Byline: Andani Matumba

25 April 2022

The Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) held its eight “Just Transition Framework” community consultation meeting at Lake Umuzi in Secunda on 22 April 2022.

As part of its work, the commission is developing the Just Transition Framework and its efforts to develop the framework started  late 2021.

Participants came from all mining towns within Mpumalanga as well as the Vaal Area.

According to Ms. Shamini Harrington, a commissioner for the PCC and a Parliamentarian, the Just Transition Framework is a 2050 plan.

“The main objective of the transition framework is to come up with projects or ways in which transition can made for moving out of fossil to renewable energy since fossil is said to be the main contribution towards air pollution.

Sectors which will be affected by the transition are; coal, agriculture, automotive and tourism.

All these sectors are job creation sectors,” said Harrington also noting sectors the job creation factor in the new dispensation of renewable energy.

She further stated that  climate change is happening and this transition has to happen because if it does more damage will be done to our planet and more specifically our country.

PCC Commissioner and Unionist from the National Union of Mines and Metal Workers, Mr. Mbulayini Mbondi  said, “As part of the transition the commission seek to engage with community members from priority hotspots for consultations so that they can suggest the projects they need in order to make a transition from fossil and other carbons chemicals which accelerate climate change.  

Attendee’s during intense climate change discussions

The Just Transition framework will also address issues of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

We cannot come up with a transition plan which destroys people, leaving them unemployed because you can never reason with an angry and hungry person.

Mbodi stated further that the commission will never choose an extreme alternative and  that it seeks to find a proper balance and that balance is determined by the community.

“All views have to be reflected in the framework and we cannot rule out what is important or not important because the framework will be like a bible to insure justice in the transition.

When we move from fossil generation to green, we should ensure that employees or the community is not worse than what it was.

If jobs are lost, we should ensure that activities are developed to unsure that people are able to sustain themselves.

 People should get jobs with social protection and benefits and not worse than the jobs they lost during the transition process.

Just energy transition gives us the opportunity to transform the economy and create employment for those who don’t work meanwhile sustain those jobs which already exist.

As a unionist I will insure that we are going to come and insure that the cry of the community has been heard.

According to Ms. Shamini Harrington, a commissioner for the PCC and a Parliamentarian, this is a 2050 plan an implementation will not happen tomorrow.

Ms. Shamini Harrington (commissioner and parliamentarian)

“It takes time to grow projects such as these and it takes time to implement them.

 We want to create something we can be proud of.

When we move from coal, we do it slowly so that we can create jobs from other sectors.

I know what it feels to be in your shoes, I too have lived in Secunda and worked in Sasol.

Something has to be done to arrest the damage done by climate change, the evidence is the current the floods which destroyed parts of the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal,” emphasized Harrington on the importance of the Just Transformation Framework.

Mbodi said the floods occurred due to the result of climate showing us flames.

He further stated that the Just Transition journey would be the solution to climate change and global warming.

“When we do that you should be at the centre Jobs, Air quality and even mentioned companies which are polluting, therefore all the stakeholders should work together so that the climate condition does not become worse than what it already is.

The framework is built on the over a period of years.

The ways we use energy is going to change and the way jobs are being done today will change too,” Mbodi said.

“What do we with the coal because Mpumalanga’s economy is vested on coal, is it going to be possible to export the coal, will it be used for something else and what will be the cost of energy….

Currently Eskom is not in debt because communities cannot afford.

Renewable energy is more expensive to start and people will lose a lot of jobs.

European Countries used the coal to develop their countries not they just want us to jump from coal.

And is our education system suitable to be able to address issues of green energy, are we going to have skilled people who will be able to perform the tasks. Otherwise we will be chasing our tails in if we get into this blindly,” these are the remarks by community members made by members of mining communities.

A community member who participated in the engagement session, Mr.Vusumuzi Madebe from Embalehle said most areas in Embalenhle don’t have bridges and canals therefore making it difficult for the water flow freely.

Mbede in his suggestion to the commission said, “We request that bridges be built for ensuring the free follow of water because a lot of people live in informal settlements which normally get flooded like what we experienced in the previous week in KZN and Eastern Cape.

Measures for disaster readiness should be put in place because we are already experiencing climate change now.

The infrastructure build should be resilient enough to address natural disasters”.

Suggesting further a safe-house should be built to accommodate people from informal settlement in terms of an emergency because we do not know how long the floods will remain here for. 

Some members from Environmental safety and climate change NPO emphasised on the restoration and recycling of water because the water coming from the river is no longer good enough for human consumption.

Meanwhile others suggested that the Education system in South Africa be dispensed with and introduce a system which will address the current socio economic issues as well as climate issues.

The dispensation of coal was not agreed to by all the participants, some feel that goal is a natural resources which contributes the most into the South African economy, therefore even if transition to renewable energy is to take place, the country has to come up with ways of using and resourcing coal instead of ruling it out completely.