“While it was disappointing that only two parties answered the call to address the public and share their ideas on the future of energy in South Africa, it was good to hear the representatives from the Congress of the People (COPE) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) pledge their support for sustainable renewable energy and the need to move away from nuclear,” says Moodley.
In their first big event – hosted in partnership with the Campaign for a Just Energy Future (CJEF), the Stop the Nuclear Deal campaign, their many partners from around the country and with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation – the national energy justice campaign created a much-needed platform for the public to engage interested political parties around the energy debate, which seldom includes any input from the people whose lives will be affected.
COPE President, Mosiuoa Lekota says, "The world is moving toward renewable energy. We don't need nuclear and we can't afford it!"
The Western Cape Chair of the UDM, Mphuthumi Ntabeni said, “We don’t have to share the same politics, but we share the same issues. We share the same air. We need renewable energy.”
Makoma Lekalakala, Co-Chairperson of the CJEF and moderator for yesterday’s debate says, “It is good that COPE and the UDM are on-board with renewable energy, and that they too want to see an end to the nuclear deal. However, we now need to see these issues included in their manifestos when they start campaigning. They need to make it clear that their parties support a clean, equitable energy future for all citizens.”
More than 400 community representatives from around the country – including from Mitchell’s Plain, Stellenbosch, the Karoo, Namaqualand, Eastern Cape and Gauteng – came out to raise their concerns about the impact of government’s short-sighted nuclear plans. The consensus is that decisions that are currently being made are not about the South African people or the environment, but are instead about money.
“We as civil society, wants government to stop making decisions for us, without any input from the people. We want government to rather work with us, to come up with solutions that address our needs,” says Joey Dearling from the Karoo Environmental Justice Movement, who is also a member from Inqua Khoisan Tribe
Communities raised a number of issues relating to their safety and livelihoods, as well as the protection of the environment. The main concerns were that monies that have been wasted on nuclear could have been used to improve their lives, through improved provision of services and other opportunities.
Says Moodley, “Energy justice promotes the transition to a low-carbon economy, which impacts every aspect of society, including access to basic services, employment opportunities, the cost of electricity, water security and health. It is imperative that ordinary people have the information and are consulted, in order to be part of the decision-making process.”
For more information, go to www.justenergyfuture.org and join the conversation using the hashtags #JustEnergyFuture and #StopSecretNukeDeal.