Opposition to toxic waste trade plan in South Africa

Issue 

Opposition to toxic waste trade plan in South Africa

By Chris Albertyn

JOHANNESBURG — A recent national summit of South African non-government organisations has condemned the Ministry and Department of Environment Affairs for wanting to legalise the import and export of toxic wastes. Such plans, they said, would contradict and undermine the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP).

The conference of more than 200 national NGOs, networks, and representatives of civic, union, youth, religious and women's organisations from around the country, was convened to discuss the relationship of NGOs with the state and their involvement in the RDP.

The resolution, submitted by the environmental sector, was unanimously endorsed by the conference who had earlier heard government minister Jay Naidoo urge NGOs to consider how they would enter a partnership with the government in ensuring the success of the RDP.

The conference resolution read as follows:

This conference condemns the intention of the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism to legalise the import and export of toxic wastes.

This position not only contradicts and undermines the RDP, it reflects a deeper resistance by the said ministry and department to recognise and implement the RDP.

Accordingly, this conference demands an unconditional ban on the import and export of toxic wastes. We urge the government to join the rest of Africa in banning such imports by signing the Organisation of African Unity's Bamako Convention.

We also urge the minister to demonstrate good faith by beginning to implement the RDP recommendations, in particular to facilitate the participation of civil society at a national level by disbanding the unrepresentative Council for the Environment and to establish a commission on the environment.
[Chris Albertyn is an activist with the South African Environmental Justice Networking Forum.]