Cablegate: South African Environment, Science, and Technology Monthly

DE RUEHSA #2453/01 3350649
R 010649Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (U) Summary: This is the South African Environment, Science and
Technology Monthly Briefings Newsletter, October 2009, Volume 4,
Number 10, prepared by the U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa.

Topics of the newsletter:

-- Super-Thin Film Solar Panels Readied for Production in South

-- BUSA Calls for Balanced Outcome at the December Climate Change

-- Fallow Deer and Rabbit Culling Underway on Robin Island

-- SANParks to Team Up with the Military against Poachers

-- Blue Flag Beaches on the Rise in South Africa

-- South Africa and Zimbabwe Partner to Clean Up Borders

-- SA Opposition Party Warns of Hazardous Waste Threat

-- Air Pollution Costs South Africa Billions in Healthcare


Super-Thin Film Solar Panels Readied for
Production in South Africa

1. (U) A public-private partnership (PPP) between the Central Energy
Fund, the National Empowerment Fund, and private investors such as
petrochemicals giant Sasol and the University of Johannesburg (UJ)
has been set up to commercialize super-thin film solar technology in
South Africa. The Thin Film Solar Technology (TFST) partnership
plans to build a facility that will produce thin-film solar modules.
The European Investment Bank agreed to invest 40 million ($59
million) in the South African plant, which will be located in the
Western Cape. TFST was researched and developed in South Africa,
patented in 2003, and further developed at UJ from 2004 to 2006. The
energy pay-back for TFST is two to three years, compared with about
seven years for crystalline photo-voltaic panels.

BUSA Calls for a Balanced Outcome at the
December Climate Change Conference

2. (U) Business Unity of South Africa (BUSA), which represents a
large segment of the business sector in the country, has joined in
the call for a balanced outcome at the climate change conference in
Copenhagen, in December. For BUSA, a balanced outcome will recognize
both the development challenges faced by developing countries and
the positive role that business can play in creating a sustainable
agreement that will be more successful than the Kyoto Protocol has
been. BUSA maintains that a successful agreement has to be built on
the principle that climate change is a fundamental issue that would
have a major impact on society, especially in the developing
countries. National studies have shown that climate change would
impact negatively on agriculture, biodiversity, health and water
supply in South Africa. According to BUSA, climate change needs to
be addressed in an integrated manner, encompassing key issues in
society such as economic development to alleviate poverty, energy
security and affordable access to energy, job creation and the
protection of biodiversity. The international community needs to
take urgent action on this matter, and business as usual is no
longer an option according to the organization. Business must also
commit to a low carbon emission growth path.

Fallow Deer and Rabbit Culling Underway on
Robin Island

3. (U) The Robin Island culling project to control exploding rabbit
Q3. (U) The Robin Island culling project to control exploding rabbit
and fallow deer populations is underway, the Island's Heritage
Museum manager James Makila announced in October. He said over 1,600
rabbits and 174 fallow deer have been culled in the last three weeks
of October. Makila said the culling is being carried out by a team
of experienced professionals who only operate when no tourists are
present. The carcasses of the rabbits are buried on the island,
while deer are shipped to the mainland by a private company that
uses the meat. Robin Island's environmentalists blamed the rabbit

PRETORIA 00002453 002.2 OF 003

and deer for having eaten most of the island's edible vegetation,
including stinging nettle.

4. (U) The rabbits, estimated at over 25,000, were introduced to the
island by early sailors as a source of meat. The deer, which number
more than 500, were brought in from Europe in the 20th century.
Cats were initially on the culling list, but they will instead be
trapped and shipped to the mainland. Cats have been blamed for
eating penguin chicks, the swift tern, Hartlaub's gull and the
highly endangered bank cormorant. The activist group, Animal Rights
Africa raised concern and outrage at what they called an
"illegitimate" killing of animals. They accused the island
authorities of violating the Animals Protection Act and appealed to
the public to help them institute legal proceedings against the
authorities. Meanwhile Makola stated that they were acting on the
advice of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and
Cape Nature. He also added that culling was the best option given
the conditions and challenges faced by the island.

--------------------------------------------- --------
SANParks to Team Up with the Military Against Poachers
--------------------------------------------- --------

5. (U) South African National Parks (SANParks) Executive Director
David Mabunda has announced that the Kruger National Park (KNP) was
planning to use military patrols to intensify the fight against
poaching in the park. Mabunda, who was speaking at the pass-out
parade of 57 new field rangers in Skukuza inside the KNP, stated
that poachers have killed 94 rhinos around the country this year. He
said 38 rhinos were lost in the KNP, 21 in Kwa-Zulu Natal, 10 in the
North West, nine in Limpopo, seven in Gauteng, five in Mpumalanga
and four in the Eastern Cape provinces. Mabunda said the rangers
would work with law enforcement agencies to combat poaching, and he
was already engaged in advanced discussions with the military
authorities in that regard. According to Mabunda, SANParks has also
been involved in cross-border patrol operations with the South
African Police Services and Mozambican counterparts, which have
yielded significant progress. He added that the SANParks rangers
have arrested 22 poachers this year. Mabunda noted that his
organization has invested R5.2 million ($690,000) for fighting
poaching. The money was used to acquire bicycles, motorbikes, and a
bantam aircraft for aerial patrols as well as high technology night
vision equipment.

