By Esther Rose
The annual South African Investment Conference kicks off at the Sandton Convention Centre on November 5-7 under the theme “Accelerating Growth by Building Partnerships”. But what awaits investors and those in government is deeper than the discussion around the economy and investment.
In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa activist lawyers, civil society and community organisations have urged the president to consider “responsible investment only” in light of growing concerns of the environmental impact of among others, coal mining, that is leading to the displacement of people, the lack of drinking water and pollution. “For far too long, coal companies have been allowed to pollute water resources, destroy people’s health, agricultural livelihoods and any chance for future generations to live on the land and enjoy fresh, clean air and water and health” said Thomas Mnguni from GroundWork, one of the organisations making the call.
According to Greenpeace, Mpumalanga Province has been declared the highest polluted area in the world because of its twelve coal-fired power plants and the country’s weak emission standards. Bafana Hltashwayo, of the Middleburg Environmental Justice Network said his organisation is “concerned about the drive for investment in South Africa which fails to acknowledge the impacts on the health of our environment and ultimately the health and food security of our people”.