The Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa was reprimanded by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday for delaying to publish the regulations for a law that was signed by President Jacob Zuma since 2014. The ConCourt also accused her of negligence of duty for failure to publish the regulations on time.
The regulations were designed to accompany the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act, the delay thus led to uncertainty in the mining and prospecting sectors.
The law aimed to give the minister of mineral resources constitutional power to grant environmental authorizations for prospecting and mining, rationalize the contradicting legislative requirements relating to the environmental impacts of prospecting and mining, and also intended to transfer powers relating to mining activities from Molewa to an appointed minister of mineral resources.
Aquarius Platinum challenged the validity of the president’s decision when it was refused a water use licence by the Department of Water and Sanitation.
In May 2015, Pretoria High Court set aside the decision of the president and sent the judgment to the ConCourt to confirm the order of invalidity made by the court.
In agreement with the previous judgement, Justice Chris Jafta blamed Molewa for putting the amendment act into force without the necessary regulations put in place.
She and she alone is to blame and not the president. The minister was the functionary mandated to make the regulations within three months from the date of publication.
Justice Jafta said no explanation is plausible for her failure to publish the regulations.
Considering that Parliament purposely delayed the coming into operation of the act by three months to make sure the minister got enough time to make the regulations‚ the ConCourt said.
“It may well be that she has a plausible explanation for her failure but we simply do not know because she chose not to furnish it. For now it is fair to infer from her failure to give an explanation that she has none. Otherwise she would have provided one if she had it‚” Jafta said.
ConCourt analysed the matter in a way that raised eyebrows on how serious the minister takes her duties. The gap from September 2014 when the Act came into force to July 2015 when she finally published the regulation may have been disastrous to the economy of the country.
“Yet the minister did not consider it necessary to explain the lapse in these proceedings.”