Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Good Green Deeds Campaign
Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane, 08 March 2019
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane,
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle,
Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MECs,
Executive Mayor of Buffalo City Metro Municipality, Cllr Xola Pakati,
Members of the community,
Members of the media,
Allow me from the very outset to say just how encouraged I am by the turnout today for the launch of the Good Green Deeds Campaign.
I want to welcome all the community members who have taken the time to be here this afternoon, which is an indication of your commitment to keeping your communities and South Africa clean.
Aside from being famous for its boxing legends and its rich history of struggle against apartheid, today Mdantsane hosts the launch of a campaign that will transform South Africa.
I want at the beginning to take a moment to acknowledge the late Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa. She was a true champion of the environment and this campaign, the Good Green Deeds, was her idea. She was active in driving its conception and it is really in her honour that we see its realization today. I would like us to take a minute to remember her and her work.
As head of the Department of Environmental Affairs the late Minister was also a passionate ambassador for the issue of climate change. She worked very hard to raise awareness about this issue not just locally but internationally as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have one of the most magnificent countries in the world, with a beautiful coastline, and on land, an abundance of plant and animal life, some of which are found nowhere else on earth.
This is what draws millions of tourists to our country every year. But we are seemingly at war with our planet. Littering, illegal dumping and the pollution of our air, our streams, our rivers and our oceans have had negative effects on our health, our quality of life and on the very appearance of our country.
We have become the throwaway generation. Instead of putting litter into waste-bins, we toss it out onto the streets. Instead of managing our waste, we dump it in places it is not supposed to be.
Instead of flushing dirty water into a sewerage system where it can be treated, we throw it into our rivers and streams, and even into the sea. When we dump waste into a stream, this affects communities much further away. When we throw glass bottles out of a car window it makes that same road unsafe for pedestrians, for cyclists and for other road users. When as municipalities we let mounds of trash build up in illegal landfills and dumpsites, it attracts pests and disease.
When industries illegally dump hazardous waste and don’t properly dispose of water used in industrial processes, surrounding communities are badly affected. All this makes our planet sick, and it makes us sick. It makes our children sick. It is time for change. A change of attitude and of behaviour.
We are here today to launch a national campaign to mobilise citizens, business, industry, labour and civil society at large towards a common goal – cleaning up South Africa. By performing just one Good Green Deed a day, you can make all the difference.
Whether it is in recycling your waste, or conducting clean-up activities in your street, in your neighbourhood, school, or municipality, you must be the agent of change we want and need.
This morning I took part in a clean-up campaign in Buffalo City, and clean-ups have been taking place at taxi ranks in East London and King William’s Town, in KwaDikela and at eBuhlanti beach and estuary.
Similar initiatives are taking place across the country, from Galeshewe to Mahikeng and from Umsunduzi to Ladybrand; from Polokwane to Sharpeville and Manenberg to Mamelodi.
We hope the Good Green Deeds campaign will be embraced with vigour and enthusiasm in all municipalities around South Africa. We are all too aware of the challenges our municipalities face with waste management.
Our population is growing, and more and more people are moving to the cities, leading to more waste being generated despite diminishing space for landfills. Recycling rates remain extremely low.
We are also dealing with the effects of a bitter legacy. In 1994, the year we attained our liberation, most households that lacked access to basic refuse removal services were in black communities. Because of forced removals and land dispossession our people were squashed into areas that weren’t fit for human settlement at all. People lacked access to water, proper sanitation and even something as basic as dustbins.
Many of our communities were forcibly relocated to areas adjacent to industrial areas where in the absence of laws to protect their rights, industries were free to pollute at will, resulting in devastating consequences for human health.
It has been under this government that environmental rights and laws have been enforced. We have also implemented a national policy to address the inability of millions of poor households to pay for waste services. Currently the number of South African households with access to waste services is close to 80%, compared to 55% in 2001.
The number of households that have refuse removal at least once a week is on the rise, increasing from 56% in 2002 to approximately 66% in 2017. The increase is a step in the right direction; yet we know we can still do more. We must do more to build the capacity of local government to provide services to our people.
