PHA summit and declaration 2017

2017-09-19 06:00
Imam Rashied Omar, bishop Geoff Davies and campaign leader Nazeer Sonday opened a summit on the Philippi Horticultural Area on Wednesday.PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

Imam Rashied Omar, bishop Geoff Davies and campaign leader Nazeer Sonday opened a summit on the Philippi Horticultural Area on Wednesday.PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

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The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) Food and Farming Campaign ended its summit and finalised a declaration on Saturday morning.

The four-day event highlighted the depth of expertise and capacity that has allowed the team of farmers and environmental activists to file for a high court review of nine decisions approving developments in the PHA.

Imam Rashied Omar, bishop Geoff Davies and campaign leader Nazeer Sonday opened the informative event with discussions on Wednesday morning.

With attendance of just under 50 guests on the first day, including high-profile experts and local farmers, participants where taken through a range of discussion topics, ranging from food security to climate change, civic movements and water crises.

“Allow me to commend the PHA for organising this much-needed event” said Omar, a research scholar in Islamic Studies and Peace Building at the University of Notre Dame in the United States.

“It is my sincere prayer and my wish that our deliberations over these four days will not only be productive, but most of all that it will assist, inspire, revitalise and empower us all and particularly those activists at the forefront of the PHA, to be courageous fighting against this unscrupulous development agencies which PHA describes as projects paving over this land.”

Omar said the public was not doing enough to protect the PHA farmlands and it was about time they stepped up.

“We are not doing enough to support this fight. Your struggle is our struggle, and our struggle is yours. Awareness should not only be optimistically used at mass marches, but it should be at the heart of a revitalised and vibrant civil justice struggle,” he said.

“This land is where our food comes from. It is too valuable and too active for us to lose.

“Civil formation, such as this very movement and other environmental organisations and coalitions, need to do much more to support this campaign in their various struggles to protect and manage these unique and irreplaceable farmlands. In order to achieve this goal we need to fully appreciate the invaluable role the PHA occupies in the life of our city. The power belongs to the people and not the government. If we as the people focus on the state, imagine what we can accomplish.”

Davies, of the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, helped open the summit with prayer before giving a talk on sacred economics.

“I am greatly encouraged by the statement of the Chilean economist Manfred Max Neef that economics is too important to be left to economists. We are all involved in and affected by economics and I ask you to look at it from a common-sense point of view. We shall then also see if we can gain insight from the Bible.

“In brief, it is essential that we move the goals in our life and societies to planetary and socioeconomic wellbeing, based on the biblical principles of justice and equity, and away from the goal of economic growth and wealth accumulation,” said Davis.

Other guest speakers in the four-day programme included Dr Thokozani Kanyerere, Patrick Dowling, Peter Butgens, Lesley Green, Marthan Theart, Kevin Winter, Rashiq Fataar, Dr Jane Battersby-Lennard, Zackie Achmat and Aditya Kumar.

Councillor Grant Haskin, a member of the African Christian Democratic Party and a former deputy mayor also did a presentation on Thursday afternoon. Haskins spoke about the politics of water, amongst other critical issues.

“I presented on the City of Cape Town’s budgetary response to the worsening water crises, and drawing parallels with their crisis. I’m very honoured to have been invited,” he said.

Participants signed a declaration on Saturday morning on the specific value of the PHA to demand its protection and management of the area.

The statement is set to be delivered to both the provincial legislature and national parliament, and to the mayor at a later stage, says a PHA Food and Farming Campaign representative.V For more information visit PHA Food & Farming Campaign on Facebook.

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