Debate by: M.J Mazibuko; IFP MPL
KwaZulu-Natal – just like the rest of South Africa and the world – is at a crossroads. It is either we drastically change human behavior now and save the planet or we adopt a business-as-usual attitude and face the imminent extinction of the planet and all life.
Serious air quality problems on South Durban
The Centre for Environmental Rights in pointing out one of the causes states as follows:
South Africa has excellent environmental legislation, but non-compliance with and poor implementation and enforcement of those laws mean that pollution’s harmful impacts on the environment, human health and wellbeing are prevalent in large parts of the country, and most often unfairly discriminate against vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Hon. Chairperson, as one walks or drives past Jacobs, Wentworth, Clairwood, Montclair, Mobeni, Lamontville, Glebelands, Umlazi, Isipingo, Ezimbokodweni onwards on some days, one is choked by unpleasant odours and fog that blurs the sky and the sea.
Why? Because industries operating along that area cause pollution in several ways during the production process and in turn produce a large amount of waste products. Chemicals are burnt in order to produce the final products, and chemicals are then emitted into the air where communities are exposed. Industries dump their waste products in the nearest residential areas polluting the air and land. This causes health impacts to communities that are residing adjacent to the dumpsite. Hence communities in these areas suffer from cancer and asthma
Some of the pollutants that are released from these chemical industries do not have set standards or limits and are not regulated by the government or the World Health Organisation (WHO). When air samples are taken, high volumes of pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are found.
Hon. Chairperson; in addition to industries, we as humans nonchalantly abuse the environment. The results are terrible: rivers have dried up; there is escalating soil erosion; areas that were known for green vegetation have become deserts; areas that were known for beautiful summers and weather, today face threats of floods; creatures in the sea face decimation; wild animals which donned the landscape face extinction today; men and women who were healthy yesterday grapple with ailments today.
It is time that we in this House have to ask ourselves a tough question: do we commit ourselves to taking radical decisions and steps towards stopping the almost inevitable end of all life?
Against this background, I wish to propose that:
The Conservation and Environmental Affairs Portfolio Committee must consider engaging the Department to ensure that there is no leniency in making industries fully compliant with the laws and bylaws that govern them
The Department must also consider intensifying tree-planting campaigns. Tree-planting is one of the ways to ensure that our people somehow mitigate the effects of air pollution. Because trees – in addition to beautifying the environment – contribute to cleaning the air by absorbing pollutants. They also provide oxygen, save water, and grow food produce foods of different natures. We must therefore add this
The Portfolio Committee, with the Department, must urgently consider engaging all Municipalities of this Province with a view to ensure that:
Each Municipality makes the conservation and preservation of the environment a priority in their programs.
Each Municipality dedicates at least one day per month to the campaign of cleaning-the-neighbourhood by communities
Each Municipality provides enough dustbins in residential or business areas
Each Municipality enforces by-laws which protect the environment
The Portfolio Committee, with the Department, must seriously consider engaging Traditional, Religious, Sport and other stakeholders to urge them to seriously instill the culture of caring for and preserving the environment within their communities.
ENVIRONMENT CAMPAIGN AS JOB-CREATION
Hon. Chairperson; engaging in the conserving and preserving our environment also has the potential to contribute significantly to economic empowerment and job-creation. The South African Airways’ Sawubona Magazine of July 2019 carries two inspiring stories of traditional leaders who have wisely exploited the opportunities generated by the environment to develop their communities without compromising the environment. Inkosi Mabaso and Inkosi Shabalala both of northern KwaZulu-Natal signed a biodiversity stewardship agreement with the World Wildlife Fund. This agreement has resulted in the communities “learning not only to farm responsibly and protecting biodiversity, but (also)…moving from subsistence farming to semi-commercial cattle farming.” (pp. 50-52). On the other side, Inkosi of the Mthembu clan and Inkosi of the Biyela clan cooperated in transforming the unused land within their areas into Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. “This project brings a much-needed economic injection and employment to this rural area, through either direct employment at the lodges, or outsourced services such as laundry or the growing of vegetables. Additionally, 150 community members gained new skills with free, certified hospitality training, opening alternative doors for them.” (pp.64-66)
These examples teach us that conserving and preserving the environment also has the potential to generate more jobs and other economic opportunities. They are good examples which need to be multiplied.
Hon. Chairperson; in conclusion the IFP supports this budget for this Department is called upon to contribute to the salvation of humanity