Mining activists ask to join battle against Zwane’s new charter

24 October 2017 - 10:06 By Kyle Cowan
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Image: Gallo Images

Three groups representing more than 150 mining activists and community-based organisations will be joining a court battle against a new mining charter‚ rubber stamped by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) on Tuesday announced it will be launching an application to intervene in the case brought by the Chamber of Mines against Zwane.

The application is on behalf of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA)‚ Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) and the Mining and Environmental Justice Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA).

According to a statement released by CALS‚ these groups represent more than 150 activists and community-based organisations working in mining in the country.

“The mining industry in South Africa is built on a legacy of inequality and exploitation. The Mining Charter is one of the most important mechanisms we have for addressing this legacy and promoting much-needed transformation in the sector‚” CALS said.

“The most recent version of the Charter‚ released by the Department of Mineral Resources on 15 June this year‚ features some transformative amendments. These include ensuring mine workers and communities have decent living conditions and mines contribute to development in the areas where they operate.”

But the new charter and its previous versions were developed without affected communities being consulted‚ CALS said.

“For the past 15 years‚ these negotiations have involved only three parties: the state‚ mining companies and organised labour. Despite being directly interested and affected parties‚ communities have not been afforded an opportunity to participate in negotiations for any iteration of the Mining Charter.”

Zwane has also come under fire from the Chamber of Mines in the public domain for not consulting them before amending the charter.

“These communities bear the greatest burden of mining‚ losing farm land to mining operations‚ facing environmental harm and degradation and suffering from illnesses caused by pollution‚” CALS said.

“We are asking the Court to allow us to intervene in the case and to set aside the current Charter for this failure to meaningfully engage affected communities.

“We further seek a declaratory order that mining affected communities are recognised as a key stakeholder and must be meaningfully engaged when developing any new Charter through a process that is transformative‚ democratic and transparent in line with the Constitution.”

The case is set down to be heard on 13 and 14 December in the Pretoria High Court.

CALS said its court papers were filed on Tuesday morning.

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