An open letter from ICWA to the Minister of Mineral Resources and RMDEC, concerning the RMDEC meeting on 22 April 2016, at Enseleni, concerning Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni Anthracite Project.
Open letter to Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister of Mineral Resources
Re: Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni mine and the RMDEC meeting, Enseleni Nature Reserve, KZN, Friday, 22 April 2016
Dear Honourable Minister Zwane and the RMDEC team
We, the iMfolozi Communities and Wilderness Alliance (ICWA) comprising 9 major NGOs in KZN and the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) that represents the 7 directly mining affected Fuleni villages and the broader Fuleni community, as well as many thousands of supporters of the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign, feel compelled to write an open letter to you and to RMDEC.
We feel it is time to put an end to the secrecy and lack of integrity associated with Ibutho Coal’s Fuleni mining application from the very start of the process. We are calling for openness and transparency with regard to who exactly has made and is making what decisions about the lives of the Fuleni community and the future of the historic iMfolozi Wilderness area, that encompasses King Shaka’s hunting grounds, and part of the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP), home of the southern White Rhino and the prime tourist destination in KZN.
We, hereby, call for the full public disclosure of RMDEC’s recommendations made to you, Mr Zwane, as the Minister of Mineral Resources.
We believe it is not only the broader South African public that deserves this information but the Fuleni community, given that it is their lives and livelihoods, and the future of their children that is at stake. In 1963, the current residents of Ocilwane were forcibly removed from their homes near Mpangeni by the Apartheid government to make way for the Owen Sitole Agricultural College. They were promised that Ocilwane and Fuleni would be their home for perpetuity and that they would not be moved again. They are determined to hold the ANC government to this promise and we fully support them in this stand and their clear statement that they do not want the Fuleni mine.
We are therefore extremely concerned about comments in your Mineral Resources Budget Speech about “happy (mining) communities” and that “if the majority did not want mining, government would have to persuade them to see their point of view”! The majority of residents from the mining affected Fuleni communities have made it clear that they will never be persuaded that the Fuleni coal mine is a good option for their land and that living next to an open cast coal mine makes them “advantaged”.
The objections of the Fuleni communities to Ibutho Coal’s proposed open cast mine are based on substantive first hand experiences. The Fuleni residents currently live several kilometres from the Somkhele open cast coal mine and already find the mining explosions, coal dust, noise, vibrations, contamination and lack of water, etc. intolerable. To be informed by Ibutho Coal that Fuleni residents will be expected to live in houses 500 metres from an open cast coal mine is unthinkable and unacceptable. Currently the Fuleni area is dry and the residents are without any water, while a coal mine that requires the equivalent of 51 municipal sized swimming pools of water per day is being considered!
Notwithstanding our list of misgivings, which we will submit to RMDEC under separate cover, we were encouraged by the integrity and genuine interest of a few members of the RMDEC team at the meeting on Friday, 22 April 2016, at Enseleni Nature Reserve, and their clear commitment to hearing and closely scrutinising the objections that were raised. Consequently we are hopeful that the decision that you, as the Minister, will make, based on the recommendations of RMDEC, will confirm that all the opposing voices, especially the voices of the Fuleni residents have been heard and given due consideration.
We look forward to the RMDEC recommendations being made public.
Spokesperson for ICWA
The original Letter is displayed below: