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groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International.


CER attorneys to warn MPs of the dangers of new coal in the IRP

15 October 2018 - On Tuesday 16 October 2018, attorneys from the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) will tell Parliament that an Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) that provides for expensive new coal-fired power, at a time when South Africa needs to be urgently transitioning away from harmful coal, would be in conflict with the Constitution. This means that an IRP that irrationally includes expensive new coal could be held up by court challenges for years to come.

On 16, 17, 23, and 24 October 2018 the Portfolio Committee on Energy will be hosting public hearings on the draft IRP 2018. In addition to the CER, activists from Life After Coal partners groundWork and Earthlife Africa will be making submissions, as well as activists from various affected communities, and many other civil society organisations.

Although the draft IRP released for comment on 27 August 2018 is a substantial improvement on both the IRP 2010 and the 2016 draft, it still proposes the inclusion of 1000MW of new coal capacity to come from the proposed independent power producer (IPP) coal-fired power stations, Thabametsi and Khanyisa. This is despite the draft IRP's own acknowledgement that a least-cost IRP would not include any new coal capacity, and despite Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe's admission that forcing these two coal plants into the IRP will cost South Africa an additional R23 billion.

Read the full media release here.

Our Life, Our Water, Our Sea, Our Air, Our Land - Statement from the National Gasdown Frackdown Gathering – 10 - 12 October in Durban, South Africa

12 October 2018 - Over the past 3 days we the community people representing traditional leaders, farm workers, farm dwellers, subsistence farmers, fisherfolk, and those from neighbourhoods affected by toxic pollution, together with people’s organisations and NGOs, gathered to reflect on the environmental, economic and political crisis our country and world presently finds itself in. This engagement afforded us an opportunity to thoughtfully consider our response to this crisis.

Our resistance to proposed fracking in South Africa, and the expansion of offshore oil and gas has brought us together. As a collective we are able to learn from our negative experiences of the corporate and political elite fossil fuel agenda and our successful resistance to this agenda in various parts of South Africa, and to build upon these initiatives.

Read the full text of the statement here.

Inter-sectorial collaboration for Health Equity in South Africa to Improve Environmental Health Practices at Local Clinics in the City of Cape Town.

11 October 2018 - The primary mandate of the health sector is to prevent and cure disease. In the process of pursuing this mandate, health-care services inevitably create healthcare waste that is hazardous to health. The waste produced in the course of healthcare activities carries a higher potential for infection and injury to human, animal and environment than any other type of waste. Wherever waste is generated, safe and reliable methods for its handling are therefore essential.

On the 10th and 11th of October, through the facilitation of Tekano [1] Atlantic Fellows for South Africa, groundWork [2] and the City of Cape Town, a health practitioners training and workshop aimed at improving environmental health practices at Clinics was hosted in the City of Cape Town. This workshop took place at the Isivivana Centre, Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Representatives from the Western Cape, Free-State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, which included; facility managers, environmental health practitioners, assistant directors, quality assurance managers and infection control nurses; groundWork; and Tekano engaged, shared knowledge, and mapped a way forward on how to better deal with environmental health issues at clinic level.

Read the full media release here.

Court date approaches for Coalition's defence of Mpumalanga water source area

11 October 2018 - The High Court application launched by the coalition of 8 civil society organisations in July 2017 to review the decision of former Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane and the late Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa to permit Atha-Africa Ventures (Pty) Ltd to mine for coal in the Mabola Protected Environment will be heard by the Pretoria High Court from 16 to 18 October 2018.

As the proposed coal mine is in a protected area, declared under the Protected Areas Act, the mining company applied for special permission from both Ministers in order to mine there for commercial purposes.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs gave her permission to Atha in August 2016, and the Minister of Mineral Resources gave his permission in November 2016.

Neither Minister conducted a public participation process, nor notified interested and affected parties that they had received, or were considering, Atha's application for permission.

Read the full media release here.

Community to tackle Sasol’s off shore oil & gas proposals

Protestor at Sasol meeting09 October 2018 - Today, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) with more than 40 people representing community organisations from the Karoo, Matatiele, Richards Bay, Durban, Port Shepstone, Hluhluwe  and Newcastle and national NGOs such as groundWork, Support Centre for Land Change, Masifundise, Earthlife Africa, Environmental Rural Solutions,  350.org, Greenpeace, Centre for Environmental Rights, Wild Oceans and the Alternative Information Development Centre, will be challenging Sasol and their consultant’s, Environmental Resource Management (ERM) at 3pm at an open house meeting at the Gooderson Tropicana Hotel, 85 OR Tambo Parade, that ERM has organised.  

People from around South Africa are standing in solidarity with coastal communities in KZN and Eastern Cape and saying to Sasol and ERM: “No to oil and gas exploration and drilling”.  This struggle is in solidarity with the anti-fracking struggle in areas of Matatiele, the Karoo and Newcastle and the people in the Vaal and Highveld which suffer from Sasol’s pollution.

Read the full media release here.

