News

A sad farewell to Thabang Ngcozela

All of us at Environmental Monitoring Group, and the wider EMG family, are deeply

saddened at the passing of our dear and esteemed colleague, Thabang Ngcozela.

 Thabang has been an inspiring and deeply respected leader in South Africa’s

environmental justice movement for the past 25 years. He has contributed with

committed, strategic leadership to the many networks he has been a part of, and his

 passionate, politically rigorous, collaborative way of working has brought strength

and integrity to the collective struggle for environmental justice.

Born in the Eastern Cape, Thabang moved to Cape Town in the early 1990’s. He

was a co-founder of Ilitha Lomso and worked there as a youth educator, and through

this work came into contact with the environmental justice movement. He became

the Western Cape coordinator of the Environmental Justice Networking Forum in

around 2001, before joining EMG in 2005. He was a highly skilled network builder,

community development facilitator and organiser around a wide range of

environmental justice issues. Thabang was a founding member of the South African

Water Caucus (SAWC). In recent years he has become a facilitator of ABCD (asset-

based community development) and EDE (Ecovillage Design and Education), and

was inspired to share this approach with his community. Thabang said “As I was

born in the rural Eastern Cape, one of my interests has been to contribute in some

way to the place of my birth. My history of community activism during the apartheid

era further deepened my need to make more of a contribution. When I started

working at EMG, I saw the opportunity to take the work of the organisation back to

 my home”.

Thabang was an integral member of EMG’s water and climate change team. He

 cared passionately about his work and helped build a practice of appreciative

enquiry with his colleagues. Thabang always encouraged us to articulate what

we were grateful for in each other. There are many things we, as colleagues, are

grateful for in Thabang, including his incredible political acumen, his insight into

social processes and his generosity of spirit. We also never (or seldom!) grew tired

of his storytelling and ice-breakers, in particular the story featuring a donkey...

Thabang mentored dozens of young activists, through reading groups, study circles,

drawing them into the networks, finding (or creating) internship opportunities, and

pushing them to find their voice, their confidence and their strength. He was an

extraordinary builder of organisations, and a committed socialist. He was also

curious, open hearted and always integrating new ideas and approaches into his

work

He moved back to his home village of Ngqwele in 2015, where he has dedicated

himself to implementing community led eco-village design, which he framed as

healing nature and healing ourselves. Speaking about this work, in villages of the

former Ciskei scarred by violence in the dying days of apartheid:

“There is personal healing that people have to go through, there is community

healing that needs to happen, and the relationship between people and the land

needs to heal. Talking to one another is the first step, but doing things for one

another that show our caring also helps”.

Thabang leaves behind a broad community of people who had the privilege of

working alongside him through the course of his life. We will all miss him

enormously.

Lala ngoxolo Comrade Thabang.

Thabang will be laid to rest on Saturday the 18th of May in Ngqwele, Eastern Cape.

EMG is currently recruiting for a new Executive Director. If you think that you might be a good fit, please apply. And if you know someone who you believe would be well suited to the organisation and the task, please share this with them.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

EMG is an equal opportunity employer committed to building a diverse staff profile that reflects the diversity of our country. We are looking for an experienced young and dynamic Executive Director with adequate experience to assume leadership of the organisation. This is a full-time position, based in our Observatory, Cape Town office to start in August 2019 or sooner.

Deadline - noon, Monday 27th May 2019

To apply, please email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the following: 
1. A motivation letter addressed to the Chair, EMG Board of Trustees
2. A short CV (max 4 pages)
3. An indication of your expected salary

Please note:
* Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted
* Shortlisted candidates will be required to provide at least 3 contactable referees
* EMG reserves the right to not make an appointment or to withdraw this call for whatever reason

Key Performance Areas

Liaison with Board

The Director is an ex officio trustee of EMG Trust, delegated by the Board to oversee the day-to-day running of the organization. Responsibilities with respect to the Board include:

  • Organising quarterly Board meetings and agenda
  • Presenting quarterly progress and finance reports
  • Regular liaison with Board members on appropriate issues
  • Ensuring staff are appropriately informed of relevant Board decisions
  • Ensuring records of Board of Trustees meetings are kept

Financial Viability

EMG is dependent on grants from a range of local and international donor foundations. The Director is ultimately responsible for the long-term financial viability of the organisation, which includes:

  • Ensuring a healthy relationships with existing donors and that contractual obligations are met
  • Developing contacts and relationships with potential funders
  • Co-ordinating fundraising efforts and ensuring that new funding proposals align with EMG’s strategic objectives, and are practically and financially feasible
  • Authorising grant contracts

Financial Controls

The Director is responsible for ensuring that funds are spent wisely, efficiently and effectively; and that adequate controls exist to prevent fraud and wasteful expenditure. Together with the Finance Manager, responsibilities include:

  • Authorizing financial transactions
  • Ensuring that transactions are properly accounted for and that financial recording is transparent
  • Ensuring expenditure is regularly monitored against budgets and instituting remedial steps if necessary
  • Ensuring annual audits are conducted and other donor-specific audit requirements are met
  • Authorise contracts with service providers

Human Resource Management

The Director carries the overall responsibility for the productivity of staff; and ensuring that they have the capacity to meet agreed deliverables and are legitimately employed. Responsibilities include:

  • Approving and confirming new appointments or changes in job descriptions
  • Ensuring annual performance assessments and addressing performance issues
  • Ensuring an appropriate salary setting mechanism and approving changes to salaries

Project Management

The Director takes overall responsibility for EMG meeting its objectives and commitments to donors and stakeholders, as delegated to Project Managers and other staff. Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that projects are properly planned and budgeted for, that contractual commitments are met, and that activities conform to EMG’s values and policies.
  • Providing strategic input to Project Managers in their work
  • Ensuring that project progress is regularly assessed, lessons learned, and remedial steps implemented if necessary

Organisational Planning and Learning

The Director is responsible ensuring that long- and medium-term organisational strategic plans are developed and implemented. Responsibilities include:

  • Developing strategic plans in collaboration with staff, trustees and other stakeholders
  • Ensuring that long- and medium-term plans are integrated into the annual activity plans and are budgeted for
  • Ensuring that specific project plans are aligned with long and medium-term plans
  • Ensuring appropriate internal processes exist for monitoring progress against strategic plans, organisational learning and strategic feedback

Organisational profile and public relations

The Director is responsible ensuring that EMG’s public profile reinforces our impact and credibility in the sector and supports fundraising efforts. Responsibilities include:

  • Ensure that EMG has an appropriate communications strategy
  • Checking and approving publications (including brochures, reports, website, media releases, etc.)
  • Ensure the production of organisational reports suitable for distribution to supporters, funders, project partners, etc.

Minimum requirements

  • More than 5 years senior management experience in the NGO sector
  • Post-graduate degree in a science, social science or related field, OR equivalent experience
  • Proven track-record of good all-round leadership
  • A passion for environmental and social justice
  • A thorough understanding of SA's socio-environmental context and environmental policy and the role and challenges of civil society
  • Financial management skills
  • Effective fundraiser with sound knowledge of the national and international donor environment who will be able to attract donor support for achieving EMG's vision and mission
  • A good understanding of action learning and action research methodologies and processes

Essential skills

  • Organisation and project management (planning, monitoring budgets, M&E, reporting, etc.)
  • Sound people management and staff development competencies
  • Ability to think strategically and to engage colleagues and partners in strategic planning processes
  • Ability to remain focused whilst taking a flexible approach
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Good command of English (with additional local language a distinct advantage)
  • Ability to write (reports, media releases, etc.) and communicate effectively on behalf of the organisation (to the media, government and the public)
  • Good organisational relationship manager with good networks in related sectors
  • Ability to inspire and motivate colleagues towards achieving agreed upon goals
  • Facilitation of planning and reflective processes for teams and groups
  • Able to enhance EMG's visibility and its status

You will have a distinct advantage if you also have a good knowledge of the content and policy issues relating to water services, water resource management, sustainable use of natural resources, rural development and climate change adaptation.

You will be a good fit with the rest of us if you are also

  • a creative and conceptual thinker
  • politically astute but not ideologically dogmatic
  • self-motivated and able to self-manage effectively
  • able to work well in a loosely structured team environment
  • emotionally stable and mature
  • committed to a non-racial and gender-equitable society
  • willing and able to take the organisation and its staff forward in new directions

You should be a South African citizen (or hold a valid work permit), have a valid driver’s license, and be able to travel and work after-hours and on weekends from time-to-time.

Deadline -  noon, Monday 27th May 2019

To apply, please email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the following:
1. A motivation letter addressed to the Chair, EMG Board of Trustees
2. A short CV (max 4 pages)
3. An indication of your expected salary

Please note:
* Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted
* Shortlisted candidates will be required to provide at least 3 contactable referees
* EMG reserves the right to not make an appointment or to withdraw this call for whatever reason

SAWC logo27 July 2018

The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) is a network of more than 20 community-based organisations and non-government organisations active in promoting the wise, equitable and just use, protection and provision of water.

