Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe says opposition to Shell’s seismic survey off the Wild Coast is another “Nongqawuse moment” for the province.
Speaking in his capacity as ANC chairperson, Mantashe warned against opposition to the survey, saying it was like another Nongqawuse moment for him.
Nongqawuse was a Xhosa prophetess who claimed to have had a vision that if her people, at the height of war with the British, killed their cattle and destroyed their crops, the ancestors would ensure they won the war and prospered. The prophecy was never fulfilled.
A license was granted by Mantashe’s department for Shell to do a seismic survey for oil or gas deposits from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, but it has met with opposition by environmental activists who have approached the courts.
Mantashe said on Tuesday his department would not withdraw the license.
Environmentalists had mobilised the people of the Eastern Cape against the Shell survey.
“They mobilise you to say you don’t want all of that [the Shell survey] because you love your butterflies, you love your mountains and your grass, so this must stop. That is what you are saying. If the Eastern Cape remains that way, that we don’t develop, this is our second Nongqawuse.
“Here all of us, we are victims of a prophecy that said we must kill our cattle and we will be wealthy. How are you going to be wealthy when you have killed the cattle?” he asked.
If Shell was chased away the company would go to other countries.
“This province has to develop. We are not going to withdraw that license for the survey for oil.”
He promised further development in Kouga which would make the province a gas hub in SA.
If the people of the province rejected Shell they would be left behind, because development went where it was wanted.