Residents of the Saraah Bartman and Amathole districts as well as the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality have mixed views on the Gas Amendment Bill. 

On the one hand, some people reject the Bill outright, because in their view gas is toxic to the environment and marine life. Others welcomed it, but pointed to sections of the Bill that they think should be amended. They called for the reduction of a R2 million per day penalty and the powers of Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, as proposed in section 20 and 23 of the Bill respectively.

The huge penalty would drive small companies out of business and discourage new players in the sector, they said. On powers of the minister, members of the community appealed to the committee to consider putting mechanisms in place for checks and balances, including public hearings and Parliament oversight.

In all the public hearings, community members had questions for the committee on some sections of the Bill. However, the committee Chairperson Mr Sahlulele Luzipo repeatedly stated that the committee is unable to express any view during the public hearing stage, saying that doing so could influence the public hearings and affect their outcome.

“The proposals in the Gas Amendment Bill do not belong to the committee. They belong to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and, as the committee, we are only conducting public hearings to listen to the views of the public with regards to these proposals,” said Mr Luzipo.

Furthermore, Mr Luzipo said that the committee will only deliberate on the Bill at the end of the public hearing process, taking into consideration all the views of the public.

Having concluded public hearings in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, the committee is proceeding to the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State.

Justice Molafo
20 January 2022