This article appeared in Isolezwe on October 8, 2015, and is the first in a series.
By Sifiso Dladla
Sifiso Dladla is a human and environmental rights advocate. For ICWA (iMfolozi Community Wildlife Alliance) he is the community co-ordinator and spokesperson.
This is my first of a few columns I will write about this proposed Fuleni coal mine that will cause devastation to our communities in the Fuleni district of Zululand. I want to thank Isolezwe for allowing me this platform to speak the truth about this development.
Lona umbalo wokuqala weminingi engisazoyi bhala ngalendaba yemayini yelahle ehlongoziwe, ezoletha imthelela emibi kwimphakathi esenykatho neKwaZulu Natal ngaphansi koMasipla waseMfolozi. Ngithanda ukuqala ngibonge Isolezwe ngokungipha leli thuba lokukhuluma iqiniso ngesakhiwo esifana nalesi.
You will have heard the saying that for evil to happen, all it takes is for good people to keep quiet! If this is so, you will also know how difficult it is for our good people to freely express their opinions on developments that will destroy their lives without them knowing. People are scared to voice their concern when authorities and big business are running the show.
Sonke siyasazi ukuthi isenzo esimbi senzeka uma abantu abamela iqiniso emphakathinin bephenduka izimungulu. Uma kunjalo, uzowazi ukuthi kunzima kanjani kubantu abalungile ukuthi bephawule ngaloluhlobo lwentuthuko, okungezeka ilulaze izimpilo zabo bengazi. Abantu bemphakathi bagcine sebesaba ukubheka imbono yabo, uma iziphathimandla nosomabizinisi kwibona abaphethe emphakathini.
So I will give you my insight into the dismay and upset our people are feeling about this mine.
Ingakho ngizobheka owami umbono mayelana nokunganami kwabantu abaningi ngalelimayini elihlongoziwe.
This ‘Fuleni’ COAL mine will be blasted right through and nearby seven villages over the estimated 32 years of its life. It will cause thousands of our 16 000-strong community members to be relocated.
Lelimayini lelahle lase Fuleni elihlongoziwe lizothikameza izigodi ezingu-7 emnyakeni engu-32. Lizodala ekutheni kususwe izinkulungwane ezingu- 16 000 zabantu.
Now we all understand that our people need jobs. I feel this very strongly as I have spent much of my life amongst our communities, watching their struggles and trying to help them find ways of earning money and improving their lifestyles. This is my calling and I am proud that I belong to a new alliance of NGO’s called ICWA that has been formed to fight this mine.
Into wonke umuntu ayiqondayo ukuthi baningi abantu abadinga amathuba emsebenzi. Lokhu futhi ngiyakwazi njengoba iningi lethu likhule kuyona impakhathi ifana njengalena, sibona ubunzima bokuzama izindlela zokuthola imali khona kuzophucuka nendlela yokuphil. Ukuqashisa ngondaba olufana naleli ubizo kumina futhi ngiyaziqhenya ngenlangano ezizimele engisebenza ngaphansi kwayo i-ICWA esungulwe khona izolwisana nalelimayini.
But I must tell you this right now. The promises of mining are not the answer to our people’s struggles. I watched nine years ago as another coal mine was established at Somkhele, right near this proposed mine. Like so many others, they promised schools, clinics and jobs for our people in return for putting up with this scar on their lives.
Okufanele ngikusho ukuthi izithembiso ezifika nemayini angeke ziyikhulule imiphakathi ebunzimeni. Kwiminyaka engu-9 edlule sibone ukuqala kokusebenza kwemayini yase Somkhele buqamama nalana ekuhlongozwe leli mayinin lase Fuleni. Njengazo zonke izimayini yathembisa imiphakathi izikole, nama clinic, kanye nemisebenzi ukuzama ukunxephezela ngokumba.
But very little of this ever happened. Today the people of Somkhele regret so much that they allowed it to take place. I know this because I spend so much of my time talking to them and experiencing the horrible vibrations, dust and the collapse of their agriculture and the loss of their grave sites amongst other things. And the jobs are a fraction of what was promised.
Kodwa zincane ezalezithembiso ezisafezekile. Namhlanje abantu base Somkhele bayazisola ukuthi balivumelelani imayini endaweni. Ngiyakwazi lokhu ngoba siningi isikhathi esengisichithile ngixoxisana nemiphakathi yakhona, ngokuqhuma, nezintuli kanye nokulahlekelwa amasimu nemathuna. Imisebenzi ke yona yatholwa idlanzane labantu, hayi lokhu okwakuthenjisiwe.
