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Afriforum, TKAG take on Government over fracking

Afriforum, TKAG take on Government over fracking

Jul 23, 2014

The press conference held by Afriforum and Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) in Sandton, Johannesburg on Tuesday 22 July 2014, served to inform the media that the groups had sent a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma calling for an immediate hold on the granting of licences for shale gas exploration in the Karoo.

Says Jonathan Deal, CEO of TKAG: “This is a golden opportunity for Government to do its job properly. Our letter places before the State two-month-old scientific evidence that indicates the real environmental impacts of fracking.”

Julius Kleinhans, head of Environmental Affairs for AfriForum, added that the letter addresses science, and gives the State an opportunity to act responsibly, “before it becomes an expensive and embarrassing issue in court”.

Kleinhans says: “Afriforum is not an agricultural but a civil rights organisation. We believe that the process followed by Government to reach this stage is essentially flawed and would like to give them a chance to view the latest research and facts. The number of jobs that fracking in the Karoo is stated to create has been blown out of proportion.”

Deal says Government has 30 days in which to address the concerns listed in the letter handed to the Presidency on Monday afternoon; and that the groups will take legal action should the State not comply with requests.

Asked by AfricanEnvironment whether Afriforum and TKAG had a “Plan B” should Government go ahead with licensing, as President Zuma indicated in his State of the Nation address earlier this year, Deal says the organisations will monitor projects closely for “civil oversight”, and review all claims in pursuance of licences.

“The premature litany of game-changer, game-changer in South Africa has gone far enough. We have taken serious note of the promises of President Zuma to South Africa in connection with fracking and are now poised to take legal steps.” These were the words of TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal, addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg this morning.

Explaining TKAG’s concerns in depth, Deal says the group occupies a significant role in the shale gas debate in South Africa. “Through our constant involvement in research, debate and engagement with various stakeholders we are established as a serious voice in this issue of national importance. The new scientific evidence that we have placed before President Zuma and the Cabinet, when read in context of the debate and in the light of a dearth of public participation must surely raise red flags for the government regarding constitutionality, sustainability, science and the rule of law.”

Kleynhans joined the call to declare a new moratorium on fracking. “AfriForum has read the letter from TKAG to President Zuma and is most concerned with the points raised.  New evidence presented from abroad, and the lack of public participation are issues that in our view require immediate attention. Given the unequivocal statements of President Zuma about fracking in his State of the Nation addresses in this year, we believe that the only way in which he can now halt the process that he has effectively set in motion is via an immediate moratorium.”

Deal remarked that TKAG was the ‘thin end of the wedge’ of a broad based opposition to fracking which included attorneys briefed by other stakeholders, various civil rights groups, trade unions, agricultural organisations and – most recently – Cosatu and the EFF who are both strongly opposed to fracking.

He concludes: “This letter presents our government a valuable opportunity to address fatal flaws in its approach to shale gas mining without the need for enormously expensive and embarrassing litigation from the citizens of South Africa.”

For a copy of the letter sent to Government, send a mail to info@africanenvironment.co.za, subject line “TKAG Fracking info”.

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