What’s in a word? - 14 March 2014

An email is doing the rounds today, from the Centre for Environmental Rights (if anyone’s got their eye on the fracking ball, it’s this lot), explaining why removing one simple word from the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development (MPRD) Amendment Bill, which provides for fracking, is such a big deal: by removing the word ‘interested’ from the original wording (‘interested and affected parties’), they can shove the pesky civil society groups from blocking the way towards the department handing out those prospecting rights.

‘(T)he DMR already treats landowners with greater regard than other affected and interested parties, such as downstream communities who may be severely affected by prospecting and mining, or civil society groups concerned for the public interest,’ writes Melissa Fourie of the CER in an email that was circulated to NGOs working in the area.

Last we heard, the Bill had been approved by the National Council of Provinces, which is one further step down the road towards getting signed into law by the president. But apparently this step might not have been sufficiently open to the public, according to the Mail & Guardian, leaving it open to Constitutional challenge.