Western Cape premier Helen Zille hit back at the ANC Youth League after its urgent application in the High Court to stop Tuesday’s provincial budget vote from happening was dismissed on Monday.
Her spokesperson‚ Michael Mpofu‚ said that ANC Youth League spokesperson Winston Erasmus had “wasted the public and the court’s time” when he brought forward the application to try to stop the vote.
In his first case after being admitted as an advocate on Friday‚ Erasmus argued that the Western Cape government was flouting the provincial and national constitution by not having appointed an environmental commissioner.
He was also trying to stop them from amending the provincial constitution to eliminate the position of commissioner entirely.
“Section 71 places the obligation on the Western Cape government and the premier and the MEC for environmental affairs to say that there must be an establishment of a commissioner of environment‚” said Erasmus.
“It’s similar to having a public protector or an auditor general. We are saying there is this water desalination which is pumping water where there is contaminated pollutants in the ocean. You are not doing the testing‚” he said.
He attached Zille as a respondent in the case as well as the Western Cape department of environmental affairs and the speaker of the provincial parliament‚ Sharna Fernandez.
But Mpofu says the position hasn’t been filled since the Western Cape’s constitution was promulgated in 1998 and that the department would incur unnecessary costs by filling the position which was already performed by other structures in the department of environmental affairs.
“As the ANC well knows‚ the functions of an Environmental Commissioner – envisaged by the Western Cape Constitution when it was first promulgated in 1998 – have for years been adequately performed by existing organs of state‚ acting within expanded environmental and other legislation developed over time since then‚” said Mpofu.
“For this reason‚ an Amendment Bill has been published for comment on removing this provision of the provincial Constitution‚ as it has become clear the position is now just a duplication of functions being performed already‚ and would incur significant costs unnecessarily‚” he said.
He said that no similar post existed in any ANC-run province nor was it established when the ANC administration ran the Western Cape.
“It is also disingenuous of the ANC to claim that the notion of a commissioner would have had any powers related to the augmentation of water under the current water crisis‚” said Mpofu.
This latest move at trying to halt Western Cape government processes comes after Zille’s state of the province address in February was disrupted by ANC representatives who adopted EFF tactics in national parliament as they tried to throw the premier off her hour-long speech.
Ahead of the application on Monday morning the ANC Youth League sent out a statement “encouraging young people to be critical of the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government”‚ for the way they managed the water crisis and were allegedly desalinating “contaminated sea water”.