OPINION

How did 480 WCape farmers get hunting licenses - Max Ozinsky

ANC MPL calls on public protector to investigate whether MEC's actions were legal

Text of the letter from Max Ozinsky, MPP, ANC member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, to the Public Protector, September 1 2011:

Mr Lose, on behalf of:

Mr R van Rensburg
Provincial Representative
Public Protector SA: Western Cape
Cape Town

Dear Mr van Rensburg

I would like to lodge a complaint with your office about the processes followed by the provincial government, in particular MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Mr Anton Bredell, but also the Board of CapeNature, with regard to changes made to the provincial hunting regulations and the process of issuing hunting permits to farmers.

It would seem that there has been no lawful public participation process followed in this regard. The MEC and provincial government under direction of Premier Zille, after a meeting with farmers in November 2010, made their mind up to change the regulations to win the political support of a particular group of farmers for the DA, without any regard for the legal processes that must be followed.

As a result a number of public statements have been made, but it is not clear what legal process, if any, has been followed to effect the changes the MEC claims to have made. I will outline the illegal process followed below. See attached "Outline of Process Followed in Changing Hunting Regulations."

Further, it is clear from the applicable law, the Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974, as amended, in particular by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Laws Amendment Act 3 of 2000, that the MEC does not have the powers to change the regulations and that only the board of CapeNature has these powers.

Neither CapeNature nor the MEC have published any notice in the Provincial Gazette making these changes. Yet there is a press statement on the CapeNature website which says,

"The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Mr Anton Bredell has today (21 April 2011) confirmed that CapeNature will now be issuing hunting permits to landowners - valid for six months."

MEC Bredell told the Provincial Parliament on 25 August 2011,

"Teen einde Mei 2011 het CapeNature ‘n massa-aansoek van 580 lede van Agri Wes-Kaap ontvang. Van hierdie aansoeke was 480 suksesvol, terwyl 100 terugverwys is as gevolg van gebrekkige inligting." Hansard 25  August 2011

Other citizens have not been afforded the same ability to submit applications to the MEC as no notice affording them the opportunity to do so has been published as required by law. This is an administratively unfair action.

MEC Bredell also mislead the Provincial Parliament, when in reply to a question for written reply to myself he said,

"The hunting regulations in the WCPP have not been amended." - Parliament of the Province of the Western Cape, Question for Written Reply, Friday 10 June 2011.

It is also my contention that the process followed by the MEC so far, does not allow him, CapeNature or the department to impartially decide on these applications. By bullying and pressurising Cape Nature and ignoring the law and fair process, then MEC has prejudiced himself on these matters and prejudiced the Board and staff of CapeNature.

By admission of the MEC, CapeNature has not completed research on this matter, thus any change made to the regulations by CapeNature is not based on a scientific research process. The figures mentioned by MEC Van Rensburg in the Provincial Parliament on 7 December 2010 that "Beaufort West and Prince Albert districts lost about 20 000 sheep/goats during 2010," are not verifiable as they are not based on any scientific research. (MEC van Rensburg, Question for Oral Reply, Tuesday 7 December 2010)

The changes (proposed or already made) are not part of the legally adopted programs of CapeNature as submitted to and adopted by the Provincial Parliament, for example the annual budget and annual performance plan of Cape Nature, as required by the Public Finance Management Act. Further the MEC did not refer to this matter in his budget speech table in the Provincial Parliament on the 29 March 2011, just eight days before he announced his decision.

For these reasons I request that you investigate this matter and use your powers to ensure the MEC follows the law and engages in a public participation process, including the involvement of the Provincial Parliament, in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Max Ozinsky

Member of the Provincial Parliament

Outline of Process Followed in Changing Hunting Regulations:

The following timeline is derived from the press, press statements and the proceedings of the Provincial Parliament.

10 November 2010: Premier Zille and MECs van Rensburg and Bredell meet with farmers. Mr John Durr of Red Meat Producers Organisation says "Tot 30% van die skape en beeste word op plase vernietig."

A farmer from Laignsburg blamed nature reserves for the problem.

"Roofdier op plase is 'n ramp, se boere" - Die Burger 11 November 2010

15 November 2010: Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (CapeNature) publishes Provincial Notice 414/2010 "Western Cape Province: Hunting Seasons, Daily Bay Limits and Hunting by the Use of Prohibited Hunting Methods". These is no provision for the changes the MEC says he has made.

7 December 2010: Eloff asks Van Rensburg question for oral reply. Van Rensburg says, "Beaufort West and Prince Albert districts lost about 20 000 sheep/goats during 2010."

11 January 2011: Die Burger announces that MEC van Rensburg has given an "ultimatum" on this matter.

29 March 2011: Budget Speech of the MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. No mention made of the proposed changes.

7 April 2011: Bredell Press statements - says he met Van Rensburg.

Decided to issue temporary permits.

No mention of meeting Durr.

8 April 2011: Die Burger: Durr speaks for Bredell and announces changes to the regulations.

21 April 2011: "The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell has today (21 April 2011) confirmed that CapeNature will now be issuing hunting permits to landowners - valid for six months" (see here)

10 June 2011: Reply to question for written reply. There is no change in the regulations.

Issued by Max Ozinsky, September 5 2011

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