Tomorrow is South Africa’s fifth democratic election. 2014 is a historic year in our history as we celebrate 20 years of democracy, and in the run up to 7 May election, politicians, social commentators, and ordinary citizens have been regaled with the stories of success, horror, disappointment and hope from the last two decades.
This election marks the first time the polls will be void of a Green party, often the lone voice for people putting the environment first. Again this year, very few parties have prioritised the environment or how we will achieve development objectives taking the changing climate into account.
As usual, South Africans have been inundated with typical political tactics – parties competing for our votes based on the past, and very little campaigning on what they actually want to achieve in the future. But this election, many South African voters are savvier, smarter to the ways of the gab, and less inclined to fall for empty promises. Citizens are demanding their rights be upheld while their basic needs be serviced.
2014 is a year where politicians will be expected to stand by their words.
The next five years are critical for South Africa – economically, socially and environmentally. We continue to compete in a fast-changing global market with shrinking natural resources and growing capitalist agendas. With this, simple demand and supply comes into play – very few people will become richer while the majority grows poorer.
In South Africa, Greenpeace recognises that investments in fossil fuels are a dead end. It’s entirely possible for African countries to skip dirty development and switch to clean renewable energy instead. South Africa is the largest carbon emitter on the continent and further fossil fuel investments should be avoided at all cost.
It is not enough to simply expect our politicians to act, everyone from investors and unions, to CEOs, churches, and individuals must take this opportunity to become drivers of change. As individuals and businesses, we can and must take advantage of the rapidly decreasing costs of renewable energy to take control of our own energy production, while making sure that authorities do not try to stop this transformation to a clean energy future.
So on Wednesday – what are you voting for?