Blue Flag Beaches on the Rise in South Africa

6. (U) The Minister of Tourism Marthinus Van Schalkwyk announced
that 29 South African Beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag status
this year. He noted that this was ten more beaches than last year,
an important achievement for the country. The Blue Flag is awarded
to beaches that have achieved the highest quality standards in
water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management.
Van Schalkwyk, who is also a former Minister of Environmental
Affairs, said that the Blue Flag Beaches increased South Africa's
desirability and reputation as a world class destination, which also
demonstrated the country's commitment to taking care of the
environment. South Africa and Morocco are the only African countries
Qenvironment. South Africa and Morocco are the only African countries
that participate in this international awarding scheme, which acts
as guarantee to tourists that a beach they are visiting is one of
the best in the world and is internationally certified. South Africa
has been participating in the Blue Flag Awards program since 2001
and the number of beaches awarded the status is consistently on the

South Africa and Zimbabwe Partner
to Clean Up Borders

7. (U)In an effort to heighten awareness of the need for
environmental conservation among communities residing on the borders
of South Africa and Zimbabwe, the South African Deputy Minister of
Water and Environmental Affairs Joyce Mabudafhasi, and the
Zimbabwean Environmental Minister Francis Nhema launched a Clean-Up
Campaign on the Beit Bridge border post. Mabudafhasi said the
initiative would also be used to highlight other critical
environmental issues such as climate change, air quality and the
need for the continent to forge strong links on matters pertaining
to sustainable development. The Deputy Minister said similar
initiatives would be rolled out to other countries bordering South
Africa such as Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. She
stated that it was important for the continent to speak with one

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voice at the forthcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen,
because Africa would bear the brunt of climate change.

--------------------------------------------- ------
SA Opposition Party Warns of Hazardous Waste Threat
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. Only three out of nine provinces of South Africa have structured
plans to deal with hazardous waste according to the Minister of the
Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA), Buyelwa
Sonjica. The Minister made the statement in a written reply to a
parliamentary question. She noted that the provinces of Gauteng,
North West and Western Cape have developed hazardous waste plans.
However, Sonjica also noted that provincial hazardous waste plans
were yet to be submitted to and assessed by DWEA as this was not
obligatory according to the law. A clause from the National
Environmental Management Act stipulated that the provinces could
develop such plans "should they elect to do so". Annette Lovemore,
the environmental affairs spokesperson of the opposition party
Democratic Alliance (DA), stated that this was a "dangerous lack of
oversight and control" in the management of hazardous waste in South
Africa. She said the waste included infectious, carcinogenic, toxic,
explosive and radioactive substances which pose a grave threat to
the environment and human health. Lovemore noted that a 1999 State
of the Environment Report indicated that only five percent of the
five million cubic meters of hazardous waste generated yearly
reached hazardous waste disposal facilities. Lovemore emphasized
that her party would pursue the matter.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Air Pollution Costs South Africa Billions in Healthcare
--------------------------------------------- ----------

9. Chief Director for Air Quality Management in the Department of
Environmental Affairs (DEA) Peter Lukey stated that healthcare costs
resulting from air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels in
South Africa has amounted to R4 billion ($555 million). Peter Lukey
told attendees at an Air Quality Governance Lekgotla (public
gathering) that poor people were disproportionally affected by air
pollution because they use coal fire for cooking and heating, and
also lived in poorly ventilated areas. He attributed the poor
communities' costly health situation to the policies of apartheid
noting that poor people were often allocated living areas downwind
from industrial plants as no one wanted to live there. Lukey said,
"The poor carry a double burden because firstly, they are poor and
secondly, they are sick." Meanwhile in the same meeting, the Deputy
Minister of DEA Mrs. Rejoice Mabudafhasi launched the first South
African State of the Air Report. The report provides a detailed and
in-depth analysis of air quality in South Africa, and provides also
a baseline on the levels of air pollution in the country. Some of
the information contained in the report includes human health
impacts related to inhalation of household coal and wood fire
emissions and related direct health spending. Air quality in South
Africa is regulated by the National Environmental Management Act:
Air Quality Act 39 of 2004.


In 1991 South Africa became the first country in the world to
protect the great white shark.
Qprotect the great white shark.


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