The ANC is rallying legislators and citizens of the province to fight attempts to block the establishment of an environmental commissioner. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The ANC is rallying legislators and citizens of the province to fight attempts to block the establishment of an environmental commissioner. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Keep Western Cape environmental commissioner, says ANC

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published May 10, 2021

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Cape Town - The ANC is rallying legislators and citizens of the province to fight attempts to block the establishment of an environmental commissioner ahead of the public participation process in the Constitution of the Western Cape First Amendment Bill on Tuesday.

Speaking in the legislature during Thursday’s sitting, leader of the provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC) urged legislators to fight the move to scrap the environmental commissioner post from the provincial constitution.

“We need to salute the foresight of those who drafted this provision and especially those who proposed the environmental commissioner.

“On Tuesday, the first public hearing on the proposed amendment to the Western Cape constitution will take place in the Mosselbay Town Hall at 3pm. The DA provincial government is proposing to remove the environmental commissioner in its entirety from the provincial constitution.

“We recall how we as the ANC and civil society had to fight for over 10 years to ensure that the children’s commissioner was appointed last year. As the ANC we believe that not only do we need to appoint the environmental commissioner without delay, but that we need to add to its functions.

“Let us attend the public hearings and make our voices heard. Like we did with the children’s commissioner, we will take up this fight. We do so because it is in the best interests of our province.”

Leader of the provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC)- Photographer - Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Announcing the public participation exercise standing committee on the premier and constitutional matters, chairperson Ricardo Mackenzie, said the purpose of the amendment bill is, among other things, to repeal the provisions regarding the commissioner for the environment.

Other changes envisioned in the amendment include changing the provincial constitution so as to align it with the country’s Constitution when dealing with, among other things, the loss of membership of the provincial legislature.

“The bill will also align the provincial constitution to the national Constitution with regards to the calling and setting of dates for an election of the legislature, the definition of a money bill, provincial intervention in local government, the imposition of surcharges by the legislature and the raising of loans by the provincial government,” said Mackenzie.

Clause 72(1) of the provincial constitution adopted in 1997 by the legislature and then certified by the Constitutional Court, declares that the environmental commissioner must:

(a) Monitor urban and rural development which may impact on the environment.

(b) Investigate complaints in respect of environmental administration.

(c) Recommend a course of conduct to any provincial organ of state or municipality whose activities have been investigated.

(d) Act in accordance with the principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations.

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