12 May 2009
On behalf of the Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa (PASASA) I would like to welcome the new Minister of Safety, Ms Dipuo Peters to her new portfolio. Ms. Peters takes the reins from the former minister of Minerals and Energy, Ms. Buyelwa Sonjica who has since been given a new portfolio, Ministry of Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs.
We particularly welcome President Jacob Zuma’s creation of a new Ministry devoted to energy because energy issues need to be dealt with more efficiently and quickly. I am one of the fortunate people to have worked with Ms. Peters and her office in the Northern Cape in 2004 when they hosted the Northern Cape Growth & Economic Development Summit. I know Ms. Peters as a very down-to-earth, humble person who spends most of her time listening to the concerns of the people. During the time we were planning the summit, she had numerous meetings with various stakeholders. Even during the summit, community members found it so easy to talk to her because she is so accessible.
PASASA’s mission is to promote the safe use of paraffin whilst it is being used by households. We work in poor and informal settlements across South Africa where the majority of poor people use paraffin as one of their main energy sources. More than 11 million South Africans come into contact with paraffin everyday because it is a form of energy that is cheap and accessible to them.
In 2007, PASASA held a series of paraffin users’ summit throughout the country where they agreed on a set of household energy proposals and handed these over to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME). The intention was to ensure that their voices were included in any policy process that would impact on them. With winter upon us, media reports of energy related fire injuries are increasing and will continue to increase. It is clear that the consumers of energy and indeed the whole public lacks information about how they can make themselves safe from energy related injuries.
Thousands of them die every year from related fires and injuries. Many more, especially children, get injured from drinking paraffin. It is for these reasons that we will engage her ministry to discuss practical measures on how to put in place a household energy safety strategy. We believe this issue requires the attention of the minister and her department. Addressing household energy safety challenges will save the state millions of rands that get spent in treating injuries and re-building people’s lives after disasters. We as the association would like to assist the new minister in any way we can in addressing the challenges posed by paraffin and its appliances in our beloved country, South Africa.
Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa