The mining affected Fuleni communities will be holding a peaceful demonstration today, 21 April 2016, starting 11h00, in Fuleni, bordering on the iMfolozi Wilderness Area, to voice their opposition to Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni open cast coal mine. And to protest about lack of consultation and lack of inclusion of affected communities in the Fuleni RMDEC meeting on 22 April at Nseleni Nature Reserve.
The march is also to expose threats of intimidation, oppression, harassment and disregard for human rights and basic democratic processes, and even death for community representatives who oppose mining and speak out against injustices and irregularities.
The communities will be marching under the banner of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) and supported by various other organisations including MACUA, GET, WoMin, groundWork and EarthLore.
One of the march conveners, Phila Ndimande believes “Everything has its own time and the time has come for this march. Enough is enough. The community is not only speaking out about what we don’t want but also about what we want. No to mining and Yes to life.”
Billy Mnqondo, the other convener stated: “Our leaders don’t know how to listen to the people. All they know is how to talk a lot. Hopefully this march will help them hear us.”
MCEJO is a community based organisation established in November 2015 to coordinate activities like the successful Isolesizwe Film Festival, on 28 February 2016, and various projects in Fuleni including their current clean-up campaign.
MCEJO’s slogan is “Nothing about our land and us without us.”
Lebo Ngobeni is concerned about the impact of mining on women. “The women of Fuleni will be turning out in force because they understand how much they will lose if mining starts. We don’t want to see Ibutho Coal here ever again.”
Organising the march has proved to be very challenging. Despite a letter from MCEJO’s lawyer, Kirsten Youens, dated 14 April 2016, to uMfolozi Local Municipality (035 580 1421) and addressed to the Mayor, Cllr SW Mgenge, and to the Municipal Manager, Mr KE Gamede, specifically requesting assistance in facilitating what should be a 7-day process, there has been no communication from the municipality until this morning.
Billy Mnqondo visited the municipality every day this week, except Monday, in an effort to sort out the necessary paperwork. The official who deals with these matters has apparently not been in his office despite his colleague saying he would be available as from Monday.
Yesterday morning the Chairperson of the Rapid Response (sic) team, Mr ZD Mfusi, 078 448 7427 issued notice of an urgent rapid response meeting under section 4 at 12h00 today an hour after the Fuleni community march is scheduled to start.
An email from Simon Delaney of Delaney Attorneys explains that “The Regulation of Gatherings Act requires that a municipality must give notice of a section 4 meeting no later than 24 hours after the convener gives notification of the gathering, in the absence of which the gathering can proceed (without any further authorisations/permissions etc).”