The SAWC fully endorses the legal challenges launched by the coalition of civil society organisations to set aside the approvals for the large coal mine proposed by Atha-Africa Ventures Pty Ltd outside Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga.

The coal mine would be situated inside a Strategic Water Source Area, a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area and a declared protected area. This area is important to the water security of the region and the country, as well as for South Africa's obligations to its neighbouring countries. The mine would pollute this important area for decades to come, long after this mining company has come and gone. The approvals given for this mine appears to be the result of political expediency, and not in the interest of the long-term protection of water resources.

As the SAWC, we know that water is essential for economic development, and for shifting people out of poverty. Sacrificing a strategic water resource and saddling local communities and the state with the costs of dewatering and water pollution in the interest of one mining company, are not in the interest of economic transformation.

The SAWC also condemns the threats to and attacks by Atha-Africa and associated individuals against the civil society organisations who are exercising their Constitutional rights to speak freely, to criticise, and to use their rights under national laws to challenge a proposed coal mine. Those who disagree with the legal challenges have their own legal remedies under the law, and they should make use of those remedies. For these reasons, we regard the attacks on our fellow civil society organisations as an attack on democracy, and we will vigorously oppose such conduct.

 For more information about this case, read CER's fact sheet here: https://cer.org.za/news/new-fact-sheet-proposed-mpumalanga-coal-mine-who-benefits-and-at-what-cost

Read the GroundUp /  Daily Maverick coverage of the case here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-07-24-coal-mine-opponents-targeted-on-social-media/

SAWC logoThe South African Water Caucus (SAWC) has written to the Honourable Minister of Water and Sanitation to present a set of far-reaching recommendations which, if accepted, would significantly improve water governance in SA. This follows the November 2017 publication of the SAWC’s damning “State of the DWS” report, which paints a bleak picture for water security in SAIn its letter, SAWC also requests a meeting with the Ministry and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as well as ongoing, long term dialogue to support what it considers one of government’s most critical portfolios. 

Download the letter here.

Due to our long-standing involvement in the water sector; our ongoing engagement with senior officials and regional managers in DWS; and our knowledge and experience with local, community water-related challenges, we believe we are able to play a meaningful role in addressing challenges in the water sector. In this regard, we outline critical actions and steps that are urgently needed and request that the Ministry and DWS prioritise and proactively realise these actions. These include the following.

  • Catchment Management Agencies: Hasten the establishment of remaining seven CMAs and reinvigorate capacity-building in CMAs to ensure that they are fully functional as soon as possible.
  • Water Tribunal: Ensure the Water Tribunal is properly resourced and supported; to ensure it functions in a manner that is accessible and cost effective for communities and civil society organisations and in accordance with the principles of the National Water Act.
  • Compliance monitoring and enforcement: Prioritise and allocate appropriate resources, including funding, staff and training for compliance and enforcement capacity.
  • Strategic Water Sources Areas: Prioritise the legal protection of our Strategic Water Source Areas, in collaboration with other departments, and allocate appropriate financial and human resources to ensure the effective management, protection and restoration of these areas.
  • Green Drop-Blue Drop Reports: Recommit to and prioritise the effective functioning of the Blue Drop-Green Drop reporting system and establish structures to undertake effective remedial action in response to the findings of Blue Drop-Green Drop reports.
  • Remediation of dysfunctional wastewater treatment works: Develop an urgent plan, with appropriate funding and resources, to address wastewater treatment works in condition of ‘critical risk’.
  • Treatment of acid-mine drainage: Develop an urgent plan to regulate and manage treatment of acid-mine drainage.
  • Upliftment of automatic suspensions: Review all decisions made by the previous Minister to uplift suspensions made in terms of section 148(2)(b) of the National Water Act and develop and adopt guidelines for the future exercise of this discretionary power.

The Ministry and Department of Water and Sanitation’s work is central to South Africa’s water security, development, dignity and well-being. SAWC acknowledges the enormity of the important task before the Minister. We also know that the Minister has inherited a department in a state of institutional crisis; with severely deteriorating water infrastructure; at a time when our water security is under considerable threat. We are in a strong position to play a constructive role in responding to these challenges and look forward to a favourable response in relation to engagement with the Minister and Department.

In December 2017, staff from EMG met with sailors and support staff of the one of the yachts participating in the Volvo around-the-world yacht race -- Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

The Volvo Ocean Race included a stop-over in Cape Town and we had the priviledge of spending the day introducing them team to some of the commuity groups we work with, and sharing with them aspects of our work and our concerns about water management and distribution in the face of drought and climate change.

