Council votes for pay rise – Lone member rejects increase - Bongani Mthembu - Daily News Thursday 8 December 2005
Should councillors’ salaries be upped while thousands of people are living in squalid conditions and dying from poverty?

That was the question repeatedly asked by ECOPEACE councillor Alan Murphy during a full council meeting at the City Hall yesterday.

Of eThekwini Municipality’s more than 90 councillors who attended the meeting yesterday, Murphy was the only councillor who opposed a salary increment of 5,7% for councillors.

Ordinary councillors in eThekwini Municipality earn nearly R17 000 a month and are allowed to keep their normal jobs, while members of the executive committee earn about R39 000 a month, all inclusive.

Murphy argued that councillors, as public servants, were supposed to be given living wage allowances to ensure that most of the council’s funds were spent on pressing issues such as accommodation.

“Before we take the increment on top of the already exorbitant salaries, let’s think about people who have no accommodation, no basic services like toilets and food. The money that you want can be used on these pressing issues,” he said.

Murphy’s views on the increment were flatly opposed by all councillors from all parties, who said that they were worth the increment.

They scoffed at him, saying that he had to make arrangements with council if he did not want the increment and to leave them alone.

Salary allowances and benefits for a member of a municipal council are determined by a vote of a majority of its members, taking into account the provisions of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act 20 of 1998, the upper limits set by the minister and the financial year of municipal councils.

African National Congress councillor Nomvuzo Shabalala described Murphy’s views on salary increment as odd and told other councillors to ignore him.

The Democratic Alliance’s caucus leader, Lynn Ploos van Amstel, said her party supported the increment.

Speaking to the Daily News after the council meeting, Murphy said he was disappointed that all the councillors had agreed to the increase.


COUNCILLORS’ PAY INCREASES - News Release October 2001
Faced with a massive, retroactive and un-budgeted politicians’ pay hike, ECOPEACE policy remains that its councillor gets only a living wage, and the rest of the money paid by the council goes to community projects.
While a minority of councillors may vote against increases for executive members, it seems (from the prior “horse-trading” meeting of all parties, convened by the Speaker on 17/10/01) that the ECOPEACE vote would be the only one against ordinary members’ increases.

In response to the suggestion by some parties that councillors opposed to their own increases should voluntarily forgo the added amount and return it to city coffers, ECOPEACE declares that its community projects are a more responsible use of money than the mega-project oriented city budget, which it opposed. Until all councillors follow the ECOPEACE example and work for a living wage, ECOPEACE will salvage what it can and use it in the public interest.

ECOPEACE members will be protesting outside the council meeting.

Citizens of Durban Ripped-off - Join our PROTEST against Councillor Pay Increase
R11,5 million shortfall
Services decline & cut-offs continue
Rates Increase
Mon 29th 09h00 onwards City Hall Steps (Council meeting inside)


CROSS-SUBSIDIES - News Release 04/11/05
The eThekwini Council Meeting of 24 August was housed in a marquee on the banks of Inanda dam at the Emphephetheni Tribal Court Sportsground Ward 2.

In regards to a motion to investigate water arrears write-offs, Madam Speaker (ex-Councillor Dube) noted that Water Cut-offs were "an inconvenience". ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy responded saying this was an understatement in the extreme, "It is a medical fact, people do not survive much more than three days without water. Water cut-offs are an act of violence; attempted murder. If anyone were to die due to such lack it would be murder."

"The 200 litres per day of free water is not per capita and is not sufficient for poor households. For example a family of five has only 40 litres of water each per day. A poor family of ten or more only has 20 litres or less. This is inhumane." Councillor Murphy also noted that industrial consumers of large amounts of water are given a discount. This is a cross-subsidy of the rich by the middle income earners and working class, contrary to policy. Also local communities, some adversely affected by Inanda dam still did not have access to water.

ECOPEACE policy is that by increasing the rates on a sliding scale to large consumers, (possibly by only a fraction) this would be sufficient to cover arrears and supply adequate free water per capita. The ANC claimed that ECOPEACE was "part of a programme to deny water to people." Obviously this is not true.

In response to the resolution passed to investigate water arrears write-offs, ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy then attended the following Procurement and Infrastructure committee meeting to propose a cross-subsidy of water tariffs to benefit the poor. The chair of the committee, Councillor S G Khuzwayo requested that the matter be forwarded to Mr. Neil Macleod, Head of Water and Sanitation.

Mr. Macleod was asked for information regarding the ECOPEACE position on a cross-subsidy from high water consumers to the poor: How much water would the top industrial consumers need to save, to make freely available a per capita amount of water for the poorest households in the eThekwini Metropolitan Area? Or - By how much would the water rates of the top industrial consumers need to be increased to cover the cost of making a per capita amount of water freely available for the poorest households? It was further noted that if either scenario was to come about - there would be the PR benefit to those top industrial water consumers to supply a cross-subsidy.

Mr. Macleod's response was contradictory: Mr. Macleod noted; "Given that 40% of the Municipalities water is consumed by ICI (Industrial, Commercial, Institutional) customers, the 6000 kilolitres of water that the 1000 poorest households consume costs approximately R40 000. In terms of a PR benefit this level of subsidy would be zero, given the miniscule amount of water involved." The consumption in the Metropolitan area is approximately 800 million litres of water a day.

However Mr Macleod also claimed; "In terms of the price of water to industrial customers, we are under extreme pressure as there is a generally held view in the marketplace that the price of water to industrial customers in Durban is very high. Research we have conducted shows that, compared to the other Metropolitan areas this is not generally the case, but if one compares our industrial price to an area such as Richards Bay/Empangeni then we are indeed far more expensive than they are. Any increase in the water price to ICI customers sends a negative signal to potential investors and will further reduce our potential to create jobs."

It is reassuring to see that the eThekwini Municipal Head of Water and Sanitation recognises the minimal cost of a cross-subsidy to the poor to ensure that they are not cut-off, that they receive a humane per capital free basic amount, and the 55 000 families without piped water are connected as soon as possible. However, it makes little sense for Mr. Macleod to say that this miniscule cost to cross-subsidise the poor will cause industries to relocate to Empangeni at an alternate cost of billions of Rands.

Mr. Macleod's economic explanation was contested: A proper economic analysis must include the cost of industries relocating; they obviously benefit by remaining in Durban. They will not necessarily lose profits from any increased water tariffs, but would likely pass on such costs, or conserve water. But poor people cannot live without water. What proven evidence is there connecting water tariffs with job creation? - Mr. Macleod did not respond.

A per capita water subsidy in the order of R 1 000 000 per month for 4000 poorest households can be estimated from the figures Mr. Macleod supplied if the average poor household consists of 7 members. This would be a small amount distributed amongst various industries. The poor residents of eThekwini Municipality now need to know why their basic per capita water needs cannot be cross-subsidised.

At the eThekwini Council Meeting on Thursday 27 October all the main parties, ANC, DA, IFP, MF, NNP, and Nupo voted against an ECOPEACE motion to investigate the feasibility of a cross-subsidy of poorer consumers by high water consumers by way of mechanisms such as:-(a) per capita use charges; (b) a "free amount" which does not unjustly discriminate against larger households; (c) a progressively graded charge for consumption of water in excess of the "free amount", and (d) the feasibility of the elimination of prepaid water meters.

In Council the ANC claimed that they could not understand the proposal, they don't know what it means. They do not know where we are going to get money for this. They were concerned that rich people would not receive free water. They noted that rich people should also be catered for.

Before resorting to personal insults, for which the Speaker issued a reprimand, the DA also noted concern for the wealthy even though admitting it was general economic practice to pass on any increased costs. They claimed that a present water debt precluded a cross-subsidy for the poor and also pronounced the ECOPEACE proposal to be improperly written. (In order to be of a correct standard the ECOPEACE motion was actually written in consultation with Municipal legal advisor Mr. John Paley.)

When presenting the proposal, ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy was given two minutes to motivate, he said:
"Our city was first to introduce free water - but not all poor families receive free water and not all poor families qualify for arrears write-offs. We must continue to take the lead and make water more affordable and available to the poorest".

Industries pay less per litre of water than equivalent domestic consumers. Our water rates are very reasonable compared to Johannesburg and Cape Town but commerce and industry have no financial incentive to conserve. National Business Initiative CEO Andre Fourie noted; "It is scary from an economic perspective to see water is scarce, cheap and being wasted" (DEAT NSSD Workshop September 2005)

A poor household with more members than a smaller, wealthy one is disadvantaged without per capita considerations. The young, elderly and sick whose lives may be threatened should not be denied services. Disconnections, pre-paid meters and restrictors are potentially unconstitutional. However, Council has agreed disconnections should be avoided. A surcharge on high consumption would discourage waste while those penalties could be passed on to increase the free amount to 60 litres per person per day promised by the RDP (section 2.6.7).

After the free amount, charges should increase slowly to protect the poor, while exponential increasing prices for large users encourage conservation. Greater arrears write-offs, reconnection fees, and speedy connections to 55 000 families can be covered through larger charges to heavy consumers. Prepaid water meters, tricklers and other restriction devices could be dispensed with.

These proposals conducive to a more stable social/political environment can improve prospects for growth, development and FDI. Reg Bailey and Prof. Chris Buckley have researched these matters in respect to eThekwini Municipality concerning regulations requiring services to the poor while discouraging wasteful inefficient water use.

The following motion proposed by ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy at the Council meeting on Thursday 27 October was defeated with only the single ECOPEACE vote in favour:


NOTICE OF MOTION - WATER RATES REVIEW (11/1/P)
NOTING:-

The present Municipal Water Tariff subsidises high level water use, thereby creating what is, in effect, a system of "corporate welfare" to the detriment of the poor and middle income consumers;
Water cut-offs and restrictions are often constitutionally questionable and, in the case of domestic consumers, usually cause hardship;
A poor household that has more members than a wealthy household is, in fact, worse off under the present 6 kilolitre scheme;
The subsidising of commerce and industry must inevitably encourage waste and abuse of the system by those sectors;
Figures supplied by the Head: Water and Sanitation shows a per capita water subsidy would total in the order of R 300 000 for each 1 000 of the poorest households if the average poor household consists of 7 or more people.
Industries may pass on any increased cost to their customers or conserve water but poor people cannot live without water.
Pre-paid meters can deprive a poor family from access to a basic water supply.


RESOLVE:-
That the Procurement and Infrastructure Committee investigate and report back to the Council on or before the first meeting of the Council in 2006 on the following:-
The feasibility of a cross-subsidy of poorer consumers by high water consumers by way of mechanisms such as:-
per capita use charges;

a "free amount" which does not unjustly discriminate against larger households;

a progressively graded charge for consumption of water in excess of the "free amount" and

The feasibility of the elimination of prepaid water meters.

If this motion were to have been adopted, it could have been a model for land, electricity and other service cross-subsidies. Inequalities increase exponentially and continual redistribution is necessary for a fair and sustainable society. It is telling that the major parties are not willing to charge wealthy industries even an admitted miniscule amount for the sake of the poor.

ECOPEACE is willing to make a stand for improving the plight of its poor constituency. We will continue to support protest actions and lend moral and material support when necessary. ECOPEACE will also propose policy improvements. However, if we are made aware of any cases where authorities could be charged with culpable homicide due to cut-offs, restrictions or lack of service delivery we are willing to initiate legal actions.

When poor people suffer humiliation, pain and even death due to these avoidable matters, the proposals forwarded by ECOPEACE above make it important to understand that conscious decisions have otherwise been made to limit access to resources, water, land, decent housing, electricity, humane sanitary conditions, proper medication etc. There are guilty parties who should be made to apologise or be punished - these are the options of a just society. It is unacceptable that these acts continue; it must stop!

INVITATION - MEDIA CONFERENCE November 2005
One would expect that any proposals to satisfy the basic needs of the poorest to live in humane conditions would be accepted eagerly or at the very least be given some thought and serious consideration by authorities. After all, when South Africa appears to be heading back to the unrest of the eighties, not only is it ethically a better option to deliver to the poorest, the social and political stability resulting from this would also create a climate for a stronger more vibrant economy. Why then would all the major political parties reject such options?

ECOPEACE would like to offer an opportunity to discuss insights into this and to explain our party's proposals for a stable sustainable future – that we believe must ultimately become policy one way or another, if life as we know it is to survive on our planet.

You are invited to a Media briefing on Friday 4 November 16h00 at the NSA gallery Glenwood. (Snacks and drinks provided.)

Please confirm before 12h00 on Friday 4 November.


WATER TARIFFS - News Release 20/10/05

Our city was the first to introduce free water, but not all poor families receive free water and not all poor families qualify for arrears write-offs. eThekwini Municipality needs to continue to take the lead in making water more affordable and available to the poorest. Present high industrial use is perversely subsidised - industries pay less per litre of water than equivalent domestic consumers. eThekwini's water rates are very reasonable compared to the primary commercial and industrial competitors, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Low prices for water paid by commerce and industry encourage waste and abuse because those sectors are not given a financial incentive to decrease consumption. National Business Initiative CEO Andre Fourie notes that; "It is scary from an economic perspective to see water is scarce, cheap and being wasted" (DEAT NSSD Workshop).

When it comes to accessing the free water supply, a poor household - including tenants and backyard shack dwellers - that has more members than a smaller, wealthy household is the victim of bias under the present free amount per household policy. Those with large families and HIV+ members who need more water and whose lives are threatened by water-borne diseases should not be denied water they presently cannot afford.

Potentially unconstitutional municipal practices, ranging from outright disconnections of water supplies to installation of pre-paid meters and restrictors will be tested in the constitutional court in coming months. eThekwini Council has agreed that unnecessarily punitive cut-offs and restrictions should be avoided. There is actually no need to resort to measures that may be negatively construed as extortion or violence - a progressive surcharge on high consumption is an alternative.
A major cross-subsidy from high level water consumers is needed to meet constitutional requirements to provide water to all residents, and our ecological obligation to avoid waste while rather encouraging conservation, especially by the heaviest users of water.

What is urgently required is a rising water tariff to halt commercial and industrial waste. Penalties for overuse can be passed on in order to increase the free amount. The present 6 kilolitre per household per month is not sufficient. eThekwini Water and Sanitation could increase the supply to the promised 60 litres per person per day (Reconstruction and Development Programme, section 2.6.7) with resources made available from commercial and industrial users. Sharing the cost of this per capita water subsidy, between top water consumers, would amount to a relatively miniscule increase for each. Industries may either pass on the slightly increased costs, or conserve water.
A progressively graded charge for consumption of water per person in excess of the "free amount" can protect low-income people, while charging gradual continuous exponential increasing prices for large users encourages conservation. The free amount could be increased; after this, charges should increase gradually. Greater arrears write-offs, reconnection fees, and speedy connections to 55 000 families can be covered through larger charges to heavy consumers.
Prepaid water meters, tricklers and other restriction devices could be dispensed with. The British government banned them as a human rights abuse.

