The Guard

The Truth On Board

Climate change bill supported, but…

By Emily Setona

BETHLEHEM – Residents of Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality have received the Climate Change Bill with a pinch of salt.

The community members who attended the Climate Change Bill public hearing in Bethlehem on March 16 described it as good on paper but doubted the political will to implement it.

According to the Free State Legislature’s legal manager and advisor Puseletso Ramotheba the purpose of the Bill is to enable the development of an effective national climate change response, and a long term just transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development.

Speaking at the hearing, the secretary of the Ficksburg Landcare committee Tshepo Mosella said: “The Bill is going to affect us in a positive manner because it is going to support the provisional Landcare programme.

“However, there are small mishaps in as far as implementation is concerned, that’s the only thing that we are concerned about because the bills are nice but what’s most important is the implementation part.
“Is the political will going to be serious enough to ensure that they support the people at the grassroots? Will there be a political will to support projects on the ground level especially in local municipalities?”

The competencies or mandate of Landcare is to manage natural resources and there are several focus areas that the National Landcare programme is busy with which are soil care with the minimisation of the impact of soil erosion. Then there is water care, rehabilitation, and protection of wetlands and then there is veld care, the rehabilitation of grasslands for livestock and other animals that graze in the veld.

There are also junior Landcare programmes where the focus is to take education to young kids so that they understand the importance of natural resource management; then there is conservation agriculture, climate smart agriculture, minimum soil disturbance agriculture and shying away from the use of pesticides and chemicals as a mechanism of food security.

Porrfolio committee chairperson Montseng Tsiu with Dihlabeng municipality MMC Sophie Jacobs and FEDUP members.

A supervisor from the Federation of the Urban and rural Poor (FEDUP) in Senekal, Matwabeng from the local municipality of Setsoto Betty Beukes shared Mosella’s sentiments. She said the bill will have a positive impact on their work, and their organisation supports it fully.

“We work in food security with thirty-eight participants and two supervisors. We support this bill because it is going to bring positive changes in our lives because climate change affects us directly as farmers.

“We plant our crops in growbags because the growbags retain water for long unlike when planting crops in the soil directly on the land. This practice uses up a lot of water and we are facing a water crisis in our community. Through this project forty get to put food on their table,” Beukes said in an interview with The Guard.

The chairperson of the Free State Legislature’s portfolio committee on agriculture, rural, economic development, small business, sports, arts, and culture Montseng Tsiu said all stakeholders and interested parties must send their written submissions to committee coordinators by March 20. The inputs recorded during the public hearing will be forwarded to National for further consideration.