Through initiatives like our Greenest Municipality Competition we want to reward municipalities for their efforts to improve the environment.
There are also a number of success stories of cities that have adopted greening as an integral part of their planning.
Examples are the City of Johannesburg’s A Re Sebetseng initiative, a mayoral clean-up initiative in the Rustenburg Local Municipality, community clean-ups in the city of Umhlathuze, and a citizen-led clean-up of the Hennops River in Centurion.
There is also impressive work underway right here in Buffalo City. The Adopt a Spot Project focuses on street sweeping, gutter clearing, clearing illegal dumps, awareness campaigns, the erection of ‘No Dumping Signs’ and the planting of vegetables. The Buffalo City Municipality is also focusing on supporting the recycling economy by upgrading buy-back centres, leading waste separation at source initiatives, and street cleaning. More buy-back centres will be built, and refuse removal services in rural areas will be extended.
Also right here in Buffalo City we are piloting a project for the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in partnership with the Swedish government. Under this partnership we plan to develop a general household waste management model that will inform waste service provision in informal settlements. Better waste management practices also enable us as a country to address climate change because landfills are a source of emissions of gases that contribute towards global warming.
In line with the objectives of our National Development Plan, we are pursuing a path of development that is low-carbon, inclusive and resilient to the impacts of climate change. More environmentally sustainable work processes – ones that also create jobs – are both possible and a current reality. Through our National Waste Management Strategy we want to increase the contribution to the green economy of the waste sector.
This is a sector that has the potential to create 69,000 new jobs and empower more SMMEs and cooperatives. The chemicals industry, valued at R426 billion, is another growth area. This morning I launched the Operation Phakisa on Chemicals and Waste, which has a number of detailed action plans that need to deliver results by 2023. They include increasing the total contribution of the waste economy from R24.3 billion to R35.8 billion and creating 127,000 new direct and indirect jobs.
The plans also include providing support to 4,300 SMMEs with 70% targeted at youth and at least 30% targeted at women; and ultimately seeing more than 20 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill. Partnerships between government and private sector will be key not only to the success of the Phakisa initiatives but also to this campaign. Earlier today, we received pledges from a number of companies outlining their commitment to green economy initiatives.
I want to applaud business for having come on board to be part of this campaign and want to encourage those who have not already done so to get in touch. We are one of the most progressive countries in the world in that the right to a clean environment is contained in our Bill of Rights. Our Constitution is clear that the environment should be conserved and protected not just for current but future generations as well.
It is in the cause of those yet to come that we are embarking upon a new era of consciousness today. It is significant that we are launching this campaign on International Women’s Day. I want to extend my best wishes to all the women of our country as we commemorate the global struggle for the rights of women and girls. Environmental concerns must be an essential part of that struggle.
In many parts of the world, it is women who till the lands and the crops, and who walk long miles in search for water and firewood to sustain their families. Because of this, it is women who most feel the effects of a degraded environment when these sources of sustenance disappear. While the future of our planet lies in the hands of us all, I want to make a call for youth in particular to be the champions of this campaign.
We want you, the young people of this country, to take the lead in being part of ward-based environmental education and awareness raising. We want you to be at the forefront of clean-up campaigns; and to gain exposure to municipal environmental management functions as a source of attaining work experience. In the same way that we tidy our homes and the spaces around us, we should take personal responsibility for keeping our environment clean.
At this point I want to invite the Ministers present, together with MECs, the Premier and the Mayor, to join me as we introduce South Africa to the mascot of the Good Green Deeds Campaign.
This is Billy the Bin, and you will be seeing a lot more of him in time to come. He is our reminder that the responsibility to Keep South Africa Clean lies with all of us. The way our country looks says a great deal about us as a nation, about what we stand for, about our values and about our national character. Let us all take ownership of this country that is South Africa, and of this planet that is our only home.
So let us commit today, right here and right now, that we will each do one Good Green Deed a day, for the sake of ourselves, for the sake of others, and for the sake of our country. A clean environment is feasible and is necessary, and, ultimately, will become an important source of national pride.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency