding the establishment of a forum or advisory committees, giving the Minister the power to establish such fora or advisory committees and to determine their composition and functions.

This releases the Minister from having to have a particular forum even if there is no need for it. It gives the Minister the discretion to choose which fora to establish and makes this not to be mandatory.

The most far-reaching and significant amendments are those for section 28 of Nema under clause 12 of the Bill. Currently section 28 of Nema deals with the duty of care and remediation of environmental damage. Section 28(1) provides that –

Every person who causes, has caused or may cause significant pollution or degradation of the environment must take reasonable measures to prevent such pollution or degradation from occurring, continuing or recurring or insofar as such harm to the environment authorised by law or cannot reasonably be avoided or stopped, to minimise and rectify such pollution or degradation of the environment.

Similarly, it criminalises noncompliance with certain of the emergency incident provisions of section 30 of Nema which have been proposed in clause 13. This clause proposes that any person who fails to comply with the provisions as set out in section 30 is guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding R100 000 or 10 years or both such fine and imprisonment.

Currently, section 30 provides for the control of emergency incidents and the reporting of ... [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, I think we are no longer hearing the debate.

Mr L ZITA: However, the failure to report an emergency incident or take the necessary additional steps does not constitute an offence. This is now corrected. If you fail to disclose, you are also liable.

Clause 15, 16 and 17 of the Bill propose the removal of the requirement that environmental management inspectors, EMIs - the Green Scorpions - must carry notices provided for in section 31D(3). The Bill proposes that an identification card is sufficient and further proposes an increase in the EMI's powers to allow the searching and seizure of vehicles during routine inspections and to take photographs and audiovisual recordings.

The purpose of these amendments is to strengthen and consolidate the powers of the EMIs. Clause 18 proposes the amendment of section 31 of Nema by substituting section 31N(2), which replaces the terms 'Minister' or 'MEC' with "director-general" or "head of department" responsible for environmental affairs in the province.

With regard to the Protected Areas Act of 2003, the Bill proposes in clause 23 state ownership and control of animals in protected areas and those that have escaped, and associated matters. Section 49 has been proposed for insertion after section 49 of the Act for this matter. Clause 24 of the Bill proposes to amend section 82(3) of the Protected Areas Act, which currently does not allow the Minister or MEC to appropriate privately held rights to state land.

The amendment counters this by allowing the Minister or MEC to appropriate such privately held rights to state land. Similarly, clause 24 of the Bill proposes the amendment of the section 88 of the act to increase the amount of fines or imprisonment for breaching regulations formulated under section 86 of the Act.

Furthermore, clause 26 of the Bill proposes to amend section 89 of the Act, whth the express aim of increasing the amount of fines or imprisonment to catch up with inflation or to reflect the seriousness of the offence. It is also proposed that a magistrate's court should have the jurisdiction to impose the penalties prescribed by the Act.

With regard to the Biodiversity Act, the Bill proposes to amend 13 sections of the Biodiversity Act of 2004 in addition to two insertions. Clause 27 relates to the biodiversity monitoring functions of the South African National Biodiversity Institute. Accordingly, section 11 of Nema has been amended to facilitate general surveillance monitoring of impacts of categories of genetically modified mechanisms released into the environment.

Clause 28 of the Bill proposes to amend section 45 by inserting subsection (d), which now states that the Biodiversity Act should "take into consideration" rather than "be consistent with" subordinate Acts or instruments such as municipal integrated development plan. It therefore strengthens this provision.

Clause 29 proposes the amendment of section 57 of the Act by the addition of section 57(4), which states that the Minister may by notice in the Gazette exempt a person from the restriction contemplated in section 57(1) of the Act.

Clause 32 proposes to amend section 81 by stating that no person may without a permit engage in the "commercialisation phase of" bioprospecting. The need to insert section 81A, which deals with the notification of the Minister in case of engaging the discovery phase and related matters means that bioprospecting may not always result in new discoveries. Without this amendment, it would mean that bioprospecting always result in discoveries and hence raises expectations.

Clause 34 proposes the inclusion of "a specific individual" in section 82 among the stakeholders whose interests should be secured when issuing a permit for bioprospecting. The current Act does not consider the fact that the knowledge of indigenous biological resources may be known to only specific individuals. Clause 35 proposes the amendment to section 85 by making it possible for the Director-General to manage the Bioprospecting Trust Fund or to appoint a trustee in terms of the Trust Property control Act of 1988 to manage the fund on behalf of the Director-General under the terms he or she sees fit. This is in contrast to the original Act that mandates the Director-General to manage the fund.

Similarly, clause 36 seeks to amend section 86 by giving the Minister the opportunity to exempt indigenous biological resources used for research and for commercial purposes. This was not the case with the original Act.

With regard to the Air Quality Act, clause 42 proposes to amend section 45, including the need for the licences to pay a prescribed processing fee where an atmospheric emission licence undergoes periodic review. Currently, there is no indication of a fee in the Act. The amendment is made to standardise the licensing process.

Clause 43 of the Amendment Bill categorises a director or a senior manager as a juristic person, thereby qualifying him for prosecution under the Act. On the other hand, clause 44 proposes to amend section 52 of the Air Quality Act by increasing the amount of the fine or the period of imprisonment, consistent with the other amended laws. The same section now makes provision for a magistrate's court to prosecute and impose any penalty prescribed by the Act.

Finally, clause 45 proposes the short title to the Act as the National Environment Laws Amendment Act of 2008. This Bill seeks to strengthen the regulation of the environment. The ANC supports this Bill.

Mr G R MORGAN

Mr L ZITA

Mr G R MORGAN: Good afternoon, Chairperson and hon members. Environmental laws do not exist on our law books because they make us feel good or because they provide some kind of illusion that as a society we are doing our job and living up to the values of sustainable development. Our environmental laws exist to be enforced; they exist because it makes ecological sense to protect and sustain the natural world.