Artist ND Mazin a.k.a. Andy Mason accompanied us and subsequently produced these 4 brilliant posters. Feel free to download the hi-res printable PDFs by clicking on the thumbnails below (approx 5Meg each). 

 

TCommunity Food Garden thumbhe Makhaza Food Growers Association in Khayelkitsha, with support from EMG, helps their members with permaculture training, access to seeds and gardening tools, and access to water and land. They are also active in raising awareness in their community about the importance of using water carefully and conserving the local wetland.










Khayelitsha Canoe Club thumbMembers of the Khayelitsha Canoe Club volunteer to teach young kids about boats and safety on the water. They have an obvious interest in ensuring that the Makhaza wetland is maintained and conserved, and are active in river clean-up campaigns and lobbying the City to ensure that waters flowing into the wetland are not polluted by upstream industry. The resonance between the Canoe Club's local concerns and the ocean pollution concerns of Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing were obvious.  








 Table mountain graffitti thumbOur tour included a short walk up the lower slopes of Table Mountain to one of the many mountain streams that once supplied early Cape Town with drinking water. Our resident artist ND Mazin could not resist imagining the imposing face of Table Mountain as a giant graffitti wall...










Two gardens thumbHaving started our tour at a "guerilla garden" in Khayelitsha, we decided to end the tour at the Oranjezicht City Farm, a community garden initiative with very similar aims, but in a very different part of town.











SAWC logo27 November 2017

The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) today launched a report which exposes the dysfunction and institutional paralysis in the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The report is almost entirely based on publicly accessible information including Parliamentary Questions and Answers, Portfolio Committee meeting reports, information from access to information (PAIA) requests and media articles. However, importantly, it presents it in a single document which paints a particularly bleak picture for SA’s water institutions and hence water security.

The report reveals deeply concerning institutional and governance challenges in the DWS. It lays bare a situation of institutional paralysis within the department and associated deterioration in financial management, service delivery, policy coherence and performance. In brief, the central challenges facing the department, outlined in the report, relate to the following:

o Considerable human resource and organisational challenges including the suspension of senior managers, high staff turnover and vacancy rates and intensified capacity constraints;

o Serious financial mismanagement related to over-expenditure, accruals and failure to pay contractors and corresponding escalation of debt, overdraft of the Water Trading Entity and debt owed to the Reserve Bank, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, poor revenue collection and corruption allegations;

o Considerable policy and legislative uncertainty related to inter alia the proposed Water Master Plan, proposed Water and Sanitation Bill and the proposed National Water Resources and Services and Sanitation Strategy;

o Highly worrying steps to undermine or destroy established water institutions, including plans to consolidate nine catchment management agencies into a single national agency and plans to discontinue key statutory bodies like the Water Tribunal and Water Boards;

o Failure to publish Blue Drop (water quality) and Green Drop (waste water treatment) reports since 2013. The Blue Drop-Green Drop reports are arguably the only comprehensive assessments available to the public and water service authorities on whether water and wastewater treatment plants are functioning and complying with water quality standards. The absence of such assessments has considerable implications for management, operation, risk mitigation, remedial action and refurbishment plans related to treatment plants - and hence water safety and water quality;

o Deterioration in wastewater treatment works and infrastructure due to lack of maintenance and investment, with initial findings of the 2014 Green Drop report indicating that 212 waste water treatment plants fall within a “Critical Risk” categorisation. These plants pose serious risks of completely untreated sewage entering rivers, streams and dams. This has dire impacts on water quality and human health including enhancing the spread of diseases such as e-coli, hepatitis A and diarrhoea;

o Significant deficiencies in compliance monitoring and enforcement. Notably, DWS only has 35 compliance and enforcement officials for the whole country, and has never published a specific water compliance and enforcement report. The 2016/17 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement report highlights that DWS has completely failed to undertake meaningful enforcement action against offenders. In 2017/2017, of 321 facilities inspected, 76 of which were found to require enforcement action, DWS has had zero (0) convictions for criminal offences. Despite widespread non-compliance, DWS has only suspended one water use licence since 1 January 2008.

The SAWC intends presenting the report to the Portfolio Committee on Water & Sanitation this week. The report can be downloaded here.

The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) is network of more than 20 community-based organisations, non-government organisations and trade-unions active in promoting the wise, equitable and just use, protection and provision of water. It was formed in the lead up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. At its most recent Biennial General Meeting (BGM), SAWC urgently convened a task team to respond to the state of the water sector in general and the institutional and governance challenges in DWS in particular. In response, the task team seeks to build a broader coalition of support to respond to these challenges, engage with decision-makers and portfolio committee members, raise awareness of the state of the water sector and water institutions and, if necessary, institute legal action.

