DA: Shilowa 'protecting' environment minister

The Democratic Alliance (DA) expressed disappointment on Tuesday over Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa’s decision not to hold a commission of inquiry into the affairs of the department of agriculture, conservation and environment

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Jack Bloom said it was “discourteous” to hear of the decision through the media, rather than through a formal letter.

“I hope that I will receive detailed reasons for this decision, but it seems to me that the premier is protecting MEC [provincial minister] Khabisi Mosunkutu who has frequently overruled officials in his department in favour of developers who spoil the environment.

“The issues that we have raised will not go away, and we will continue to raise them until we get to the truth,” said Bloom.

Shilowa on Tuesday turned down a DA request for a commission of inquiry.

Spokesperson Simon Zwane said after considering the allegations from the DA—and examining a comprehensive response from the department, the premier was satisfied that there was no basis for a commission of inquiry.

The DA said in a statement that it had written to Shilowa asking for an investigation after claims that Mosunkutu overruled his own officials in favour of developers who had apparently broken laws designed to protect ecologically sensitive areas.

“This has happened so flagrantly and so frequently that the laws might as well not exist,” said the DA’s Rika Kruger.

Shilowa was satisfied that the department and Mosunkutu acted within the law, said Zwane.

“From the facts presented to the premier, it is clear that the complainants had not exhausted all available legislative mechanisms to resolve their grievance,” said Zwane.

Mosunkulu was expected to respond in detail to the allegations at a press briefing on Thursday. - Sapa

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