As I have said before in this House, a degraded environment undermines human health, it undermines the basis for an economy that will grow as a going concern and it undermines our heritage.

The Environmental Laws Amendment Bill is a patchwork Bill that seeks to simultaneously amend six pieces of environmental legislation. Several of the Bills, including the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, the Environment Conservation act, Nema and the Protected Areas Act are being amended to increase penalties for offences.

It is common cause that higher penalties will act as a greater deterrent for individuals or entities that consider perpetrating environmental crimes. In most cases the monetary fines and jail sentences are significantly ramped up and the DA fully supports these steps. Most significant other amendments occur in the National Environmental Management Act. The National Environmental Advisory Forum, Neaf, is removed. This body, which took some time to be set up after the law was initially promulgated, has now existed for four years. The Minister appointed its members after consultation with our portfolio committee.

From its workings, however, it seems as if the Neaf duplicated the work of many other departments and research institutions. It had a number of subcommittees that dealt with, among other things, waste and climate change. The amendment allows for the Minister to appoint advisory committees as he sees fit. While the dissolution of the Neaf was questioned by many individuals who made submissions to the committee there were no suggestions for alternatives.

The DA hopes that the Minister will make use of the power to initiate advisory committees in the future. The issue of remedial costs for pollution was the subject of considerable debate in the committee. If a person fails to comply with the directive to remediate pollution the authorities are under this Amendment Bill able to take measures to rectify the situation. The DA was concerned about the open-ended nature of the original proposed amendment but supported it in principle. I'm considerably more comfortable with it now that it has limited costs to "costs for remedial measures to be undertaken".

Retrospective application was also a subject of considerable debate. The department had always maintained that section 28 of the Nema applied retrospectively. However, a court case Bareki NO and Another v Gencor Ltd found this was not the case. The effect of this decision was that the activities which caused pollution and which were discontinued before the coming into law of Nema on 1 January 1999, and were not covered by other legislation, would become the responsibility of the State even where the polluter was traceable.

The necessary amendments were made in the Bill to ensure that retrospective application is ensured. I hope this particular amendment is well-publicised by the department and that numerous polluters who have not taken responsibility for pollution prior to Nema being promulgated take action before the Green Scorpions come knocking on their door.

On that note let me congratulate the new head of the Environmental Management Inspectorate, Ms Francis Craig. I hope that she will take the Green Scorpions forward, and I urge her to increasingly concentrate on prosecuting those entities that commit pollution-related crimes.

I would also like to suggest that the work of training magistrates on the intricacies of environmental law be further advanced. It is one thing to have good environmental laws on paper, but it is another thing to enforce them and we need the judiciary to help with this. The DA supports the Environmental Laws amendment Bill.

MS C N Z ZIKALALA

 

MR G R MORGAN

Ms C N Z ZIKALALA: Chairperson, the Bill before us today seeks to amend a number of laws, which will ultimately result in an increase in the maximum penalties for environmental offences and the increased jurisdiction of the magistrate's court.

A comparison of penalties for environmental contraventions with selected countries from around the globe revealed that while South Africa's penalty clauses for terms of imprisonment compared favourably with the other countries, our monetary fines were the lowest amongst the participating countries. This Bills also aims to standardise penalties across various environmental crimes which will promote consistency.

The people who commit environmental crimes are robbing our land and its people of its natural treasures and in the process they are becoming extremely wealthy through the exorbitant profits that they make from their illegal gains. The fines that are currently imposed are no deterrent for many of these rich criminals. It is obvious that harsher fines have to be imposed and the fights against environmental crimes must intensified.

The amendment suggested in this Bill we will contribute to the fight against environmental crimes and to the preservation of our natural resources. The IFP supports this Bill. I thank you.

MR S N SWART

 

MS C N Z ZIKALALA

Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP will support this Bill that seeks to amend various other pieces of environmental legislation to protect our environment by strengthening the fight against those who pollute or degrade the environment.

We, over the years, have expressed our concerns regarding Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs. Therefore, we welcome the amendment to ensure that the release of GMOs into the environment will require full environmental impact assessments. Whilst we appreciate that GMO-free zones under the Biodiversity Act was beyond the scope of the current proposed amendments, we note comments that the department could not ignore concerns such as cross-pollination with vegetation or crops in non-GMO zones.

We also welcome the clarification of retrospective liability in terms of section 28 of National Environmental Management Act. And whilst there was that court decision the amendment seeks to address that and we have no doubt that the courts will further give clarity and interpretation as regards section 28. So we as the ACDP will in general support this Bill. Thank you.

MS S RAJBALLY

 

MR S N SWART

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, our national environment is one of the most threatened features of our country – and this by our own people. It is most disheartening to note that many veld fires and other damages to our surroundings have been caused by the negligent or irresponsible behaviour of our people.

In view of this, and the great need for us to preserve our natural environment and its inhabitants, the MF is pleased that the judicial system is being assessed, penalties are being instituted and provision is even being made to imprison these perpetrators.

South Africa may boast of being rich in minerals, fauna, flora, animals and marine life. And as government, in this month that marks our heritage, we need to clamp down on the desecration of our surroundings.

We are extremely interested in monitoring how these laws actually affect the balance of our environment and its effectiveness in addressing this issue.

The MF supports the National Environment Laws Amendment Bill. Thank you, Chairperson.

MRS J CHALMERS

 

MS S RAJBALLY

Mrs J CHALMERS: Chairperson, hon Minister and members of this House, the Bill in front of us today, the National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill, is a critically important piece of legislation with far-reaching consequences for this country. It represents a major and positive step in the challenge to protect our environment for the benefit of present and future generations of South Africans; a requirement set out with absolute clarity in section 24 of our Constitution.

Chairperson, it is an acknowledged fact that our human species have a long and unfortunate history indeed - going back to our very beginnings of using the resources of this our amazing and beautiful planet in a careless, wasteful and often abusive fashion. It has been said that our relative indifference to our impact on the environment springs from somewhere deep within human nature, that the shortsighted view of the future is a hard-wired part of our paleolithic heritage. So, what do we do about increasing our ability to protect and preserve our environment?

South Africa has some of the finest pieces of environmental legislation in the world; most of them have been promulgated since 1994. However, a major problem has existed with regard to getting offenders who transgress these laws to take them seriously. And that's another unfortunate characteristic of our human species. It is an absolute fact that if we think we can get away with committing a wrongdoing, we carry on doing it, especially if we profit by said offence; that is why the Bill in front of us today is so important.

It is important because now, for the first time, it is really going to cost those who degrade and abuse the environment very dear. No longer will the big companies and corporations that are usually also the big polluters, be able to ignore the effect that they are having on air quality; no longer will they – or anyone else – be able to dump their hazardous waste wherever they please, causing significant damage to soil and water supplies and putting the health of communities at risk. If they continue to commit these offences and get caught – and we certainly do have to tighten up our ability to police and catch offenders – they will now have to pay massive fines or serve substantial prison sentences.

Chairperson, the old Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act of 1965 set out that a first conviction for an offence will incur a fine not exceeding R500,00. Now R500,00 could not even be the equivalent of tea money in a large company and certainly could be no deterrent to dumping hazardous waste. Now a first offence will cost the offender on conviction an amount of R2 million or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, the offender would be liable for a fine not exceeding R5 million or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years. This is certainly enough of a deterrent to focus the mind – and the minds of directors of companies – on environmental friendly alternatives to their current modus operandi.

In addition, the Bill proposes a standardisation of penalties across various types of environmental crimes, taking into account the financial gains generated by illegal activities, the financial cost of the damage to the environment and the cost of investigation and prosecution of the alleged offence.

In the past, it had hardly been worth while for the government to spend substantial amounts of money, time and energy on prosecuting offenders when a successful prosecution would yield such a small reward. Indeed, the offender, whether abalone smuggler, hazardous waste dumper or air polluter, would smugly pay the small fine and go on his or her wicked way. Chairperson, this should no longer be the case.

Given the limited time at my disposal, I cannot cover all amendments contained in it, but a second critically important aspect of this Bill is the increased jurisdiction power it gives to the lower courts. Access to justice is another fundamental principle contained in our Constitution and in Nema and this can only be achieved if courts are sufficiently accessible to the public.

Accordingly it is proposed in this Bill that this objective will be better served by providing magistrate's courts time to hear appropriate environmental cases, notwithstanding their normal jurisdictional limitations.

Also, in order to increase the capacity and knowledge in the lower courts, the Department of Environmental and Tourism Affairs has, in collaboration with Justice College, been offering awareness-raising workshops for magistrates in environmental crimes.

Chairperson, this Bill is an exciting new addition to the impressive suite of environmental laws now operating in South Africa. It is now up to us to implement them in order to find a way to ensure the integrity of this beautiful planet and the magnificent life it harbours. Thank you. [Applause.]

THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

 

MRS J CHALMERS

The MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM: Chairperson, I would like to thank all hon members of all parties for supporting this Amendment Bill. I would therefore like to ask the House to pass this legislation. Thank you. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Bill read a second time.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The Bill will be sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: PROTECTED AREAS AMENDMENT BILL

(Second Reading debate)

The MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM: Chairperson, the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Amendment Bill seeks to amend the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act of 2003.

Section 20 is amended by the incorporation of the schedule of national parks into the principal Act. Furthermore, any amendments or additions to the parks are provided for by means of a notice in the Government Gazette thus preventing the Act itself from being amended each time the schedule is amended.

Section 28 is amended by the deletion of the time period of three years after which the declaration of the protected environment has lapsed in the case of land earmarked for inclusion in the national park or nature reserve. The current period of three years is too restrictive and the extension of one year is inadequate. The time period is now indicated in the notice and can be extended by agreement with the owners of the land concerned.

Section 38 is amended to enable the Minister to maintain the administration of the Prince Edward Islands within the department. Given the fact that national parks are national assets and their maintenance is in the public interest, section 38 is further amended by limiting the assignment of all national parks to the South African National Parks, SANParks.

Section 47 is amended to enable the management of flights over special nature reserves, national parks or world heritage sites. Management of these flights is critical to the protection of the environment. This section has been amended to provide that prior written permission subject to conditions that the management authority provides for must first be obtained before flying over the aforementioned areas. Provision is made that contravention of this section is an offence.

Section 54 is amended by adding an enabling section providing for the tax exemption, winding up or dissolution of SANParks and the transfer of its assets. It is further provided that SANParks can only be wound up by an act of this Parliament.

Section 55 is amended by the addition of an empowering section providing for SANParks to manage all existing national parks and any protected areas assigned to it by the Minister. Further provision is now being for the Minister to assign the management of world heritage sites and other protected areas not included under section 55(1)(a) of the Protected Areas Act. Provision is now also made for SANParks to impose traffic rules and set penalties for the contravention thereof in all protected areas assigned to it.

Section 75 of the principal Act is amended by expanding SANParks' authority from retaining as part of its funds monies received for offences committed under the Protected Areas Act within the protected areas assigned to it.

