[Ela-discuss] [DEBATE] : Re: Sajida Khan, hamba kahle
muna at iafrica.com
Tue Jul 17 08:00:34 BST 2007
we have lost a sister, a stalwart, a spirit that i have known well for over 30 years....
I miss her, but am glad that her suffering is over... please can we choose to live
our lives just a little bit in her memory, so that our consumption of our planets
resources does not lead to more Sajida's?
in loving memory of a woman I loved.....
On 16 Jul 2007 at 9:00, Patrick Bond wrote:
> From 9:30am (sharp) today, leaving from Sajida's house at 191 Clare
> Road in Clare Estate, Durban, her body will go to Sparks Road Mosque.
> Condolences can be sent to Sajida's brother Rafique Khan:
> <rafiquee at telkomsa.net>
> *A death in Durban:*
> *Capitalist patriarchy, global warming gimmickry and our
> responsibility for rubbish*
> *Paying tribute to Sajida Khan (1952-2007), who threatened a
> moneyspinner at the continent's largest rubbish dump -- at the cost of
> her life*
> By Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada
> The satellite picture is Google-Earth's rendition of Africa's biggest
> formal landfill, in the heart of the Clare Estate community of Durban
> (the core city in the eThekwini Municipality), a traditionally
> 'Indian' neighbourhood now also hosting thousands of 'African' and
> 'coloured' residents. If one zooms in, at the bottom left can be found
> a large house owned by the Khan family. Sajida Khan and her siblings
> grew up and some still reside there.
> There are many people around the world who know this house,
> because its location made Khan one of the key figures in the struggle
> against the world capitalist elite's 'solution' to climate change:
> carbon trading. The first paragraphs of a Washington Post article
> heralding the Kyoto Protocol in March, 2005 (just after the Russian
> government agreed to sign, thus bringing the treaty into force) are as
> /Sajida Khan, who has fought for years to close an apartheid-era
> dumpsite that she says has sickened many people in her
> predominantly brown and black community outside Durban, South
> Africa, was dismayed to learn recently that she faces a surprising
> new obstacle: the Kyoto global warming treaty./ / Under the
> protocol's highly touted plan to encourage rich countries to
> invest in eco-friendly projects in poor nations, the site now
> stands to become a cash cow that generates income for South Africa
> while helping a wealthy European nation meet its obligations under
> the pact./ / The project's sponsors at the World Bank call it a
> win-win situation; Khan calls it a disaster. She said her
> community's suffering is being prolonged so that a rich country
> will not have to make difficult cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
> at home./ / 'It is another form of colonialism,' she said./
> Privatising Durban's air*
> Two years later, Khan was battling cancer for the second time,
> suffering chemotherapy that burned out her hair, and simultaneously
> trying to recover from an awful back injury which broke vertebrae.
> Inscribed on her body was evidence of an enduring fight against an
> insensitive industry whose illegal medical waste incinerator had
> sprinkled toxins onto her home until its closure, and whose perfume
> rods today spew a smell just as noxious as the rotting garbage they
> are meant to disguise.
> Even in her last days, Sajida told us, she could not bear the
> thought that for seven to twenty more years, the landfill site would
> remain open. The municipality's justification is to capture carbon
> credits by selling investments in Bisasar operations to global
> polluters, who in turn will face less pressure to cut their own
> This represents the 'privatisation of the air', say critics in
> Durban Group for Climate Justice, an international campaigning network
> which Khan's struggle inspired the founding of in 2004.
> The officials' goal is to sell carbon credits via the World Bank
> big corporations and Northern governments, as part of the Kyoto
> Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Although Khan's 90-page
> Environmental Impact Assessment submission appears to have frightened
> the World Bank off its $15 million Bisasar investment for now, two
> other smaller Durban landfills were adopted by the Bank in mid-2007,
> and eThekwini Municipality officials express every intention of
> continuing the Bisasar project with new private sector partners.