Regional consultation on implementation of Minamata Convention on Mercury taking place in Lusaka Zambia

08 October 2018 - The second Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) is scheduled to be held from 19 to 23 November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

In preparation, a series of regional consultations is being organized by the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.  In partnership with the UN Environment programme, groundWork is hosting an African regional workshop in Lusaka, Zambia on the 8 October 2018.

The overall focus of the workshop is on the lessons learnt from Minamata Initial Assessments in five African countries (Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Ethiopia) and how the Africa region can learn from the lessons of these five countries who have completed their Mercury Initial Assessments. There will also be discussion on next steps for Convention ratification and implementation.

You can download the booklet The development of Minamata Convention on Mercury Initial Assessment here.

Back to business for Ikwezi Coal Mine in Newcastle, yet no proper consultation regarding social & labour plan implementation

04 October 2018 - On the 1st June 2018 the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) suspended the license of Ikwezi Mine, a coal mine in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal (KZN). The community of Newcastle had been actively resisting the operation of the mine through a number of interventions, including the following protests, at the KZN Mining Indaba on the 18th May 2018 with memorandum delivered and signed by KZN Regional Manager (Ms. Nqobile Khanyile) and Mining Charter meeting on the 29th May 2018 this day a memorandum handed over and signed by the Minister of Mineral Resources (Mr. Gwede Mantashe).

The DMR has since uplifted their Directive to the mine, and the Ikwezi Coal Mine has since resumed its operations.

Read the full media release here.

Building a common voice and solidarity in the resistance to coal

04 October 2018 - In the coal exchange hosted by the Botswana Climate Change Network and co-facilitated by groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa, community environmental justice activists from communities affected by coal mining in Botswana and South Africa met in Palapye, Botswana, from the 10th to 14th of September 2018 to discuss the impacts of coal mining and coal-fired power stations in South Africa and Botswana and worked on the responses needed to address these impacts.

See the text of the declaration here.

Mayor cancels meeting with DMR Task Team and Somkhele community

02 October 2018 - In support of the Mpukunyoni community, mayor Velangenkosi Gumede of Mtubatuba called for the cancellation of the two day task team meeting at the Umfolozi Protea Hotel on 1 and 2 October. The task team comprised twenty experts. The meeting was organised by the Department of Mineral Resources to address complaints and human rights issues perpetrated by Tendele mine that emerged during minister Gwede Mantashe's visit to Somkhele last Saturday.

The agenda for the meeting gave the floor to Tendele mine and included items that raised sub judice issues pending the outcome of the Pietermaritzburg High Court application that Tendele is operating without required environmental authorisations, land planning and or a waste management licence.

Read the full media release here.

What actually happened when Minister Gwede Mantashe and the DMR visited Somkhele/Mpukunyoni

26 September 2018 - For years the people of Somkhele in northern KwaZulu-Natal, had tried without success to engage with the various ministers and the Department of Mineral Resources of South Africa. On the 22nd of September minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe visited Mpukunyoni where Somkhele is situated. On Saturday the door was almost shut in their faces again as all attempts were made to make sure the community were not given a chance to express their collective pain. The people of Somkhele finally got their chance, but this would not have happened had the community not vocally made the demand to present their issues and be heard by the Minister. This would surely have been an expensive opportunity missed by the government. The Minister and his department had all the intensions to sabotage their own visit, and reduce it to a one-dimensional engagement.

The morning session was held at the Tendele site, where CEO Jan Du Preez hyped the urgency of the mine expansion.  According to him if the mine fails to expand in the next couple of months, then the lights and machines will be switched off in June of 2019. He also made mention of families who are resisting the hostile mine removals. The current operation by Tendele has already displaced and destructed countless homes and livelihoods; taking away and polluting land and water, vital self-sustainability sources for this rural farming community.

Mantashe warned the mine about creating different beneficiary packages for the community and the traditional leaders, and said this has created tension between the two community stakeholders. There were community members who spoke openly against the Tendele mining operation, and blamed them for pollution and damaged lands.

Read the full media release here.

Meeting at Xolobeni descends into chaos after police heavy-handedness

23 September 2018 - The meeting between Minister of Mines, Gwede Manatashe and the Xolobeni community, today descended into chaos.

Reports are emerging that members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) were chased out of the tent and corralled by the SAPS.  Human Rights activist and lawyer, Richard Spoor has reportedly been arrested and taken to the Mpisi police station.

Eyewitnesses report the use of tear gas and possible rubber bullets against  AAC members who were expressing opposition to mining in the area.

Minister Gwede Mantashe has been doing the rounds trying to appease community people affected by mining. People are not buying his rhetoric and empty promises.

More details to follow.

For further information contact Nonhle Mbuthuma (Amadiba Crisis Committee) on 073 426 2955.

Watch video capture of the events below, or view them on Vimeo here and here.

Minister Gwede Mantashe to visit the Somkhele community

21 September 2018 - On Saturday 22nd of September 2018, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe will finally face the community of Somkhele/Mpukunyoni. The community, which for years has suffered a number of injustices and human rights abuses under the hands of ruthless mining bullies, will finally get a chance to engage the minister on issues related to mining in their area.

