BY PRIDE MZARABANI
A VEGAN South African environmentalist, Sven Fautley, is cycling 12 000km from Cape Town to El-Sheikh in Egypt to protest over Africa’s natural resource exploitation by foreign industrialists.
Fautley, a volunteer with Greenpeace Africa and Extinction Rebellion since 2019, is cycling the 12 000km journey for COP27, the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in November this year.
Fautley took time to speak to NewsDay at Haka Game Park, where he was camped since arriving in Harare on World Environment Day last week, after covering more than 4 000km through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Multi-national fossil fuel companies are exploiting Africa’s people and natural heritage without prior consultation with local communities. Inhabitants are promised jobs, but few are employed on a permanent basis as most of the skilled workers are imported.”
“After a decade or two of extraction, the resources are depleted and citizens are left with contaminated groundwater and devastating natural ecosystems. Nigeria’s Niger Delta is a depressing example of this,” Fautley said.
Last year, Fautley heard about a Canadian oil and gas company, Recon Africa, which had begun exploration drilling in northern Namibia, with concessions to expand into Botswana, in the catchment area of the environmentally sensitive Okavango Delta River system.
He decided to give up his work and cycled there to get first-hand information on what was going on.
His campaign was titled “Save Our Swamp!” and carried a toy figurine of Shrek as a mascot on the handlebars of his bike.
After handing over his petition, signed by people he met along the way, to the environmental commissioner in Windhoek, he created a new petition, this time to the chief executive of Recon Africa.
Not knowing much about this “swamp” he was trying to “save”, he cycled to Maun in Botswana to do some research.
There he met a local activist, Israel Kazapua, who cycled with him to Shakawe, where he turned back while Faultley continued to Rundu, back in Namibia, to hand his petition at Recon’s head office.
His efforts made national news on the NBC television channel.