Over the last 2 months, we have embarked on an outreach program to raise awareness about Fracking in the Free state province and Kwazulu Natal. This was in an effort to gauge the knowledge and interest of community members in areas where fracking is in the pipeline. We started in the Free State in a small town of Lindley in late August. The response from the community after the fracking presentation was read to them due to a power outage was great to say the least, we learnt that this town boast a lot of small scale farmers who have heard about fracking.
The community members and small scale farmers agreed that something needed to be done about fracking especially considering the impacts of mining in Welkom which is about an hour out from Lindley. The community raised the Welkom issue as a sore point considering how Welkom was a beautiful city until the mining happened and now it is worse than Lindley. The community members agreed that another bigger meeting was needed where big scale farmers and the youth who would be promised jobs because of fracking would also be invited to be made aware of the impending dangers of fracking. The community of Lindley decided to organise their own network in the town which would be working very closely with BUM (Botshabelo Unemployment Movement) as part of the campaign against fracking in the area. The next steps would be to organise reading materials in Sotho, English and Afrikaans for the people of Lindley and a meeting would be held where all these would be unveiled. The community members had no illusions about the difficulties they could face during this period and vowed that as long as they have the support of BUM and 350.org they would be okay doing the work in their town which is very farming intensive.
The workshop in Harrismith also took a similar approach however the difference here would be that the community of Harrismith’s Indazwe also mentioned that they had heard about the Fracking however they also have not been part of the meetings. They mentioned that people were promised jobs and there was an air of excitement due to the unemployment rate in the town but they had no idea how fracking would affect them in the future. The takeaway from this workshop is also positive in that now the community knows about Fracking and are eager to join BUM and Lindley on the Fracking campaign, next steps is organising a community network to start the work on the request of BUM.
Motsi Khokhoma, Botshabelo Unemployment Movement