For years they have tried without success to engage with the various ministers and the Department of Mineral Resources.

What makes Mantashe’s visit even more interesting is that on the 24th of August 2018, the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) representing over 3500 residents from the very same community crossed swords with the Tendele Mining Company at the high court in Pietermaritzburg. Legal representatives of the community tabled evidence of how the mine was violating environmental laws and how the current operation by Tendele has already displaced and destructed countless livelihoods; taking away and polluting land and water, vital self-sustainability sources for this rural farming community. Judgement is still pending.

Read the full media release here.

Why the coal-fired power station IPPs are unlikely to get out of the starting-blocks

20 September 2018 - One of the key objectives of the Life After Coal Campaign (consisting of Earthlife Africa, the Centre for Environmental Rights, and groundWork) is to discourage the development of any new coal-fired power stations, which would lock South Africa into further dependence on dirty, expensive coal for decades to come, and delay the urgent need to transition to a low-carbon future.

For this reason, for the past 5 years,the Campaign has been resisting the roll-out of the Coal Baseload Independent Power Producers (“coal IPPs”) programme, following the then Minister of Energy’s December 2012 Determination for 2500MW of coal-fired power from coal IPPs. The Determination was based on the now extremely outdated 2010 Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP), which made provision for 6250MW of new coal from coal IPPs between 2014 and 2030.

Read the full media release here.

groundWork statement to the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) gathering in Nairobi, Kenya. The statement is a request to African leaders to consider the future of the continent in relation to the environmental and health challenges it faces, and also a reminder that coal, plastic, and pollution do not form part of a desired future for Africa.

18 September 2018 - Africa is not a cave: Coal, waste incineration, and plastics are a danger to our environment and the well being of our people. No to coal - yes to renewables; no to closing of democracy - yes to open democracy; no to incineration and plastic pollution - yes to Zero Waste as an innovative solution to addressing environmental problems and job creation, energy and food security and mitigating climate change.

This is the call of groundWork and the very many community organisations and partners we work with to the Seventh Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) that is being held at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya from 17 to 19 September 2018.

Read the full statement here.

ESCOM pollution

Eskom’s latest bid to continue deadly pollution strongly contested

18 September 2018 - Five of South Africa’s largest environmental justice organisations have come out strongly against Eskom’s further round of multiple applications to postpone compliance with air pollution standards. Allowing Eskom to continue with its pollution will mean that at least 2200 people in affected areas will die premature deaths every year as a result of exposure to this pollution.

Although Eskom was already granted widespread postponements from compliance with the so-called minimum emission standards (MES) under the Air Quality Act in early 2015, it has made little effort to ensure that it can comply timeously with South Africa’s weak MES.

Read the full media release here.

groundWork challenges UNO support for waste incineration project

14 September 2018 - groundWork, along with 77 other organisations, has signed an open letter asking the UN Environment Program to adopt a clear stance and policy supporting sustainable waste and resource management approaches at the top of the waste hierarchy. 

The organisations further call on the UNO  to refrain from endorsing waste incineration projects, and to stop advocating waste incineration in all the agency’s publications and statements.

You can read the full text of the open letter here.

Regional Community Exchange: Building a solidarity in resistance to coal

11 September 2018 - From the 10th to the 14th of September 2018, nine environmental justice organizations [1] are gathering in Botswana for a regional community to community exchange under the banner of Building a solidarity in resistance to coal. The exchange will engage 30 participants from Botswana and South Africa.

This particular exchange has a great significance for many reasons, including the recently announced Chinese investment on coal fired power stations and mining in Africa, which is nothing short of a step back in the efforts to develop the African continent towards cleaner, healthier, and more affordable energy. Also, the Department of Energy in South Africa released the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2018, for public comment and the plan includes two unnecessary coal-fired power stations.

Read the full media release here.

China must play a positive role in Africa - statement by groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa.

06 September 2018 - The China Development Bank’s $2.5 billion loan to Eskom, to continue the construction of the 4800 MW Kusile coal-fired power station locks South African into a debt spiral.  The troubled plant - which has recently had a major destructive fire - has been delayed for years and cost-to-completion is now R225 billion.  Original cost estimates for the new coal plants was R30 billion in 2005 by the then Minister of State Enterprises, Mr A Erwin.

South Africa has an energy surplus and renewable energy is coming on line cheaper than Eskom’s coal fired power stations.  This loan will lock South African into coal, and deny South Africans the opportunity for expanding renewable energy production, and negatively impact plant manufacturing job creation opportunities in South Africa.  China already employs 3.6 million people in the renewable energy sector. 

We also note that the China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) building of the Morupule B coal-fired power station has been problematic, with it often breaking down. This has forced Botswana to depend on diesel generators and therefore spiking up costs in their fiscus.

China must play a positive role in Africa, and ensure that their support for Africa must be guided by the best energy choices of the people of Africa, choices that will support and promote learning and jobs in Africa for Africans. China should not use Africa to dump old technology or to make work for Chinese constructors of coal-fired plants or big dams.


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