As we celebrate Freedom Day, South Africans are also able to mark one of the biggest wins for the country and its citizens since 1994, when two small civil society NGOs took on a corrupt government and won. Two years ago, on 26 April 2017, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA JHB) and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) stopped the then-SA government’s R1-trillion nuclear deal. The Western Cape High Court ruled it unlawful and unconstitutional, and set it aside.


The anniversary of the nuclear deal court victory significantly falls on anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, which changed the way the world saw nuclear.


Through the leadership of Makoma Lekalakala (ELA JHB’s Director) and Liz McDaid (SAFCEI’s former Eco-Justice Lead), the campaign to mobilise citizens against the nuclear deal intensified. The #StopCorruptNuclear campaign gained momentum, when then-President Jacob Zuma orchestrated a late-night cabinet reshuffle in late March 2017 which saw both Ministers of Finance and Energy replaced.


It became increasingly clear to a growing number of South Africans that the nuclear deal with Russia was deficient of ethical governance and was not in the public’s interest, as it would bankrupt the country. The government’s secret deal, and its intent to bypass the right of citizens to public participation, posed a major threat the country’s hard-fought democracy.


In a short video message, the joint winners of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa – given in recognition of their efforts to stop the deal – encourage citizens to stay the course to eliminate dirty, harmful energy sources of nuclear and fossil fuels and demand that government invests in clean and sustainable renewable energy – a just energy future.


Says McDaid, “It is clear that the nuclear industry has not gone away completely. We need to ensure that those that were part of the corruption are held accountable.”


Lekalakala adds, “It was on this day [of the court case victory] that the rights of ordinary South Africans to participate in decision-making processes was entrenched. Our constitutional democracy and energy justice prevailed.”


To see the video message, go to:  


This year’s Goldman Prize winners will be announced on 29 April.


For more short videos about the journey to stop the Zuma government’s corrupt nuclear deal, please follow the links below:

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