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DA facing defeat in legislature vote on Western Cape environmental commissioner post

DA Chief Whip Mireille Wenger will advise DA members to apply their minds to the issue. File picture

DA Chief Whip Mireille Wenger will advise DA members to apply their minds to the issue. File picture

Published Jun 2, 2021


Cape Town - The DA might lose the vote to amend the provincial constitution to remove the post of environmental commissioner if it comes to a vote in the provincial legislature.

The vote will need a two-thirds majority of 26 votes, and with the DA’s eligible voting members numbering only 23 after the loss of former Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, the party will have to convince three opposition members to vote with it.

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Only the EFF, with two members, had not made its position clear by the time of publication.

ANC leader Cameron Dugmore has called on the DA to admit defeat and withdraw the constitutional amendment.

“All the public hearings have overwhelmingly come out in support of the retention of the post, while the submission made last week by the former DA Chief Whip in the provincial legislature, Mark Wiley, coming out against the amendment, shows just how out of touch this DA caucus is with its membership.

“We meanwhile acknowledge and appreciate the public support given by Al-Jama-ah on the environment commissioner issue.”

Freedom Front Plus (FF+) MPL Peter Marais said: “I am more than opposed to the amendment. The FF+ will welcome a new provincial law extending such powers to protect and safeguard our environment. Instead the DA wants to remove our powers, leaving environmental issues entirely in the hands of central government.”

Good party MPL Brett Herron said: “We will oppose the proposal to eliminate the environmental commissioner from the provincial constitution.

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“The protection of our environment is a matter of generational justice. What we do now about climate change and the protection of our environment affects future generations.

“We cannot deprive future generations of their right to live in an environment that is clean, safe, agriculturally productive, water resilient and economically inclusive,” Herron said.

“The role needs strengthening as we face climate change, rising temperatures, food and water insecurity and rapid urbanization.

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“As a region that has experienced a decade of water insecurity the suggestion that the protection of the environment by an independent body is not needed would mean we have learnt nothing from our own experiences.”

DA Chief Whip in legislature, Mireille Wenger said: “The members on the committee are currently in a public participation process, which has just been expanded, to hear what residents think and feel. This legislation is 23 years old. Is it still relevant, does it need to change, does it need to be scrapped? These are unanswered questions at this stage.

“These elements will inform how DA members chose to vote when it eventually comes to the House. I will advise DA members to apply their minds to this complex issue and what is in the best interests of the province.”

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ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians offered a compromise solution and said: “I think that the constitution can be amended from saying we must appoint an Environmental Commissioner, to say we may appoint one. This will allow, if necessary in the future, for such an appointment.”

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Cape Argus