Let them (not) eat Fynbos

Posted On Thursday, 02 May 2002 10:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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David Malatsi, MEC of the Western Cape's newly combined development planning and environmental departments, has horrified environmentalists by removing delegated authority from departmental director Ingrid Coetzee


David MalatsiThey fear that like some National Party politicians of old he will abandon environmental concerns to favour developers who support his New National Party.

But Malatsi says some development applications have been awaiting environmental approval for as long as two years. Developers have been desperate, he adds, and he has been inundated by appeals. He says authority should never have been delegated to an individual - and a third-tier official at that. He undertakes to delegate authority within a week 'to a position that cascades from the top so if one official cannot make a decision a more senior one can'.

Almost hidden behind head-high piles of files in his office, he adds: 'There must be R5bn-R10bn worth of developments here waiting for a decision. That means new jobs and economic growth for the province.' The pile does not include 89 files he has already been through.

Malatsi dismisses his critics as racist: 'They think just because I'm black I don't care about the environment. There will be no short cuts, the environmental laws will be honoured and I will have to apply my mind properly to each case.'

He says he aims for a proper balance between development and environment: 'We must protect the fynbos and the butterflies. But the poor cannot eat fynbos and butterflies. They need work and income. Development will provide that, and we owe it to developers to have a turnaround time for applications.'

DA environmental spokesman Alan Winde agrees that there have been 'jams in the system that have delayed development. But I'm concerned about the conflicts that will now arise because the two departments have been combined and the checks and balances have gone.'

Coetzee says that removing authority from her could cause more delays.

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 16:58

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