In conclusion, Chairperson, these amendments provide for the final replacements of the old National Parks Act, Act 57 of 1976; the explicit enabling of the Minister to assign areas other than national parks to SANParks thus providing for the further rationalisation of the management of our protected areas; the alignment of this Act with the Income Tax Act to ensure SANParks' compliance thus enabling SANParks to gain the necessary benefits; and further enabling clauses with the necessary checks and balances for SA National Parks to better manage those areas assigned to it. Thank you. [Applause]

MR L ZITA

 

THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

Mr L ZITA: Chairperson, comrade Minister, colleagues, the National Environment Management: Protected Areas Amendment Bill of 2008 seeks to further strengthen the existing gaps that are in the original National Environmental Management Act of 1998, with particular reference to national parks and protected areas.

The Bill seeks to add a schedule detailing areas of national parks currently in the National Parks Act, Act 57 of 1976, to the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act. The Bill also seeks to provide that management of special nature reserves may be assigned to any person, organisation or organ of state, but that the management of national parks can only be assigned to SANParks.

The Bill proposes that flying corridors over national parks, heritage sites and specific areas need the prior permission of the management authority. The Bill also makes provision for lodging an appeal with the Minister against any decision of the management authority for measures pertaining to the winding up and dissolution of SANParks; that SANParks manages all the existing parks, nature reserves and protected environments that are assigned to them; and for the traffic fines in parks.

With regard to clause 1 of this Bill, the amendment of section 20 with reference to national parks and their areas are contained in Schedule 1 of the National Parks Act of 1976. It is now desirable to repeal the said Act and have all provisions dealing with national parks in the Act.

Furthermore, any amendments or additions to national parks are provided for by means of a notice in the Gazette thus preventing the Act itself from being amended each time the Schedule is amended.

Section 28 of the Act contains a time period for an area of land to be included in the national park or nature reserve. The present period is too restrictive and the extension of one year is inadequate. The Bill seeks to extend the time period with the agreement of all parties concerned.

In terms of section 38(1) of the Act, the Minister must assign the management of a special nature reserve or nature reserve to a suitable person, organisation or the state. As SANParks has exclusive rights to the name, it is not desirable to have multiple organisations running national parks. It is therefore recommended that the "must" be substituted with "may", thus giving the Minister a discretion, and that national parks are only assigned to SANParks.

Section 47 relates to the control of flights over special national reserves, national parks or heritage sites. This is of the utmost importance for the protection of life and the environment. To effect this section 47 has been amended to provide that prior written permission, subject to conditions provided by the management authority, is first obtained before flying over the aforementioned areas. Provision is made for the contravention of this section to be an offence.

There is no enabling section in the Act providing for tax exemption, the winding up or dissolution of SANParks and the transfer of its assets. The proposed amendment provides for this if the transferee has similar interests and is exempted from income tax in terms of Income Tax Act of 1962.

After receiving public inputs from the hearing that we had convened, we felt that the issue goes beyond questions of tax administration to a possible dissolution of SANParks. As a committee we felt that such a prospect is undesirable and if for whatever reasons it would be contemplated, it has to go through Parliament.

Our vigilance in this regard flows from the fact that biodiversity, of which SANParks is a custodian, is one of the competitive and strategic factors of the bioeconomy of the twenty-first century, thus the need for effective governance and protection.

As a committee we felt that there is indeed a need to review the biodiversity legislative regime, particularly with regard to threats such as the introduction of genetically modified organisms. We have asked the department to come back to us on this question.

With regard to the amendment of section 5, the Act has no empowering section providing for SANParks to manage protected areas other than national parks. Further provision has now been made for Minister to assign the management of world heritage sites and protected areas not included under section 55(1)(a) of the Act, subject to written documentation by the Minister.

Furthermore, to increase its exposure, provision in now made for SANParks to attend international and similar initiatives identified by the Minister.

As roads in the park are neither national nor provincial, provision is now made for SANParks to make and enforce traffic rules in all areas administered by it. Previously, SANParks could only retain as part of its funds money received in respect of offences committed within national parks. This is now expanded to include money collected for all offences committed under the Act.

The amendment of clause 8 seeks to add a new schedule to the Act and it is motivated by having reference to national parks contained only in the Act with a detailed description of the various parks.

With regard to the financial implications of the Bill, we found that it doesn't create further financial liabilities for the department. As the ANC, we support this Bill. Thank you.

MR G R MORGAN

 

MR L ZITA

Mr G R MORGAN: Chairperson, hon members, Minister, our protected areas are national assets and belong to all the people of South Africa. These protected areas are havens for biodiversity and heritage, both of which have intrinsic value.

It is important at all times that our parks are well funded, that they create opportunities for wealth creation for people living in and around the parks, and that opportunities to access these parks, particularly for poor communities, are maximised.

While attending the People's Assembly in Mpumalanga last week,

the portfolio committee had an opportunity to conduct oversight in the Kruger National Park. I believe it was important for all the members of the committee to see firsthand this important national asset and to understand some of the complexities of running a park.

Among other things, we were fortunate to visit the open classroom run by the My Acre of Africa initiative. This unique project provides access to the park for many learners who would have otherwise never have the opportunity to visit the park.

The educators teach the children who attend workshops here about the environment and why protecting it is important. I would like to congratulate all people involved with My Acre of Africa and I wish it every success.

Turning specifically to the Bill, the Bill provides for provisions that regulate flight corridors over protected areas. The DA argues that the original proposed provisions were not strict enough as they provided too much discretion to park authorities.

Flight corridors and how they are constructed have a fundamental impact on the sense of place of parks. I was happy that an amendment to the Bill was secured which provides for the need for environmental authorisations for flight corridors in terms of section 24 of the National Environmental Management Act to be implemented.

This means that the parks will be obliged to use an environmental impact assessment or similar environmental management tool when establishing such corridors. The clause related to provisions for the dissolution of SANParks caused considerable consternation amongst many members of the public who made submissions to the portfolio committee, mainly because it conceivably allowed for national parks to be transferred to private entities.

My personal opinion is that there was no malicious intent by the department in its original drafting as SANParks needed to comply with the Income Tax Act in this regard.

I agree, however, that the provisions needed to be strengthened. The committee subsequently amended the clause to reflect that if dissolution occurred the assets would be transferred to the state or to an equivalent Schedule 3A public entity contemplated in the Public Finance Management Act.

For good measure, the committee also added that the winding up should be done by an Act of Parliament. I believe all stakeholders were satisfied with these amendments which reinforce the view that our national parks belong to all South Africans. The DA supports the Bill. [Appplause.]

Mrs C N Z ZIKALALA

 

MR G R MORGAN

Mrs C N Z ZIKALALA: Chairperson, a big part of our country's appeal is its natural beauty as well as its unique characteristics. Our nature reserves, national parks, world heritage sites and other protected areas are a key component in the preservation of these assets. They must, therefore, be maintained and managed with the outmost care and consideration so as to ensure the sustainable development of our natural assets.

The Bill before us today introduces amendments that will go a long way in achieving this. The expansion of these functions of SANParks is a key feature of this Bill. Its expanded functions mean that it can now manage protected areas which are not national parks, as well as world heritage sites assigned to it.

It can also set penalties and enforce traffic rules in such national parks, special nature reserves, protected environments, world heritage sites or other protected areas assigned to it.

I am also pleased that provision has been made for SANParks to participate in identified initiatives as this will increase their exposure and knowledge and give them a chance to share the knowledge that they have. The additional functions are empowering and will no doubt contribute to sustainable development and to protected areas being better managed and preserved.

However, we hope that capacity constraints will not hinder the performance and effectiveness of the additional functions which SANParks will be tasked with. The IFP supports the Bill. I thank you.

MR S N SWART

 

MRS C N Z ZIKALALA

Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, Minister, as was indicated, this Bill seeks to provide a comprehensive list of all national parks and to assign such parks to SANParks.

We have studied the Bill. We also understand the concerns expressed by Animal Rights Africa relating to the possible privatisation of our parks and we believe that their fears regarding the disposal of our parks and the disposal of what was termed "family silver" have been allayed.

We also see the provision for flight corridors. This clearly is necessary to protect life and the environment; and the management authority will be imposing certain conditions. It is interesting, though, that we notice that clearly the Defence Force and the testing of the South African Air Force aircraft is allowed within identified protected air spaces. One wonders what impact this will have on the environment.

We also notice the provision for traffic fines. I wonder who would be brave enough to man these speed traps in the Kruger National Park, but I understand the rangers are already doing that! So we welcome that provision. The ACDP will, therefore, accordingly support this Bill.

MS S RAJBALLY

 

Mr S N SWART

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, this National Environment Management: Protected Areas Bill could not have come at a better time than in the month that we celebrate and uphold our heritage - in terms of which the protection of our natural environment falls far short.

We have a vast variety of flora and fauna and other life forms in our national parks that we without a doubt consider to be a national responsibility. In view of the amending Bill, we are pleased that Parliament ensures exactly this.

It is unfortunate that poachers still manage to invade these parks and rape our environment of its riches. We also expressed displeasure at the suspension of the ban on the culling of elephants and we do certainly advise the administration of preservation of all life. However, the MF does support the Bill. I thank you.

Mr D K MALULEKE

 

MS S RAJBALLY

Mr D K MALULEKE: Chairperson, hon members, comrades and friends, the Bill before us today requires reference to the ANC's broad policy statement contained in our principles of environmental policy. The ANC believes that all citizens of South Africa, present and future, have a right to a safe and healthy environment and a life of wellbeing. The broad objective of our environmental policy will be to fulfil this right. In this context, growth and development within South Africa will be based on the principles of sustainability.

The sustainability of our environment undoubtedly depends on a thought-out legislative outcome, which ensures the designation and protection of certain areas as worthy of being excluded from unreasonable exploitation, and should therefore be preserved and where possible and necessary be restored to its natural state.

Section 24 of the Constitution grants rights to environmental security for every person, including people's wellbeing and rights to participate and enjoy the benefits of a healthy and well protected environment. This constitutional directive has been enhanced by the implementation of the National Environmental Management Act, Nema, of 1998. This Act also provides mechanisms for the people to participate in decisions and activities that safeguard a healthy environment upon which the economy depends.

The amendment of the Bill is to ensure that the principal Act, the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act of 2003 is strengthened in the following manner: to make provision for the Minister to periodically update the schedule of the national parks; to extend the period of time for the inclusion of an area of land into a national park; to provide for the assignment of national parks, special nature reserves and world heritage sites to SANParks; to make provision for flight corridors and permission of the management authority to fly over national parks, special nature reserves and world heritage sites taking into account the protection of the biodiversity and for public purposes; and to provide for the winding up and dissolution of SANParks for tax purposes, though this dissolution will require a parliamentary approval of a two-thirds majority. The ANC supports the Amendment Bill.

THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

 

MR D MALULEKE

The MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM: Chairperson, it is very appropriate that we're dealing with this legislation on the first day of National Parks Week. For the remainder of this week access to most of our national parks, with the exclusion of one or two, will be free of charge to the public.

Over the last three years we have invested just over R500 million into our national parks, not only consolidating our conservation estate, but also improving infrastructure. We now have 22 national parks in the country and a conservation estate of 4 million ha.

This legislation will help us to better manage our national parks and I would like to thank all hon members and parties for their support.

Debate concluded.

Bill read a second time.

JURISDICTION OF REGIONAL COURTS AMENDMENT BILL

 

(Consideration of Bill)

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela) I now recognises the Chief Whip of the Majority Party.

There was no debate.

CHIEF WHIP OF MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move that the Bill as amended be passed.

Motion agreed to.

Bill, as amended, accordingly passed.

RENAMING OF HIGH COURTS BILL

(Consideration of Bill)

There was no debate.

DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson I move that the Bill be passed.

Motion agreed to.

Bill accordingly passed.

THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS IN ADVANCING NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION AND DISARMAMENT AND SECURING THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY

(Debate on IPU Topic)

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela) I don't have a speaker's

list with me so I am not sure who is next. [Laughter] Thank you. Hon Maloni, I see you are not sitting in your seat, so I didn't know whether to call you or not.

Mrs L MALONEY: Chairperson, the topic we are dealing with today is one of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, topics. The topic is about disarmament and securing entry into Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of which our Parliament is a signatory. This debate is taking pace at the right time when countries are yearning for peace and stability in the world. This treaty we have signed, as a country, aspires to bringing about that reality.

We have borrowed this world from future generations. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to make sure that we nurture it and do all that we can in ensuring that future generations do not carry the costs for which we are responsible.

As a country South Africa holds that a state must be allowed to exercise its right to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with articles 1 and 2. Article 1 states that each nuclear weapon state undertakes not to transfer to any recipient nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not in any way to assist any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacturer or otherwise acquire such weapons or explosive devices.

Article 2 states that each non-nuclear weapon state undertakes not to receive from any source nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, not to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices and not to receive any assistance in their manufacture.

What is the policy around that? A policy affirming the principle that benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products, which may be derived by the nuclear weapon states from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all parties to the treaty, whether they are a nuclear weapon or non-nuclear weapon state.

Our stance, as South Africa, has consistently reiterated the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with Article 1 and 2, which I have already alluded to, of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT. South Africa cannot support any restrictions on the inalienable right of states that fully comply with their obligations under the NPT.

While we respect the sovereign right of any state that may decide not to exercise its right, the right to peaceful application of the atomic energy remains an inalienable one.

This Parliament is advocating the total ban of enforcement vis-à-vis the partial test ban, which resulted in countries such as North Korea, Iran and India to manipulate that part of the resolution by testing their nuclear weapons in their respective countries. We, therefore, call on the US and other superpower states, eg, Germany, France and others not to play the role of a referee and a player at the same time.

As this Parliament, we are proposing that an impartial body, that is, the IAEA, must be capacitated and more resources must be pumped to that structure to make sure that more power is given to it so that it isn't just few individual countries taking control of the situation. I thank you very much. [Applause.]

Mr J SELFE

 

Mrs L MALONEY

Mr J SELFE: Chairperson, there is something almost surreal about debating the merits of nuclear nonproliferation on a day like today, since the only thermonuclear explosion that threatens South Africa is happening within the governing party! On a more serious note, ever since the discovery of nuclear power, scientists and politicians have realised its twin capacities to do harm or good, to sow destruction or to create prosperity.

At the heart of the global debate on nuclear nonproliferation is the simple question of how one allow states to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, while preventing those states from developing weapons of mass destruction. This debate is full of hypocrisy. The five states – the so-called "nuclear weapon states" - are allowed to have weapons of mass destruction. These states, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China have some 30 000 nuclear weapons between them.

They are allowed to have these weapons simply because they happened to have nuclear weapons before 1968, which is when the text to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the so-called "NPT", was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The rest of the world isn't allowed to have those weapons. However, some states do have them despite not being allowed to have them. These states include India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Other states, notably Iran, may have the capacity to produce such weapons. South Africa is in a class of its own. Between 1979 and 1989, it produced six indigenously developed nuclear weapons and then dismantled these to the satisfaction of the International Atomic Energy Agency and acceded to the NTP in 1991.

The use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes is regulated in international law by the NPT. Article 4 gives all states, and I quote:

The inalienable right to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty.

In other words, the NTP allows states to enrich uranium or produce plutonium and to construct facilities to generate nuclear power, provided such facilities are open to inspection by the IAEA and the IAEA is also provided with information about the location and capacities of nuclear weapons at the disposal of the nuclear weapon states. This is how it's supposed to work in theory.

The practise is far more complex. The development of nuclear technologies is so rapid that it is difficult to police all such developments. It is relatively easy to further enrich uranium used to generate power to the stage where it can be used for destruction purposes. The states can obstruct the IAEA inspectors or hide their facilities from inspection.

More complex still is the situation of the weapon states that are not part of the NPT, such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Such states should, theoretically, be sanctioned but this happens inconsistently usually because of other political or strategic reasons, notably, being the allies of the United States in the war against terror.

Likewise, nonstates, such as terrorist organisations, could very easily acquire weapons. Some have come close to acquiring this capacity in the past, but the biggest challenge of all lies in the progress towards disarmament. While some states have the capacity for nuclear weapons, other states will want to protect themselves and will want acquire similar or even more destructive weapons in order to do so.

At the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT, it seemed as if at last solid progress was being made towards the goal of disarmament. The Final Document adopted at the conclusion of the conference included an unequivocal undertaking by the five nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, which could then lead to nuclear disarmament.

Regrettably, the Bush administration subsequently withdrew its support for key aspects of the undertaking and the continued bellicose attitudes of both the US and Russia has set back this goal. Indeed, the 2005 NPT Review Conference was unable to adopt any agreement at all.

The progress towards disarmament will greatly be facilitated by the implementation of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, the so-called "CTBT". It is very difficult to produce new armaments if the states are prohibited from testing them. The early entry into force of this treaty and a moratorium on nuclear testing, pending the entry into force of the treaty, were some of the practical steps that South Africa, as one of the member states of the New Agenda Coalition, suggested at and which were adopted by the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

South Africa has both signed and acceded to the CTBT, but unfortunately not all SADC states have done so. Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mauritius have still to accede to the treaty. One of the practical things that this Parliament can do to advance the entry into force of the CTBT is to raise this matter pertinently at the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

Maintaining and increasing international control over fissile material and the specialised devices needed to build nuclear armaments remains an elusive goal. Despite the fact that the NPT has more party states than any other arms control treaty, its success in lowering the threat of a thermonuclear meltdown has been patchy. It has failed to control states that simply ignore the treaty or those states that have opaque nuclear development programmes.

There are sharp disagreements on the principle of irreversibility, with respect to nuclear disarmament measures, on strengthening compliance enforcement and export controls and on limiting the transfer of nuclear fuel cycle technologies. These difficulties and disagreements need, however, to be assessed in terms of the alternative, which is a world held hostage by weapons that can cause so much devastation that the future of humankind as a whole that we will simply not be able to live on this planet. We have no option. We must, as parliaments and governments, continue to find one another in the goal of nuclear disarmament. I thank you. [Applause.]

MR J H VAN DER MERWE

 

MR J SELFE

Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, the IFP welcomes this debate on a crucially important international issue which threatens mankind as a whole. Nuclear weapons represent the most deadly force on earth with the potential to destroy whole cities and nations, exterminating hundreds of millions of human beings.

During World War II, the Americans destroyed the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which brought that war to an end. After that, more and more countries developed nuclear weapons as a means of deterring their enemies from acts of aggression. The perverse doctrine of Mutually-Assured Destruction, Mad, kept the major powers from using nuclear weapons during the Cold War, whilst other countries such as India, Pakistan and even South Africa joined the nuclear club from the 1970s onwards.

The end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union led to a more dangerous world as unpredictable countries such as North Korea also raced to acquire the Bomb. The power of having nuclear weapons and their deterrent effect have meant that voluntary disarmament has not had much success. Only South Africa voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons, while it took hard sanctions to convince the North Koreans and Libyans to stop weapon development.

Nuclear proliferation is continuing as it is thought that even Syria is seeking nuclear weapons, perhaps with the help of the North Koreans. As showed by recent arrests and convictions, a thriving black market exists for nuclear components. Although Iran strongly denies that it is looking to developing nuclear weapons, that country's nuclear programme is viewed with great unease and suspicion in the West.

What should parliamentarians do to advance nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation? In my view, there are at least four steps that parliaments could take. Firstly, in democratic systems where there is a separation of powers, parliaments could hold their executive to account for its policies, vis-à-vis nuclear development and nuclear energy used, as well as their obligations in terms of international treaties.

Secondly, they could and should support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency that has been charged with advancing nonproliferation through inspections and certification.

Thirdly, they should keep nuclear disarmaments and nonproliferation high on their agendas by debating those issues regularly; and fourthly, they should co-operate in forums such as the International Parliamentary Union and others to present a unified front against nuclear weapons development and in favour of disarmament.

Nuclear power could be harnessed peacefully for electricity-generation. It presents humankind with a source of clean energy that would limit carbon emissions and address global warming. But, as parliamentarians, we should remain vigilant and constantly be careful about nuclear arms development and proliferation. That should be our duty to the people who elected us and to mankind. [Applause.]

Mr G T MADIKIZA

 

Mr J H VAN DER MERWE

Mr G T MADIKIZA: Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, the advent of nuclear weapons has fundamentally shifted international relations. Nuclear weapons were used to end the Second World War. They also ushered in the Cold War era and the politics of "might makes right". Not a single life on this planet was unaffected by the brutal politics inspired by nuclear might.

Under this constant threat of a nuclear holocaust, the lives of ordinary people even in democracies was often governed, not by the parliaments they elected, but the considerations and agendas of the two super powers. The decades of intrigue and proxy warfare that happened during the Cold War era led to a number of states pursuing their own warfare capacity.

Proliferation of nuclear weapons made the world even less safe and inspired others to also acquire this ultimate deterrent. As long as the US and USSR remained locked in a race to build new and bigger nuclear weapons and stronger missiles to deliver them, the less credibility there was for any attempt to prevent proliferation among other states.

Eventually the super powers acknowledged the futility and madness of the nuclear arms race and the complex negotiations for stockpile reductions commenced. Alas, this came after several other states had also acquired this terrible technology. South Africa has been the only country to date which has voluntarily abandoned the nuclear warfare programme and dismantled its existing stockpiles.

The good news is that the majority of nuclear states have elected parliaments. They include countries such as the US, Russia, UK, France, India, Pakistan and Israel, whilst countries such as China are moving more towards more democratic and accountable forms of governance. Therefore it is imperative that we encourage them to reduce their stockpiles and cease further testing. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mrs C DUDLEY

 

Mr G T MADIKIZA

Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson, the following extract taken from No Immediate Danger, Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, written by biostatistician, Rosalie Bertelie, would, I hope, help us as we consider the role of Parliament in advancing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and securing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

In the dim light of a hospital room, seven-year-old Jimmy was remembering the day on which he was told that he had leukaemia. He remembered his mother's tears, his father's bewildered anger, and the alien feeling of the hospital environment. Then his mind replayed the nausea, the diarrhoea caused by radiation and chemotherapy, his hair falling out and kids laughing at him. Jimmy died gently, exhausted from having lost so much blood. His tissue had broken down completely, and he was bleeding from every opening in his body. His bed looked like a battlefield.

Jimmy's story is just one of hundreds of thousands of similar stories related to the nuclear age. Radiation released from every step of the nuclear weapons production cycle and in the testing of the nuclear weapons, has spread mostly unnoticed and insidiously around the globe. Radioactivity has leaked into the environment from underground nuclear tests; large areas of land are uninhabitable as a result of atmospheric and underground nuclear testing; and indigenous people, their children and their children's health and livelihoods have been affected by nuclear weapons tests.

The radiation we are talking about causes congenital defects, mental retardation, immune destruction, cancer, stillbirths and other health problems. It is also responsible for environmental problems. With this in mind, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty, CTBT, was established. This forbids nuclear weapons test explosions and any other nuclear explosions. It aims at eliminating nuclear weapons by constraining the development and qualitative improvement of new and more advanced nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons production, testing, possession, deployment, clean-up, and containment of radioactive products are extremely dangerous and hazardous to both the environment and the human race. Clearly parliaments have a responsibility and a role in ensuring that people and nations are protected, by constraining and prohibiting the production of nuclear weapons. I thank you.

Ms S RAJBALLY

Mrs C DUDLEY

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF is of the understanding that the SA government is set to invest R4 million in talks on nuclear energy in the country. We are of the opinion that if this has been considered by the executive, then it would be with good reason and in consideration of our international responsibilities and agreements.

The term "nuclear" always had adverse effects because of thoughts of its uses and side effects. It has been proven that in many instances nuclear energy had and has effects on community health and is a detrimental threat in war. However, we are eager to see what the environmental impact assessment report and the specialist studies of the proposed pebble bed modular reactor, PBMR, demonstration plant in Koeberg has to show on this matter.

However, the MF sees no harm in engaging in talks on nuclear energy. In the report drafted by Eskom on new conventional nuclear power station, it has been said that, and I quote:

Nuclear power emits proportionately the same quantity of greenhouse gases as renewable energy forms like wind and solar power, and only a hundredth of the average emissions of power that has been generated by coal, oil and natural gas.

It has further been indicated that nuclear power has the potential to make substantial contributions to sustainable development and a significant contribution to reducing South Africa's gas emissions. In view of this and our international commitment to tackle the problems of our ozone layer, the MF feels confident in our considering nuclear energy and opening the debate on its pros and cons.

The MF would be very interested in exploring every avenue that could contribute to a better living for our people and the development of South Africa.

MR E N N NGCOBO

 

MS S RAJBALLY

Mr E N N NGCOBO: Chairperson, hon Ministers and hon members, I stand here before you to debate the role of Parliament in advancing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and securing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, CNTBT.

The history of the CNTBT can be traced back to the early fifties, when public concern was roused as a result of radioactive fallout from the atmosphere owing to nuclear testing and the escalating arms race. Over 50 explosions were registered between 16 July 1945 and 31 December 1953, when the first nuclear explosive test was conducted by the United States at Alamogordo in New Mexico.

It was in 1954 that Prime Minister Nehru of India voiced the heightened international concern and proposed the elimination of all nuclear test explosions worldwide.

However, within the context of the Cold War atmosphere at the time, scepticism in the capability to verify compliance with the CNTBT posed a major obstacle to any agreement. It was only in 1963 that limited success was achieved with the signing of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, under water and in space.

However, even at this partial level of nuclear test banning, France and China never signed the agreement. A major step towards nonproliferation of nuclear weapons was subsequently achieved with the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, nonnuclear weapon states were prohibited from, inter alia, possessing, manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. All signatories, including nuclear weapon states, were committed to the goal of total nuclear disarmament.

It is interesting to note at this juncture that it was almost about the same time, in 1965, that the United States decided to provide the apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa with the Safari Research Reactor that is being used today at Pelindaba. This gave the apartheid regime the power to develop six of the seven nuclear devices that it sought to use as what it termed "a nuclear deterrent strategy" based on nuclear terror against the so-called "forces of communism" advancing on its northern borders.

However, it did not end there; in 1977, the US observed the nuclear test explosion conducted by the apartheid regime around the South Pole south of Cape Town. This test was played down by the US government.

On 13 October 1999, the US openly rejected the ratification of the CNTBT and dealt a blow to this effort that was first proposed by the then Prime Minister of India in 1954 and followed up by all parties to the Partial Test-Ban Treaty in 1993 with strong support from UN General Assembly.

It was only in 1996 that the CNTBT draft was finalised with its two annexes, albeit without a consensus on the adoption of the text being reached. This was after Australia decided to send the text to the UN General Assembly in New York where it was submitted as a draft resolution.

On 10 September 1996, the treaty was finally adopted by a large majority comprising more than two thirds of member states in the UN General Assembly. The US has finally signed the treaty, but without ratifying it.

An ongoing debate on the treaty is that if the US succeeds in ratifying the treaty, this would lead, firstly, to an international norm that would push other nuclear-capable countries such as Pakistan, India, North Korea, etc, to sign. Secondly, it would not compromise US national security because the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Programme serves as a means of maintaining current US nuclear capabilities without physical detonation.

Thirdly, it would lead to constraining worldwide nuclear proliferation by vastly limiting a country's ability to make nuclear arms that only such testing can ensure.

In terms of the monitoring of the CNTBT, the existing variety of technology is to be used to monitor compliance with the treaty. This includes seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound as well as radionuclide monitoring. Such technologies are used to monitor the underground waters and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion.

An aggressive approach must, therefore, be sought through instruments such as IPU and regional and continental blocs of the globe to force reluctant nuclear powers to ratify the treaty in support of the efforts that have so far been developed by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation. This is an international body based in Vienna, created to build a verification regime. Its duties include the establishment and provisional operation of the network of monitoring stations, the creation of an international data centre and the development of on-site inspection capabilities.

As we speak, 337 facilities of the monitoring network have been established and allocated all over the globe by this commission. By January 2008, almost 70% of such facilities were already operational for this purpose. I thank you. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

The House adjourned at 16:34.

END OF TAKE


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