Gwede Mantashe postpones controversial Xolobeni visit - but community says he's 'lying'
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday announced the postponement of his trip to Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, citing bad roads and poor weather.
In a statement, Mantashe’s office said: "A delegation of cabinet ministers – led by the minister of mineral resources – which would have met with the Xolobeni community on Thursday has postponed the visit to the area. This follows the heavy rainfall that led to flooding and caused damage to the roads."
According to Mantashe's office, the delegation was meant to engage the community on potential development of the area. This would have involved discussing a development model around road and transport infrastructure, agriculture and fisheries, tourism and mining.
PODCAST: Will Mmusi Maimane keep his job?
"It is unfortunate that such a critical government visit had to be postponed due to inadequate road infrastructure," the department said. "This situation highlights the importance of government engaging with the Xolobeni community on the need for development for the area."
However, the Amadiba Crisis Committee - a prominent anti-mining body in the area which has been at odds with Mantashe - has dismissed the postponement as an "excuse".
"This rain was not a problem for the people of Xolobeni. It was only a problem for the people that Mantashe … was prepared to bus in from outside," the group said in a statement.
On the group's Facebook page, it commented that "he is lying".
Mantashe’s office could not immediately say what day the meeting would be rescheduled to.