The draft law amending the Law on Environmental Conservation Areas was approved by the plenary of the National Assembly with 133 favorable votes from the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), 49 against the opposition and without abstentions.
The legal diploma allows, on an exceptional basis, the exploitation of mineral resources, oil and gas, in partial natural reserves, in special natural reserves and in national parks.
"Natural reserves and national parks, in addition to renewable natural resources such as fauna and flora, also have mineral, oil and gas resources in their subsoil, which, once exploited, can add economic value to these areas and beyond, allowing the collection of revenues for the Angolan State ", reads in the preamble of the law.
For MPLA deputy Jorge Wefo, his party "is aware" that nature reserves and national parks have the vocation to preserve biodiversity and source of income through ecotourism, which "depends on other factors to be leveraged".
"The resources once exploited can add economic value to these areas and also allow the collection of funds that can be used for the efficient management of the same areas", he justified in his explanation of vote.
"The intention is not to destroy the environment, but to take advantage of the environment for the benefit of the population," said Jorge Wefo.
By the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the vote against the legal diploma was justified by deputy Maurilo Luyele, who considered that the proponent "was not convinced that the law's interest is only economic, ignoring the ecological interest and the safeguarding biodiversity ".
Benedito Daniel, deputy of the Social Renewal Party (PRS), said that the renovators voted against the proposed law because they believed in Angola "other natural resources that are not found in protected areas".
The deputy of the Wide Convergence of Salvation of Angola - Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE), Makuta Nkondo, criticized the Executive's initiative stating that the "true owners of the areas, the natives, were not found nor found" in the elaboration of this amendment proposal of law.
Carlos Candanda, an independent deputy who also said no to the proposal, considered that the main objective of the amendment is to "intensify" the exploitation of mineral resources, oil and gas in "sensitive areas".
"This law is a major threat to the country's interior basins, especially in the Okavango region", he stressed.
Environmentalists and other civil society actors are also opposed to the exploitation of mineral and oil resources in protected areas, a position expressed in a petition sent to the authorities.
The deputies also generally approved, in this seventh extraordinary plenary meeting, the draft law amending the Law on Excise Duty, with 162 votes in favor, no votes against and 12 abstentions.
The discussion and voting in general of the proposed Volunteer Law are also registered for this session.