21 JUNE 2019
FAITH-BASED NGO CALLS ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT TO TAKE THE NECESSARY “BOLD STEPS” IN CREATING A JUST FUTURE FOR ALL
The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) today expressed concern that President Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) was not bold enough in his vision for the future of the country.
“In his speech, Ramaphosa said that “extraordinary measures” and prioritisation are needed to realise Vision 2030, and while the South African government wants to be visionary, we do not think that Ramaphosa went far enough in his commitments”, says Francesca de Gasparis, SAFCEI’s Executive Director.
“When he spoke about our country’s need for a sustainable supply of electricity, he wasn’t clear whether it would be environmentally sustainable, or just about Eskom’s viability. We would have liked him to go further and put forth a clear plan to leap-frog from our current development based on fossil fuels and extractives, and demonstrate his government’s commitment to creating future livelihoods from fossil-free energy sources.”
“If the government focuses on making South Africa climate resilient through a just transition, there will be new jobs and new opportunities for our youth that address many of the current challenges”, continues de Gasparis.
“The failures of Eskom and other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) can be directly linked to many issues society faces, including job losses, increased poverty and gender-based violence.”
“Though the president did not mention mining as a solution to economic growth, and did speak of renewables, he also mentioned gas and smart agriculture, which makes us wonder what is in the details of his vision for development for South Africa? Those are “business-as-usual” approaches which are neither visionary nor bold.”
“More encouraging was the meeting of President Ramaphosa with young people who marched on the Union buildings last week to demand the government take action on climate change, and his recognition that we need to act with immediate effect to address factors that are causing climate change,” adds de Gasparis.
SAFCEI’s Cage-Free Eggs Campaign Coordinator, Mandla Gqamlana says “We agree that agriculture is important and essential in South Africa’s economy, however a push to continue to industrialise agriculture will not reap dividends for South Africa. Our current standards for farmed animal welfare are poor, and the agricultural sector is monopolised by big business. The government’s approach to agriculture has relied on large-scale monocultures, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides, which poison the land and don’t create sustainable livelihoods for farmers.”
“We urge the government to rethink its mechanised approach to agriculture, and to listen to small scale farmers. They have practical solutions, which address issues of poverty, land and water shortages”, adds Gqamlana.
de Gasparis concludes, “When we talk about environmental solutions and eco-justice, we are talking about social, gender, and economic justice. As people of faith, we call on the government to go much further and take truly bold steps to tackle the current issues that we are facing, and create a just future for all.
Issued by Tamzyn Pamplin, on behalf of SAFCEI. For more information, contact Tamzyn on 0795-997-694 or firstname.lastname@example.org