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South African anti-nuclear activists win international prize

Apr 23 2018 13:23
Khulekani Magubane
Makoma Lekalakala and Liziwe McDaid have been anno

Makoma Lekalakala and Liziwe McDaid have been announced as the Goldman Environmental Prize winners. Images from the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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Cape Town – Two South African activists from Earthlife Africa and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute that were instrumental in fighting the Zuma-era nuclear build programme have been awarded the 2018 Goldman Prize. 

The prize is awarded in recognition of grassroots activists who perform outstanding work in the area of environmental issues. The ceremony is set to take place on Tuesday in San Francisco in the US. 

Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala and Safcei’s Liz McDaid were awarded the prize for their work in challenging the nuclear build programme in court.

Since they fought a protracted court case over the past two years, SA's proposed nuclear development programme has been declared unconstitutional by the Western Cape High Court.

It has been speculated that the programme would have cost the South African fiscus over R1 trillion.

Since the court ruling the programme has been officially put on ice. Members of Cabinet have said repeatedly that the government would not immediately pursue nuclear as it was unaffordable.

Ahead of receiving the award on Monday, Lekalakala said nuclear potentially remained a major threat to the livelihood of South African citizens, adding that there were are other, cheaper and cleaner ways of generating energy.

“It is important, for our sustainability, that we start thinking differently about how we satisfy our energy needs. It is not sensible to think that what used to work in the past, can still apply now, particularly since the evidence is overwhelming against nuclear technology and fossil fuels,” she said.

McDaid said the campaign that Safcei, Earthlife Africa and other non-governmental organisations embarked on to fight nuclear power stations was aimed at giving the general public knowledge about the risks associated with nuclear energy and empowering them to prompt the government to consider better options.

“For example, there is so much we don’t know about the future impacts of nuclear waste, which continues to grow every year. Koeberg alone generates approximately 30 tons of high level waste per year – all stored at the plant,” she said.

The award ceremony takes place the same week as the commemoration of the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl in 1986, and just over a month after the seven year commemoration of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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jacob zuma  |  nuclear deal  |  nuclear power  |  sa economy
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