South Africa – This Nelson Mandela Day, the Climate Justice Coalition (CJC), a coalition of South African trade unions, grassroots, community-based and non-profit organisations, will march to the Office of the Presidency. The Coalition is petitioning President Cyril Ramaphosa to fix South Africa’s dual energy and climate crisis. The Coalition’s central demands call for the President to implement an emergency renewable energy plan to end load-shedding, replace Minister Mantashe, and fix the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).
With 2022 set to be the worst year of load-shedding and electricity prices at an all-time high, members of the Coalition are part of a growing public call for renewable energy solutions to address South Africa’s energy crisis. Several recent studies demonstrate that South Africa could solve load shedding by unlocking renewable energy. Renewable energy is shown to be the fastest, cleanest and most affordable way to end load-shedding. A just transition to renewable energy is also critical to reduce deadly air pollution and tackle the climate crisis.
According to the coalition, Minister Mantashe’s DMRE is holding back the country’s transition to a renewable energy future and has failed to bring new energy online. Instead, the DMRE is trying to lock South Africa into polluting and expensive coal, diesel and gas. The CJC is demanding that President Ramaphosa remove Mantashe from office and put in place new and capable leadership at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
Cleopatra Shezi, community organiser with United Front, said,
“Loadshedding is devastating our country, and the DMRE is failing to bring new energy online. The health of our communities is at risk because our energy supply is unstable. We can’t keep our food or medicine refrigerated. Senior citizens who rely on oxygen machines are dying because of a lack of power. The DMRE is also driving unemployment and poverty, because they are choosing expensive and polluting energy, over affordable and clean energy. ”
Meshack Mbangula, the National Coordinator of Mining Affected Communities United in Action said,
“We as mining-affected communities are facing exclusion from the decision-making process, especially when those decisions will impact our livelihoods. We have been trying to engage the DMRE to listen to the demands of mining-affected communities but all our efforts fall on deaf ears. The department continues to fail communities. Corruption is the order of the day, while communities continue to bear the brunt from the negative impact of the mining industry. When we stand up for our rights, our activists, our people are being killed.”
Dr Alex Lenferna, secretary of the Climate Justice Coalition and campaigner with 350Africa.org, said,
“We need an emergency energy plan to get us out of this energy disaster. But we can’t rely on the same minister who failed to deliver on the last emergency energy plan, to deliver on the next one. That’s why President Ramaphosa must replace Minister Mantashe with someone capable of delivering. Renewable energy and storage are the fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to bring new energy online, not Mantashe’s polluting powerships, outdated coal, or expensive nuclear.”
Raeesah Noor-Mahomed, youth activist with the African Climate Alliance, said,
“The youth are tired of seeing our future being destroyed. Coal, oil and gas are devastating the environment and driving the climate crisis. Those impacts fall most heavily on those already marginalised and vulnerable, causing ecological apartheid. Yet, Minister Mantashe has the audacity to accuse environmental activism of ‘colonialism of a special type’. We have the opportunity to fix our energy crisis and build a better and brighter energy future through renewable energy. South Africa has great potential for solar and wind, but we need to act now, or our futures will be lost”
Peter Becker, of the Koeberg Alert Alliance, one of 16 groups in the Energy Governance South Africa Network supporting the demand for an immediate section 34 determination to allow for new renewable generation capacity from Minister Mantashe, said
“Until the roadblocks to new renewable capacity are removed, the electricity crisis will not be resolved. Instead of spending tens of billions of rand on expensive distractions like nuclear and gas, Eskom could build gigawatts of renewable capacity. But without the Minister issuing a section 34 determination, their hands are tied. We need action from the DMRE now!”
Notes for Editors
About “Uproot the DMRE”
#UprootTheDMRE is a campaign by The Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) seeking the transformation of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, to ensure a more socially, economically and environmentally just energy and mining future. More information about the campaign and its demands is available on the Uproot the DMRE website
The Climate Justice Coalition is a coalition of nearly 40 South African trade unions, civil society, grassroots, and community-based organisations, working together to advance a transformative climate justice agenda that tackles the inequality, poverty and unemployment that pervades South Africa. More about the coalition is available at their website: ClimateJusticeCoalition.org
The full list of the Coalition’s demands is available in the petition.
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