Youth lead march for system change

Youth from various organisations and schools leading the #MarchForSystemChange.

Protesters calling for a response to the climate and socio-environmental crises facing South Africa marched to Parliament with a list of their demands.

March goers started in Hanover Street and made their way down Roeland Street, to Parliament, on Heritage Day, Saturday September 24. Young and old say they have had enough of fighting for the same cause for more than a decade.

The youth-led protest was under the banner #MarchForSystemChange.

A memorandum demanded a permanent Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the Climate and Ecological Crisis, that meets regularly; improvement in the curriculum to improve literacy on climate; and calling Parliament to discuss the Climate Justice Charter, which aims to “end hunger, thirst, pollution and climate harms”. It also included a call for an end to all public and private capital investment in fossil fuel-intensive industries and electricity as well as protecting South Africans from “greenwashing” and the transformation of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Megan Farquhar and Esthian Korb from EcoMaties Stellenbosch.

African Climate Alliance general and communications manager Sarah Robyn Farell said she’d like to see on-the-ground action and for it to start at schools.

“We really want the department of basic education to relook at the curriculum in terms of preparing people with life skills to deal with ecological breakdown and climate change and to prepare us for a more sustainable future.”

Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed in red robes protest in silence.

Jenna Curry, from EcoMaties in Stellenbosch, said: “What I want to see is some changes in the government… hopefully they do something about it.”

Bridgette Pitt, from the Princess Vlei Forum, said: “I’m from an organisation fighting for a small vlei but you can’t have that fight without fighting for climate change and for system change. The communities around Princess Vlei suffer from a lot of poverty and social issues… we keep hoping that the government is going to listen but if they don’t listen I think action will escalate, they’ll have to start paying more attention, change is urgent.”

Protesters at the gates of Parliament.
Bridgette Pitt and members of the Princess Vlei Forum.