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Mantashe says environmental NGOs block development in SA

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has said grid availability is critical to securing electricity supply in the future.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has said grid availability is critical to securing electricity supply in the future.
Image: Gallo

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has slammed environmental NGOs, accusing them of blocking development in South Africa.

Delivering his department’s budget vote in parliament on Tuesday, Mantashe said the demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) had doubled in the past 10 years and was poised to grow more.

LPG can reduce demand for electricity during peak hours, thereby minimising the severity of load-shedding, he said.

“We encourage consumers to use this efficient source of energy for space heating,” he said.

In line with the country’s oceans economy agenda, he said, [the department] worked hard to attract investments in the oil and gas sector and in bringing communities on board to see the benefit of this for development. 

“In 2022, we undertook consultations in seven kingdoms and among fishing communities in the Eastern, Northern, and Western Cape provinces.

“The consultations helped us appreciate real and prevailing sentiments about oil and gas developments. These sit in contrast to lobby groups, mostly foreign-funded, that pit the development needs of poor communities against their own self-serving, self-proclaimed protection of the environment,” said Mantashe.

He said he was emphasising this because many of the people who were running anti-development NGOs were foreign-funded and they blocked development in South Africa.

“To me I don’t think the issue is either climate change or development, it’s both. You do development with responsibility, you don’t block development.

“I was quite excited when I heard (DA MP James) Lorimer taking an interest in the development in Namibia and the only thing that he didn’t mention was that some of the companies that are making discoveries in Namibia were chased away here because we want to be a small, clean space in a world that is developing.”

He said three discoveries of oil have been made in Namibia and the companies were looking for the fourth and were drilling 10 wells of oil.

“On our side where those deposits are stretching, we can’t, because we’ve given environmentalists veto power over development. It’s something that we must look at, we must amend our legislation if needs be because we must pursue development.”

Mantashe saidprotracted litigation emanating from these processes hurt South Africa’s economic development. 

Mantashe quoted Swedish sociologist Richard Swedberg’s argument on the role of the law in the economic sociology of capitalism, and the development of growth in the markets: “Law is typically part of the political machinery ... One reason for this is that law introduces an extra layer ... between political decisions and their execution ... the state can influence the economy through regulation ...” 

“Therefore, ours cannot be a mere regulatory framework that reverses the gains of our hard-won liberty,” said Mantashe.

In recent years, NGOs have gone to court to challenge, among others, Shell’s seismic blasting on the Wild Coast to survey for oil and gas deposits.



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