Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has extended the moratorium on Fracking in the Karoo for another six months to enable her task team to complete their technical investigation. She is not satisfied with some aspects of the report and has asked the task team for clarity.
Individuals and NGOs with strong reservations about Fracking are concerned that Minister Shabangu’s Task Team is made up primarily of government officials and that their brief and finding have been kept out of the public arena. While her public statement at the Cape Town Press Club breakfast on 18 August that the public will be fully consulted from September when the task team completes its report is heartening, there are real concerns that the process will not adequately address problems identified by the public interest groups. Will this public participation be genuine if the NGOs representing the affected communities are not represented on the Task team – nor consulted about the brief and experts represented on the team?
Minister Shabangu’s statement that in South African law, the polluter must pay for any clean-up required does not alleviate concerns. There are too many situations where mining activities ignore measures to mitigate their environmental impacts and default on their polluter pays responsibilities. It has repeatedly been said that Shell does not have a good track record in Africa – and that in spite of legislation, implementation of environmental protection by the authorities is weak in South Africa. Not a good combination, nor one which gives me any confidence that Fracking in the Karoo and or the Drakensberg will be done with the long term benefit to the citizens of South Africa in mind.
For background on the Fracking debate go to: