Mantashe last week threw his weight behind the Shell seismic survey on the Wild Coast.
ACTIVISTS have reacted with shock to Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s comments that objections to developments, including the controversial Shell seismic survey, was “apartheid and colonialism of a special type masquerading as a great interest for environmental protection”.
Mantashe last week threw his weight behind the Shell seismic survey on the Wild Coast. “South Africa deserves the opportunity to capitalise on its natural resources including oil and gas, as these resources have proved to be game-changers elsewhere. We consider the objections to these developments as apartheid and colonialism of a special type masquerading as a great interest for environmental protection,” he said.
He said that the country’s economic development was oppressed in the name of environmental protection when there was an environmental framework that ensured that licensing was done according to Section 24 of the Constitution.
“Investors in the South African upstream petroleum space are assured of our commitment to work with them within the confines of the law,” Mantashe said.
Ecojustice NGO, Green Connection’s strategic leader, Liz McDaid, said: “What astounds us… is the nature of Minister Gwede Mantashe’s statements. While the minister continues to promote oil and gas for economic growth, research conducted by the World Bank in 2020 – on 12 Sub-Saharan countries that discovered considerable oil and gas resources between 2002 and 2020 – revealed that in each of these countries the resources were overvalued, the timeline from discovery to production took longer than expected, and that government revenues were lower than predicted.”
Green Connection’s community outreach coordinator Neville van Rooy said juvenile loggerhead and leatherback turtles, which hatch on the northern beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, are swept down into the Agulhas current and would end up in the seismic survey area during February and March.
“These critically endangered animals, who already only have a 1-in-5 chance of survival, may not make it through the seismic survey area,” Van Rooy warned.
Barend Fredericks of the Bigai Community Small-Scale Fishers said they were categorically opposed to any seismic activities in their coastal waters.
“As indigenous South African citizens, we have a cultural right to make a living as hunter-gatherers, as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.
And we will not allow profit-hungry corporate giants to take away our rights by destroying our oceans.”
Carmen Mannarino of Masifundise said, as they have seen in other areas of the country and the world, these kinds of activities can be highly disruptive for the marine fauna, and change patterns of migration and movement of fish species. “Eastern Cape fishing communities have fought for decades to be recognised and granted fishing rights, only to see their natural resources being sold off in the name of extractive profit-making,” Mannarino said.
Last week, the Eastern Cape Division of the Makhanda High Court dismissed an urgent interdict to stop Shell from proceeding with a seismic survey off the Eastern Cape coast. Judge Avinash Govindjee concluded that the applicants had failed to convince him that there was a reasonable apprehension of “irreparable harm” if the interdict weren’t granted and that given the financial and other prejudice to Shell if the seismic surveys were delayed, the “balance of convenience” was in Shell’s favour.