Green groups slam World Bank loan

2010-04-12 00:00

ENVIRONMENTAL organisations have criticised the World Bank, calling it an irresponsible leader after it granted Eskom a $3,75 billion loan, mostly for the building of the Medupi power station in Limpopo.

According to groundWork, a Pietermaritzburg-based organisation, “by making this decision, the World Bank has shown, quite clearly, that it has no regard for the state of the world’s climate and environment, the future of South Africa and economic principles of transparency and corruption”.

The deal was shrouded in controversy when Hitachi Africa — a company in which the ANC has a 25% stake — was awarded the tender for the development of the plant. The tender would have seen the ruling party pocket up to R5,8 billion in profit, but it now says it will sell its stake.

DA leader Helen Zille acknowledged the country’s need for the station, but urged the World Bank to grant the loan on condition the ANC relinquished its share in the tender company.

“We fully support the need for a World Bank loan to build the power stations so that we can prevent another electricity crisis,” she said.

But added, “we will not be reassured unless and until the ANC is removed as a shareholder in Hitachi Africa, and a stakeholder in any part of the power station deals.”

In addition to the political and financial implications of the World Bank loan, groundWork said the environmental damage the station is expected to cause will be irreversible.

“Instead of using its financial resources to help developing economies leapfrog from carbon intensive development and promoting investment in clean and ultimately cheaper alternatives, such as wind and solar, the World Bank is propagating ‘business as usual’. This is akin to fighting a fire with petrol.”

On Tuesday last week, Lephalale residents filed a complaint with the World Bank’s complaint body stating the plant would negatively impact the community’s health, livelihood and environment.

Tristen Taylor of Earthlife Africa said the decision was a “monumental failure”, and that today’s children would “judge [the bank] harshly” in coming years.



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