Shabangu moves to block fracking info

2012-02-01 14:20

Pretoria - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has argued that the Promotion of Access to Information Act prevents access to draft reports, minutes, and research of her fracking task team.

According to section 44 of the Act, public bodies could refuse a request for access to records that held an opinion, advice, report or recommendation, Shabangu and director general Thibedi Ramontja said in answering papers filed at the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday evening.

The Act further allows for bodies to retain records of discussions held for policy or decision making. A full argument would be presented when the matter was heard in court, they said.

In January, Shabangu and Ramontja were ordered to respond to an application by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

The TKAG wanted details on an inter-departmental task team studying the impact and viability of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in the Karoo to extract natural gas.

Public participation

Shabangu set up a task team last April to investigate the impact of fracking. In August, she extended a moratorium in applications for licences to prospect for shale gas using fracking for a further six months.

She said it was never her intention that "the public and parties promoting the public interest should be denied access to information which has truly significant environmental, economic, and public health implications".

Government first needed to be informed about fracking, and understand it, before engaging in public participation.

Shabangu said her task team was expected to forward its report to Cabinet by March 31.

The task team had representatives from the Petroleum Company of SA as well as the departments of mineral resources, energy, science and technology, environmental affairs, water affairs, economic development, and trade and industry.

The team was aided by a working group comprised of the petroleum company, the Council for Geosciences, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the water affairs department.

TKAG chair Jonathan Deal welcomed the department's response but said he had expected a more comprehensive reply.

"It is a pity that we had to sue the minister to have her explain her position to us but at least we are now one step closer to enabling South Africans to have access to information that may dramatically affect certain of their basic human rights."

Deal said his legal team would review the reply and then make a decision about what to do next.

  • braamc - 2012-02-01 14:42

    You can just hate these arrogant incompetent government thieves

      Max - 2012-02-01 15:12

      Amazing, only in Africa where the hiding of incompetence and corruption is more important than the interests of the country.

      SarelJBotha - 2012-02-01 15:22

      Remember that if you hate them more than you should, you might be called racist.

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:35

      Hmmm - so now the Info Bill has been passed? Am I a sceptic, or do I smell corruption, kickbacks etc etc while Shell gets the go-ahead to put another huge nail in SA's environmental coffin? Shell and the corrupt persons that want to allow fracking should be kicked out of SA for ever. Since the outset of the Fracking debacle, I have never again put Shell in my vehicle (because of Shell's shocking environmental record), and I will never ever use Shell again. Go Well, Go Shell, Go to H...

      Peter - 2012-02-01 15:49

      @Max, Currently there are close to 1 million fracking wells in the US alone, growing by 30 000 a year. The big gas companies spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying to ensure the citizens stay uninformed about the reals negative impacts. Who do you think is responsible for ensuring these laws stay intact that protect these companies from having to release information? The politicians of course, and they receive huge incentives to keep on doing so. Money talks everywhere, It's happening in the US and it will happen here.

      StarStruck - 2012-02-01 15:50

      @ Alan - I'm doing the exact same. I can' even remember the last time I stopped at a Shell.

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:54

      @Star Struck - Thumbs up to you for MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

      Squeegee - 2012-02-01 15:57

      @Alan, Mmmm... could this be the real reason for the Bill? Billions are involved - a few million to stop SA public and action groups getting in Shell's way would be peanuts to them. Stop raping SA!

  • Sinudeity - 2012-02-01 14:43

    And it starts...

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:42

      The Govt and Shell would do well to remember the most basic truth - What happens to the World, happens to the inhabitants of the world. Neither of them has the right or mandate to harm our environment. These greedy despots and companies make me want to PUKE!

      louis.langenhoven - 2012-02-01 16:02

      lets all sing together: don't frack the world, don't let her die...

  • Joe - 2012-02-01 14:44

    So now politicians can openly discuss their bribes and even have it in their minutes as nobody will be allowed access. Pathetic

      Richard - 2012-02-01 15:05

      RE: New secrecy bill!!! I wonder if they are just prepping themselves to see if it is going to work?

      Alan - 2012-02-01 16:22

      ANYBODY who wants to know the TRUTH on fracking - read Gordon Lewis Pugh's artice "Standing up to Goliath' - Then boycott Shell, and all those that they bribe

  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-01 14:45

    Is she Roux Shabangu's wife? Just asking, seem to have similar character traits

      Perfume5 - 2012-02-01 15:15

      No she is widowed.

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:46

      hmmm - and looking for some under the table handouts?

