Mantashe slams NGOs in African Energy Week address

  • Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe welcomed delegates to the African Energy Week Conference this week.
  • The minister talked up renewable and sustainable energy before changing direction and attacking NGOs.
  • The minister said NGOs should be registered and declare their funding sources, which many already do.

The African Energy Week conference began on Monday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and will run until Friday where speakers and delegates will discuss all things energy.

The conference has become an annual event following the first conference in 2021. African Energy Week is described by the organisers as “uniting African energy leaders, global investors and executives from across the public and private sector for four days of intense dialogue on the future of the African energy industry”.

As part of the conference, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe welcomed delegates.

“Cognisant of the fact that 600 million people on the African continent do not have access to electricity, we firmly believe that an inclusive, diverse, and holistic approach to energy mix is central to achieving sustainable energy supply, while averting potential future disruptions. Enhanced cooperation among African nations is required to increase our efforts aimed at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7,” Mantashe said.

While that’s positive, the minister then switched tack entirely when he said Africa should double-down on its use of objectively unsustainable energy sources.

“In recognition of the continued role of the fossil fuels in supporting energy security and the fact that 82% of energy sources in the world are from these fossil fuels, Africa must intensify its efforts aimed at developing its oil and gas sector in order to benefit from the expected increase of natural gas market in global supply,” said Mantashe.

However, the minister used this moment to attack his latest source of disdain, non-governmental organisations (NGOs also sometimes referred to as non-profit organisations or NPOs).

“A binding constraint to Africa’s increased oil and gas exploration programme that this conference must help us find solutions to, is the weaponisation of climate change against development, at the centre of which are foreign funded Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Our proposal to this conference is that Africa must unite, speak in one voice, and demand that these NGOs get registered and publicly declare their source of funding, as it is the case with political parties in South Africa. We cannot continue allowing these NGOs to have unlimited funding to block development on the African continent in the name of climate change,” the minister added.

Except, the mechanisms Mantashe speaks of are already in the works.

Earlier this year amendments to the Nonprofit Organisations Act 71 of 1997 were introduced in a bid to bring these organisations in line with international best practices. Where once NPOs and NGOs didn’t have to register, now if they make donations or provide humanitarian, charitable, educational, or cultural services outside South Africa, they have to register the organisations.

“In terms of the amendments, a registered NPO must now, in addition to providing reports regarding its activities and financial statements, provide information to the Director regarding its office-bearers, control structure, governance, management, administration and operations,” law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer wrote last month.

However, any NGO worth dealing with is already declaring where it gets its funding in annual reports and even on its official website. Mantashe’s words then ring hollow and smack of the minister simply not knowing where to find these documents.

This isn’t the first time that Mantashe has slammed NGOs. He made similar comments a week ago at the Africa Oil Week conference.

The idea that NGOs are weaponising climate change and environmental destruction to prevent climate change and environmental destruction makes no sense either once you start to pick the statement apart.

Furthermore, the minister spent most of his speech talking up the benefits of sustainable and renewable energy solutions so we’re not sure what his beef with NGOs that fight for those technologies are. We also need to point out that even if NGOs are forced to declare that funding, that doesn’t mean they won’t be using that funding to fight things like Shell’s Seismic Surveys or the Karpowership deal.

It’s also worth pointing out that if an NGO receives funding from an international body that doesn’t mean that organisation now controls the NGO.

“We also only accept funding from international donors who do not have a say over the activities we choose to do/how we choose to do it. So this idea that international interests are guiding our work is false. This statement made by Mantashe is also part of a broader onslaught on NGOs in South Africa who are challenging the vested interests in keeping fossil fuels going and stalling the just transition at the expense of all South Africans,” Sarah Farrell, spokesperson for the African Climate Alliance told Daily Maverick last week.

We doubt this will be the last time Mantashe attacks NGOs who challenge the government on decisions that will have a negative impact on our environment.

[Image – CC BY ND 2.0 GovernmentZA]


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