These proposals conducive to a more stable social/political environment would improve prospects for growth, development and FDI. Otherwise we may face strikes, disruptions, unrest - targeting high consumers, and local government who supply their discount. The following motion proposed by ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy will be tabled at the next Council meeting on Thursday 27 October:

NOTICE OF MOTION - WATER RATES REVIEW (11/1/P)
NOTING:-

The present Municipal Water Tariff subsidises high level water use, thereby creating what is, in effect, a system of "corporate welfare" to the detriment of the poor and middle income consumers; Water cut-offs and restrictions are often constitutionally questionable and, in the case of domestic consumers, usually cause hardship; A poor household that has more members than a wealthy household is, in fact, worse off under the present 6 kilolitre scheme; The subsidising of commerce and industry must inevitably encourage waste and abuse of the system by those sectors; Figures supplied by the Head: Water and Sanitation shows a per capita water subsidy would total in the order of R 300 000 for each 1 000 of the poorest households if the average poor household consists of 7 or more people. Industries may pass on any increased cost to their customers or conserve water but poor people cannot live without water. Pre-paid meters can deprive a poor family from access to a basic water supply.

RESOLVE:-
That the Procurement and Infrastructure Committee investigate and report back to the Council on or before the first meeting of the Council in 2006 on the following:-
The feasibility of a cross-subsidy of poorer consumers by high water consumers by way of mechanisms such as:-
per capita use charges; a "free amount" which does not unjustly discriminate against larger households; a progressively graded charge for consumption of water in excess of the "free amount" and The feasibility of the elimination of prepaid water meters.

CROSSTITUTION - News Release 16/09/05
The antidemocratic crosstitution period has ended and ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy remains with his party.
South Africa's unique environmental party standing for ecological, social and economic sustainability, has not gained any seats.

This was unlikely since ECOPEACE Councillors only take a living wage allowance from their salary, donating the rest to fund community work.
ECOPEACE rejects floor-crossing and requires any elected politician to wait until elections if they wish to change to this ethical party.

ECOPEACE assures its supporters that their votes are safe with them; they will do whatever necessary to maintain the integrity of those votes.

ECOPEACE demands REAL HOMES to build REAL COMMUNITIES
iECOPEACE ifuna AMAKHAYA ANGEMPELA ukwakha IMIPHAKATHI YANGEMPELA
Silwela uHulumeni ohlanzekile 2005 - Action for clean government 2005
indlala ibanga ulaka - hunger makes us angry

COUNCILLOR PROTEST - News Release 14/09/05
ECOPEACE supports all peaceful protest, especially in order for the poor and environmentally disadvantaged to be heard and to improve their situation.
ECOPEACE supported the previous peaceful and well disciplined protest of the Kennedy Road residents. This time they will be joined by even more supporters.
The communities have initiated this action and have noted what they consider to be inadequate performance of their Ward Councillor. This is a legitimate democratic option. THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK!
Any Councillor who does not deliver or does not challenge policy to deliver rights and services promptly can be challenged. THIS IS NOT A PARTY-POLITICAL ISSUE; all citizens have this duty to challenge public servants.
Previous protests have produced few results, however even preparations for this protest have resulted in some concessions - pressure must be maintained.
Silwela uHulumeni ohlanzekile 2005 - Action for clean government 2005
indlala ibanga ulaka - hunger makes us angry

ALTERNATE FUELS - ECOPEACE MAKES A DIFFERENCE - News Release 24/08/05

The Council Meeting of 24 August passed the ECOPEACE Alternate Fuels motion below. The meeting was housed in a marquee on the banks of Inanda dam at the Emphephetheni Tribal Court Sportsground Ward 2. The ECOPEACE motion was the only one on the Agenda to be considered. The ANC used the rules of order to postpone all the other motions proposed by the DA, and also pre-empted one motion calling for a Moratorium on Relocations.

The ANC used rule of order 2.2 to propose a number of motions that were not on the Agenda, including one to; suspend Actions including Evictions, Park off Arrears interest free, Transfer Ownership (to those owing R7 500 or less), and install Pre-paid meters.
ECOPEACE made objections to the last matter noting community resistance to Pre-paid meters.

In regards to another rule 2.2 motion by the ANC, Madam Speaker noted that Water Cut-offs were "an inconvenience". ECOPEACE Councillor Alan Murphy responded saying this was an understatement in the extreme, "It is a medical fact, people do not survive much more than three days without water. Water cut-offs are an act of violence; attempted murder. If anyone were to die due to such lack it would be murder."

"The 200 litres per day of free water is not per capita and is not sufficient for poor households. For example a family of five has only 40 litres of water each per day. A poor family of ten or more only has 20 litres or less. This is inhumane."
Councillor Murphy also noted that industrial consumers of large amounts of water like Mondi are given a discount. This is a cross-subsidy of the rich by the middle income earners and working class, contrary to policy. Also local communities, some adversely affected by the dam still did not have access to water.

ECOPEACE policy is that by increasing the rates on a sliding scale to large consumers, (possibly by only a fraction) this would be sufficient to cover arrears and supply adequate free water per capita.
Councillor Gil Fourie infected by election fever and playing to the crowds claimed that ECOPEACE was "part of a programme to deny water to people." This is obviously not true.

Motion - Alternate Fuels
Oil is a non-renewable resource that inevitably will be depleted. It is wise to use what is available in a more sustainable manner while it lasts. It is also better that our economy is not overly reliant on what is obviously not a limitless fuel supply.
It is prudent for this Council to be proactive and take a leadership role: there are a number of alternatives available that should be examined. These range from completely renewable sources of energy through to interim sustainable use of non-renewables with various combinations in between. As examples (but not a complete list) 100 octane ethanol "Union Spirit" was available at local service stations until the early 1980s, bio-diesel can now be produced on farms, electric-hybrid vehicles are on sale, LGP (liquefied petroleum gas) conversions are also available for vehicles that still allow duel fuel use.
Changing to such options, or others not elaborated on, has an added advantage of producing less or little pollution.
Recommended that, the Procurement and Infrastructure Committee should investigate the viabilities of a full range of options and consider implementing any that are appropriate for Council vehicles and report to Council on or before 27 October 2005.

Reactor plans spark Durban nuclear fears By Santosh Beharie - page 1 The Sunday Tribune January 30, 2005
Durban faces a nuclear hazard should Eskom go ahead with plans to build a mini nuclear reactor north of Cape Town, say critics.
The city's port and road network will be integral to transporting the materials to and from the Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor in Koeberg.
That's what environmentalists and others opposed to the reactor are worried about. They say the city has no adequate disaster management plans for a nuclear accident.
'Enriched uranium is very dangerous'

According to the environmental group Earthlife Africa, the fuel for the reactor is a graphite-wrapped pebble, the size of a tennis ball, containing enriched uranium kernels.
The plant to make these fuel balls would be built at Pelindaba, near Pretoria, but the raw material - enriched uranium, which is a dense powder - will need to be imported via KwaZulu-Natal.
South Africa used to enrich uranium, but dismantled its facilities after the fall of apartheid.
"Enriched uranium is very dangerous," Earthlife Africa eThekwini's Vanessa Black said.
"Eskom claims it will be transported in special canisters, but their information, as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, says the canisters are only designed to withstand a drop of 9m.
They ordered Olver to allow Earthlife and other parties a chance

