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There is quite a hullabaloo in the country following a sizable cull of government ministers and deputy ministers. Today is #BlackMonday, and demonstrations are planned for Friday and beyond. Even Angus Buchan, a farmer-evangelist known and respected in agricultural circles, is uncharacteristically responding to the socio-political toxicity of the moment under the banner It’s Time

As serious as this all may be, it has allowed an event of equally (or more) insidious character to slip past under the radar, an announcement by Mineral Resources Minister Zwane of government’s intention to proceed with shale gas exploration in the Karoo.  

Frackers were turned back at the gates following determined and effective opposition from farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, and have faced enormous resistance in the KZN Midlands as well as in the Karoo. After Zwane’s announcement, frackers everywhere will be much emboldened.  

The irony is that President Jacob Zuma, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Heads of State Committee on the United Nations (UN) High Level Panel on Water, officially opened the United Nations (UN) World Water Day Summit and Expo in Durban last week. The summit was held under the theme “Water and Sanitation is a human right”. 

Watch the documentary Unearthed by farm girl Jolynn Minnaar which exposes the false assurances by multinationals that fracking is a safe technology as she travels among American communities who have (multinational-donated and very necessary) water carts behind their houses and a visible reluctance to speak about it. (Oh, don’t hold a naked flame any where near the taps in their houses!)  If the first-world Americans can’t help slipping up here and there, what chance South Africa? Find out about what happened to farms and wetlands in Mpumalanga and the North-West when Zwane’s other club, the mines, moved into the neighbourhood. 

Politicians come and go, some with fanfare, some with relief. The potential destruction of an entire region’s water resources will leave a legacy longer than any politician’s and render vast swathes of rural territory a wasteland, sans (drinkable) water, sanshumans, sans wildlife.  This is as deserving, if not more so, than any #BlackMonday tag.

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