Lead by example on climate change, says Fedusa

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) says it is highly disappointed with government’s no show at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) meeting on Monday morning held to address problems caused by acid mine drainage.

“Representatives from government departments were scheduled to meet with organised business and organised labour—namely Fedusa and the Congress of South Africa trade unions [Cosatu].”

Cosatu had recently joined Fedusa ‘s Section 77 Protest Action against Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and waste water treatment and wished to formally add additional concerns relating to water quality and accessibility.

“How can the citizens of our country believe that their government is taking the global issues of climate change and the green economy seriously when they cannot even address the imminent water crisis that is waiting to explode on their doorstep,” Fedusa spokesperson on the Section 77 water application André Venter asked.

The parties present at Monday’s meeting—consisting of Fedusa, Cosatu, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), the South African Association of Water Utilities and the Chamber of Mines—instructed the executive director of Nedlac to write an urgent letter to the Deputy President of South Africa to inform the presidency of the lack of government representation and attendance.

“Today’s dismal turnout echoes last week’s no show by the deputy director general of the Water Affairs Department, Fundisile Mketeni, at a parliamentary committee hearing regarding the very same issue of AMD,” Venter said.

“When one is faced with these examples of apathy and indifference, where does government expect to draw the political will to effect real change at the upcoming Conference of the Parties [COP] 17 in Durban later this year?’

Venter added that South Africa was meant to be leading by example.

He added that only R225-million had been set aside by government to deal with acid mine drainage, which experts agreed would fall far short of the more realistic R750-million needed to address the problem adequately.

“Fedusa filed the Section 77 Protect Action against AMD in March this year and has been exceptionally vocal regarding the dire affects that both acid mine drainage and poor water treatment facilities have on all South Africans.

“While working groups have been established to tackle this impending crisis, we are still waiting on government’s report and this latest no show further delays an already slow process,” said Venter.

Fedusa believed that urgent action was required in the Western basin of the Witwatersrand gold fields area as acid mine water was already decanting to the surface and filtering into the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

“In addition, if no action is taken against rising AMD in the Central Witwatersrand basin, this toxic water will decant into the Boksburg area by as early as March 2013,” Venter said.

More urgency
He added that Fedusa was very concerned that far too little was being done at a very slow pace.

“The Departments of Water Affairs, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Human Settlement, Energy, Agriculture, Mineral Resources, Cooperative Governance and Finance must start collaborating together and treat AMD with the severity this problem deserves.

“The additional costs of effective clean up, cannot be rerouted to the consumer.”

Venter added that acid mine drainage was only going to become a bigger problem if the state did not start addressing its poor planning, infrastructure maintenance and ability to act swiftly and decisively.—I-Net Bridge

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