"So, if a truck had an accident on a bridge and the canisters fell, they could easily be split open and expel enriched uranium dust over a wide area, leading to extreme radiation danger.
"People could suffer from high, immediate doses and die, or develop cancers if exposed to lower doses," she said.
"The spreading dust could poison watercourses and get into our food chain. If the dust falls into water, there will be an almighty explosion, with a radioactive cloud spreading many kilometres," Black said.
Despite notching up its first victory against Eskom and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism this week when the Cape High Court set aside a decision allowing the reactor to be built, Earthlife expressed concern at the potential for accidents near Durban once the reactor was finally built.
Eskom spokesperson Fani Zulu said that Eskom planned to have a sod-turning ceremony for the reactor, which is meant to help meet South Africa's rising demand for power, in early 2007.
He said there was "still room to reopen the environmental impact assessment and meet the deadline".
"Our view is that the judgment can only delay the project, but will certainly not have the effect of bringing the pebble bed nuclear reactor project to a halt," he said.
Black said Earthlife was concerned that there were insufficient emergency services and disaster management plans should an accident occur. She believed this was reason enough for residents in the city to be alarmed.
Tons of fuel would be needed to fuel the first reactor, she said, but this was the tip of the iceberg - the plan was to build 220 reactors, 200 of them for export.
"In other words, all the fuel will be made in South Africa for plants exported to other countries.
"That is a lot of trucks transporting highly dangerous material on the roads from our harbour (Durban), or Richards Bay, up to and from Pelindaba.
"If plans to build these for export go ahead, each reactor will result in two trucks a day carrying pebbles over its 40-year life span. All these trucks will probably travel along the KwaZulu-Natal roads to export the fuel through our harbours.
"We also bear the risk that other countries will demand that even more dangerous spent fuel is returned to the country of origin.
"Graphite, the casing of the fuel pebbles, burns readily in air if exposed to temperatures of 800C - what we can expect from a fire resulting from an accident? Water will not put it out.
"Most residents are not aware of these dangers or that uranium would be transported through their suburbs," she said.
A trio of judges headed by Ben Giesel ruled with costs in favour of an application by Earthlife, saying the 2003 decision by environmental director-general Chippy Olver was "fatally flawed".
They ordered Olver to allow Earthlife and other parties a chance to make further written submissions, and to consider them before making a new decision on the reactor.
Earthlife had argued that the final environmental impact report, on which Olver made his decision, contained a substantial number of documents not made public during the environmental impact assessment process, including extracts from a safety analysis report.
Councillor Alan Murphy of the Ecopeace party also said the city did not have the ability to adequately deal with any type of nuclear accident.
"They don't even have the specialised suits required to be worn by the teams if such disasters occur."
He said it was these and other safety considerations that prompted the eThekwini Council to pass a resolution a couple of years ago that radioactive materials could not be transported in Durban.
The resolution was referred to a technical committee, which threw it out after further submissions about the safety of the reactor, he said.


WILL ESKOM NUKE SA? - News Release May 2002

Using non-polluting economical wind, wave and solar power sources creates many unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and decreases electricity costs.  However state money that could promote renewable energy is going elsewhere; if Eskom is allowed to test a pilot Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor (PBMR), investors will be repaid through extensive deployment of nuclear technologies. 

Nuclear generators will be established in existing industrial and already polluted areas like Newcastle, Richards Bay and Durban South as well as areas not connected to the national electricity grid.  Would you feel safe with a nuclear power plant near your residence? Have you been consulted about this very real possibility? (Studies have started for at least 40 possible nuclear sites in S.A.)

Facts about the detrimental effects of nuclear proliferation include :
1. Fuel and waste transport is hazardous;
2. Nuclear industries routinely emit radioactive gas and dust;
3. Contaminated radioactive scrap metal will be recycled into general circulation;
4. Disposal of hot toxic plutonium waste has never been approved anywhere in the world yet it remains extremely dan gerous for hundreds of thousands of years;
5. Nuclear fission procedures require vast capital expenditure and engineering complexity - only a few specialized jobs can be created, using overseas experts, while electricity tariffs increase.
6. There are limited local resources and experience to deal with any nuclear disaster.
7. Nuclear processes could become terrorist targets.

Earthlife Africa has called on President Mbeki to halt the PBMR experiment.  The Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth campaign has also launched a petition to redirect public funds away from nuclear generation and into renewable energy developments.

eThekwini Municipality unanimously passed the local green party, eThekwini ECOPEACE, proposal that the Minister of Minerals and Energy halt transport of uranium through Durban until there is prior notice of shipments, adequate safety protocols and insurance cover for accidents. This has not happened even though Durban Emergency Services have no record of shipments, have only one radiation meter and two general purpose hazard suits.

Help offer some sane alternatives to the situation regarding the nearly approved pilot PBMR at the KZN-Clean Energy Coalition meeting on Saturday 25 May, 14h00 - 16h00 in the BAT Centre Functions Room.

KZN - Clean Energy Coalition Statement on the PBMR EIA - 23 May 2002
The recent return of the remains of Sarah Bartman to South Africa was rightly hailed as a significant step in addressing hundreds of years of oppression. Unfortunately there are  many who continue to suffer the injustice of environmental apartheid. The ultimate symbols of that discrimination, Koeberg and Pelindaba still remain. They were used to create the weapons of mass destruction that were aimed at the indigenous populations of South and Southern Africa.

From the very beginning, Eskom and the PBMR protagonists have claimed that the only reason that this nuclear technology was abandoned in Germany was public sentiment. Their arrogance in dismissing such sentiment here smacks of the racist attitudes of the past. South Africa’s “ignorant, misinformed” public is “irrational” if it agrees with the well-educated opinions of advantaged Europeans.

South Africa’s public needs to be fully informed about Eskom’s nuclear commitments. Eskom has agreed to buy the first 10 PBMRs. We demand to know the details of this contract. We demand to know Eskom’s nuclear plans for Durban, Richards Bay, Newcastle and the rest of Kwa-Zulu Natal. We note that these communities were not informed during the PBMR Scoping phase of the very real possibility of the installation of a nuclear power plant near their residences. We demand to know the 40 possible nuclear sites in South Africa, the results of a study commissioned by Eskom. We demand to see the PBMR’s Detailed Feasibility Study, that was rejected by a specialist team that found neither economic nor technical feasibility for the project.

When asked, “Where are the preliminary results of research and development studies that show that the assumptions and modelling of some of these (nuclear) options should be validated through a (PBMR) demonstration or pilot plant?” The answer given was, “These are contained at Eskom Research, Development and Demonstration Division.” We demand to see this report. We demand to see Eskom’s Integrated Strategic Electricity Plan (ISEP), which Eskom claims supports their nuclear program. We demand that all other relevant information be made public as requested in 6.3.2 of the Information Document Volume 2.

When it was noted that the Electricity Industry is a State Monopoly: the response given was, “The bearing of the statement on the specific application is open to interpretation and the EIA Consortium will refrain from this. This is an example of the kind of statement/comment which the EIA Consortium chose not to respond to, which made I&APs feel ignored or selectively treated.” But the PBMR consortium also stated that the project is not financed with public (state) money. However the White paper on Energy states that, “The electricity industry is an effective state monopoly, as is the nuclear industry.” The fact is that Eskom has a single shareholder, the South African government. The fact is that Eskom has a 30% share in the PBMR project and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has a 25% share. The IDC is 100% publically funded, this means the PBMR project is at least 55% state backed. All we can now ask is how the hell can we believe you? If the PBMR consortium can resort the outright lies yet the Department of Environment and Tourism still allows the EIA process to continue, how can South Africa’s communities have any confidence in this process?

eThekwini Municipality unanimously passed the local green party, eThekwini ECOPEACE, proposal that the Minister of Minerals and Energy halt transport of Uranium through Durban until there is prior notice of shipments, adequate safety protocols and insurance cover for accidents. This has not happened even though Durban Emergency Services have no record of shipments, have only one radiation meter and two general purpose hazard suits.

