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Community resistance to energy privatization in South Africa

The Right to the City and the Eco-Social Commoning of Water: Discursive and Political Lessons from South Africa

Water, Health, and the Commodification Debate.

South Africa’s ‘rights culture’ of water consumption.

A timely death?
By Patrick Bond

Carbon trading is a charade that will do nothing to reduce global warming. Could it be doomed by the financial meltdown, wonders Patrick Bond, or will Barack Obama help sustain it?

In the year leading to the Copenhagen Summit, preventing climate change may now finally get a proper global hearing – but not necessarily with useful outcomes. What could be a last ditch attempt to rely on markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions looks likely to come from carbon trading enthusiast, US President-elect Barack Obama.

eThekwini Municipality Fails to stop Communities


Environmental Justice Publications
A Death in Durban: Capitalist patriarchy, global warming gimmickry and our responsibility for rubbish
By Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada
This article reflects upon the struggle of Sajida Khan, an environmental
activist based in Durban, South Africa, who dedicated her life to fight
international corporations and local municipalities on the pollution and
environmental degradation of her community. Khan’s battle is then linked
to ecofeminist theory and international feminist, anti-capitalist
struggles. The paper ends with an interview of Khan about her views on
environmental justice and possible ways forward to create healthier

Sajida Khan

Bisasar Road Landfill


Privatisation of the Air turns Lethal: Carbon Trading as a Non-Solution to Climate Change
By Patrick Bond
The passing of Durban environmentalist Sajida Khan in July 2007 reminds
us of the life-and-death consequences of the climate justice struggle,
even when conflict rises over a seemingly arcane topic, emissions
trading. The trade is irrational and fundamentally unjust, and points to
the way environmental reformers committed to the Kyoto Protocol process
can do more harm than good, by installing a system of emissions reductions prone to structural corruption, which at the same time blocks genuine climate protection strategies. But the new market’s failure is so obvious that a post-Kyoto coalition of global forces can and should now be built, with the alternative strategic orientation - following the Ecuadoran government’s lead - of non-renewable resource preservation for the sake of the climate as well as victims of the resource curse: ‘keep the oil in the soil’, leave the fossil fuels in the ground.

Decentralization, Privatization and Countervailing Popular Pressure:
South African Water Commodification and Decommodification

By Patrick Bond
This chapter considers the underlying pressures to decentralize and
privatize state water services, rooted in capital’s drive to commodify.
The 1990s and early 2000s witnessed the formal establishment of “water
as an economic good” in multilateral programs and multinational
corporate expansion of service provision. But, in addition to various
forms of economic logic that have driven water commodification,
countervailing pressure emerged, both implicitly in the form of poverty,
and more explicitly from trade unions, community and consumer groups,
environmentalists and other citizens’ movements. The case of South
African water during the first decade of post-apartheid democracy is
illustrative, not only for the way decentralization of financing
initially limited access, but also for the revealing ways resistance
shifted state policy to a “free basic water” tariff in 2001, which still
left consumers disempowered because it retained crucial micro-neoliberal
pricing principles.

Water, Human Rights and Social Conflict: South African Experiences
By Patrick Bond and Jackie Dugard
This article reviews some of the debates regarding the right to water,
applying these to the experiences of water delivery in post-apartheid
South Africa. Of central importance, we find, are international trends
towards cost-recovery and the commercialisation of water, whether
through privatisation or corporatisation. Against such trends, which
result in water being priced beyond the reach of poor households,
popular resistance to water injustice has taken forms ranging from
direct protests, to autonomist-style reconnections and destruction of
prepayment meters, to a constitutional challenge over water services in
Soweto. Do such water wars have the potential to shift the focus from
marketbased and ‘sustainable development’ conceptions to policies more
conducive to ‘social justice’, even in the face of powerful commercial
interests and imperatives? And can rights mobilisation be part of this
struggle for a more socially-just model of water delivery, which views
water primarily as a social rather than a commercial good?


