South Africa’s unwillingness to move from nuclear and coal power will lead to catastrophic climate change for the profit of a few, writes Sipho Kings


In his State of the Nation address this year, President Jacob Zuma said the energy department had committed to building more nuclear power stations, generating around 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy a year. He also said a new coal power station would be built, in addition to the two mega-stations underway at Medupi and Kusile. Unfortunately, renewable technology only got a perfunctory nod.

This decision goes against South Africa’s international climate change commitments, its own energy plans and ignores the global shift towards renewable energy. Professor William Gumede, of Democracy Works, said the move was being pursued due to a political agenda. “Projects are being implemented, essentially from a purely patronage point of view,” he argued.

Focusing on nuclear energy also comes with the perceived bonus of tying South Africa closer to Brics nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all of whom are nuclear-inclined states wanting to sell technology to the country, he said.

Gumede added that South Africa did not have the institutional capacity for a nuclear build and no clear national plan for energy. As a result, each level of government had begun “doing its own thing”. For the most part, this meant going with tried and tested technologies – mainly coal – due to the lack of support.

More from the source:

Press Release: International Action against Anglo-American and Vedanta

Earthlife Africa Jhb
26th of July 2104

Anglo American Thermal Coal and Vedanta Zinc International have plans for a dirty coal partnership in the Waterberg region in Limpopo Province. Anglo American will supply low grade coal to a Vedanta owned coal-fired power station. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg has had its eye on this underhanded relationship for some time, maintaining that another coal-fired power station, beyond Mepudi and Matimba, in the Waterberg will spell environmental and human-health disaster. On the 31st of July and the 1st of August, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg will join in a world-wide protest and demand an end to Vedanta’s polluting ways. The action coincides with the Vedanta AGM in London.

The protest will be held outside the Anglo American headquarters on 44 Main Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg from 10:00 to 13:00 on both the 31st of July and the 1st of August 2014.

Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg states, “There are many reasons why the Waterberg does not need another coal-fired power station. One, the area is water stressed.  Two, the Waterberg is already an air quality high priority area. Three, South African international commitments to climate change cannot support more coal-fired electricity generation.

The protest by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg will be in support of the international solidarity group Foil Vedanta. Foil Vedanta aims to one day see Vedanta brought to justice in court in London, but in the meanwhile works at linking community struggles against Vedanta around the world. Activists from Zambia, Odisha, Delhi and Johannesburg will demonstrate against Vedanta on the 1st of August.

While Anglo America is a well-known name in South Africa, Vedanta is less so. Vedanta is a British and Indian owned mining company which is registered in London. Vedanta is attracting world-wide criticism for its poor environmental and human rights record from grassroots movements. Currently, Vedanta is taking a stronger interest in Africa, where it has already shown a complete lack of respect for local law and communities. In Zambia, the Vedanta Konkola Copper Mine has poisoned thousands of people from the surrounding communities and still refuses to pay any damages.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:

Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel (w): +27 (0) 11 339 3662
Mobile: + 27 (0) 82 682 9177
Email: makoma [at]
Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel (w): +27 (0) 11 339 3662
Mobile: + 27 (0) 79 331 2028
Email: dominique [at]

Protesters outside NERSA public hearing

Whilst the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) public hearings on the guidelines for the electricity reseller tariffs were ongoing inside Gallagher convention centre today, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and different community based organisations were demonstrating their frustrations over the unreasonably high electricity tariffs charged by Eskom and its many electricity resellers outside the venue.

Here are some impressions of the protest:

See more photos on the ELA jhb Facebook page and the protesters demands on the press release.

Earthlife Africa’s Johannesburg branch was founded in 1988 to mobilise civil society around environmental issues in relation to people.