Cape youth take to the streets on Heritage Day to march for system change.

Written By: Kristen Engel | Multimedia Journalist, Cape Argus

Under the banner of #MarchforSystemChange, youth, civil society and concerned citizens march from Hanover Street to Cape Town Parliament on Heritage Day. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency.

Cape Town – Youth, civil society and citizens took to the streets of Cape Town on Saturday to march for urgent action on the unfolding climate crisis and transformation of the country’s economic and social systems.

The protesters said these matters had led to interlinking crises of income inequality, water and food insecurity, as well as environmental breakdowns.

The Heritage Day protest was organised by the youth-led African Climate Alliance under the banner #MarchforSystemChange.

It was supported by several civil society organisations including Extinction Rebellion Cape Town and the Green Connection and formed part of Cape Town Climate Week, which started last Monday.

Outside Parliament, activist and presenter for the march Zipho Majova said: “For far too long the rights and well-being of people and this planet have been sidelined for the purpose of creating wealth for a select few, and that is the problem.

“Now this has created a system that treats people and our living planet as worthless. This has led to many crises from income inequality to water and food insecurity.”

Young climate activists from the social and environmental justice organisation Project 90 by 2030 shared the harsh realities that people living in under-resourced communities faced every day, including breathing polluted air, having no safe water and sanitation service, and the government’s apparent acceptance of this.

Project 90 by 2030 member Athabile Mvumvu said they had had enough and were pushing for urgent action to ensure water, reliable energy, housing and food access for all.

The march also had speakers and performances by local artists and learners from Mfuleni Technical

Academy and Fairdale High School, which shared their messages for system change through music.

ACA spokesperson Sarah Farrell said: “We are marching because we recognise the system that is failing people is also leading to these environmental breakdowns that we’re seeing, these climate catastrophes that are growing, and how the need for profit over the livelihoods of people and the environment continues to perpetuate.”

The group handed over a memorandum of demands to representatives for Parliament’s Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Some of the demands included the establishment of a permanent Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the Climate and Ecological Crisis, adjustments to the national education curriculum to adequately prepare youth for the realities of the climate crisis, and an end to all public and private capital investment in fossil fuel-intensive industries.

City representative Traverse Le Goff accepted the demands and said: “Local governments and municipalities like the City are on the front line of fighting climate change, we acknowledge this and we know we must do more – we are, and we will.”