According to my interpretation of information acquired from officials and influential provincial politicians, it seems that fracking the Karoo maybe a fait accompli. Although the decision to frack maybe a national government prerogative, I am convinced that the provincial government will not object. Already the province has established a research unit led by highly qualified people. I am certain that this research will be used to sugar coat the inevitability of fracking the Karoo.
Over the next few months, Capetonians will be saturated with marketing material and advertorial discussions. The intention would be to convince locals that fracking would produce the cleanest form of energy since electricity. This campaign will include dialogues about the value of regional energy security, the nuclear option, water reduction programs, employment thru local manufacturing and small business development. We will also hear about productive and resource efficient value chains, global positioning and manufacturing through opportunity assessment. The possibility of creating employment, the taxation and other revenue spinoffs will be difficult “carrots” to ignore. That, all this activity will occur in this province with its existing infrastructure will be positioned as a no brainer. Problems that remain include activists who are concerned with the environment and the consequences of fracking on future generations.
As usual, promises will be made to save the underground water. Experts will be brought from overseas institutions to bedazzle locals with chronicles of how fracking will enhance development. In time, with manufactured consent, Capetonians will succumb to the hype, just as locals embraced the narrative that the 2010 World Cup would boost the regional economy. In the meantime, connected political operators will become directors and shareholders within the international consortium that will frack this sensitive eco-system. These few black economic opportunists will add no value to the energy conservation debate. They will however, convince the masses of people that with this new natural wealth, infrastructure such as roads and houses will be built. The impoverished masses will reject the campaigns of environmentalist as the rhetoric of selfish liberals who want to maintain existing poverty. Eventually the Karoo will be fracked. Decades later, like in the rest of Africa and as it is evident at the Lonmin Marikana Mines in Ga-rankuwa, the poor will realize that they continue to exist in miserable poverty.
Once again, what will become apparent is that S-African political and economic leaders are unable and unwilling to learn from history. While S-Africa has the world’s largest deposits of gold, platinum and now possibly natural gas, its children continue to suffer from hunger. After centuries of diamond mining in Kimberly, nothing is left besides a gigantic hole. Kimberly, like many other African cities, reeks of poverty and desperation while those who benefitted from the diamonds and cheap labour are long gone.
Has the history of the “Randlords” taught us nothing, how is fracking the Karoo going to be any different?
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress