Unsung Heroes 2023 | | Bongekile Zwane

Bongekile Zwane

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Bongekile Zwane is an activist who fights for the rights of her mining community, especially women, in electricity planning, Just Energy Transition consultations and research processes. As part of the Womxndla Community Development NPC, her work focuses on the mining town of Carolina in Mpumalanga. Carolina’s main economic activities are farming and the mining of coal and precious stones. There are 22 mines and coal operations in Carolina, and their impact on the community is concerning. The air in Carolina is poorly ranked and water is polluted by the mining operations. The Womxndla Community Development NPC participated in multi-stakeholder consultations carried out by the Presidential Climate Commission about the country’s path from coal-dependency to a low-carbon economy. Zwane is not only involved in addressing the environmental ills in her community caused by these operations, but she also ensures that women and girls in the community are empowered and have a voice in how they are affected. Her organisation is advocating for taking a feminist approach towards sustainable women development in communities. Zwane was one of the principal researcher for the Southern Africa Resource Watch community study, which produced a document titled “Women on Coal Report: A Feminist Participatory Action Research on Coal, Climate Change by women in Carolina”. Some of the challenges facing the women in Zwane’s community include floods, soil erosion, shifting rainfall patterns and extreme weather, which also affect food security. These are the issues that keep Zwane fired up to bring about change in her area, putting women at the centre of the energy transition and climate policy.


Heroes of Climate & Sustainability

Unsung Heroes Categories 2023