By Sifiso Dladla
MACUA MARCH PLANNING MEETING (30 July 2014)
The MACUA (Mining affected communities united in action) meeting at the end of July was to discuss the annual Mining Lekgotla scheduled to take place at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Gauteng from the 11th to 15th of August. The Mining Lekgotla is made of three spheres of mining, Mining Houses (Chamber of Mines), Government and Trade Unions (not all but only National Union of Mineworkers). The delegation of this meeting is around 1500 individuals. MACUA had engaged with the Chamber of Mines and tried to secure a meeting to discuss several things that affect communities living closer to mines but no meeting ever took place and so we notified them of our intention of marching at the Lekgotla. It is this idea that got them shaken and they offered us an opportunity to send a delegation of 25 people to their meeting and they were promised a 5 minute slot. To us that was an insult. Our struggle with mining houses can never be talked about in 5 minutes.
Well, it was at the July planning meeting that MACUA took a decision not to send the 25 person delegation because we had also been told that if we honour their proposal then we shouldn’t march and that our delegates must be in formal clothing. We saw the delegation invitation as a strategy to suppress our proposed action and that fueled mass mobilization.
At the July meeting we developed a Memorandum of Demands and took a decision not to be part of the Lekgotla but continue with our intended action.
MACUA NATIONAL MARCH (13th AUGUST 2014)
The aim of the march was to attract the attention of all the role players in the mining sector who had been disregarding communities they impoverish whilst enriching themselves. As KZN, we brought people from Somkhele (1 taxi), Fuleni (1 taxi), Nseleni (2 taxis) and eMpangeni (2 taxis). Part of this was to show the people of the province that they are not the only communities that are subjected to unjust mining and also use this chance to identify community champions. The march was broadcasted by SABC and ETV. Several print media houses published the story. Here is the memorandum that was submitted by the organizers:
13 August 2014
To: The Chamber of Mines
To: The Department Of Mineral Resources
To: Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi
To: The Parliament of South Africa
To: The President of South Africa
RE: MEMORANDUM OF DEMANDS
Communities will not accept the scraps from the table of the masters. We refuse to be “drawers of water and hewers of wood” We demand our rightful place within a democratic South Africa for which our forefathers died and for which we continue to struggle so that our children are not cursed with the colonial heritage of poverty while they live in a wealthy country.
The historical and continued exclusion of communities affected by mining from discussion on “economic and social development” which seeks “real change” does not advance stability in the sector and reinforces the alienation of communities which will inevitably lead to further conflict in the sector. Communities have been systematically excluded from the adoption of the Mining Charter, the development of policy and development and passing of legislation, in which only the interests of Business, Government and Labour have been addressed and the continued exclusion of these communities is not only a serious omission, it also runs contrary to government’s own commitment to “economic and social development which would transform the mining sector through real change, and to the constitution of South Africa which compels our law makers to consult widely with affected communities. According to the constitutional court this process is not only necessary to curb “secret lobbying and influence peddling” by big business but also because “participatory democracy is of special importance to those who are relatively disempowered in a country like ours where great disparities of wealth and influence exist.”
As Mining Affected Communities United in Action, we Demand the following:
1. Scrapping of the MPRDA in its entirety and for the President to return the current bill B15B- 2013 back to Parliament for proper consultations with communities affected by mining.
3. That the Chamber of Mines and Government provide resources and facilities for proper consultation with affected communities and that Parliamentary and Provincial legislature hearings are held where people affected by mining stay and not in fancy cities far from the people affected most and where communities affected cannot afford to travel to these hearings.
4. That Land illegally and without proper consultation stolen from communities be returned to their legitimate owners immediately.
5. An End to all new licensing processes and community displacements until a new law which accords with the constitution of this country and which recognizes affected communities as legitimate stakeholders, is in place.
6. That all mining companies who have been identified as polluters and who blast in close proximity to communities (like the community of Madithlokwe) are immediately brought to book and their operations suspended until the community has been properly consulted.
7. That Mines who have neglected to rehabilitate the land used for mining are immediately denied operator’s license to continue mining until past and current pollution and degradation of land has been rehabilitated.
8. That communities be granted immediate access to Social Labour Plans so that they may be given the right to ensure that the SLP`s benefit the community directly.
9. That government immediately end transfer pricing by mining companies and that a fair and just tax system be implemented which ensures that communities benefit from the wealth of mining.
10. That all charges against community activists are dropped immediately and an end to police and mine security harassment, intimidation and arrests.
RECEIVED BY: ______________________________________
WITNESSED BY: _____________________________________