JOB ADVERTISEMENT :  Energy Democracy Campaigner  

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Mobilising Social Movements for Energy Democracy and Sovereignty in South Africa 

Energy Democracy: Campaigner 

1 Year Full Time Contract 

Deadline for applications: 31 March 2023 

groundWork (Friends of the Earth, South Africa) is seeking a Campaigner to be based at the groundWork Office in Durban.  Start date is 1 May 2023, or earlier depending on availability. 

The Project 

This exciting ground-breaking project brings together three South African social movements from different urban locales, supported by two service NGOs to re-construct and implement a campaign that realizes widespread installation and operation of community-led socially owned renewable energy solutions. The project represents new ground in locating advocacy for a just transition within the social movements.  The goal is to strengthen and enable social movements in South Africa to engage all tiers of government towards realising renewable energy community solutions that can become implemented at scale. Increasingly informed and organised social movement engagement with bolster the demand for local government to develop and implement policies, instruments and delivery modalities that incentivise/enable renewable energy delivery to communities they represent. The project seeks to nurture and support champions within partner movements to engage effectively with local governments, and other actors, towards a just transition which promotes/enables renewable energy solutions.  Experiences and lessons learnt will be documented and shared with other interested parties within and beyond South Africa.  This post will focus on Year 2 of The Project. Year 1 of the Project was a success despite various challenges. It included a feasibility study of community-led socially owned renewable energy development in South Africa, the installation of demonstration units at community sites in Emalahleni and Ethekwini, community workshops, and a documentary.    

Project Partnership   

The project is a partnership consisting of three community based organisations (Vukani Environmental Movement, Abahlali Base Mjondolo and South Durban Community Environmental Alliance) supported by two service organisations, namely groundWork  and Sustainable Energy Africa each with more than 20-years’ experience each in campaign and technical support to communities.  

groundWork is a South African NGO aiming to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people in Southern Africa, through assisting civil society to have a greater impact in environmental governance. groundWork focusses on supporting campaigns in climate and energy justice, coal, plastics, waste and environmental health. groundWork is well established and connected within multiple Africa-wide networks and movements concerned with energy and a just transition. The project is coordinated by groundWork and will be responsible for project monitoring and reporting, coordination, liaison, support, advocacy and networking at local, national and international levels. 

Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) in an NGO registered as a non-profit organisation that promotes equitable, low carbon, clean energy development in urban South Africa and across Africa. SEA provides support to multiple municipalities, government departments, and urban communities through research, capacity building, policy engagement, and information dissemination. SEA has relevant technical expertise within its “City Energy Support Unit” which already provides support to a network of 60 municipalities in South Africa. SEA will provide expertise on renewable energy solutions and will be responsible for research, policy and technical support on analysis, feasibility and development of demonstration models. 

Abahlali baseMjondolo (Abahlali), also known as the Shack Dwellers Movement, began in the Durban Metro in early 2005. It is the biggest social movement to have emerged in post-apartheid South Africa. The movement has protected thousands of urban families across South Africa from being evicted from their homes. Their vision is to build a just and equal society that is based on respect and dignity for all humankind. The movement has 75,000 members from four provinces, namely KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Gauteng. 60% of its members are women. Abahlali will be responsible for engaging government, advocacy, community research and sharing experiences. 

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) is South Africa’s oldest active community-based environmental justice organisation. The Alliance is made up of 18 affiliate organisations and has been active since 1995.  SDCEA works throughout KwaZulu Natal challenging for environmental justice, including a just energy transition, and has a specific focus on inner city, low-income housing estates in the Durban Metro. SDCEA’s mission continues to build on strong foundations of community activism that critiques industry and government developments to protect livelihoods and to ensure social justice and a healthy environment. SDCEA will be responsible for engaging government, member organisations, advocacy, community research and sharing experiences.  

Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM), also known as the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action, is based in Emalahleni Local Municipality on the Highveld in Mpumalanga where Eskom has 12 of its coal-fired power stations. VEM works in this growing urban area which has consistently been plagued by poor service delivery. VEM promotes dialogue on environmental justice issues and people’s livelihoods with communities, local municipality and other stakeholders including in health, energy, mining, media, schools and religious groups. VEM will be responsible for engaging with government, advocacy, community research and sharing experiences. 

Energy Democracy: Campaigner  

For this position groundWork seeks to employ a highly motivated and organized individual, who is willing to be part of a project where the individual’s knowledge and skills will be enhanced by a strong learning opportunity.   The individual will be based in the Durban groundWork office to work with the project partnership and be the link between groundWork’s national and regional work, and this project and vice versa.  An open-minded individual with utmost level of humanity, maturity and selflessness is invited to apply. The Campaigner is expected to embrace the three main strategies of the project, namely: 

  • movement building; 
  • campaigning for community renewable energy solutions; and  
  • documentation, reflection and sharing learning. 

We specifically encourage young, qualified black women to apply.  The candidate must have the ability to embrace multi-cultural and socio-economic environments.  The individual will work within the Climate and Energy Justice Campaign in groundWork and will report and be accountable to the Climate and Energy Justice Campaign Manager and the groundWork Management Team. 

Key Responsibilities include: 

– Being the main groundWork staff person on the day-to-day activities and communications of the project partnership; 

– Coordinating groundWork’s input to the project as directed and supported by the Climate and Energy Justice Campaign Manager; 

– Working with the project team to ensure that the campaign plan is implemented by all partners and is visible to and recognised/ acknowledged by communities and government.  

– Fostering collaborative working arrangements amongst partners, gather and process key information and develop narratives required by the project 

Ensuring needs of project partners on activities is efficiently communicated to groundWork and responded to by groundWork; 

With the project team, building on relationships with relevant local, provincial, and national government including informing them of campaign priorities; 

– Assisting with organising (and facilitating where needed) the research, feasibility study, capacity building and learning processes led by SEA and groundWork; 

– Preparing materials and reports to ensure effective linking of the project with Abahlali, SDCEA, VEM, SEA and other groundWork partners so that learnings from the project can be successfully shared and partners’ work can be strengthened; 

– Support project activities as defined by the agreed work of the project partners; and 

– Write internal reports for groundWork; and external reports for groundWork supporters and funders; 

 Skills Required / qualifications 

– A relevant tertiary education with a focus on environmental and social justice and sciences; 

– An education or history in Climate and Energy will be ideal;  

– A minimum two years’ experience in working within the social or environmental justice sector; 

– Excellent oral and written communication skills in English and isiZulu, including being a strong spokesperson; 

– Strong work organisational skills that ensure time-bound delivery is met; 

– Strong outcome-based facilitation skills; 

– Committed to groundWork’s vision, mission and values; 

– Motivation to exchange with and learn from colleagues and movements; 

– Be willing to work as part of a dynamic and varied team; 

– Ability to visit project sites and work in a safe manner 

– Strong knowledge of computer programmes such as MS Office, web-based systems such as Google suite, and other relevant platforms; 

– Have experience and knowledge of using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.; and  

– Have a Code 8 or 10 driver’s licence. 

Process and timeline  

Send your CV (3 pages max) and a motivation letter (1 page max) to by Monday, 27 March 2023no later than 5pm.  

Only shortlisted candidates will be notified and invited to interviews. Interviews are scheduled for the first week in April 2023.