September 22, 2021

Thousands gather for countrywide actions for a transformed energy department and a just energy future in South Africa

Press release: 22 September 2021

South Africa: On Wednesday, thousands of youth leaders, civil society groups, trade unions, and grassroots movements under the Climate Justice Coalition took part in nationwide actions in South Africa. The actions are part of a campaign dubbed “Uproot the DMRE”, in which similar actions will run until the 27th of September. The actions are aimed at drawing attention to the need for a transformed Department of Mineral Resources and  Energy (DMRE) and concrete plans for a just energy and mining future in South Africa. 

Minister Gwede Mantashe’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has come under fire over the continued support for gas and coal projects in the country, with little consideration for the just transition to renewable energy.

Among the activists’ demands are the removal of Gwede Mantashe as Minister, a rapid, just transition to clean energy in South Africa and the rejection of any new coal, oil and gas projects. A full list of demands and actions planned are available at

Sherlee Odayar of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) said

“The youth of South Africa are tired of decision makers making decisions like investing in fossil fuels that will have catastrophic consequences for us to deal with in the future. We need the DMRE to recognize climate change as an absolute threat to humanity.” 

Mametlwe Sebei President of the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) said, 

“The DMRE is hopelessly beholden to the corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry; it is not capable of leading a just transition towards renewable energy. The continued commitment of this government to a coal, oil and fossil fuel-powered economy is a crime against humanity. In the face of the ecological calamity of climate change and enormous possibilities to create jobs in millions and lift tens of millions of hungry people out of abject poverty and starvation, a just transition is necessary. It, by necessity, has to be a revolutionary, socialist transition, from a corporate dictatorship to a democratic planning and management of the economy, as a whole.

Gabriel Klaasen of the African Climate Alliance said

“Young people, alongside this intergenerational movement, are calling for and demanding the removal of Gwede Mantashe. In the context of our demands, this is crucial to our just and equitable future. There is no negotiating with someone who believes that they are truly the law as it relates to our future, and there is no use working with an unjust system. We need to uproot the DMRE and the only way we can do it is together.” 

Francina Nkosi National Convenor of Women Affected by Mining United in Action said,

“Energy is a women’s issue, we are most affected by mines and power stations that pollute everyday without thinking about our well-being. A Green New Eskom will provide clean energy and save lives, and in order to bring this about, we need the biggest obstacle, the DMRE, to move out of the way.”

Alex Lenferna of said,

“We are sick and tired of Minister Mantashe and the DMRE pushing forward corrupt, polluting and expensive energy and mining projects, like the powerships, fracking, and new coal power. It’s past time we unlocked a just transition to an affordable renewable energy future that works for the many, not just the corrupt few. To get there, though we need to #UprootTheDMRE.”  

South Africa’s use of coal makes it Africa’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and the world’s 12th biggest emitter. Eskom produces almost all the country’s power from 15 coal plants which accounts for up to 40% of S.A’s emissions. As many countries in Africa and across the globe move away from coal, a report by E3G indicates that South Africa is one of only 2 countries in Africa still constructing new coal plants. 

Despite the IPCC and IEA reports that conclude that beyond coal, no new fossil fuel extraction can take place if we plan to stay with Paris Agreement targets, the DMRE refuses to update South Africa’s energy plan. Plans to go ahead with new coal plants or develop a gas market spearheaded by 20 years of polluting powerships, that just had their energy licences approved, mean that South Africa’s desperately needed just transition to renewable energy remains locked in limbo

Communities that could benefit from the closure of coal mines and plants continue to get sick and the millions of unemployed South Africans have no opportunities in what could be a thriving renewable energy sector. There has never been a more urgent call than to uproot an outdated DMRE.


Notes for Editors:

About “Uproot the DMRE” 

Uproot the DMRE is a climate mobilization campaign by The Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) aimed at agitating for a just energy future in South Africa. The coalition consists of trade unions, civil society organisations, grassroots, community-based organisations and NGOs. The campaign is organized in solidarity with the Global Climate Strikes to be held across the globe. The coalition is mobilizing citizens to put pressure on the government to take the climate crisis seriously and accelerate plans for a just transition away from fossil fuels in South Africa. 

See list of more planned actions for Uproot the DMRE here

Uproot the DMRE media pack available here

Photos and videos from the various actions can be accessed here (the folder is updated as the actions take place across the country). All images should be credited to  


For interviews and additional information contact:

Glen Tyler-Davies

Telephone:+27 71 645 7946


Christine Mbithi


Telephone: +254725906695