NATIONAL NEWS - In a bid to strengthen relations between itself and organisations representing interests of communities in the country’s mining areas, the department of mineral resources yesterday committed itself to reopen a dialogue with the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua) and the Women Affected by Mining in Action (Wamua).
The pledge by the department followed a recent letter written by Macua national convenor Meshack Mbangula and Wamua’s Nester Ndebele to Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, President Cyril Ramaphosa and parliamentary mineral resources and energy portfolio committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho.
In the letter, Mbangula and Ndebele highlighted “lack of community and women participation in mining”, saying South Africa had, over the past 150 years of mining, marginalised affected communities, “particularly women, who subsidise large-scale mining operations”.
Argued Mbangula and Ndebele: “Between 2007 and 2018, the industry reported net profits of R221 billion. Affected mining communities saw less than R1.5 billion or 0.9% of that sum, over a 10-year period.
“While this paltry amount of the reported value created was claimed to have been spent in affected communities, our research has shown that more than 70% of development funds allocated to communities have not reached intended beneficiaries.
“With the outbreak of Covid-19, the lives of mining affected communities were again placed in imminent danger. While mines reopened during the lockdown, largely to meet the bottom-line of profit generation, no mitigating measures were put in place to ensure communities, wherein mine workers reside, were protected.
“With the department of mineral resources and energy – and more broadly the state – clearly failing to advance the interests of communities, we were compelled to resort to the courts to have our voices heard.”
Macau and Wamua on Monday planned handing a petition signed by 50,000 affected communities, demanding government’s intervention in ensuring steps were taken to “engage and empower communities in mining”.
Department spokesperson Natie Shabangu said the mineral resources department recognised “the importance of mining communities”.
“This was evident throughout the mining charter consultations process where communities, including organisations which represent communities, such as Maca and Wamau, were consulted,” said Shabangu.