On 26 May 2023, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and Abahlali baseMjondolo movement organised a protest march in Durban to urge the city officials to address issues and challenges faced by communities in the area. These include social, economic and environmental issues. groundWork works closely with SDCEA and Abahlali on a just transition and energy democracy to break new ground in locating advocacy for a just transition within the social movements. The main goal for the collaborative work is to strengthen and enable social movements in South Africa to engage all tiers of government towards realising renewable energy community solutions that can be implemented at community level.
STATEMENT HANDED OVER TO THE MAYOR OF DURBAN, PREMIER OF KZN, ESKOM, NERSA AND THE DEPARTMENT OF MINERAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY (DMRE)
STATEMENT : THE SOUTH DURBAN COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL ALLIANCE
26 MAY 2023
We the residents of neighbourhoods in eThekwini.
We the people who are organizing and working for a transformative society in eThekwini.
We the people who recognise that 1994 promised us freedom from poverty and all forms of discrimination.
We today walk collectively and peacefully through the streets of eThekwini to make the public aware that it is time that we, the people of eThekwini need to start being part of governance of our city so that we can make our eThekwini a place of delivery and peace for all.
We thus call for a just transition from fossil fuels, to a society based on clean, just and renewable energy, and social justice.
We call on those in political leadership, those in administrative leadership, those of us that live in eThekwini to stand up and take action to build a new tomorrow that is just for all. One that delivers on restorative justice, procedural justice and distributive justice.
We hereby commit ourselves to demand from, and work with the people of eThekwini and the democratic governance structures to ensure that in eThekwini the just transition is based upon an open democracy of inclusivity.
We will thus commit ourselves and our organisations to challenge for and work towards:
A new, sustainable energy system to replace the current system based on dirty fossil fuels that only serves the elite;
The end of financing for coal and other fossil fuel investments, including gas developments on and off shore;
The rehabilitation of land and water ruined by the oil refineries and toxic dumpsites in our neighbourhoods;
Developing resilient neighbourhoods to prepare for and deal with the impacts of climate change;
A new health system that works for the health of all especially those that have lived under the shadows of the oil refineries and other toxic industries throughout the City;
Securing transport and communication systems that are inclusive and enable all to take part in public debates and decision making;
Food sovereignty to ensure no one goes hungry in our city;
Challenging for and supporting local service delivery and seeking to use open democracy and self-provision to achieve it;
A new economic system in which economic decision making starts by asking what the needs of people are, and how to fulfil them, rather than to have an economy that serves profit;
A society rooted in gender justice; ensuring special attention to youth and their future; and an open democracy that is based on non-violence and peace as the basis for decision making.
We do not only demand this of the City leadership, but we demand this of ourselves in our daily work and practice to build and inclusive democracy that delivers for all in eThekwini and South Africa
We, people of Durban, observe that the Climate Crisis is gathering intensity. We need to urgently move away from Fossil Fuels to protect our health, our climate and ultimately our existence. We are particularly concerned about the negative impacts of fossil fuels on poor and marginalized communities along the entire value chain from extraction to combustion.
Our communities continue to suffer from the blatant atrocities of ill health linked to air pollution from living on the oil refinery fence lines and will suffer the most from a changed climate. Extreme weather and rising temperatures have already proved fatal for many people and children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
We are also confronted by the ongoing crisis of load shedding. The most vulnerable members of the community suffer most and cannot afford alternatives such as solar.
Loadshedding has a significant impact on hospitals, healthcare professionals and public hospitals which serve poor people are unable to deliver quality medical care. Similarly, teaching and learning in poor communities is interrupted.
Essential services including water and sanitation are put at risk. Daily power outages also impact industries across the nation. Small businesses that contribute most to local economic vibrancy cannot afford backup generators and then start to lose their customers. Moreover, backup generators are not a sustainable alternative.
We call upon the government to scrap the tariff increases, the government needs to look at the people and communities. Eskom and NERSA have decided to increase the tariff price by 18.65% as of 1 July 2023. Many people in our communities cannot afford these price hikes.
They are already impoverished by 15 years of price hikes, driven up way beyond the rate of inflation by the escalating costs of Medupi and Kusile and rising coal costs.
We say no to tariff increases and a corrupt government.
We need transformative action now. A rapid and just transition to a socially owned, renewable energy powered economy, providing clean, safe and affordable energy for all, with no worker and community left behind in the transition.
Rather, we need our government to support socially owned renewable energy systems at a local level.