Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid are the recipients of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa. The local grassroots activists have been recognised for leading the charge against South Africa’s nuclear deal with Russia, resulting in the High Court in early 2017 ruling the $76bn nuclear power project unconstitutional.
The proposed deal had entailed the development of up to ten nuclear power stations throughout SA.
After learning of the South African-Russian nuclear agreement, Lekalakala and McDaid, together with their colleagues, met to plan their opposition to the deal. Along with their organisations, the two women developed a strategy to challenge the project, as well as former president Jacob Zuma, on the grounds that the agreement had been kept secret and bypassed legal process, without any public consultation or parliamentary debate.
The new SA government, helmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has since made it clear that nuclear plans for the country have been shelved for the moment.
Other 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winners include Francia Márquez for South and Central Amercia, Khanh Nguy Thi for Asia, Manny Calonzo for Islands and Iland Nations,LeeAnne Walters for North America, and Claire Nouvian for Europe.
The Goldman Environmental Prize honours grassroots environmental heroes from all over the world, recognising individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Recipients are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a global group of environmental organisations and individuals.