South Africa needs strong, ethical ministers for water and environmental ministries not destructive power politics

South Africa needs strong, ethical ministers for water and environmental ministries not destructive power politics

More than 50 years after World Environment Day was established, environmental justice is still not a priority

Picture: OUTA

Today, on 5 June, we celebrate World Environment Day, a milestone established during the landmark Earth Summit of 1972, which also led to the formation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). This day is dedicated to raising awareness and prompting action for environmental protection

Nearly five decades later, the world is grappling with escalating pollution, waste, ecosystem destruction, wildlife crimes, and biodiversity loss. Climate change remains the defining challenge of our time, yet the actions from governments worldwide lack the urgency needed to address the dire impacts affecting millions.

A recent Daily Maverick article highlights the alarming state of South Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems. It reports that 30% of all freshwater fish, 10% of amphibians, and 2% of bird species are in a critical state, requiring immediate recovery plans. Additionally, 14 mammal species and 109 plant species are threatened.

Reflecting on our recent elections, it’s evident that the environment, water, and climate change were not prioritised in political agendas. While these issues may have appeared in manifestos, they were treated as mere formalities. When will we recognise that destroying ecosystems equates to our own destruction?

As we come out of the elections, WaterCAN urges parliament to appoint ministers who will prioritise the environment and water portfolios based on expertise and commitment rather than power negotiations. The focus should be on appointing strong leaders for the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) who approach these roles with the urgency and gravity they deserve. Minister Senzo Mchunu’s return to the DWS portfolio would be welcomed, given his progress over the past three years.

Amidst the political power struggles, it is crucial that our environment, water, sanitation, and food systems do not suffer the consequences of poor coalition politics. We must act now to ensure a sustainable and thriving future for all.

About WaterCAN:
WaterCAN is a dedicated environmental organisation committed to preserving and protecting South Africa’s water resources. With a mission to promote responsible water management and raise awareness about water quality, the organisation empowers communities to become proactive stewards of their local water sources. If you would like to support our work, kindly Donate Here.