[WSMDiscuss] Fwd: [bedev_gwg] Xolobeni community triumphs

Ashish Kothari chikikothari at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 05:32:23 CET 2018

Prior & informed consent is enshrined in international agreements, but 
its actual implementation is stymied by corporate and state powers ... 
so such judgements can be of great significance if communities and civil 
society are able to use them as tools to strengthen their resistance. Of 
course, it also necessitates capacity (including full information) 
amongst communities to use it, and struggles against elite distortion of 
a genuinely democratic and equitable process of deciding on consent.


NEW!’Alternative Futures: India Unshackled’, https://www.amazon.in/dp/B077S479W4

Ashish Kothari
Apt 5 Shree Datta Krupa
908 Deccan Gymkhana
Pune 411004, India
Tel: 91-20-25654239; 91-20-25675450
Twitter: @chikikothari

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	[bedev_gwg] Xolobeni community triumphs
Date: 	Wed, 28 Nov 2018 11:40:46 +0200
From: 	David Fig <davidfig at iafrica.com>
Reply-To: 	bedev_gwg at googlegroups.com
To: 	bedev_gwg at googlegroups.com

One of the bigger anti-extractive struggles in South Africa has been at 
Xolobeni on the country’s Wild Coast. I have drafted an article on the 
latest developments in their struggle, and hope it will cast light on 
some of the challenges faced by communities up against mining capital.

*Xolobeni community triumphs*

On 25 November 2018, a long-awaited high court judgment in South Africa 
changed the way in which mining companies must operate in relation to 
rural communities, the subjects of customary law. In the past, mining 
companies have resorted to superficial consultation with communities or 
their designated leaders in order to gain a mining licence. From now on, 
the principle under which licences must be granted has to rest on 
community consent that is “full and informed”. Communities now have the 
right to withhold consent.

This judgment has led to ecstatic celebration in the Xolobeni area of 
the country’s Wild Coast, situated in the rural Eastern Cape. For many 
years the community has been organised in the Amadiba Crisis Committee, 
which has consistently argued against the government granting a mining 
licence to the Australian-owned Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources 
company (TEM), keen to exploit the titanium-rich lands on which the 
community lives. It was the Amadiba Crisis Committee that brought the 
case to court.

Eschewing government development rhetoric which equates mining with 
prosperity, the community’s view is that mining creates displacement, 
loss of livelihoods, loss of cultural assets, leads to health and 
environmental degradation, compromises access to water, and sterilizes 
land use for centuries. The history of mining in South Africa is well 
known to local residents, who have seen generations leaving their land 
to become impoverished migrant labourers in the gold, coal and platinum 
fields. The region has in the past strongly contested colonial conquest 
and was a strong actor in the Mpondo Rebellion of the late 1950s, still 
etched in the memories of the grandparents.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee has formed the backbone of resistance to 
the onslaught of mining capital, wholly backed by government. It has 
been the subject of harassment, death threats and assassination of its 
leaders. The murder of Amadiba leader Bazooka Radebe by an anonymous 
death squad remains uninvestigated and unresolved. The committee has 
seen the mining company divide the community by offering shares, jobs 
and cars to a small number of local people, including traditional leaders.

A number of different politicians have held the post of Minister of 
Mineral Resources in recent times, playing cat and mouse with the 
community. Currently the minister is a former general secretary of the 
National Union of Mineworkers, Mr Gwede Mantashe, now a staunch 
supporter of the mining company. At a recent public reception in the 
area, the minister refused to allow the Amadiba committee to attend the 
meeting or to have a say in deliberations. Community lawyer Richard 
Spoor was arrested for pointing a finger at the minister. Mantashe has 
issued his objections to the judgment, and has until 14 December to 
launch an appeal. Johan Lorenzen, an attorney in Spoor’s office, is 
optimistic that the appeal will not be upheld by higher courts because 
the judgment is so cogent.

When the case was heard last April, many from Xolobeni made the long 
trip to Pretoria to witness the proceedings. They wore vivid t-shirts 
endorsing the “Right to Say No!” and singing freedom songs in the 
streets outside the court during recess. Their patience has paid off, 
and the long march through the courts has signaled that this right has 
been achieved, not just for themselves, but importantly for all rural 
communities subjected to mining claims against their interest.

The judgment has caused some consternation in the mining industry, which 
fears that it will result in stronger regulation. Communities will have 
to be fully informed of mining company plans. The bar to obtain full and 
informed consent has been raised. Despite government pressures to 
accommodate industry, the scene is set for greater justice to prevail. 
Communities like Amadiba will remain organised and vigilant to secure 
the new rights the courts have granted them.

David Fig is a fellow of TNI and a supporter of the Southern African 
Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power. Recently the Campaign ran the 
third in a series of popular people’s tribunals at which the Xolobeni 
case was submitted to a panel of jurors.

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