[WSMDiscuss] Fwd: [bedev_gwg] Xolobeni community triumphs
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
Apt 5 Shree Datta Krupa
908 Deccan Gymkhana
Pune 411004, India
Tel: 91-20-25654239; 91-20-25675450
-------- 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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