> The South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
> supports this form of carbon colonialism. Its National Climate Change
> Response Strategy was released in September 2004, and insists that
> citizens understand 'up-front' how the 'CDM primarily presents a range
> of commercial opportunities, both big and small. This could be a very
> important source of foreign direct investment'.
> As Daniel Becker of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy
> Program interprets, 'It's sort of the moral equivalent of hiring a
> domestic. We will pay you to clean our mess. For a long time here in
> America we have believed in the polluter pays principle. This could
> become a pay to pollute principle'.
> Payments to South African polluters could be lucrative indeed.
> US is the largest CO2 emitter in absolute terms, but in relative terms
> the South African economy emits 20 times as much of that gas than the
> US, measured by each unit of output per person.
> SA's five-fold increase in CO2 emissions since 1950 can largely
> blamed upon Eskom, the mining houses and metals smelters, who brag
> about the world's cheapest electricity for industrial users. A small
> proportion -- less than 5% of all consumption - is due to low-income
> households coming onto the grid in recent years. In one fell swoop
> last November, Eskom added a potential 3.5% increase in grid demand --
> raising the likelihood of yet more overload and brownouts - by
> offering extremely cheap electricity to the Canadian firm Alcan for
> its Coega smelter, which will hire fewer than 1000 workers.
> Into the debate over post-apartheid climate policy marched Khan,
> an ordinary resident who equipped herself with detailed knowledge of
> chemistry, public health and landfill economics. Khan had organised a
> landfill-closure petition campaign with 6000 signatures as well as a
> mass march during the mid-1990s. Even after the mass mobilising ended,
> for nearly fifteen years she was a pain in the neck to apartheid-era
> and post-apartheid bureaucrats who first located the continent's
> largest formal dump in a residential area and then promised closure to
> reap votes, but subsequently refused its decommissioning.
> As a Muslim woman, Khan waged her campaign at a time, as Ashwin
> Desai puts it, 'when religious gate-keepers were reasserting authority
> over the family. This involved the assertion of male dominance.' She
> resisted, Desai testifies:
> /Sajida Khan was breaking another mould of politics. During
> apartheid, opposition in her community was channelled through the
> male-dominated Natal Indian Congress and Durban Housing Action
> Committee. But these were bureaucratised struggles with the
> leaders at some distance from the rough-and-tumble of local
> politics. She eschewed that. Her politics were immediately on her
> doorstep. It was a politics that, gradually at first, made the
> links between the local and the global. It was a kind of
> trailblazing politics, that later was manifested in what have
> become known as the 'new social movements'. In contrast, her
> political peers in the Congress tradition have built an impressive
> electoral machine, but ended up merely with votes for party
> candidates rather than a movement to confront global apartheid and
> its local manifestations./
> What about class, though? Asked if the battle is over a selfish
> interest, property values, she rebutted, 'No, no. It's to do with
> pollution, and it transcends race and color.'
> Yet there are certainly class and to some extent race and gender
> power relations in play. At the upper-end of the satellite photo, the
> Kennedy Road shack settlement -- which is just as close to the dump as
> Khan - organised a dozen residents to formally recycle material from
> the dump. (Many dozens more used to informally pick materials from the
> dump, until Durban Solid Waste limited access due to safety and health
> Kennedy Road leaders accused Khan of threatening livelihoods, as
> well as a handful of promised jobs and bursaries (in Uganda of all
> places) in the event the CDM project gets off the ground. With the
> World Bank investigating the potential R100 million investment,
> tensions rose.
> Insensitively, Khan sometimes used the word 'informals' to
> describe the shack settlement residents and once advocated that they
> be moved off the land, to areas nearby, sufficiently far from the dump
> (she recommended a buffer for all residents of 800 meters) to be safe
> from the windswept dust. At the nearby clinic, healthworkers confirmed
> to us that Kennedy Road residents suffer severely from asthma,
> sinusitis, pneumonia and even TB.
