HALALA
23/04/2018 12:56 SAST | Updated 24/04/2018 09:26 SAST

These Two Women Stopped The Russia/SA Nuclear Deal All By Themselves. Now They're Being Honoured

The international Goldman Environment Prize recognises a grassroots campaign or sustained effort that seeks to have a significant impact at the regional, national or global level.

Gerald Petersen
Makoma Lekalakala, right, and Liz McDaid, who launched a successful legal challenge to stop South Africa buying nuclear power stations from Russia.

Two South African women have managed to make international waves and were awarded the coveted Goldman Environment Prize on Monday evening in San Fransisco, U.S., The Guardian reported.

According to the publication, Makoma Lekalakala, the director for Earthlife Africa, and Liz McDaid, climate-change coordinator for the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute, have been recognised for winning South Africa's first climate-change lawsuit.

They succeeded in their legal challenge against the plan for South Africa to buy up to 10 nuclear power stations from Russia, at an estimated cost of R1-trillion.

Their court victory was a major setback to Russia's financial aspirations and influence. The proposed deal was the focus of corruption claims by political enemies and rivals in the ANC, given reports that Zuma's son was a director of the sole mine that supplied uranium.

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The prize is usually won by leaders in a grassroots campaign or sustained effort that seeks to have a significant impact at the regional, national or global level.

Lekalakala says it was not easy taking on former president Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the same time – however, it was pivotal that the programme be led by women.

"We are getting this [Goldman] prize because we really sacrificed ourselves by putting our names on the line. Others were sh*t-scared. But we've been through so much, that we were willing to take the risk," Lekalakala told The Guardian.

"I thought that was wrong. It is poor black women who are most affected, but it is rich white men making all the decisions."

McDaid said the campaign was a recognition that grassroots action can work.

"Governments everywhere like to give the impression that citizens have no power. That's not true. We have checks and balances, and we need to use them," she said.

The pair started working together in 2009 when they joined Earthlife, a group designed to encourage women to become more involved in energy and climate policy-making.

Lekalakala says it was an eye-opening experience, because she was the only black woman.

"I thought that was wrong. It is poor black women who are most affected, but it is rich white men making all the decisions," she said.

Read the original article by The Guardian here.