 

As a first step, SAWC recently addressed a letter to the Minister to strongly object to the decision to consolidate the established and planned CMAs into a single national agency. The letter highlighted that this decision “would fly in face of existing national water policy that provide for the decentralisation of and public participation in water governance” and hence called for the Minister to “keep the nine CMAs intact”. SAWC has received no response to this call.

 

For comment on the State of the Department of Water and Sanitation report, please contact:

  •   Samson Mokoena, Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 016 933 9079 / 084 291 8510

  •   Mariette Liefferink, Federation for a Sustainable Environment, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ) 011 465 6910 / 073 231 4893

  •   Thabo Lusithi, Environmental Monitoring Group, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 021 448 2881

  •   Saul Roux, Centre for Environmental Rights, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 021 447 1647 / 082 777 9904

  •   Bryan Ashe, KZN Water Caucus, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 031 261 6524 / 082 652 1533

  •   December Ndhlovu, Environmental Monitoring Group, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 082 601 3664

Quiz your Councillor SThe local government elections have come and gone.

Your municipal or metro council has the serious task of managing service provision

How well they pay attention to the environmental justice issues that affect you and your community will depend, in part, on your active participation as a citizen.

What is the role of local authorities
when it comes to decisions that impact on your environment?

false solutions cover"Energy for Sustainable Development - How false solutions to climate change undermine equity, energy security and poverty reduction" (3.7MB)

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has just published this new report highlighting the dangers of responding to climate change with "false solutions". The report is a collaborative effort with input from a range of individuals and organisations from Africa, latin America and Asia, including EMG.

Subcategories

A sad farewell to Thabang Ngcozela

All of us at Environmental Monitoring Group, and the wider EMG family, are deeply

saddened at the passing of our dear and esteemed colleague, Thabang Ngcozela.

 Thabang has been an inspiring and deeply respected leader in South Africa’s

environmental justice movement for the past 25 years. He has contributed with

committed, strategic leadership to the many networks he has been a part of, and his

 passionate, politically rigorous, collaborative way of working has brought strength

and integrity to the collective struggle for environmental justice.

Born in the Eastern Cape, Thabang moved to Cape Town in the early 1990’s. He

was a co-founder of Ilitha Lomso and worked there as a youth educator, and through

this work came into contact with the environmental justice movement. He became

the Western Cape coordinator of the Environmental Justice Networking Forum in

around 2001, before joining EMG in 2005. He was a highly skilled network builder,

community development facilitator and organiser around a wide range of

environmental justice issues. Thabang was a founding member of the South African

Water Caucus (SAWC). In recent years he has become a facilitator of ABCD (asset-

based community development) and EDE (Ecovillage Design and Education), and

was inspired to share this approach with his community. Thabang said “As I was

born in the rural Eastern Cape, one of my interests has been to contribute in some

way to the place of my birth. My history of community activism during the apartheid

era further deepened my need to make more of a contribution. When I started

working at EMG, I saw the opportunity to take the work of the organisation back to

 my home”.

Thabang was an integral member of EMG’s water and climate change team. He

 cared passionately about his work and helped build a practice of appreciative

enquiry with his colleagues. Thabang always encouraged us to articulate what

we were grateful for in each other. There are many things we, as colleagues, are

grateful for in Thabang, including his incredible political acumen, his insight into

social processes and his generosity of spirit. We also never (or seldom!) grew tired

of his storytelling and ice-breakers, in particular the story featuring a donkey...

Thabang mentored dozens of young activists, through reading groups, study circles,

drawing them into the networks, finding (or creating) internship opportunities, and

pushing them to find their voice, their confidence and their strength. He was an

extraordinary builder of organisations, and a committed socialist. He was also

curious, open hearted and always integrating new ideas and approaches into his

work

He moved back to his home village of Ngqwele in 2015, where he has dedicated

himself to implementing community led eco-village design, which he framed as

healing nature and healing ourselves. Speaking about this work, in villages of the

former Ciskei scarred by violence in the dying days of apartheid:

“There is personal healing that people have to go through, there is community

healing that needs to happen, and the relationship between people and the land

needs to heal. Talking to one another is the first step, but doing things for one

another that show our caring also helps”.

Thabang leaves behind a broad community of people who had the privilege of

working alongside him through the course of his life. We will all miss him

enormously.

Lala ngoxolo Comrade Thabang.

Thabang will be laid to rest on Saturday the 18th of May in Ngqwele, Eastern Cape.

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