This Fuleni mine promises the same chaos and deception; but on a much bigger scale. What makes me mad is that each time another mine comes along they are supposed to tell our people exactly what they are going to do, where it will happen and what will be the consequences.
But this doesn’t happen. Do you know they and our provincial government authorities were supposed to have conducted public consultations with our Fuleni communities about this mine and yet on four occasions it hasn’t happened? Why?
Imayini iFuleni ibukeka ngathi iza nobuxakalala kanye nokukhohlisa, okungaphezulu kwalokhu okwenzeka eSomkhele. Okungenza ngigane unwabu ukuthi, uma imayini ifika endaweni kumele ixwayise abantu ngokuthi yini ezokwenzeka, izokwenzeka nini kanye nokuthi yini impiphumela elindelekile. Kodwa lokhu akwenzeki. Ingabe bayazi ukuthi iziphathimandla zikahulumeni wesifundwaze bekumele zixhumane nomphakathi waseFuleni zithole uvo lwawo mayelana nalolu daba lwemayini? Sekube nemihlangano emine kodwa lokhu akukaze kwenzeke, kungani?
Brothers and sisters, I am a proud Zulu-speaking man and I have great respect for our traditions. But I cannot – and won’t – sit by while certain traditional leaders pull the wool over the eyes of ordinary people. Some do it out of ignorance, others out of greed. The time has gone when our people can be hoodwinked by big money, capitalists and so-called leaders that together hide their real agenda?
Bafwethu nani bodadewethu, ngiyaziqhenya ngokuba umZulu futhi ngiyawahlonipha amasiko ethu. Kodwa angikwazi futhi angeke ngihlale ngibukele abanye babaholi bethu bendabuko bezama ukukhohlisa abantu bomphakathi. Abanye babaholi benziswa ukungazi, abanye ukuhala nokuthanda imali. Sezadlula lezo zikhathi lapho abantu bakithi bekhohliswa ngezindodla zemali, izicebi kanye nosomabhizinisi ngoba bezama ukufihla lokhu abeze ngakho.
We have been dispossessed enough in our history; by colonialists and Apartheid. Now I watch as a new evil descends upon us; silent money and corruption. And who suffers? Once again it is the ordinary folk of our country.
Umlando wethu uyatshengisa ukuthi sesiphucwe okuningi okungwethu, siphucwa abantu abaphuma kwamanye amazwe kanye nobandlululo. Uma ngibuka manje kunobubi obusha okuzosehlela, ukufumbathiswa kwabantu abathile imali kanye nenkohlakalo. Ekugcineni ngobani abahluphekayo? Yimina nawe muntu womphakathi.
The mining company Ibutho Coal is behaving unbelievably arrogantly. They storm into this Fuleni district; digging and scraping away when they don’t even have a lease agreement with the Ingonyama Trust. And the Trust has already told them to halt all operations. But they carry on.
Inkampani ye Ibutho Coal izikhukhumeze ngendlela emangalisayo. Ivele yatheleka endaweni yaseFuleni, yamba yagubha ibe ingenaso isivumelwano nebhodi Ingonyama Trust. Noma Ingonyama Trust isibatshelile ukuthi abame ukusebenza, kepha bona baqhubeka.
They put stickers on doors of homes. When owners enquire about them, they say these homes with stickers will be moved because the mine is going there. No consultation. Nothing! Can you believe this?
Bafika emiphakathini banamathisela amaphepha eminyango yemizi yabantu. Uma abanikazi bemizi bebuza ukuthi lamaphepha achaza ukuthini, babatshela ukuthi lamaphepha angomaki otshengisa ukuthi lemizi yiyo ezosuswa uma kifika imayini. Kube kungazange kuxoxiswane nbantu, lutho. Into eyismanga engakholakali!
Next time I will tell you about the professional people who have turned their minds to the impact of this Fuleni Mine. You will be shocked about the huge pollution and the false promises of jobs they make.
Ngokulandelayo ngiyobengibhala ngokuthi ocwepheshe abavumelana nemayini bathini ngemithelela yemayini lase Fuleni elihlongoziwe. Uzothuka ngempela uma usuzwa ngokugcola kwemvelo kanye nezithembiso ezingekho zamathuba emsebenzi.