13 August 2014

South Africa: Mining Communities March On Lekgotla

Photo: Anglo American
South African miners.

Johannesburg — Hundreds of people from mining communities marched on the mining lekgotla in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, in protest over not being included in matters affecting the industry.

"Communities will not accept the scraps from the table of the masters," Methodist Church Bishop Paul Verryn read from a memorandum on behalf of the group.

"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," he said.

People dressed in white Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua) T-shirts marched past Gallagher Estate, where the lekgotla was being held, singing and waving placards.

"You profit for our suffering," one of the placards read.

Others declared: "Nothing about us without us" and "Scrap the minerals act, we demand free, prior and informed consent".

The protesters were ushered onto a field behind the parking area of the lekgotla venue, where Verryn read out the memorandum.

The memorandum was addressed to the Chamber of Mines, the department of mineral resources, its minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Parliament and President Jacob Zuma.

Verryn said communities had been excluded from the adoption of the Mining Charter and the development and passing of legislation.

"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'," he said.

Macua made 10 demands.

These included scrapping the whole Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act; that the mining communities be consulted and recognised as "legitimate stakeholders" and that land they claim was stolen from communities be given back to the rightful owners.

The group also wanted all new licensing processes and community displacement to end until a new law was drawn up in line with the Constitution and for government to ensure that the communities benefit from the wealth of mining.

It wanted all charges against community activists dropped immediately and an end to "police and mine security harassment, intimidation and arrests".

Protesters cheered as Verryn went through the demands.

Vusi Mabena, senior executive for transformation and stakeholder relations at the Chamber of Mines, accepted the memorandum.

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