> Khan had a profound empathy for people in the same proximity as
> cancer-causing and respiratory-disease particulates, as she noted in
> an interview: 'Recently a woman was buried alive. She died on the site
> [picking rubbish, killed by a dump truck offloading]. I could have
> saved her life.' * Ecofeminist anti-capitalism?*
> The first use of the term 'ecofeminism' was in Francois d'Eaubonne's
> 1974 book /Le Feminisme ou la Mort/, 'Feminism or Death'. As this
> article was prepared for Agenda, Khan's condition worsened, and she
> fell into a coma on July 12 and died three days later.
> It's here where ecofeminist theory sheds light on struggles that
> unite Khan's with the anonymous shackdweller's. In the words of
> Kathleen Manion,
> /Certain ecologically damaging issues have more of a detrimental
> effect on women than on men, particularly as women tend to be more
> involved in family provisions and household management. Such
> problems include sustainable food development, deforestation,
> desertification, access to safe water, flooding, climate change,
> access to fertile land, pollution, toxic waste disposal,
> responsible environmental management with in companies and
> factories, land management issues, non-renewable energy resources,
> irresponsible mining and tree felling practices, loss of
> biodiversity (fuel, medicines, food). As household managers, women
> are the first to suffer when access to sustainable livelihoods are
> unbalanced. When the water becomes unpotable, the food stores dry
> up, the trees disappear, the land becomes untenable and the
> climate changes, women are often the ones who need to walk further
> and work harder to ensure their families survival./
> For a middle-class woman, Sajida Khan, just as for the impoverished
> woman killed on the dump, the struggle for reproduction was more
> costly than we readers can contemplate. High-profile heroines have led
> such struggles: for example, Lois Gibbs against toxins at Love Canal,
> New York; Wangari Maathei fighting for Kenyan greenbelts; Erin
> Brockovich campaigning for clean water in Hinkley, California; Medha
> Patkar opposing big dams in India; etc, etc. Others have written
> eloquently of Chipko tree huggers (Vandana Shiva) and the Niger
> Delta's women activists (Terisa Turner).
> In all these cases, including Bisasar Road, women's defense of
> immediate family and community is a compelling handle for a larger
> analysis of patriarchal power relations and anthropomorphism.
> But though Khan did not find a way to work with all her
> neighbours, as a result of huge political, class and race divides, her
> campaign against carbon trading using Bisasar Road dump has at least
> brought this pilot project to the world's attention, as an example of
> how 'low-hanging fruit rots first', to borrow the metaphor of Canadian
> CDM critic Graham Erion.
> Still, the attention she has gained for this cause only goes so
> far, Desai observes:
> /Sajida's main strategic flaw was the belief that by meticulous
> scientific presentation of the facts based upon thorough research,
> she could persuade the ruling class. Facts became the main weapon
> of struggle. But without an ongoing critical mass of people, once
> the World Bank was convinced she was right and dropped out --
> apparently the case by 2006, just as happened with the Narmada
> dams in India -- then the domestic government stepped in, to take
> up the slack. So eThekwini Municipality is now taking over from
> the World Bank and looking for investors, because the bigger
> cadreship isn't there to stop it. Facing down the World Bank was
> impressive, and deserved the claim to a victory. But it's one
> thing to tell truth to power, and Sajida was absolutely brilliant
> in defeating the system's experts. I hosted one debate for the
> Mail & Guardian in 2005, and she got a first round knockout.
> However, the corollary is that you must not just talk technically,
> but also expose and defeat the power. And you need a much bigger
> mass movement to do that./
> Ecofeminist-socialist Ariel Salleh might also find in Khan's story an
> inspiring if as yet uncertain fight against capitalist patriarchy: / /
> /As an old feminist adage goes: 'the master's tools will never
> dismantle the master's house.' For socialists, the capitalist
> class, its government cronies, and lifestyle hangers on, are the
> master, and his house is the global public sphere. For
> ecofeminists, this is also true, but there is another master
> embodied in the private power relations that govern everyday life
> for women at home, at work, and in scholarship. This is why we use
> the double construct capitalist patriarchal societies---where
> capitalism denotes the very latest historical form of economic and
> social domination by men over women. This double term integrates
> the two dimensions of power by recognising patriarchal energetics
> as a priori to capitalism. As reflexive ecosocialists know: the
> psychology of masculinity is actively rewarded by the capitalist
> system, thereby keeping that economy intact./
> As Khan struggled for life, the toxic economy of Bisasar Road was
> being rebuilt by the municipality with the global capitalist master's
> CDM tool. Although her brother Rafique will take up the baton, Khan's
> campaign to close apartheid's dump may ultimately fail, as a result of
> the various post-apartheid forces whose interaction now generates
> overlapping, interlocking, eco-social and personal tragedies.
