MPUMALANGA is a very green province, you just have to cast your eyes around you to see a green blanket of trees, shrubs and grass. The province is truly blessed with fresh air breeze coming from all the leaves that are willingly giving off the vital oxygen that gives life. However, all of this can disappear if man continues to ravage the very habitat we live in.
One of province’s priorities is highlighted as “greening the Province” To many this is a hollow statement which is out of context in Mpumalanga. What the Province should be concentrating on is curbing the damages caused by economic activities such as mining, manufacturing and ravaging agrarian tendencies of greedy multi nationals.
Why then does our esteemed leaders take the Province along a path that leads to futility. Greening the province will not discount the untold harm caused by the big industries and all the mines. The truth of the matter is that some captains of these industries are cosy with the provincial government. Some enjoy an enviable status of being economic advisers to our Premier, Mr. Thabang Makwetla. They know very well that the activities of their businesses are a danger to life itself, but they advice our leaders to engage in futile exercises like the “greening a green Province” while they laugh all the way to bank with proceeds made out of destroying the rich natural qualities of our land.
The Economic Advisory Council that the Premier set up is a brilliant idea but it has become just another talk show wherein the captains of industries benefit more than government does. It is a Council which brings delicate and sensitive government plans to the CEO’s of money making and profit hogging companies. In return, the companies advice our Premier to “Green a very green Province”. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The captains of industries should be accounting to the Premier on their own devastating activities but no it is our leaders who must share intimate future plans of government with hawks and sharks. Air pollution in certain parts of our Province is so bad it even affects visibility. Driving along the N4 you are warned by traffic signs about poor visibility. Some of our dams like the Loskop Dam, Ziwaphi has learned from sources that the alkalinity and acidity of the dam is so out of balance due to toxic dumps that it is matter of time that the slime and sludge will come to the surface and kill off all life forms in the dam. Will greening the Province save us from this?
Leading forest companies in the province are running timber plantations that are sponging the Province dry of its water resources. Water is a scarce resources in South Africa and we can hardly afford timber plantation that consumes water at the rate that these companies do. Does greening the Province save us from these profit driven water guzzlers?
In Nelspruit one steel company consumes more than half the electricity capacity of the entire city, in return it gives off a hell of a stink through its chimneys. As if that is not enough, it dumps its waste product on our land. They argue that they are doing so with all the precaution and care that the laws of the country have put in place. Phew! What a stink! Then there is Ngodwana, which has caused many a family argument in their vehicles. Occupants of a car passing by the area have accused each other of passing wind in the car. It’s a health hazard of great proportions. Our leaders’ answer to this is… you guessed correctly… greening the green Province.
Commercial farmers use toxic fertilizers to boost their yield and subsequent profits without a care to the environment and the poor people that live in it. Our government’s answer to this atrocity is “Greening a green Province”
Not long ago China had the whole world laughing when the government ordered an arid mountain to be painted green. They used many gallons of green paint to green their mountain. Thank God we do not have arid mountains in Mpumalanga because we would be choking on green paint fumes by now. Global warming and rising combustion levels are a factor. In other countries they are even experimenting with synthetic trees and whole host of other interventions to reduce combustion and its bad effects. We cannot therefore borrow their ways of doing things without studying our own situation to understand the causes of the devastating global warming phenomenon. We want to argues that the Premier and his EXCO should prioritize research and development (R&D) activities into the practices of all pollution emitting firms and regulate these killer practices to save our environment. Greening the Province is a novelty romanticized beyond its usefulness at this point. If we continue with this “priority” in its current format we will be accused by future generations of having stood by as a government when profit driven entities looted the province of its livelihood – the environment. Our leaders must please stop being poets and prioritize those things that matter not only to our generation but to future generations.
Greening the Province is a noble idea and God has already done that for us in Mpumalanga. Our job is to maintain that by reducing human activities that ravage the pristine land we have inherited. We wish to opine that in the Premier’s State of the Province address in two weeks’ time we do not only expect to be told how many trees our people have planted, but also to tell us how much damage do the big firms (some of which sit in the Economic Advisory Council) cause damage to nature and how our Government is responding to that to safeguard the future of the people of Mpumalanga.
We also wish to hear how we are going to take off the electricity grid household and light industry consumption. We suggest solar energy as an alternative.
In addition we also wish to hear our Government’s response to unethical and environmental degradation of the mines, manufacturing firms and commercial farming
If our leaders continue to shout slogans such as Greening the Province without telling us exactly what the problems are and how planting trees will reverse the damage to the environment they will be letting down our Province and wasting an opportunity to address real priorities of this part of our country.