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Mining community networks want their voices heard on Mining Charter

Mining community networks will be at the Pretoria High Court from Monday to argue that the Mining Charter should be set aside due to a lack of meaningful community engagement.
Pretoria High Court. Photo:
Pretoria High Court. Photo:
Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) and the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) – represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies – will further seek an order that mining affected communities are recognised as a core stakeholder who must be meaningfully engaged when developing any new charter.

“The Mining Charter is one of the most important mechanisms we have for promoting transformation and addressing the legacy of inequality in our mining sector. While the most recent version may have some positive amendments, it was developed without meaningfully engaging the very people it is intended to benefit: mining affected communities. Instead, negotiations around the charter have involved only government, mining companies and some organised labour,” a statement from the community networks says.

Deeply concerned by this, the mining affected community networks approached the court to join a review of the charter brought by the Chamber of Mines against the minister of mineral resources. The court granted the networks leave to intervene in November 2017, along with the individual mining affected communities of Bakgatla Ba Sefikile, Lesethleng, Babina Phuthi Ba Ga-Makola, and Kgatlu represented by Lawyers for Human Rights.

Core stakeholder

“The court has already acknowledged that community networks have a direct and substantial interest in the Mining Charter by admitting our clients to the review,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. “We are now asking the court, the state and mining companies to recognise mining affected communities as a core stakeholder that must form part of negotiating all policies that affect them.”

“We have consistently tried to engage government and the Chamber of Mines, but they have continued to ignore communities,” says Meshack Mbangula, national co-ordinator of MACUA. “When the charter was developed, communities were not engaged and so it does not reflect their needs and cannot be effective in its aims.”

“We stand together with the other community networks challenging the Mining Charter,” says Nester Ndebele, national convenor of WAMUA. “We want a say on the laws and policies that are meant to benefit us and for the charter to recognise the burdens placed on women in particular.”

“The Mining Charter is meant to be a tool for mining affected communities, but we are not given the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process,” says Elton Thobejane, deputy chairperson of MEJCON-SA. “The charter must be crafted for communities to have access to benefits proportionate to the negative impacts they experience.”

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