From the 17-19 May, the Climate Justice Coalition hosted a national in-person gathering. The Gathering brought members from different provinces to Johannesburg. Here, we had a chance to collaborate and connect.

We had the opportunity to continue to build solidarity across the various challenges our organisations and communities were dealing with. We also had a chance to plot the way forward with the Coalition. From discussing what it means to build People’s Power to considering and deliberating about our working groups and planning our priorities for the future, we took the opportunity to get stuck into it. We were also treated to a theatre workshop and performance from Burning Rebellion where we learned the importance of embodying our message.

We ended off with an activist spokesperson training which some of our members joined to hone their skills in talking to the media.

The overall aim is clear: to strengthen our efforts to build a transformative climate justice agenda which centres social, economic, and environmental justice for all.

On Wednesday, 20 and Thursday, 21 March, the Climate Justice Coalition marched with communities and workers across the Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape, Kwazulu Natal, and Gauteng to assert the right to clean, affordable, and reliable electricity. These actions were prompted by countrywide blackouts which condemned the most vulnerable in our society to untenable conditions where simple aspects of life, such as cooking and commuting, are impossible. We demanded the government’s urgent response to the country’s energy and climate crisis.

The actions were also in protest of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) Draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023 – the government’s draft energy plan. The plan would drastically cut investment in renewable energy and instead lock the country into heavy dependence on more expensive, polluting, and unreliable energy sources, such as coal and fossil gas. The protests demanded a People’s Energy Plan to deliver a rapid and just transition to a more socially-owned, renewable energy-powered future, providing clean, safe, and affordable energy for all.

Renewable energy is proven to be a significantly cleaner, affordable and sustainable alternative. However, due to its upfront costs, only a select few in South Africa can acquire a private supply of renewable alternatives, leaving millions of people in low-income households to experience the hardship of energy apartheid. The People’s Power Human Rights Day actions sought to urge the government to fulfil its constitutional obligation to deliver basic services such as electricity, which must be clean, reliable, and affordable to be accessible to all people and not detrimental to people’s health or the environment.