> *Elusive gender, class, race and political unity*
> If inhaling status quo pollution meant paying dearly with her health
> for so many years, still, Khan was partially successful: preventing a
> major World Bank investment and raising local/global consciousness.
> Most importantly, she left us with a drive to transcend the inherited
> conditions and mindsets into which apartheid categories have cemented
> infrastructures and people.
> Pessimistically, it may not be feasible for Clare Estate
> from different and sometimes opposed race/class backgrounds to forge
> more effective alliances against the municipality, in the short term.
> It may be only a matter of time before the price of a tonne of carbon
> dioxide is attractive enough to bring new investors to Bisasar.
> Optimistically, before that point is reached, an ideal solution
> does exist, uniting the red and green strands of politics against
> capitalist-patriarchal rubbish, for Durban should and could:
> · adopt a 'zero waste' philosophy that would create dozens --
> perhaps hundreds - of reliable jobs in recycling for Kennedy Road
> shackdwellers, who where needed could (at their own volition) be
> suitably resettled with security of tenure, on stable land in the
> immediate vicinity, and · simultaneously terminate and
> rehabilitate the Bisasar dump, while safely removing its methane,
> preferably through piping it out of the area to a nearby gas main via
> a cleansing filter.
> Regardless, with women's bodies carrying deep scars of this fight, and
> with many women in the vicinity of Bisasar Road suffering respiratory
> diseases and other health/welfare problems from the dump, we all --
> especially those (like we authors and many of you readers) with an
> inordinate contribution to climate change and municipal waste - have
> an obligation to be part of a solution. As Desai mused,
> /Sometimes when lives are judged by visual victories, we see
> failures, and after all, the dump remains right outside Sajida's
> front door after her 14 year fight. But on the other hand, if a
> life is judged by a legacy that endures and is built upon, hers is
> one of multiple larger victories: of a woman standing against male
> domination of nationalist politics, of knowledge about global
> capitalist ecology over amnesia, of ordinary people harnessing the
> most incredible forms of expertise so as to enter forums usually
> dominated by people with multiple degrees, and of a political
> ecology that is a politics of all the people. Whatever you might
> say about her race and class privilege, the final denominator is
> that she'll die fighting the cancer infection, and fighting the
> dump that gave her that cancer. This was not a death of privilege,
> it was murder./
> INTERVIEW WITH SAJIDA KHAN BY REHANA DADA, September 2005
> REHANA: Sajida, how long has it been that you've been fighting this
> SAJIDA: I became involved with the community association in mid-1993
> and then fought the rates campaign. One year, we Indians paid about
> 80% higher than the whites. And of course the money was used to
> develop white areas and Indian areas were neglected.
> REHANA: At this stage, the dump had been here, what, your entire
> SAJIDA: I grew up here. It's been here since 1980 and people were
> fighting it even before, when they proposed to put the dump site here.
> The council hall was in the valley and homes were removed to build
> this dump. You cannot put a dump site in the middle of a highly
> developed residential area, with ten schools within one kilometer.
> Although this dump site was classified as a domestic dump site, they
> ended up dumping hazardous waste on the site. So an incorrect
> classification, and an incorrect location. This is the kind of terrain
> we have in Bisasar, with hills on both sides, so you get a
> concentration of pollution. If it was a flat terrain the gases would
> be more diffused but here it's more concentrated.
> REHANA: This is an enormous area.
> SAJIDA: It's more than 44 hectares.
> REHANA: Where does the waste come from?
