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Earthlife Africa

Earthlife Africa is a South African environmental and anti-nuclear organization founded in August 1988, in Johannesburg . Initially conceived of a South African version of Greenpeace , the group began by playing a radical, anti- apartheid , activist role. ELA is arguably more of a reformist lobby or pressure group. Earthlife Africa has been criticized for being a key voice in the emerging environmental justicemovement, and by others for “working with traditional conservation movements” in furthering the environmental struggle.

The Earthlife Africa was formed at the first national conference at Dal Josophat , near Paarl (outside Cape Town ) during 1989. Earthlife Africa was chosen as a conscious attempt to avoid the two factions in GreenPeace who were vying for control of the organization. ELA therefore took a different approach to the environmental struggle.

The ELA constitution was initially loosely based on the Four Pillars of the Green Party and other movement documents. In attendance at this historical inauguration of South Africa ‘s Green Movement were various members of related environmental organizations and ecology groups including:

  • Peter Lukey
  • Chris Albertyn
  • Mike Kantey
  • Elfrieda Strauss
  • David Robert Lewis
  • Rachel Brown

According to Jacklyn Cock, “the concept of environmental justice was first introduced in South Africa at the Earthlife 1992 conference.” Environmental Justice Network Forum (EJNF) [1]More accurate, it was the Environmental Justice Network Forum (EJNF) which was initiated at the 1992 conference hosted by Earthlife Africa on the theme “What does it mean to be green in South Africa.” At this conference 325 civil society delegates resolved to redefine the environmental agenda in South Africa and to move beyond the loose anarchist constitution which had bounded members with ‘values’ as opposed to ‘rights’. The South African National Conference on Environment and Development had already been set the agenda of the green movement in 1991 and thus the 1992 ELA conference was merely a sequel and precursor of later development within the wider movement.

The exposure of pollution by Thor Chemicals, a company which has been imported into South Africa, by Earthlife and EJNF working closely with the Legal Resources Center, Chemical Workers Industrial Union, affected workers and local communities. framing and ‘browning’ of environmentalism in South Africa. [2]

Earthlife launched the People’s Environmental Center, the Greenhouse in 2002.

2007 ELA participates in a portfolio of nuclear industry hearing testimony, delivering submissions and hearing from widows and workers affected by the accident Pelindaba [3]

September 2010, Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan announces the ANC government decision to mothball the PBMR project. The cost to the taxpayer is in the region of between R7bn and R9.5Bn wasted on an unproven technology which could not produce a working reactor after more than 11 years of research. [4]


  • Maya Aberman (Cape Town Branch) 2006
  • Nosiphiwo Msithweni (Cape Town Branch) 2007


NECTEC brochure
  • Apartheid is an Ecology issue
  • Nuclear Energy Costs Earth Campaign (NECTEC)
  • Toxics Campaign relies on the introduction of incinerators, through input into EIAs
  • Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Partnership (SECCP)


  • 1998: picket at Durban harbor against a nuclear waste ship
  • 2008: picket against the arrival of the USS Theodore Roosevelt [5]


  • 1998: campaign against air pollution in Johannesburg, three prominent sculptures were decorated with gas masks. They disseminate information on climate change, genetic engineering and nuclear energy


  • 1991 South African National Conference on Environment and Development
  • 1992 What does it mean to be green in South Africa.

Legal cases

  • 15 September 2003 Earthlife Africa – Cape Town launched a High Court application in Cape Town, seeking environmental impact assessment (EIA) authorization granted to Eskom to build a demonstration module Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) at Koeberg, Cape Town. [6]
  • 2005 Earthlife Africa (Cape Town Branch) Eskom Holdings Ltd , Access to Information [7]
  • Earthlife Africa (Cape Town) v Director General Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (7653/03) [2005] ZAWCHC 7; 2005 (3) SA 156 (C) [2006] 2 All SA 44 (C) (26 January 2005) [8]The Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism Decision, made on 25 June 2003 in 22 (3) of the Environment Conservation Act 73 of 1989, authoring the Eskom Holding’s construction of a modular modular reactor at Koeberg, was reviewed and set aside. The subject matter of the proceedings is as follows: before making a decision anew on Eskom’s application. Both the Director-General and Eskom were jointly and severally responsible for costs, including the costs of two counsel.

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