On 5 June 1972 World Environment day was designated to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment.

The latest environmental disasters in South Africa have to focus South Africansí attention on the hazards that pollution poses, not only to their quality of life, but also the implications that it has on the environment. An example is the lawsuit where Iscor bought out aggrieved Vanderbijlpark residents, who said that Vanderbijlpark Steelís activities polluted the underground water and thus affected their livelihood. Iscor is also implicated in air- and water pollution in the same area. The Vaal Triangle is South Africaís most polluted area; just breathing or drinking water is a serious health risk! Iscor was also responsible, recently, for thousands of fish dying in the Buffalo River (Newcastle). The UDM is concerned about the frequency of this type of environmental mismanagement. 

The UDM believes that the environment is one of the key terrains in which transformation should take place. In South Africa, environment is moving closer to the centre of the socio-political stage. Several challenging and durable themes are at the centre of environmental management in South Africa. Some of these are:

  • Population and resources

  • Land distribution and management

  • Urbanisation and cities

  • Management institutions 

  • Pollution and waste management.

Human population growth and absolute numbers are often seen to be the most fundamental threat to sustained development and the environment in South Africa. However, the relationship between population and resources in the environment is complex and needs to be considered very carefully before any inferences to one or the other can be made. From a conservative environmental position, the management of resource use and environmental impact are central. However, from the perspective of material and political disadvantage, improved living and working conditions and access to resources and the systems that mediate their distribution are often the environmental priorities.

Of the many issues that confront environmental managers in South Africa, land is probably the most emotionally and politically charged. Beyond the pivotal issue of land distribution, there are many complex areas of land management policy and practice that remain to be argued openly and in detail:

  1. State, private sector, community, traditional leaders and individual roles in land management.

  2. The extent and nature of rural development and the case for affirmative action.

  3. Socio-politically and environmentally appropriate systems of land tenure and the manner in which to implement tenure reform.

  4.  Short- and long-term mechanisms for the resolution of conflict over rural and urban land.

Everyone has a Constitutional right to an environment which is not detrimental to his/her health, or well being and to have such right protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that;

  • prevent pollution and ecological degradation,

  • promote conservation and create a national code of conduct backed by appropriate legislation to ensure humane treatment of animal populations;

  • secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while

  • promoting justifiable economic and social development.

The UDM supports sustainable environmental development, meaning that the prosperity we create today must not leave future generations without useful resources. The UDM believes that, through the implementation of bio-diversity and eco-tourism programmes, thousands of jobs can be created. The UDM believes that it is possible to generate opportunities for all, whilst being environmentally responsible. The UDMís views include:

  • Tax incentives must be provided to the private sector and other institutions that invest in the development of technologies for conservation and sustainable use of bio-diversity programmes.

  • The massive number of environmental laws and regulations must immediately be consolidated into one concise and effective law.

Mtutuzeli Mbadi, MP
UDM Spokesperson for Environmental Affairs and Tourism

04 June 2000