Western Cape government seeks environmental commissioner
Cape Town - The provincial cabinet discussed the appointment of an environmental commissioner and the matter will soon be before the Western Cape legislature, according to Environmental Affairs and Development Planning department head, Piet van Zyl.
The issue, which has been raised a number of times over the past year, came up again during deliberations on the department’s annual report by the standing committee on environmental affairs and development planning.
ANC spokesperson on environmental affairs and development planning, Pat Marran, and Good MPL Brett Herron both wanted to know the status of the position, which has been pending since 1998.
Van Zyl said: “It is coincidental that on the day that we have our annual reporting engagement with the standing committee, that the matter is actually an agenda item before the provincial cabinet agenda.
“Cabinet authorisation is being requested to reintroduce the amendment to the Western Cape constitution,” said Van Zyl.
“With the Premier and Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell having signed off on the cabinet submission, the agenda item will be passed by the cabinet and authorisation given that after certification by legal services, the draft amendment bill will be submitted to the Speaker to be taken through the parliamentary process.
“This should happen hopefully before the end of the calendar year,” said Van Zyl.
Meanwhile, Bredell said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and disaster management regulations in respect of the national lockdown alert levels led to several knock-on effects in the department. The 2019/20 annual report was compiled during these uncertain times.
“The pandemic has been prioritised in the department’s business continuity plan in respect of its response strategy assessing the impact of the pandemic has had on service delivery and performance, but the real impact of Covid-19 on the department will be reflected in next year’s annual report,” said Bredell.
The chairperson of Cape Nature, Denver Hendricks, said: “The year under review saw the province emerge from a debilitating drought. Although we have recovered from a perilous situation, only certain parts of the province have managed to restore or stabilise their water resources, while the water supply of others remains in dire straits.
“Our attention to the quality of water sources will need to continue and people will have to persevere in their careful usage of this precious resource,” said Hendricks.