Paraffin Consumers have Rights Too - PASASA
11 March 2008
The Paraffin Safety Association is calling upon all household energy consumers to support the “Paraffin Consumer Rights” Campaign because it is, after all, everyone’s business. The campaign will begin on World Consumer Rights Day, 15th of March 2008, and continue right through to 1 June – the National Paraffin Safety Day. The campaign will be launched at the 2008 Consumer Rights Day Conference, “Consumer Rights and the Fight Against Poverty”, Sandton Convention Centre this Friday. The main thrust of the campaign will be to mobilise nationwide support for a call upon government to formulate and implement a Low Income Household Energy Safety Policy. The public will be called upon to show their support for the “Paraffin User’s Household Energy Summit Declaration” a document outlining a course of action to ensure paraffin consumer rights drafted by paraffin users at four summits nationwide in May and June 2007.
The World Consumer Rights Day is a day set aside to focus on consumers rights which include having their basic needs met, the right to safety, a healthy environment, redress, consumer education. The South African Constitution, one of the finest in the world, outlines many human and consumer rights. Ch2. Section 24 states clearly that “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being…” Sadly, these consumer and constitutional rights are not enforced and consumers have every right to be dissatisfied at the lack of action by the responsible government departments.
All consumers of household energy, by definition – all South Africans – are called to support this campaign because it affects them directly. Many South Africans are frankly annoyed right now about the fact that they do not have access to the electricity they took for granted to meet their household thermal and lighting needs.
Other consumers are in fear of losing their jobs as a result of the shortage of energy viz. mineworkers. The nation will have to get used the idea that the pressure for households (and places of work) to cook and maintain comfortable indoor temperatures with an energy carrier other than national grid electricity is immense and unstoppable. Consumers must be able to use any form of energy safely to meet their needs. The Managing Director of the Paraffin Safety Association, Patrick Kulati says: “There is simply not enough electricity or Liquefied Petroleum Gas to go around. Every available energy source will have to be harnessed in a system of consumption that ensures consumer and human rights”. Suddenly it is not only the poor who will be called upon to make do with paraffin. Those who have always had electricity or grown dependent on it in recent years of rollout find they are now in the same boat as consumers who rely on open flame technology and who are usually from poor households. You want to be sure you can use it safely.
The Declaration, available from our offices or website, outlines the problems but goes on to call for specific action from all sectors of society, including households. The action has to be orchestrated by the Department of Minerals and Energy because it is within their mandate. The DME minister herself, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, stated at the National Energy Summit that her department’s major responsibility is to deliver energy to all South Africans, ensuring affordability, reliability and accessibility. She went on to say that, “We are committed to making clean energy available to the poorest. We have to resolve the issues of paraffin and its safety.”
This campaign will include a series of press releases focusing on various aspects of the declaration and the current issue of household energy safety including
- Government’s response to the Declaration
- Consumers’ right to safe, appropriate packaging and labelling for paraffin
- Progress made with paraffin appliance standards, enforcement of those standards and what the public should know about standards
- The role paraffin can play as an Electricity Demand Side Management strategy
- Energy surveillance and the evidence-based approach behind the declaration
- General Household Energy and specific paraffin safety messages
Those wishing to support the “Paraffin Consumer Rights” Campaign can do so by
- Writing a letter of support to the Paraffin Safety Association (P O Box 2321, Clareinch, 7740)
- Email “support declaration” with your name to email@example.com
- Fax 021-671-0233 – fax template available on our website (www.paraffinsafety.org/paia)
- Going online at www.paraffinsafety.org
- Signing a petition at any of the “Paraffin Consumer Rights” petition tables on Consumer Rights Day
- Support for the campaign will be delivered to the Parliamentary portfolio committees for minerals and energy and for health on National Paraffin Safety Day (June 01).
Support for the campaign will be delivered to the Parliamentary portfolio committees for minerals and energy and for health on National Paraffin Safety Day (June 01).
Issued by: The Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa
Phumzile Nteyi – Communications Co-ordinator (082 440 8440)
Tel: +27 21 671 5767, Fax: +27 671 0233, website: www.paraffinsafety.org
For in-depth interviews contact: Patrick Kulati – Managing Director (082 300 7108)