President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the national Good Green Deeds programme in East London on Friday - an initiative meant to promote taking care of the environment and the cleaning up of South Africa.
The Good Green Deeds programme is a ground-breaking environmental awareness programme that seeks to mobilise all sectors in South Africa to become more environmentally conscious. The focus of the programme will be on promoting sustainable waste management practices such as recycling. It also aims to galvanise the society at large to change their behaviour around the environment and learn to prevent, and reduce waste and pollution by cleaning South Africa.
The campaign in East London saw a number of government ministers and MECs taking part in cleaning campaigns not only at Buffalo City Metro, but throughout the country.
Early on Friday morning, Nomvula Mokonyane, minister of environmental affairs, and her provincial counterpart, MEC Oscar Mabuyane and Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati all took part in the cleaning up of eBuhlanti a popular hangout spot for East Londoners.
At the same time, Dr Zweli Mkhize, cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister and his provincial counterpart, MEC Fikile Xasa wore their green overalls and cloves and help clean up a taxi rank in East London. Premier Phumulo Masualle and deputy minister of Cogta, Obed Bapela led similar campaigns in King William’s Town KwaDikela respectively.
Ramaphosa also led a cleaning activity at the Mdantsane Highway before he addressed thousands of residents who braved the rainy weather to hear him speak at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium.
Ramaphosa first paid tribute to late minister of environmental affairs, Edna Molewa who passed away last year.
“She was a true champion of the environment and this campaign, the Good Green Deeds, was her idea. She was active in driving its conception and it is really in her honour that we see its realization today. I would like us to take a minute to remember her and her work.”
“As head of the department of environmental affairs the late minister was also a passionate ambassador for the issue of climate change. She worked very hard to raise awareness about this issue not just locally but internationally as well,” said Ramaphosa
He said though South Africa was one of the most magnificent countries in the world, with a beautiful coastline, and on land, an abundance of plant and animal life, some of which are found nowhere else on earth, but “we seem to be at war with our planet”.
“Littering, illegal dumping and the pollution of our air, our streams, our rivers and our oceans have had negative effects on our health, our quality of life and on the very appearance of our country.”
“We have become the throwaway generation. Instead of putting litter into waste-bins, we toss it out onto the streets. Instead of managing our waste, we dump it in places it is not supposed to be.”
Instead of flushing dirty water into a sewerage system where it can be treated, we throw it into our rivers and streams, and even into the sea,” he said.
Ramaphosa said it was time change, a change of attitude and of behaviour.
“ We are here today to launch a national campaign to mobilise citizens, business, industry, labour and civil society at large towards a common goal – cleaning up South Africa.”
“By performing just one Good Green Deed a day, you can make all the difference. Whether it is in recycling your waste, or conducting clean-up activities in your street, in your neighbourhood, school, or municipality, you must be the agent of change we want and need,” said Ramaphosa
The president also launched Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste Economy at the East London International Convention Centre where various companies pledged to support the initiative with R1.4 billion.
South Africa’s waste economy is estimated to be worth a minimum of R15 billion to GDP.
“One time when I visited Kigali, I whispered to my wife and said she must look out if she sees any piece of paper as we are being driven around. She looked and looked and said, ‘I have not seen a single piece of paper’, I said, yes, that is because they have embarked on this incredible journey of cleaning their environment,” said Ramaphosa.
The President said Operation Phakisa on Chemicals and Waste, has a number of detailed action plans that need to deliver results by 2023.
“They include increasing the total contribution of the waste economy from R24.3 billion to R35.8 billion and creating 127 000 new direct and indirect jobs.
“The plans also include providing support to 4 300 SMMEs with 70% targeted at youth and at least 30% targeted at women; and ultimately seeing more than 20 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill,” said Ramaphosa.