Pretoria News

Civil society turns up the heat on Sasol

Activists tell fuel giant to address concerns over unchecked pollution as well as fatalities in SA and Mozambique

- DINEO FAKU dineo.faku@inl.co.za

CIVIL society and shareholde­r activists turned up the heat on petrochemi­cals giant Sasol on Friday calling for the company to address their concerns of environmen­tal pollution, gas emissions and fatalities in South Africa and Mozambique.

Representa­tives of six non-profit organisati­ons told the company’s top brass at the annual general meeting (AGM) held in Sandton, Joburg that aggrieved communitie­s wanted the company to intervene in pollution in the Vaal River, “dirty air” on the Highveld and fatalities of employees.

Tracey Davies, an executive director at Just Share, an NGO that seeks to challenge companies to become good corporate citizens, was at the meeting to give vent to concerns about air pollution.

“The bottom line is that Sasol has a huge environmen­tal footprint.

“We wanted to raise concerns about its (Sasol’s) contributi­on to climate change in South Africa and Mozambique as well as fatalities,” said Davies.

She however added that civil society could not act alone.

A damning report by the Centre for Environmen­tal Rights, groundWork and the Highveld Environmen­tal Justice Network, which was released last year, found that some Highveld residents had been diagnosed as suffering from respirator­y and cardiac illnesses because of the government’s controvers­ial non-enforcemen­t of minimum emission standards for Eskom and Sasol.

Davies said communitie­s wanted the company to come up with tangible solutions to reduce its emissions to acceptable standards.

She charged that the Secunda facility was one of the world’s single largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

She also said communitie­s wanted the company to account for the reduction of its financial provision for rehabilita­tion by R1.4 billion this year, which the company said was due to “macro-economic” changes.

In light of the fatalities, shareholde­r activist Theo Botha called for the remunerati­on of directors to be cut amid continuing fatalities.

Botha said Sasol was not doing enough to address fatalities, with the company reporting that four employees had died in work accidents this year compared with the six killed last year.

Botha urged Sasol to increase its key performanc­e indicator for safety to 10 percent from the current 5 percent.

“We have to hold management to account.

“At the end of the day, if their bonus is smaller they will have to work on ensuring that fatalities are reduced to zero,” he said.

Just Share, the Centre for Environmen­tal Rights, a non-profit organisati­on and law clinic, the Vaal Environmen­tal Justice Alliance, groundWork, South Durban Community Environmen­tal Alliance and Justica Ambiental, a member of Friends of the Earth Internatio­nal based in Mozambique, attended the AGM.

Representa­tives of civil society also blamed Sasol for bleeding Mozambique by employing only 300 Mozambican­s at the operations in that country.

Meanwhile, Sasol is in the middle of an empowermen­t storm, with trade union Solidarity striking over the company’s empowermen­t scheme.

 ?? SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI African News Agency (ANA) ?? SASOL’S offices in Sandton, north of Joburg. Activists have urged the petrochemi­cal firm to address concerns over environmen­tal pollution and fatalities at its plants in South Africa and Mozambique. |
SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI African News Agency (ANA) SASOL’S offices in Sandton, north of Joburg. Activists have urged the petrochemi­cal firm to address concerns over environmen­tal pollution and fatalities at its plants in South Africa and Mozambique. |

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa