Cape Town - Energy and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has thrown his weight behind the Shell seismic oil surveys planned for the Wild Coast, despite the outrage sparked by concerned citizens.
People have been protesting along Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape shores echoing their stance against the seismic activity.
The protest follows a court ruling by the Makhanda High Court recently giving Shell the go-ahead to proceed with its seismic activity off the Wild Coast.
Prior to the court ruling, four organisations – Greenpeace Africa, Natural Justice, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, and the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club – filed an urgent interdict to halt the survey.
The court ruled that the applicants had failed to convince it that there was a reasonable apprehension of “irreparable harm” if the interdict was not granted and that given the financial and other prejudice to Shell if the seismic surveys were delayed, the “balance of convenience” was in Shell’s favour.
According to Mantashe, Section 24 of the Constitution commands that everyone has a right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through measures that, among others, secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. This, he says, means when there is an economic benefit to the nation and its citizens, the environmental impacts must be minimised.
“South Africa deserves the opportunity to capitalise on its natural resources including oil and gas, as these resources have been proven to be game changers elsewhere.
“We consider the objections to these developments as apartheid and colonialism of a special type, masqueraded as a great interest for environmental protection,” he said during a press briefing yesterday.
Mantashe further stated that the country’s economic development is oppressed in the name of environmental protection when there is in fact an environmental framework that ensures that licensing is done with the utmost environmental care founded on Section 24 of the Constitution.
He has appealed to objectors to acknowledge this and allow South Africa to exploit its natural resources for the benefit of its citizens.
“Investors in the South African upstream petroleum space are assured of our commitment to work with them within the confines of the law to ensure that the exploitation of these resources is done in an environmentally friendly manner and benefit all South Africans,” Mantashe said.