Address in the Debate: Budget Vote 29 - Environmental Affairs by the UDM President (16 April 2010)

 

Chairperson, honourable Minister and Deputy Minister, and honourable Members

The UDM supports budget vote 29.

Environmental degradation, especially in disadvantaged communities is well-documented. I remember shortly after his release and return to his home in Qunu, President Mandela asked me about the absence of trees and bird song, which he had fond childhood memories of. My response was that because of poverty and a lack of development people had chopped down all the trees and the birds had migrated. The challenge for South Africans, under the leadership of this Department, is to restore the biosphere in all communities, based on the plant and animal life that were historically indigenous to each area. This must go hand-in-hand with better water management, as well as improving education for communities on environmental conservation. These steps would go a long way towards reducing the negative impact of climate change on a micro level.

Government should encourage the newly-structured Department of Environmental and the National Planning Commission to work closely together to ensure that environmental considerations are integrated in the policies of all three tiers of Government. We are signatories to many international treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the recent Copenhagen declaration. For instance, it is this Department and the Planning Commission that should advise whether pursuing energy generation through coal or nuclear power stations are in line with our environmental obligations.

I submit that it is these two departments that should reign in any abuse of national resources, in order to preserve it for future generations.

The Department should capitalise on the Fifa World Cup, by identifying certain days (perhaps public holidays and weekends) to encourage the public to participate in cleaning up public spaces. I speak from experience, because we did that in the Transkei from 1988 to 1993 on the Independence Day. In this way we would be inculcating a culture of ownership among South Africans. Civil servants from all departments could be encouraged to participate in this. A project of this nature doesn’t require any consultants or a white paper! The Department should also appeal to motorists in particular about the littering that occurs on our highways.

I thank you.