> SAJIDA: All over Durban.
> REHANA: You've got quite a view of this dump, from your lounge window.
> SAJIDA: It used to be lovely, we had a natural spring and bird life
> and animal life and everybody enjoyed the views. The manner in which
> this permit was granted, it was unfair to the community. We have a
> right to procedure and fairness. The council had already adopted Local
> Agenda 21 in August of 1994. This permit was granted in 1996. Local
> Agenda 21 is based on UN's Agenda 21. This means that there should be
> public participation. And of course the constitution came into effect
> in 1996 and that's when the permit was granted.
> REHANA: So this dump has a history of violating community concerns.
> SAJIDA: Oh yes, before the 1994 elections we had no say. We were
> basically gagged. There was no freedom of speech. But the community
> did write letters of objection. South Africa acceded to the Berne
> Convention in December 1991. Even that was violated because that
> convention protects migrating birds and this area had a natural spring
> and because of the natural spring, the birds relied on the mud to
> build their nests. These are swallows that migrate in the area. In the
> past we used to have more than three nests attached to our buildings
> and garage and right now there's not one. The birds have gone, because
> of the pollution levels, both the flora and the fauna are affected.
> REHANA: Is it the pollution levels or is it just the noise and
> activity around the dump site?
> SAJIDA: Both. The noise chases the birds away, but pollution levels
> include the leaching that comes off this dump, highly toxic, that
> contaminates the water. As early as 1987 the city promised to close
> this dump site and in its place give us all these sports fields. And
> they broke that promise to us. And again, for the 1994 election, the
> political parties also promised to close the dump, decommission it,
> and relocate the Claire Estate dump site. Again they broke that
> promise to us. Before the permit was granted, they should have created
> a buffer zone to protect the people and that wasn't done. The buffer
> zone should be a minimum of 800 meters for a dump site this size.
> REHANA: Would the buffer zone help with the pollution problems?
> SAJIDA: Well, the pollution would be still produced but the people
> would be protected; they'd be further away. Most of the complaints are
> concentrated around the dump site. Because of this valley effect,
> there was really poor diffusion of the gases. The medical waste
> incinerator produced dioxins which are highly toxic. And dioxin causes
> cancer. Lead emissions from that incinerator exceeded the guideline
> limit 30 to 40 times. The cadmium level exceeded two to three times
> the maximum recommended limit.
> REHANA: The medical waste incinerator was shut down what 6, 7 years
> SAJIDA: Yes, the incinerator was shut down but the effect it leaves
> behind, you cannot just get rid of the pollution. It settles. And most
> of the waste was burned at night. They didn't learn their lesson from
> this. Now they want to put in a new set of generators again in the
> valley and flare off additional methane that would not be used for
> electricity. Let me explain the kinds of pollution they would produce
> if this goes ahead. First, in the process, you'll get more than 43,000
> tons of carbon produced a year. They are saying it is going to
> alleviate global warming because they are going to get carbon credits.
> REHANA: But they argue that they can take methane out of that landfill
> and burn it, and have a net positive impact on greenhouse gases.
> SAJIDA: What happens, methane is extremely light compared to carbon
> dioxide. Carbon dioxide is much heavier than methane. So methane just
> dissipates into the air fairly easily, whereas carbon because it is
> heavier it tends to linger. People around here would be affected more
> by the carbon. In addition the generators would produce 95 tons of
> nitrogen oxide, which causes respiratory problems and exacerbates
> asthma. There's also 319 tons of carbon monoxide that would be
> produced by these generators. That again would reduce the
> oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Then, it would produce more
> than 300 tons of total hydrocarbons, which contain chemicals or gases
> like benzene, which is a carcinogen. So, naturally we don't want the
> global warming caused by methane emissions to continue, but at the
> same time we need to protect the people. There are ways of removing
> the methane without the flaring they suggest.
> REHANA: How will gases that will come from the generation and flaring
> when they burn the landfill gas, compare to the gases coming out of
> that landfill now?
