Centre for Environmental Rights
Tatenda Wayne Muponde, 28, is an attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights. She works in the mining programme and her job entails litigating and advocating for environmental and climate justice in South Africa by ensuring that the rights of people living in mining-affected communities are upheld and they enjoy their right to a healthy environment.
This means holding the state accountable for decisions that are detrimental to the environment and people’s lives, holding mining companies that are not in compliance with environmental laws and their licences accountable and ensuring that the state adequately implements their duty to monitor and enforce compliance with environmental laws.
Of the climate change crisis and the need to transition from fossil fuels to a low-carbon economy in a just and equitable way, Tatenda says: “In the next five years, I want to see South Africa led by vigilant leaders who will not put profit before people and the planet and leaders who are not afraid to make tough decisions for the benefit of the people.”
Tatenda also started her own YouTube channel, which focuses on raising awareness on the environment by advocating for environmental and climate justice as well as issues around wellness and finding balance in life for young professionals.
- LLB, University of the Witwatersrand
- LLM in environmental law, University of the Witwatersrand
Admitted as an attorney in the High Court of South Africa in 2021.
When I was in high school, I used to travel alone to and from South Africa during the school holidays. My experiences on the road, and the discrimination I faced from immigration officers, not only made me responsible and strong at a young age but it exposed me to some of the injustices in this world and that is where I developed my passion for human rights law and social justice. I wanted to stand up for others who are not able to stand up for themselves and to use my knowledge and voice to help those facing any injustices. This led me to study the law and ultimately into being an environmental lawyer.
You already have the power and tools within you to be whoever you want to be and pursue the things you want. Do not allow fear or what others say or think about you to dim your light or sway you.
We are facing a climate change crisis and it is imperative that we transition from fossil fuels to a low-carbon economy in a just and equitable way. In the next five years, I want to see South Africa led by vigilant leaders who will not put profit before people and the planet and leaders who are not afraid to make tough decisions for the benefit of the people. I would like to see us less reliant on fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy infrastructure. I want to see more and more people, especially women and the youth, get involved in discussions about climate change and the environment and have decision-makers who always put people at the centre of their decision-making processes. I would like to see South Africa thriving as an environmentally and socially just society where people’s voices are heard and their rights are upheld.