On Friday, 26thNovember 2021, the MEC for Economic Development and Environmental Affairs delivered an executive statement during the legislature sitting on the Chemical Spill linked to a fire which gutted agro-chemicals, UPL Warehouse situated in Cornubia. MF Leader, Hon. Shameen Thakur- Rajbansi thanked the MEC for this statement and indicated that the stance of the Minority Front does not change in light of the statements made by the National Minister, Hon. Creecy and part of her final statement which read “and those responsible for this incident, directly or indirectly, will have to own up and take responsibility for their actions”. During her debate, Hon. Thakur-Rajbansi stated that, “With this case, as government we are working backwards from the aftermath of the disaster to the cause and preventative steps that should have taken place. This means, directly this fault lies on our doorsteps. We must focus on the environment directorate of the Province, EIA’s and law enforcement, eThekwini Environment Department and subsequently SAPS and their role during the July looting and violence”. Hon. Thakur-Rajbansi added that, “Clearly, as a government we have not been prepared and we need to look at the new regulations being formulated to review all industries. How can we impose a fine on this company in terms of administrative justice based on the ‘polluter pays policy’? She emphasized that the looters should be arrested as there are video footages and our laws should be amended to included a ‘looters pay policy’, as rioting instead of peaceful protest is becoming the norm of the day in South Africa.” She added that, “Many industrial plants were ravaged by fires and there was air pollution all around. Some were lucky due to their location but UPL, which is near a lot of water ecosystems was unfortunate. The MF applauds UPL for undertaking rehabilitation measures, said Thakur-Rajbansi.”She concluded her debate by calling on the government, both National and Provincial to bear the bulk of the costs as this is a lesson that critical environmental positions to in climate change and disaster management should be filled, in all districts. She noted that South Africa currently is not only facing challenges of climate change threats, but COVID-19 lockdown measures and internal security threats. “Let’s be fair to job creators and get our house in order, rather than punish the already vulnerable business sector”, said Thakur- Rajbansi.
Leader of Minority Front