Two South African women have won the 2018 Goldman environment prize for stopping a secret, undemocratic, multibillion-dollar nuclear deal.
Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid built a coalition to stop the South African government’s massive secret nuclear deal with Russia, costing $76bn.
The deal would have seen the development of eight to ten nuclear power stations throughout South Africa that would see the production of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy.
Lekalakala, 53, from Soweto is the director for Earthlife Africa, a largely volunteer-driven organization that mobilizes South Africans around environmental issues, while McDaid, 55, from Cape Town is the climate change coordinator for Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).
Earthlife Africa in 2014 got copies of the copy of the secret South African-Russian nuclear agreement and reached out to SAFCEI and the two organisation met to develop a strategy to challenge the project on grounds that it has been kept under wraps and did not go through the legal process.
While the bringing to the fore the environmental impact of the nuclear deal, the two organisations focused on the associated corruption and massive cost of the deal to garner more public attention.
Not only did they go to the grassroots to create awareness of the deal but also McDaid held anti-nuclear vigils in front of the Parliament in Cape Town.
Their fight and mobilisation saw the Western Cape High Court rule against the deal on April 26, 2017, terming it unconstitutional thus saving the country from the expansion o the nuclear industry and radioactive waste production.