This open letter, from Coastal Links Eastern Cape, the Amadiba Crisis Committee and the Dwesa-Cwebe CPA to the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Energy and of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, was first published on the Masifundise Development Trust website.
Minister Gwede Mantashe
Minister Barbara Creecy
Dear Ministers, Mantashe and Creecy
RE: An Open Letter from under-threat small-scale fishers to the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Energy and Forestry, Fishing and Environment
We are traditional fishermen and fisherwomen from all along the coast of South Africa, although most of us are from the Eastern Cape and KZN. Several of us live along the coast where SHELL has applied for a permit to do seismic testing, but they did not consult us at all.
Minister Mantashe, we have heard you on the radio and read what you said about white people who are standing up and saying that South Africa should not allow seismic testing and that we should no longer continue to mine our oceans for oil or gas. You say that they are acting against development and that this is like apartheid and colonialism. You have said they will make poverty and unemployment worse. However, what we would like to ask is, do you know how many traditional, subsistence and small-scale fishers depend on the sea for our livelihoods?
Did you listen to what we said in 2016 when the Portfolio Committee on Environment came to ask us if we wanted the Marine Spatial Planning Bill? Did any of you take us seriously?
Have you heard what we have said to the Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy Master Planning process that is currently underway? Has Minister Creecy told you what we said to her when we met with her in April 2021, at the National Workshop she attended with us?
We would also like to ask you why your department did not bother to make sure that Impact and SHELL consulted us? Do you care so little about our children’s lives and our livelihoods? Both you and Minister Creecy are neglecting your duty of care towards us and our communities when you do not ensure that we are consulted and when you do not check that any project that is planned would not cause harm to the fish we depend on to feed our families or further restrict our access to the ocean.
Are you aware that Oil and Gas mining does not create jobs for poor, ordinary rural coastal communities who have been marginalized for too long, not just through colonialism and apartheid, but now also by our own supposedly democratic government, through Operation Phakisa?
Minister Mantashe, we completely reject your simplistic dismissal of the resistance to SHELL. In fact, we are not only resisting SHELL but we are saying that we, as Black African fishers and ordinary South Africans, have the RIGHT TO SAY NO TO MINING of any kind, in our region. We know that the African Charter on Human Rights gives us the right to choose our own path of development and to do what we want with our natural resources. This is not about the West telling Africans what to do. As Africans, we have seen what SHELL has done to the livelihoods of Nigerians and Ghanaian communities. We choose a future for our children that is climate safe, where they will not be starving because we have destroyed our natural resources.
In fact, are you aware that our legal action cites YOU, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, as the primary respondent in our case that will be heard on 17 December? We believe that both you and Minister Creecy have a responsibility, as Trustees of our oceans and coasts and our fish, to protect them. Seismic testing will impact our fish and other marine animals. Continuing to exploit our oceans will increase our carbon emissions and take our country into extreme poverty and hunger, whilst a few will enjoy the wealth. We want wellbeing for all – not wealth for a few! We reject your attempt to divide the powerful opposition to Oil and Gas mining of our oceans. We call on all South Africans to please to stand up and join in our efforts to protect our oceans.
Blaming white environmentalists, to us, is a demonstration of your arrogance and unwillingness to listen to us, the people of the coast – the people of Port St Johns, of Centane, of Dwesa-Cwebe, of Xolobeni, of Amathole region. It also saddens us, as it makes us think that you believe that we are unable to think or decide for ourselves how we wish our communities to be developed. You insult us if you imply that this is only their struggle. This is all of our struggle. The sea is our Great Home. It is the source of all life and is a sacred place as it is the home of many of our Ancestors. We are angry that you dare to question our beliefs and our choices. We ask you to respect our culture, our lives and our livelihoods and protect the future of all.
Coastal Links Eastern Cape
Amadiba Crisis Committee
Dwesa-Cwebe Communal Property Association (CPA)
Ngqongqoshe Gwede Mantashe
Ngqongqoshe Barbara Creecy
Siyanibingelela boNgqogqoshe, Mantashe kanye no Creecy
RE: Incwadi Evulelekile eya kuNgqongqoshe wezokuMbiwa phansi neZamandla ezamaHlathi, ezokuDoba nezeMvelo evela kubadobi abadobela ukuziphilisa abasengozini
Singabadobi bendabuko besilisa kanye nabesifazane abavela kulo lonke ugu lwaseNingizimu Afrika, nakuba iningi lethu liphuma eMpumalanga Kapa naseKZN. Abaningana bethu bahlala ogwini lapho u-SHELL efake khona isicelo semvume yokwenza ukuhlolwa okuzamazamisa umhlaba, kodwa abazange baxhumane nhlobo nathi.
Ngqongqoshe uMantashe, sikuzwile emsakazweni saphinde safunda ukuthi utheni ngabamhlophe abasukuma bethi iNingizimu Afrika mayingavumeli ukuhlola okuzamazamisa umhlaba nokuthi singabe sisaqhubeka nokumba uwoyela noma igesi kwizilwandle zethu. Uthi benza izinto eziphambene nentuthuko kanti lokhu kufana nobandlululo nobuphangi. Waphinde wathi bazobhebhethekisa ububha nokuntuleka kwemisebenzi. Nokho, esingathanda ukukubuza ukuthi, ingabe uyazi ukuthi bangaki abadobi bendabuko, nabadobela ukuziphilisa abathembele olwandle ukuze siziphilise?
Nike nakulalela esakusho ngo-2016 ngesikhathi kufika iKomidi elimaqondana nezeMvelo lizosibuza ukuthi siyawufuna yini uMthethosivivinywa wokuHlelwa kweziNdawo zasoLwandle? Ingabe ukhona phakathi kwenu owasithatha ngokusemqoka?
Ngabe nakuzwa yini esakusho ohlelweni oluKhulu lokuHlela uMnotho wasoLwandle lwe-Operation Phakisa oluqhubekayo njengamanje? Ngabe uNgqongqoshe uCreecy ukutshelile ukuthi sathini kuye ngesikhathi sihlangana naye ngoMbasa ka-2021, esiGcawini sikaZwelonke ayesihambele kunye nathi?
Sithanda ukukubuza futhi ukuthi kungani umnyango wakho ungazange uzihluphe ngokuqinisekisa ukuthi i-Impact ne-SHELL baxhumana nathi? Ingabe unendaba encane kangaka ngempilo yezingane zethu kanye nendlela yethu yokuziphilisa? Nobabili wena noNgqongqoshe uCreecy niwushaya indiva umsebenzi wenu wokunakekela thina nemiphakathi yethu lapho ningakuqinisekisi ukuthi kuyaxhunyanwa nathi futhi nalapho ningahloli ukuthi noma yiluphi uhlelo oluhleliwe ngeke ludale umonakalo ezinhlanzini esithembele kuzo ukuze sondle imindeni yethu noma lwandise izivimbelo ekufinyeleleni kwethu olwandle.
Uyazi yini ukuthi izimayini zikaWoyela neGesi aziwadali amathuba emisebenzi emiphakathini ehlwempu, kwizakhamizi ezihlala ezindaweni zasemakhaya okukade zikhishwa inyumbazane isikhathi eside, kungenxa yobuphangi kanye nobandlululo kuphela, kodwa manje nanguhulumeni wethu okuthiwa owentando yeningi, ngokusebenzisa i-Operation Phakisa?
Ngqongqoshe uMantashe, sikwenqaba ngokuphelele ukuchitha kalula kwakho ukumelana ne-SHELL. Eqinisweni, asiphikisani ne-SHELL kuphela, kodwa sithi thina, njengabadobi abaMnyama base-Afrika kanye nabantu baseNingizimu Afrika, SINELUNGELO LOKUTHI CHA EZIMAYINI zanoma yiluphi uhlobo, esifundeni sethu. Siyazi ukuthi i-African Charter yamaLungelo aBantu isinika ilungelo lokuzikhethela indlela yethu yentuthuko nokwenza esikufunayo ngemithombo yethu yemvelo. Lokhu akusho ukuthi amazwe aseNtshonalanga atshela abantu base-Afrika ukuthi benzeni. Njengama-Afrika, sikubonile lokho u-SHELL akwenzile ezimpilweni zabantu baseNigeria naseGhana. Sikhethela izingane zethu ikusasa eliphephile esimweni sezulu, lapho zingeke zibulawe yindlala ngoba sesicekele phansi imvelo yethu.
Eqinisweni, ingabe uyazi ukuthi izinyathelo zethu zomthetho zikhomba WENA, Ngqongqoshe weziMbiwa nezaMandla, njengommangalelwa oyinhloko ecaleni lethu elizoqulwa mhla ziyi-17 kuZibandlela? Sikholelwa ukuthi nobabili wena noNgqongqoshe uCreecy ninomthwalo, njengabaPhathiswa bezilwandle zethu, ugu kanye nezinhlanzi zethu, ukuthi nizivikele. Ukuhlola kokuzamazamisa umhlaba kuzothinta izinhlanzi zethu nezinye izilwane zasolwandle. Ukuqhubeka nokuxhaphaza izilwandle zethu kuzokwandisa ukukhipha kwethu i-khabhoni futhi kufake izwe lethu ebuphofini obukhulu kanye nendlala, kuyilapho abambalwa bezojabulela ingcebo. Sifuna inhlalakahle yabo bonke – hhayi ingcebo yabambalwa! Siyawenqaba umzamo wakho wokwehlukanisa ukuphikiswa okunamandla kwezimayini zikaWoyela neGesi olwandle lethu. Sicela bonke abantu baseNingizimu Afrika ukuthi basukume bazibandakanye emizamweni yethu yokuvikela izilwandle zethu.
Ukugxeka ongoti bezemvelo abamhlophe, kithina, kukhombisa ukuzikhukhumeza nokungafuni ukusilalela thina, singabantu basogwini – abantu basePort St Johns, kuCentane, eDwesa-Cwebe, eXolobeni, nasesifundeni Amathole. Kusiphatha kabi futhi, njengoba kusenza sicabange ukuthi nikholelwa ukuthi asikwazi ukuzicabangela noma ukuzinqumela ukuthi sifisa ukuthi imiphakathi yethu ithuthuke kanjani. Uyasihlambalaza uma uthi lo mshikashika owabo kuphela. Konke lokhu kungumzabalazo wethu. Ulwandle luyiKhaya lethu eliKhulu. Liwumthombo wempilo yonke futhi luyindawo engcwele njengoba luyikhaya lamadlozi ethu amaningi. Sicanukile ukuthi ulokotha nokungabaza izinkolelo zethu nokuzikhethela kwethu. Sicela uhloniphe isiko lethu, izimpilo zethu kanye nendlela yethu yokuziphilisa futhi uvikele ikusasa labo bonke.
Coastal Links Eastern Cape
Amadiba Crisis Committee
Dwesa-Cwebe Communal Property Association (CPA)