Facts about the detrimental effects of nuclear proliferation include:
1. Fuel and waste transport is hazardous;
2. No nuclear process can be entirely safe, there is always a chance of any thing from a small to a disastrous incident occurring;
3. Nuclear industries routinely emit radioactive gas and dust;
4. Contaminated radioactive scrap metal will be recycled into general circulation;
5. Disposal of hot toxic plutonium waste is problematic and has not been approved, yet it remains extremely dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years;
6. Nuclear fission procedures require vast capital expenditure and engineering complexity - only a few permanent specialized jobs can be created, using overseas experts, while electricity tariffs increase;
7. There are limited local resources and experience to deal with any nuclear disaster;
8. Nuclear fuels or wastes can be used in weapons;
9. Nuclear processes are terrorist targets;
10. PBMR investors will have to be repaid by extensive deployment of nuclear technologies;
11. State money that could promote renewable energy is going into Eskom’s nuclear program.

Using non-polluting economical wind, wave and solar power sources creates many unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and decreases electricity costs.

We support the Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth campaign’s petition to redirect public funds away from nuclear generation and into renewable energy developments.

We support Earthlife Africa’s call on President Mbeki to halt the PBMR experiment.

Residents refuse to move for new road - Council accused of back-door tactics - FAROOK KHAN Daily News Thursday 20 January 2005
AN estimated 2 000 Merebank residents told the eThekwini Municipality that they would not move from their homes to make way for a road to be built from the airport to the harbour. Instead, a drive for 40000 signatures has been launched to stop the municipality in its tracks. And according to Merebank Residents Association chair-man Raja Naidu, the body is determined to fight the munici-pality all the way to the Constitutional Court, engaging in protest demonstrations and marches along the way. The municipality plans to build the road before Durban International Airport is moved to La Mercy in a few years. This Rl billion site is then to become the city's industrial showpiece, as the city braces for an economic boom by 2010. But, last night, the residents accused the municipality of trying to "sneak" the road into reality by publishing plans in a low-profile manner. Naidu, who chaired last night's public meeting at the local community hall, claimed it had been the intention of the municipality not to give resi-dents the chance to debate the issue properly. "These plans were published and comments called for at the end of December. We only got to know about it two weeks ago and they want us to respond to it by January 27. "If we don't respond, the matter will go in front of the executive committee, then full Council. And that is where the matter ends, before they start throwing us out of our homes," said Naidu. In an emotionally charged meeting, speakers decried the municipality's moves, which would effectively break up the 40 000-strong community. Environmentalist Desmond.D'Sa told the packed hall that he was astounded by their unity and determination to take on the municipality "This city is not going to protect you," said D'Sa. "This gov-ernment is not going to protect you. Our destiny is in our hands ... Stand firm. Nobody is going to relocate. We must unite and fight," said D'Sa. An eThekwini councillor, Alan Murphy,   warned the meeting that Merebank was doomed. "The council will not vote against the road. You have to fight them. They have to see what they are up against," said Murphy. One of the speakers from the floor, Roy Chetty, said Mere-bank had a long history of struggle "Never before have we been under a greater threat to lose our homes - not even under apartheid than we face now. -We must mobilise," said Chetty. Environmentalist Bobby Peek was cheered when he called for the Engen Refinery to be dismantled and removed. The meeting resolved to embark on a massive resis- tance campaign and a commit- tee has been set up.

2004 National & Provincial ELECTIONS - News Release 16/03/04
The government and the parties that support them, together with the so-called "official opposition" and the parties supporting them:
• All promote Genetically Engineered Frankenstein foods (GE/GM/GMO), without labeling and choice.
• All promote unsustainable nuclear fission energy, regardless of the radioactive risks.
• All promote neo-liberal economic policies such as GEAR and NEPAD; helping the wealthy few increase their power and riches while confining the poor to hopelessness.

Together these parties are squandering Multi-Millions of Rands on their election campaigns (much of it taken from taxpayers), while around them people are suffering from a lack of resources, food, adequate housing and land, cut-offs, evictions, pollution, and unemployment.
However, a sincere commitment to labour-intensive organic agriculture and renewable energy would create many millions of sustainable skilled, semi- and un-skilled jobs.
Meanwhile, parties like ECOPEACE are effectively barred from contesting the elections due to the high deposits (R420 000). So alternate options to genuinely help the poor are not heard, nor are they offered to the people of South Africa as their democratic choice to reject or accept.
ECOPEACE has donated over R40 000 from their councillors' salaries to sustainable community projects. It is not acceptable to risk the amounts demanded by the IEC that should rather be used to alleviate suffering.
ECOPEACE cannot condone the forest of billboards and posters used to promote a cult of personalities, while so many lack access to basic resources and services.
The IEC rules turn what are meant to be our rights into a privilege for the few who can afford them. ECOPEACE attorney Mr. John Govender will investigate these restrictions on democratic participation and freedom of speech - and consider an appeal, or if necessary, take the matter to the constitutional court. The constitutional rights of association and to form a political party are undermined when the electoral process prohibits participation of those who champion the rights of the poor.
It is patently unfair when taxpayers' money is disproportionately divvied out in order to make large parties larger. The same is true of big business money, coming from polluting industries, being distributed to bigger parties. This obvious systemic bias for the privileged wealthy against the disadvantaged poor perpetuates economic apartheid - it must be stopped!


The Struggle Against Corporate Globalisation - Mandisa Mbali (TAC UND) December 2003
Hello All,
I have just come from the World Economic Forum (WEF) demonstration.  As I'm sure you all know Jubilee, Concerned Citizen's Forum and TAC UND held a peaceful demonstration against the WEF and NEPAD today.
We notified the authorities (we met with representatives of the police, army and intelligence prior to our demonstration) of our intent to hold a peaceful demonstration at a venue close to the ICC.
The police, only granted us permission to demonstrate on a traffic island some distance from the ICC, so that we were not visible to delegates at the ICC.  The majority of the activists at the demonstration decided that we should be visible and audible to the delegates inside the ICC (representatives of big business, the IMF, the World Bank, government etc).
We therefore peacefully proceeded down the road and stood in the courtyard of the ICC with our placards and banners.  The police, who were on horseback and held shields, then proceeded to use violent force to push us down the road and away from the WEF venue.
One protester was trampled on, but fortunately is relatively unhurt.  It is unclear at this stage whether any protesters have been arrested and if so how many.  One taxi driver from Chatsworth who transported protesters was charged with over-loading and fined: clearly an attempt to intimidate and harass protesters and taxi firms who transport them.
It is clear to us that 'the club of the rich' (WEF) do not want their cosy, elite discussions on so called 'poverty alleviation' (a smokescreen for promoting neo-liberal policies) to be disrupted by the poor, people living with HIV and people facing evictions and cut offs due to their neo-liberal policies.
In spite of the use of force today workers, students, environmentalists, AIDS activists, unemployed young people, poor people and all their supporters from Durban will continue to protest in the coming months against corporate globalisation and neo-liberal NEPAD.
The use of force against us today and the recent jailing of the SECC shows that the South African ruling class, multinational corporations and Brettons Wood institutions are prepared to use brute force to try to silence us.
However, progressive South African civil society will not be silent and will not go away.
Join Durban progressive activists in saying:
DOWN WITH NEPAD!
DOWN WITH WEF!
DOWN WITH CORPORATE GLOBALISATION!
FORWARD THE STRUGGLE FOR PEOPLE AND ENVIRONMENT CENTRED ALTERNATIVES!
ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE!


WORLDS LARGEST HUMAN PEACE SIGN - ECOPEACE - 03/03/03
On Thursday morning a human peace sign was formed at UND sports grounds (see attached photo). People there were inspired to attempt something on a larger scale on Monday 3 March 2003 at 06h45 - until people have to leave (for work). Karen Read is trying to book Absa stadium, an alternative is the Central Park next to the Workshop. If Absa stadium is not available now we can still try later for possibly the worlds largest human peace sign (does anyone know what is the present record?), but apparently 03/03/03 is going to be another global peace day. We will keep you informed. If you would like to help or want more info phone Karen 3682789 (ECOPEACE office) or 3114119 (Councilors office) or 4645022 (home). - Please forward this message!

P E A C E   V I G I L - an initiative of World Conference on Religion & Peace on behalf of all people who believe in peace - Please pass the message on
In response to increasing violence and threats of war you are invited to join a weekly silent PEACE VIGIL holding lighted candles as a symbol of the light of peace from 5.00 pm to 6.00 pm each Monday afternoon starting Monday 3rd February 2003 in the plaza in front of the Durban City Hall to pray for peace, to witness for justice, to stand in solidarity with those around the world  who say there are always peaceful alternatives to war Please bring your own peace candle.

If the USA invades Iraq, a Peace Vigil will also be held that day - 5.00 pm outside the Durban City Hall


PEACE - ANTI-WAR - ANTI-INVASION - News Release January 2003
Wars and other ways of purposely causing harm begin by creating an enemy and then dehumanising that enemy. Viewing the world from that impersonal perspective is how violence can occur. It is too easy to do - We have to persist in avoiding it.

However Mr. Bush is one of those fortunate people who know just how many wrongs it takes to make things right. But peace is as elusive as ever.

Conflict cannot bring peace. To achieve lasting peace requires freedom, justice and equality. Not freedom to exploit, or to wage war - but freedom from violence and exploitation.

Justice is in short supply in many parts of the world. Not least for the starving masses of Africa and for the poorest of the poor at home.

The world is again coming close to destruction - and we cannot separate this from other forms of destruction; Inflicted from the USA, in the name of corporate globalization. Power hungry companies are protecting their profits through force.

Why are we not being given the choice to reject unnatural Genetic Engineering, Fluoridated water and Nuclear Energy? Why are these chemical, biological and radioactive weapons of mass destruction not being eliminated? When is President Bush going to sign the Kyoto principle to stop global warming? The USA led economy and industries are the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction!

In today's global apartheid equality is supposed to be irrelevant. The present world crisis highlights many examples of inequality. But this is now the weakest argument to stop the insanity, when it should be the strongest. Only a revolution motivated by love and respect will stop this hatred.

ECOPEACE opposes all kinds of violence; especially systemised violence and state violence. We oppose basing our economy on arms deals and military budgets. We oppose the daily violence around us, especially against children. And especially violence that grows from gender inequality. The mass violence of the HIV/AIDS genocide must be stopped.

We oppose violence against the Earth that is ultimately violence against ourselves. There are animals that suffer lives of torture so that companies can make more profit. Chickens that never see sunlight - cows that never touch a blade of grass.

Injections of antibiotics and Genetically Engineered hormones, that we and our children eventually consume, are the feedlot and battery farming economic weapons exported from the USA.

Imagine how much harder it would be to start a war in a world where unnecessary hurt is not even inflicted on animals. And industry serves the many instead of the few.

eThekwini ECOPEACE supports the call to boycott all non-essential USA goods, services and entertainment. Boycott the Oscars and Hollywood propaganda. Boycott McDonalds, Kentucky and Coca-cola. Don’t eat Genetically Engineered food - Speak out against fluoride and nuclear energy.

Down with poverty perpetuating deals in economies of mass destruction -

Phansi Nepad phansi - Phansi Gear phansi.

Give peace a chance - Give ECOPEACE a chance - Viva Anti-War Coalition Viva.

When the fighting stops in Iraq we will not end our protests. We will continue actions against colonial imperialism. America must be made to pay its debts not only to Iraq, but to the rest of the world - and especially to Africa. The USA must not be allowed to use Nepad to enslave Africa - They must not use Gear to exploit South Africa. We must stop the unnecessary arms deal. South Africa cannot oppose war while supplying the means to wage wars.

The end of the bombing in Iraq will not mean the end of the War & it will not mean that peace has arrived.

Peace requires equality, justice and freedom. Freedom from violence and terror. Bush & Blair are fighting for another freedom - Freedom to exploit - Freedom to murder for profit.

These aggressors are motivated by greed for power. They started this War by creating an enemy and dehumanising that enemy. This was made possible by media manipulation and nothing but lies, lies and more lies. We demand that SABC stops buying Hollywood propaganda. CNN is the mouthpiece of the global apartheid regime - led by USA corporate and military interests.

Stop the War against truth. War against innocent people. War against the United Nations. War for oil money, global control and world domination. When Bush gets his hands on Iraq’s oil, he will never sign the Kyoto treaty. He will continue to destroy the world through global climate disruption.

Britain Australia and America are dropping tons of uranium on Iraq - a nuclear weapon of mass destruction.

How much of that uranium is exported from South Africa through Durban? We must put an end to this dangerous trade.

Bush will continue to subsidise his billionaire farmers by dumping impure, haraim, tref, unnatural Genetically
Engineered food in Iraq - just as he is doing in Africa. This biological weapon must also be rejected by our government. They must stop their support of USA based multinational giant, Monsanto.

Next will be the chemical weapons like Fluoridated water.

We oppose violence - especially systemised violence and state violence.

All we are saying is, give ECOPEACE a chance. Viva People Against War - Viva.

Long live peace long live.
 * * *

The Anti-War Coalition is made up of and led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Anti-Privatisation Forum, Social Movements Indaba, other progressive, left organisations and all the affiliates of the above social movements.

Please note that the ANC and SACP are not part of the Anti-War Coalition or part of any of the protest action. In fact, the ANC-led government's arms company Denel is manufacturing various components of the weapons that the US and Britain are going to be using against the Iraqis.

These components include the metal casings used in the manufacture of ammunition for the British armed forces as well as missile guiding components for US missiles.

The Anti-War Coalition demands that the ANC break ties with Israel and Iraq and stop Denel from manufacturing components for weapons to be used by Bush in his slaughter of Iraqis, if they are to be seriously about being against the war.
 * * *

The campaign to "Stop All Imperialist Wars Against African People Now!" has affiliated with the "Stop The War Coalition". The Campaign for Political and Human Rights in Uganda (CamPHRU), People's Socialist Party of Cote d'Ivoire  and Southern Sudanese have also joined. We are calling on all Africans and friends of Africa to raise the anti-imperialist anti-war demands of African people. The demands of our campaign are:-
(1) We want to end all unjust wars imposed on our people in order to steal our resources or as a genocidal tool to maintain the oppression and exploitation of Africa, which mainly benefit Europe and North America;
(2) We want to end all illegitimate Black governments whose main function is to implement imperialist policies;
(3) We want a liberated and united Africa under a single African Socialist state;
(4) We want a consolidated African nationality for all African people wherever we are oppressed and exploited throughout the world due to machinations of imperialism;
(5) We want a unification of all fronts of the 500 year old African Liberation Movement to complete the International Black Revolution throughout the world;
(6) We want reparations and social justice in our life time!


APARTHEID STILL POLLUTES; APARTHEID STILL LIVES; APARTHEID STILL KILLS - SOUTH DURBAN BASIN MULTIPOINT PLAN -  QUARTERLY FEEDBACK MEETING - NEWS RELEASE - 23/10/02
A meeting last night (Tuesday 22 October) at Engen Refinery on the Multi-Point Plan initiative of Minister Valli Moosa, once again heard eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba blame apartheid planning for the problems of the South Durban Industrial Basin. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) spokesperson Raja Naidoo claimed that life in Wentworth was cheap to industry compared with the cost of using Sasol's clean gas.
Although initially questioned at previous meetings, the mayor still did not reveal the future plans for the area. Will the apartheid situation continue or will either industry or the community be relocated?
At a recent discussion of the IDP (Integrated Development Plan) controversial new appointee Mike Sutcliffe (eThekwini Municipal Manager) explained that industry in the South Durban Basin is an important rates payer to the City and thus must be nurtured. Obviously this logic is true in regard to supporting flagship projects like the new Airport and the Point Development. In the later case the second class citizens of ARC have to be relocated, indicating that apartheid (separate development) will always be with us to conveniently take the blame!
Oil industry spokesperson Richard Parks echoed the serious concerns over the lack of an evacuation plan. But Programme Manager Siva Chetty was upbeat proclaiming the recent major petrol pipeline leak as a "one off event".
The question remains, is the Multi-Point Plan going to be a solution or merely an exercise in mitigating the lethal effects of industrial expansion? Will apartheid eventually be dismantled or will it get yet another transformational face-lift to be deemed "acceptably" reformed?
The National Party claimed credit for ending apartheid and the new ruling elite want to claim credit for being a liberation movement. Neither can be true when poor people still suffer service restrictions, cut-offs, evictions, forced removals and the poisonous discharges of a state sheltered industry.


POVERTY IS VIOLENCE - NEW HOPE PROJECT - NEWS RELEASE November 2003
On Saturday 15 November 2003 ECOPEACE members will join with the New Hope Project to initiate a Permaculture Cooperative and distribute some much needed food in Cator Manor. This will happen from 09h00 onwards at the market opposite the Mosque on Bellair Road (which is next to Baasa's supermarket, near the petrol station).
This is a follow up of the World Food Security Day, 16 October when ECOPEACE, Palestine Support Committee (PSC) and eThekwini Social Forum (eSF) members heard Andrew Taynton explain the consciousness approach to World Peace at the Theosophical Society Lodge. At that time we also discussed Permaculture and distributed some food to the Bambithuba Creche in Ntuzuma. It was decided to continue this event on a monthly basis building awareness and Permaculture Projects that could eventually distribute community grown organic food.
Responding to a request from the Cato Manor community the PSC and TIP (Taking Islam to the People) assisted through a capacity building exercise, planning and hosting a problem-solving workshop. The community identified as priority issues; hunger, poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, lack of delivery, crime, pollution, HIV/AIDS, lack of recreational facilities, inadequate health services (clinic), lack of skills (personnel), lack of resources, dangers related to informal structures, use of flammable materials etc.
The led to the New Hope Project, a partnership-program that is supported by eSF, PAW (People against War), ECOPEACE, PSC, TIP, Essa El Seppe Creative Circle and IHRA (Institute for Human Rights Africa).
As a partner, ECOPEACE is initiating a Permaculture Project to help deal with hunger, poverty and unemployment, to hand over to the Cato Manor community through SANCO and other civic organisations. The discussion on Food Security also leads us to recognise the following:

Poverty is violence

ECOPEACE agrees with eSF, PSC and TIP that the insidious methods of the international lending institutions are spreading poverty in the name of profit. Calculated well-orchestrated poverty inducing policies and conditionality clauses by these cold hearted institutions are nothing less than violence and should be seen as such. We fully support the "poverty is violence" campaign and will educate people against policies that bear nice sounding names like poverty reduction, structural adjustment and cost recovery - these are just other names for poverty and death. Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and numerous other countries in Africa Asia and South America bear mute testimony to the wiles and rapacious appetites of the international money mongers. Become a part of the solution by spreading the message and joining our campaign against poverty. Call us or reply to this email and forward this email as much as you can. "silence is complicity"|
Call: Rassool  0835432480 - Shamim  0848661142 - Milo 0835894684

ANTI-McDONADS DAY PROTEST - NEWS RELEASE October 2002

eThekwini ECOPEACE is proud to announce the success of their; Ban G.E. - Boycott USA protest. This was held on global AntI-McDonalds Day - Wednesday 16 October 2002. This was also UN Food Security Day - celebrated worldwide.
The issues highlighted by ECOPEACE members were:
• Ban G.E. (genetic engineering);
• McDonalds exploit children, their workers and the environment;
• Be Proudly South African; Boycott USA goods, services and entertainment;
• World Peace Now; Stop War.People from all walks of life joined in. Protestors dressed up which made for a colourful event. The public now realize that eThekwini ECOPEACE is a force to be reckoned with said Karen Read, South Africa's only green councillor. Anti - G.E. and pro-peace street theatre was performed outside the American Consulate in Durban.
A letter to President Bush was handed over to Mr. Humphreys, the USA consulate representative.

MEMORANDUM ON UN FOOD SECURITY DAY TO PRESIDENT BUSH
Dear President Bush,
We (eThekwini ECOPEACE) would like to voice our concerns about current US policies.
Like you, we also want World Peace now. Please sort out your recession without aggression - we know that historically countries in recession tend to create war. By cleaning up the environment you would create jobs and health. This equals a safe future for all.
Like you, we are concerned with the declining health of American citizens and others who adopt a "fast-food" lifestyle. Please suspend Genetic Engineering until it is proven safe beyond doubt - it has the potential to destroy people of the world and our natural environment.
Please sign the Kyoto Treaty. Global Warming is destroying our planet and dirty incinerator technologies are killing our people. We support any efforts to hold governments and businesses ethically accountable.
Spend the US military budget on eradicating global poverty and restoring nature. Then the USA would truly be a world leader, and you would have assured the safety of us all, and generations to come.
Yours sincerely
Councillor Karen Read

The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology's Biotechnology Strategy for South Africa - News Release November 2001

The following have been neglected in the process of forming the strategy -
• Public participation
• Proper application of the precautionary principle
• Consideration of the consequences of the polluter pays principle
• Adequate experimental protocols including informed public consent
•Complete and prior deliberation of all ethical issues.

Instead the strategy endorses fully committed uncritical support of Genetic Engineering; it is prejudicial to the precautionary approach in the use of that technology in view of its health, environmental and economic risks. Any strategy involving Genetic Engineering should first rigorously establish the need for and desirability of that technology. This has not been done. No justification is given for the supposition that Genetic Engineering will provide a competitive advantage for all biotechnology, This is merely an unsubstantiated assumption. The supposed benefits to be derived from Genetic Engineering are used as an excuse to limit personal and environmental rights while subsidising corporate profits.
Genetic Engineering is a threat since interspecies gene transfer can rearrange genetic material in totally unpredictable ways. Genetic Engineering could cause unprecedented problems in health and nutrition, irreparable harm to our environment and sabotage our economy. The appalling statement in the strategy document that the protection of the citizens and environment of South Africa by conventions and treaties is avoidable in the search for Genetic Engineering profits clearly shows the redundancy of the strategy and the illegitimate ineptitude of its authors.
Genetic Engineering poses a severe threat to food security. The idea of using these techniques to interfere with our food because of an unbalanced diet is treating the symptoms and not the causes. If key vitamins and amino acids are low in the diet of many South African households then the costs, risks and benefits of other strategies to counter this must be evaluated first before naively and wholeheartedly embracing Genetic Engineering.
So far the risks to health and the environment from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have not been properly managed; Constitutional rights to safety, to choice and to information have been subverted and international regulatory treaties ignored. The presence of Genetically Engineered crops in South Africa is in total contradiction to any proper application of the precautionary principle. It is crucial that South Africa takes a cautionary stance since it is seen as a leader in Africa. The present trials on Genetically Engineered crops and lack of labelling of foodstuffs obtained from them amounts to unscientific testing on unwitting human subjects, it is criminal negligence. The Bill of Rights states that everyone has the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their consent.
The non-precautionary approach of introducing Genetically Engineered (GE) crops into South Africa has the potential for disastrous economic consequences. There is no guarantee of separation of GE and non-GE products; the promotion of GE technologies will undermine the alternative markets for non-GE products. Namibia, Zimbabwe and Europe have properly adopted the precautionary approach. Canada now has to rethink its uncritical acceptance of Genetic Engineering.
Genetic Engineering may improve the profits of certain large multinationals, but the claimed benefits are inevitably lacking, and instead other dangers are presented. It is the responsibility of those who seek to develop biotechnology products or services to prove that they do not pose any threat. Presently service providers cannot inform consumers and users adequately and accurately of the risks, both short-term and long-term of Genetic Engineering. Firstly neither the short nor the long term risks have been accurately or adequately assessed, and secondly due to contamination it is not possible to know who are all the consumers and users.
Subsidisation of the Genetic Engineering sector is unjustified and inappropriate. Government subsidisation and public funding without full analysis and comparisons are totally unwarranted. In any case research and resulting products of processes funded publicly and conducted in the public domain (educational institution) should remain in the public domain and not be patented for private profit.
Comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and impact assessments must be concluded to compare Genetic Engineering to other procedures. Organic farming and other permaculture techniques are environmentally friendly, do not use expensive chemicals, and are more acceptable especially to export markets. Plans for a Zulu Trade Port centred on the proposed Shaka International airport at la Mercy include the rapid export of many agricultural commodities. Supporting and promoting Genetic Engineering will endanger this lucrative market.
The strategy document implies that simple [contains GMO / GMO-free] labelling cannot be implemented because of low literacy levels. Again this shows the partisan nature of the document and its authors. General literacy levels of the South African population have not stopped the present food labelling which includes many chemical agents. What further implication of literacy levels are there specifically for [contains GMO / GMO-free] labelling?
The emphasis of the strategy document in dealing with HIV/AIDS through vaccine and pharmaceuticals can be counter productive considering those previously mentioned literacy levels of the general population. With any preventable disease such as HIV/AIDS the most urgent priority must be a comprehensive prevention approach. To misplace this priority to pharmaceuticals is to make profits from harm and suffering. Effective and safe HIV/AIDS vaccines although desirable are not necessarily attainable, therefore research in this area can only form part of the complete response, it is irresponsible of the strategy document writers to describe it as the most urgent priority. Prevention is better than cure and promoting ethical behaviour between sexual partners is of paramount importance in any prevention procedure. It is hypocritical to use literacy as an argument against GMO labelling but ignore it in HIV/AIDS research.
Urgent concerns have been raised about the Genetically Modified Organisms Act and Regulations. The precautionary principle has been subverted. There was insufficient public participation, and what input was given was ignored. Proper provisions are not made for liability and responsibility or the principle of "the polluter pays" when there is genetic contamination. The fact that certain GMOs are in regular use in South Africa without testing and experimental protocols is an indictment on the laxity of the Ethics Council and National Bioethics Committee. It is the Governments responsibility to deal completely with the full range of ethical considerations raised by biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, to enforce without prejudice the proper uses of the precautionary principle, and to determine stringent protocols for the testing of biotechnology and Genetic Engineering regimes. These processes are of fundamental and primary concern in any biotechnology and Genetic Engineering strategies, and until complete the financial, technological and capacity concerns are irrelevant.
Gene transfer as in Genetic Engineering cannot occur in nature, this clearly unnatural interference is a serious threat to biodiversity, and ecological sustainability. Genetic Engineering challenges our ethical value system, it should be judiciously and selectively avoided. Especially distressing is the bypassing of rigorous scientific evaluation in favour of quick financial gains. Arguments against Genetic Engineering are not restricted to it being unnatural. Patenting of life-giving forms must be fully debated with due consideration of all ethical, economic and cultural considerations. Any approach to Genetic Engineering must be determined through thorough public participation and rigorous debate of all relevant and related issues. This must be an unbiased, critical approach that does not prejudice any views opposed to Genetic Engineering.
Opposition to naive support for Genetic Engineering is not a matter of misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge of the work of biotechnologists. If someone is opposed to Genetic Engineering, this does not mean that they lack appreciation of the scientific basis underlying the issues. Opposition to unconsidered acceptance of Genetic Engineering is due to the realisation of its substantial dangers and an understandable objection to being used as unwilling guinea-pigs to increase company profits.
It is absolutely unacceptable that the strategy document's "expert" panel only interviewed the Safe-Age campaign to represent public opinion. That this was apparently only a four-minute telephone call reduces public participation in this process to virtually nil and renders the strategy document invalid.Zero public engagement in draughting the strategy document is completely inadequate.
The document is fatally flawed and further public discussions will not redeem it.
The document must be redrawn or withdrawn.

According to section 4 (1)(b) of the Electoral Code of Conduct, all parties and candidates must publicly condemn any action which is detrimental to the free and fair conduct of the election. Our party hereby denounces its treatment (detailed below) by the Durban branch of the Independent Electoral Commission and invites other parties and candidates to do so, whether or not they are similarly affected.

We are aware that this is the first time the IEC is handling registrations for municipal elections and hope that by making this criticism we will speed up its learning curve, as the essence of democracy is accessibility of political process and diversity of participation. Small and new parties should not face the following kinds of problems:
1)   In order to register to participate in the forthcoming election we were required to place press adverts for a certain period of time. Durban IEC officials explicitly informed our members that there was no specific format required; only after the necessary time had elapsed and our application for registration had been forwarded to the IEC head office in Pretoria were we informed that there was a specific format and that our application was therefore rejected. Fortunately we were able to re-advertise within the relevant deadline to register our party. At least one other small and new party had similar experiences.


2)   When our party first tried to submit candidate nominations we were again told by Durban IEC that our application to register had been rejected. After requesting an official notification of such rejection we were told that we had in fact simply not appeared on the list of successful applications. When we asked for an explanation we were referred to IEC head office in Pretoria which responded that approval of our application was delayed and would be faxed to the Durban branch. Only after some hours was this done, and only then would Durban officials allow our nominations to be processed – a few hours before the deadline for their submission. The point here is that had we not been persistent we might have taken Durban IEC’s word that our application was rejected, and withdrawn from the election process.

3)   On eventually submitting our party’s nominations to Durban IEC we were told firstly that in the case of  candidates contesting more than one ward, separate certified copies of their I.D. should be attached to each nomination, and secondly that nominations without such copies would be accepted but classified as non-compliant, and be able to be rectified within a period of grace. However when we attempted to attach such copies within the stated period, Durban IEC admitted that it had been mistaken in informing us that the period of grace applied to ward candidates, and maintained that the nominations we had submitted without separate copies were therefore invalid. For our party this meant contesting only ten wards instead of all one hundred. Fortunately IEC head office took the more reasonable decision that one certified copy could refer to multiple wards.


We feel that for a small and new party like ours, the additional hours of waiting around the local IEC office, the additional cost of re-advertising, the additional photocopying and certifying (which was to prove unnecessary anyway), and the cost of phoning IEC head office, all constitute a serious burden. We have no paid organizers or officials and operate on a shoestring budget. We realize that IEC officials  are under no legal obligation to inform amateurs like ourselves how to compete with established parties, but they should not actually misinform us and thereby put us in danger of being disqualified.

An additional disadvantage resulting from the delay in registration was that we were omitted from media coverage of  the list of parties which had registered.

We remind other parties and candidates that under the abovementioned section of the Code of Conduct, they are obliged to respond to our complaint and suggest the next Party Liaison Committee as the occasion for such responses.