> SAJIDA: What happens now is that you get decomposition of the waste
> and hence methane, as well as toxic groundwater leaching, as well as
> non-methane organic compounds. They already found levels of these
> compounds exceeding the maximum recommended limit by 500% at this
> site. Non-methane organic compounds contain, for example, benzene and
> formaldehyde, which include carcinogens as well as affecting
> respiratory problems.
> REHANA: So compare the landfill gases as they are now, to the affects
> from combusting the landfill gases. Could you anticipate a difference?
> SAJIDA: In my opinion, it would make a bad situation even worse
> because the flaring will increase by a factor of fifteen, according to
> the government's paperwork. All those gases cannot be extracted
> overnight, so you're going to get all that moving into the air. Then
> you're going to have six generators producing other gases. In
> addition, by bringing the gases up, you also bring the leachate up to
> the surface. The leaching is really poorly managed, and you can see
> overflow of leachate from the wells, which produces all those toxic
> gases, those non-methane organic compounds. Then the generators
> themselves are extremely noisy. You can see how close the schools lie.
> Even if they put those generators in sound-proof rooms, it won't solve
> the problem of pollution.
> REHANA: Okay, I hear a lot of noise just from the traffic here. How
> would generators compare to existing noise?
> SAJIDA: It's even more noisy. I've been to sites overseas. For
> generators producing 2.7 megawatts of electricity, we couldn't even
> hear the others speak when we visited the site. The noise will travel.
> It tends to follow the same pathway as the pollution pathway. You can
> hear the trucks making those beeping sounds now. On Bisasar itself,
> they want to put six of these generators. And you can see the chimneys
> sticking out. And all the pollution. This is not an industrial area.
> This is a residential area and now you're going to have chimneys out
> in the valley producing all the pollution, affecting all the schools
> and affecting all the residents.
> REHANA: Durban Solid Waste is adamant that this project can only
> benefit the community, that what they are doing is not only affecting
> global greenhouse gas levels but that they will be benefiting the
> community (a) through capital injection into developing members of the
> community and (b) through reducing the landfill gases.
> SAJIDA: How are the going to actually improve the life of the
> community when these generators will be producing all this gas? In
> addition, they will extend the life of the dump for 7 to 8 years. So
> they're going to dump more and more dirt on this site and you can see
> from the management of the site, that they've been dumping things that
> they shouldn't even be dumping here.
> REHANA: What do you suggest that they do with that methane if they
> don't burn it?
> SAJIDA: From the 1990s we've been asking them to remove the methane.
> What they can do is look for alternatives. There's the gas
> liquification process in which they can take out the methane, purify
> it, and add it to diesel for trucks and use it as fuel. It can be
> pumped and used in industry. There's a gas pipe line running right
> along the dump site. All they have to do is extract and purify it and
> add it to that pipeline. It's far cheaper, but they won't get so much
> of the emissions reduction credits. But then what is more important,
> the health of the community or making money at the expense of the
> community? If, in contrast, this dump site was located out of the
> city, far away from people, this project would have been ideal, to
> extract the gases and produce electricity. But because it's going to
> affect the community so badly, the pollution from the generators
> themselves will affect the community. This is why we object to it.
> REHANA: Well, if they weren't going to go for this project, then they
> would have to incur expenses to find another way to deal with the
> SAJIDA: Now that's a lot of nonsense. According to their scoping
> reports, they are saying the capital costs will be R106.8 million, and
> general expenditure R41.7 million, for a total of R148.5 million. It
> will take them 21 years to recover that money in the form of credits.
> The profit over the 21 years is only going to be R59.9 million. You
> can take the R148 million and put it in the bank at no risk
> whatsoever, receive a 6% rate of return, and over 6 years, you can
> recover more than R60 million. It doesn't even make economic sense to
> invest in the CDM project. This money can be used to create the buffer
> zone. If, in contrast, this dump site was located out of the city, far
> away from people, this project would have been ideal, to extract the
> gases and produce electricity. But because it's going to affect the
> community so badly, the pollution from the generators themselves will
> affect the community. This is why we object to it.
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