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-01 15:47

      Oh wrong one died, damn!

  • Perfume5 - 2012-02-01 14:55

    I agreed on a comment, and now the comment has been removed. Why!!!

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:37

      hmmm - probably because Big Daddy is watching. Step 2 - you dare not ever criticise the ruling party!

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-01 15:48

      Becoz the News24 moderator is a chop, without a brain of their own

  • paul.maarman - 2012-02-01 14:58

    fracking is only cool in BattleStar Galactica....- as the US about the joys and consequence of fracking....- trade natural beauty, aquifer water, for 3rd grade oil...-

  • Richard - 2012-02-01 15:02

    Fracking has been banned in some states in the USA because it has been proved to cause earthquakes, pollute the ground water and damages the environment, It will NOT create jobs like they are claiming, it is a very specialized field. Why are the government getting involved then? Is this going to be like the nuclear pebble bed reactors or the education system? Spend billions, only to discover your mistakes later and find out why the rest of the world scrapped these programs?

      Peter - 2012-02-01 15:53

      Only two states. And these are temporary bans...

  • bsandiemom - 2012-02-01 15:10

    Here we go - a taste of things to come I fear ...

  • mabandla.magoqwana - 2012-02-01 15:11

    what is this INFO BILl???? we live in a democratic country &we as the who live in south africa we need to know everything that's happening in our country . what is this the government is trying to hide from the public. let us not allow these peoples in government do as they please. our government is good in promising and talking lies and we need to mobilise the support to get rid of this incompetent government .i am ready anytime.

  • Fanie - 2012-02-01 15:16

    WEL, well no suprise here. where were the karoo people in this when this investigation was taking place. the people taking part have all to gain. 1. Petroleum companies have been known to bribe to get something. 2. Evrybody in gov. can't be trusted. History has shown that they are bridable. You can only come to one conclusion and that is, that fracking is going to take place. WHO WANTS TO BET ME?

      bernpm - 2012-02-01 15:25

      I am afraid you might be right. Oil companies have deep pockets, no ethics and little moral understanding. Environmental sensitivity?? Why should they??

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:39

      Yeah - Shell's attitude is $$$$. What the hell says Shell - we are only messing up Africa for the Chinese....

  • denise.wilshire - 2012-02-01 15:17

    Just wondering if there is money sliding under the table from petroleum companies????? Or is this a dumb question?

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-02-01 15:20

    This is just the start of much more evil to come. Wait till the info bill is law, then the muzzling and control over the media...after that who knows, perhaps a state like Burma, Zim or Chimpville?

  • wilhelm.griesel - 2012-02-01 15:22

    That is why they want to limit the general public from information. Goverment is an organisation that should represent the people in the country and freedom of opion and speech. There must be no secrets hiding the real issue at hand and what scares me is that we are gagged in our opion!

  • Lionel - 2012-02-01 15:24

    So what are they hiding? MORONS!!!

  • Trevor - 2012-02-01 15:25

    Soon SA as the rest of the continent will be a waste land. What a shame. greedy silver backs

  • Piet - 2012-02-01 15:25

    Hiding again the names of the Cadres that will benefit??

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2012-02-01 15:31

    I propose that SS's financial records be subpoenaed by the hawks and an investigation into collusion with oil companies be started. Secondly I propose that should fracking get the go-ahead and there are environmental disasters, the whole department along with shabangu be sued and a penalty of life in prison be sought. Because they won't release the studies we will never know what they know hence life in prison will be appropriate. Further more should she die before such an occasion her family be stripped of all it's wealth and the money be used as restsitution

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:42

      I am with you 100%

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2012-02-01 15:31


  • Peter - 2012-02-01 15:34

    What a way to prove that you DO have something to hide. Well done and thanks, Minister. We won't have to be guessing any more.

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2012-02-01 15:35

    As a matter of fact seeing that the report will be submitted to parliament, the too should be stripped.

  • braamc - 2012-02-01 15:40

    So not spending a cent at Shell that's for sure, anyhow they usually first not to have fuel at there stations

  • Phumi - 2012-02-01 15:41

    When it comes to governing our hands are always handcuffed by these lobby groups and the judiciary! Those who profess green technology must come back in twenty years time because our people have to eat in the mean time! All we want is jobs jobs and more jobs! If fracking is going to achieve that then let it be! Besides we have gas to liquid technology here why not use it to the benefit of the masses? Thi TKAG is a stumbling block to progress and just want to protect the interests of a few greedy farmers who go that land through criminal means!

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:45

      You have zero understanding of what an environmental disaster fracking is. Educate yourself before you make an @ss of yourself. FYI - aside form the Environmental Disaster, this is also about greedy corrupt politicians and Shell (who have a terrible environmental record). The Hawks should uncover what is really going on here.

      JudithNkwe - 2012-02-01 15:55

      Phumi - do you want a life for you and your children or a fast and painful death from poisoned water, air and land? Because that is what you are asking for - we are losing our heritage to greed and pollution. The slow and painful deaths being experienced by many poor communities are witness to this

      rkrudolph - 2012-09-09 12:36

      Pumi....Wake up girl!! Do you really think SHELL is going to give JOBS to the locals of the area?? Get with the program silly, they'll bring in their own guys, cheat the locals and leave them with contaminated water as they have found in many of the American fracking areas. USE GOOGLE to find out about something before you make STUPID posts!!! Shell and the government are like TERMITES...they go around DESTROY and MOVE ON and do they care about the POOR LOCALS in the area...I think NOT!!!!!!!

  • Christo - 2012-02-01 15:41

    All we do is to boycott the operating company which will be Shell in this instance. A complete and well-organised boycott will make them, and the Government, think again.

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:45


      justin.pretorius - 2012-02-01 15:56

      I haven't bought any products from those scumbags in a while. I will continue with my boycott indefinately

  • Gavin - 2012-02-01 15:44

    that bell you can hear tolling in the the sound of a democracy dying...

      justin.pretorius - 2012-02-01 15:57

      I think democracy died a long time ago in SA we were just too blind to see the grave

  • stanh - 2012-02-01 15:46

    and so the denying of information starts........

  • Piet - 2012-02-01 15:46

    a Brown envelope spring to mind.......

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:49

      Hawks .... calling the Hawks....

  • Linda - 2012-02-01 15:49

    This is exactly why we cannot allow the Promotion of Access to Public Information bill to be enacted into law. The law makers are meant to represent the best interests of all citizens - but clearly they are only interested in enacting laws that prevent the very citizens who pay their salaries from knowing what they are doing! I love the fact that government ministers continually allege that the Act allows them to do whatever they want - when they have produce the Act themselves! It is like allowing children to decide how much chocolate they can eat ... and explains why our politicians all act like kids in a candy store!

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:52

      Hmm Kids in a Candy store? Why does Chops in a Chop Shop come to mind?

  • justin.pretorius - 2012-02-01 15:53

    Regime change is necessary! This country is fast becoming a communist state. The next thing we will need visas to exit SA

  • Phumi - 2012-02-01 15:56

    When Africa wants to position itself to be a global player we are always told about alln these fairy tales and urban myths about an environmental impact! These so called foreign sponsored prophets of doom disguised as environmental activists must be exposed for who they are! There minister is right for withholding this crucial information because we are not sure whose agenda is this TKAG for all we know they could be foreign agents!

      Alan - 2012-02-01 15:58


      Trevor - 2012-02-01 16:13

      Dear Phumi, I am black born black and I will die black, but not stupid. I wont ever vote for the ANC ever again and so will many of us not. especially those with integrity. Yes we had enough of the lies

      Peter - 2012-02-01 16:26

      @Trevor, good on you. I'm noticing more and more people waking up and realising this. It needs to happen faster though.

  • Nick - 2012-02-01 17:16

    What I find interesting is that there has been a lot of bitching as to how the Colonialist and Imperialists have raped the country before and now the same people are encouraging the same behavior. Boycott SHELL. EDUCATE the people .Sign up with AVAAZ and sign the petition.

  • Clive - 2012-02-01 18:02

    The ANC government tends to keep more from the public than the Nats ever did. They clearly don't know that the concept of democracy includes openness and acoountability.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-02 10:53

    Well if that's what the law states then so be it, however as there is an international move away from fracking due to stability concerns, this would therefor imply that anything other than a "No" answer from government would need to be investigated. Suppose we just have to wait until March when the final report is ready and then ask for that.

  • Karl - 2012-05-18 06:45

    People should never fear there government..... government should always fear there people....there are more civilians then troops in this world...its time to go to war.....and when we win and WE THE PEOPLE WILL WIN never shall a government be run by politicians..... POLITICS AND POLITICIANS WILL HENCE FORTH BE CRIME AGAINST THE WORLD AND EVERY THING IN IT....PUNISHABLE BY SENDING YOU INTO SPACE IN A SMALL ROCKET......EXILED FROM YOUR HOME....NEVER TO RETURN.

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