Minister Creecy is Leaving a Lasting Footprint in South African Politics

By Raine St.Claire

Born on June 17, 1958, Minister Creecy is a prominent South African politician and antiapartheid activist. She reached the peak of her political career in May 2019 when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed her as the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries. Minister Creesy’s illustrious career journey that spans over two decades with extensive experience in public policy, began in the late 1970s at Wits University.

As a member of the African National Congress, she currently serves as the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries and is a Member of the National Assembly of South Africa. Her political career started in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in 1994, and she held key roles such as Gauteng MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts, and Culture in 2004, MEC for Education in 2009, and took on the Gauteng Finance portfolio in 2014.

Empowering Communities and Preserving Natural Beauty

Minister Creecy emphasises the importance of South Africa’s Protected Areas and supports the “mahala” campaign, which offers a week’s free visit to these areas during the month of September each year. This initiative aims to introduce these beautiful natural places, especially to those who haven’t had the chance to explore them. Since the campaign started in 2006, over 619,292 South Africans, including students, pensioners, and people with disabilities, have enjoyed these protected areas for free.

These places are not only rich in cultural heritage and biodiversity but also play a vital role in the country’s tourism industry. Minister Creecy understands the significance of tourism for the economy and is committed to its growth through collaboration between the government, communities, and the private sector. She appreciates the support from the National Department of Tourism, which has funded development projects, such as a solar panel system in Kruger National Park, saving costs and promoting sustainability.

Many of these protected areas are in rural regions, and they can benefit neighbouring communities by sourcing services from small businesses. In the past year, the South African Protected Areas (SAPA) system invested over R550 million in small businesses, creating more than 5,364 job opportunities in areas with limited formal employment options. Each day, about 7,500 individuals employed through the Broadened Public Works Programme contribute to essential tasks in these protected areas, like land restoration and facility maintenance.

Inspired by a quote from Madiba, who expressed his dream of protecting the country’s vast deserts, forests, and wilderness areas, Minister Creecy remains committed to providing free access to the country’s Protected Areas during SA Protected Areas Week, highlighting the importance of promoting national and regional parks as they strive to expand their environmental preservation initiatives to meet international commitments and safeguard the natural world for current and future generations.

Responsible Chemical Management and Sustainable Future

Minister Creecy strongly supports responsible chemical management for a better, more sustainable future. She emphasises the need for teamwork to minimise the harm caused by chemicals and waste, especially for vulnerable communities. The minister is enthusiastic about a recent framework to phase out dangerous pesticides in agriculture, focusing on safety and its connection to global priorities like climate change, biodiversity, human rights, and public health.

This effort reached its peak at the 5th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in September 2023, where a forward-looking global policy framework called “Beyond 2020” was endorsed. Minister Creecy praised her team and the Africa Group of Negotiators for their dedication. The Global Framework on Chemicals Fund will benefit developing nations, especially those in need, by promoting responsible chemical and waste management. Funding comes from various sources, including Germany’s significant pledge of EUR 20 million and France’s commitment of EUR 400,000 in 2024. South Africa and other governments aim to create regulations to reduce chemical pollution and endorse safer alternatives by 2030. The industry is also dedicated to managing chemicals responsibly to reduce pollution and its negative effects.

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