Proactive environmental activism to promote the remediation of mined land and acid mine drainage: a success story from the South African goldfields


With more information on environmental research reports at the disposal of the general public, a new type of activism has been visible in South Africa since 2007. This new type of activism entailed, amongst others, a more informed activist empowered with more freedom of speech and a right to information (according to the rights provided as in the South African Constitution). The formal founding of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) for South Africa in October 2007 serves as an example of proactive oppositional environmental activism (POEA).

In specifically the former West Rand and Far West Rand goldfields (known today as the part of the Gauteng Province) FSE activists, and some other environmental protagonists, have engaged with mines and the government: Either for immediate relief in mined land, or to address conditions of environmental injustice such as acid mine drainage.

An objective was, and still is, to achieve tactical gains to change outdated mechanisms and ideologies regarding man in relation with environment. Other objectives are to secure proper remediation to prevent the escalation of several environmental disasters such as sinkholes, water pollution and dust fallouts. The remediation also focuses on future land use sustainability and to ensure that precautions are in place to avoid the deterioration of health among local inhabitants in especially the poverty stricken areas.

The paper will critically debate the success thus far achieved of POEA regarding environmental pollution and the urge for remediation. POEA can create a sound platform to resolve conflict and find sustainable remediation solutions for mines and affected communities in future land use.

* CEO:Federation for a Sustainable Environment(FSE), Postnet Suite 87, Private Bag X033, Rivonia, Sandton, South Africa. 2128 & an Associate of the Research Group Sustainable Development: A Human and Social Sciences perspective,  at North-West University (Vaal River Campus) PO Box 1427, Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa, 1900.
** Professor in History at North-West University (Vaal River Campus) PO Box 1427, Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa, 1900.

1 Proactive in this context is simply defined as an approach to a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens.

Download the paper here (102kb)

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