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Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson leads International Nelson Mandela Day in Memel, Free State

15 July 2015


Deputy Minister Thomson during Mandela Day activities in Memel, Free State provinceDeputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson led the Department’s commemorations of International Nelson Mandela Day in honour of former statesman in Memel in the Free State on 15 July 2015.

The Government is calling on all South Africans to support Nelson Mandela Month through participation in activities under the theme: Take Action - Inspire Change - Make Every Day a Mandela Day”.

The theme encourages South Africans to take responsibility to change attitudes and to ensure peaceful co-existence within communities. As ambassadors of environmental awareness, the Department of Environmental Affairs is mandated to give effect to the Constitutional right of citizens to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing; to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations; and to create a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources and the environment.

The annual international day of humanitarian action in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy was started in 2008 to encourage individuals to change the world through voluntary community work. The United Nations declared the 18th of July of each year Nelson Mandela International Day in 2008.

The Deputy Minister led a community outreach and engagement initiative on severe weather and climate change utilising her 67 minutes by planting a vegetable garden at Zamani Creche in Memel. 

Officials from provincial departments in the Free State, the South African Weather Services (SAWS), New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Environmental Affairs officials, Phumelela Municipality and the community of Memel all joined the Deputy Minister and supported the initiative.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS), through the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), has embarked on a project to inform and educate extension agents, farmers and other users about the effects of climate change on agricultural activities.

The project aims to capacitate extension officers and farmers by providing agro-meteorological information that will enable them to effectively and efficiently mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture. The project will focus on farmers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State as they are most seriously affected by weather patterns and climate change.

It supports activities such as provision of as food parcels, establishment of food gardens and feeding schemes which will ensure long term food security and has played a major role in job creation and poverty alleviation. Provincial departments and all the other stakeholders supporting the initiative are encouraged to donate agricultural equipment to the project.

The Deputy Minister ‘s community outreach and engagement initiative on severe weather and climate change campaign was in line with the four pillars of Mandela Day:

  • Promoting environmental education and awareness to the communities.
  • Minimising adverse social and environmental impacts related to waste management;
  • Creating sustainable employment through local entrepreneur development in waste recycling partnerships; and
  • Creating awareness about waste management issues within the community and thereby empowers communities to take responsibility for the cleanliness of their surrounding environment.

Following the planting of the vegetable garden, the celebrations continued at Esizibeni Senior Secondary School where the Deputy Minister handed over six rubbish bins to the school in an effort to raise awareness on environmental issues. A presentation was also a part of the programme to teach the community about Waste Management.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister encouraged all South Africans to make everyday a Mandela Day and support such initiatives especially in marginalised and poverty stricken communities. Ms Thomson also encouraged all the stakeholders to donate agricultural equipment.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871