Affidavits in the High Court of South Africa (Witwatersrand Local Division)
In the matter between: Case Number: 06/13865

LINDIWE MAZIBUKO First applicant
SOPHIA MALEKUTU Fourth applicant GEORGE MLAMBO Fifth applicant
PINKIE MOHLABI Sixth applicant VUSIMUZI PAKI Seventh applicant
and THE CITY OF JOHANNESBURG First respondent
Second respondent

I, the undersigned, PATRICK BOND do hereby make oath and say: 1. I am a
Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development
Studies, Durban and concurrently a Director at the University of
KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society, Durban.

First Affidavit

Second Affidavit

Dirty Politics: South African Energy Policies
By Patrick Bond
There is perhaps no better way to interpret power relations in
contemporary South Africa than by examining who has had access to energy
in the past, who is getting it now and at what cost, and who will have
it in the future. The argument below is that the larger players in the
energy ‘market’ – i. e. , transnational capital, accommodating
neoliberal multilateral agencies and national governments, and the rich
– are having a disproportionate effect on public policy, even in South


Crony Capitalism, Climate Crisis and Coega: The Minerals-Energy Complex Queues for Corporate Welfare
By Patrick Bond
Desperate to prove critics wrong, the South African government has been
shoveling Africa’s largest-ever industrial subsidies into the Coega
industrial zone complex and port, located in the Nelson Mandela Bay
Municipality (NMBM) about 30 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth.
Government proponents say Coega represents sound industrial and
development policy, but many others consider the project a ‘corporate
welfare’ giveaway replete with eco-destructive and socially insensitive
features, especially during a period of renewed attention to climate change.

Access to Decent Sanitation in South Africa:
The Challenges of Eradicating the Bucket System

By Baruti Amisi and Simphiwe Nojiyeza
This paper explores the challenges in providing access to decent
sanitation - as a human right guaranteed by the 1996 South African
Constitution and a United Nations Millennium Development Goal - to all.
The paper contends that the elimination of the bucket system needs to be
understood in a broader context of sanitation coverage to both rural and
urban areas as well as public spaces - such as schools and clinics - and
individual residential areas. Secondly, effective approach to the
elimination of the bucket system needs to include the participation of
the beneficiaries in technology choice, capacity building of the
beneficiaries and municipal officials, technology transfer to the
communities, and community ownership. Otherwise, access to sanitation as
a human right and one of stepping stones to better life for all will
remain an empty shell at the level of political propagandas around the
elections. The study used primary and secondary data. Primary data
consists of participant observation, empirical research, and the
day-to-day protests highlighting social and economic discontents.
Secondary data include the South African government’s policy documents
at both national and municipal levels, key state officials’ speeches,
the National Policy on Sanitation, White Paper on Water and Sanitation,
National Sanitation Strategy, Water Services Development plans of
municipalities and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Whereas progress have been made since the democratic breakthrough in
1994, there are challenges in effectively eliminating the bucket system
in schools and clinics in both urban and rural areas due to social ,
economic, institutional and technological problems that ordinary
citizens face in the existing informal settlements and mushrooming of
the new ones and in rural areas.


Introduction to the energy project
By Molefi, Ndlovu

The aims of the energy project are primarily to dig deeper, to uncover emerging responses to the issue of environmental justice. Through activist research we attempt to continually highlight cutting edge efforts by civil society activists to mitigate these injustices; through advocacy and education and training seminars and workshops as well as facilitating activist research methodologies that are sensitive to the role of activist communities to find participatory approaches to research.

The UKZN Centre for Civil Society, the TransNational Institute's CarbonTradeWatch (Amsterdam) and TimberWatch Coalition (Durban), discussion on what to do about global warming. Invitations are extended especially to Durban civil society and to attendees of the International Sociology Association world congress.

Pictures from the Climate Change Workshop

Patrick Bond (CCS) 'Dirty Politics - South African Energy Policies'

Hounsome, Rob (CSIR) The Science of Climate Change. Natural Resources and the Environment

Details of the Durban Climate Change workshop 2006

Summary notes from the Goedgedacht Forum for Social Reflection debate of 8 April 2006: ‘Climate change
Read Publication


November 19, 2007 - A fire broke out at the Engen oil refinery, south of Durban.

Firefighters were unable to get close to the scene to contain the fire, which burnt over a two day period, leaving thick smog in the air.

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