29 September 2015 at 9:43 am
In our work of advocating and litigating for transparency, accountability and compliance with environmental laws, we increasingly see decisions about the use and allocation of natural resources that diverge fundamentally from the requirements of section 24 of the Constitution, and the principles set out in the National Environmental Management Act.
Failure by local government, in particular, to deliver on its environmental obligations regarding clean drinking water, clean air, and waste collection are rarely met with an appropriate enforcement consequence for the individuals responsible, even when those failures result in serious health impacts or death.
Most commonly, environmental, water, mining and exploration licences are awarded despite major environmental risks, containing conditions that will never be met; often, those conditions are subsequently deleted or amended in secret. Influential corporations with strong political links are granted authorisations, and avoid enforcement action. While tales of bribery abound in our cases, particularly in the mining industry, no corporate is prepared to stand up and expose those officials who elicit bribes.
Not all poor decisions about natural resources arise from a corrupt intent. But when they do, what we know is that the actual impacts of environmental rights violations on affected communities are given short shrift.
The Centre for Environmental Rights opposes all decisions by government and the private sector that are made for corrupt reasons, and which do not respect the environmental rights of affected communities. We demand transparency, accountability, and compliance with the law.
We call on all our partner organisations and supporters working in the environmental sector to join us at 11am on Wednesday to march to Parliament in Cape Town with Unite Against Corruption. More details available at www.uniteagainstcorruption.co.za, and on Unite Against Corruption’s Facebook page. Below are details of the Cape Town march.