Deputy Speaker, this House and the nation were treated to an angry rhetoric from an unpatriotic member of this House who wants to sell this country as it is.
Minister Shabangu, hon Deputy Minister Oliphant, Ministers, Deputy Ministers present here, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, in its Ready to Govern document, the ANC made it known that the mineral wealth beneath the soil is the national heritage of all South Africans, including future generations. As a diminishing resource it should be used with due regard to socioeconomic needs and environmental conservation.
The abundance of mineral resources in our land and our coastal belt makes it necessary for the state to be the custodian of these resources for the benefit of all South Africans. This Bill, therefore, comes as a strategic instrument for the country to realise that objective.
It's unfortunate that some in this House would opt for an arrangement that would open our mineral wealth for all to come and loot; that we will not allow. Deputy Speaker, allow me to address some of the areas around which, in particular, the DA finds little or no comfort. But we can't help it because they are like that.
Firstly, it is integration of the petroleum functions - where they're talking about the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, Pasa, being tempered with. The national resources fall under one roof and that is the Department of Mineral Resources. So, I must stress that one cannot separate oil and gas from solid minerals.
The Advisory Council comes as a result of the necessary realignment in the industry. The realignment of Pasa is necessitated by the need to consolidate the regulation of petroleum resources under the auspices of the Department of Mineral Resources whilst the promotional and geoscience research aspects are vested with the Council for Geosciences. This integration will absorb specialist skills into the regulatory and technical function of the Department of Mineral Resources and Council for Geosciences respectively.
The existing functional and administrative dichotomy in the regulation of petroleum resources will be a thing of the past as the realignment of functions will enhance efficiency and stability. Because South Africa has got limited geoscientific resources, integrating related geoscientific research functions will allow for the optimal use of available capacity.
On the streamlined licensing process, I want these members to understand that to give effect to the principle of co-operative governance, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs developed an integrated licensing regime for the granting of mining rights, issuing of water use licenses and approval of environmental authorisation.
This will lead to improved ease of doing business in South Africa's mining industry and create the regulatory certainty needed.
With regard to the application by invitation, you are crying foul on that issue too. This process is necessary to ensure sustainable, orderly and optimal development of mineral and petroleum resources. The Minister will consult - as you are crying about the Minister having unbridled discretion - all affected stakeholders when developing regulations relating to the process as well as terms and conditions for the new application system.
In his 2012 state of the nations address, President Zuma had this to say:
We remain committed to the creation of a favourable and globally competitive mining sector, and to promote the industry to attract investment and achieve both industrial growth and much-needed transformation.
Transformation is a scare word to the members on my left, and unfortunately it is going to happen. Underpinning that statement is a reality that well above the average resource base, far economic infrastructure and a high level of expertise are some of the factors that allow this country to flourish. The ANC supports the Bill. Thank you very much. [Applause.]