RE: MACUA & WAMUA Says Government is using Mining Affected Communities as Sacrificial Lambs at the altar of Greed and Profits for the few. 

Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) have rejected the latest attempt by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to reopen mines without due regard to the death that it will bring to mining affected communities. 

“It has been a consistent practise of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to exclude communities from participating in the decisions that directly affect them” says Meshack Mbangula, the National Coordinator of MACUA. “We have long argued that mining affected communities are used as sacrificial lambs in the mining sector with profits going to foreign shareholders and fat-cat government perks, and now, when thousands of lives are at stake, the DMRE has once again left communities to face death and starvation in order to produce profits which we will never see” he said. 

MACUA and WAMUA have previously shown that mining affected communities do not benefit form mining activities on their doorsteps while facing all the negative and now deadly consequences of mining. 

According to PWC reports that have been compiled for Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed corporate entities within the South African Mining Industry since 2008 and incorporating financial results from 2007 to June 2018, the South African Mining Industry has, despite a consistent media narrative in which the mining industry corporates are cast as victims struggling to make a profit, accumulated net profits of R221 Billion Rands over this period. The declared profits do not include the undeclared illicit financial flows which the African Monitor claims peaked at R237 Billion per annum in 2011. According to the African Monitor, South Africa has lost a cumulative R1,007 Billion to illicit outflows between 2002 and 2011. 

The PWC report series from 2009 to June 2018, suggests that the state has received R160 billion in direct tax revenues during this period That amounts to an average of R16Billion per year. The bulk of which went to funding the DMRE and Minister`s ridiculously exorbitant salaries. DMRE budget for 2020/2021 amounted to R9.3 billion. 

An additional amount of approximately R45 billion is estimated to be paid to government and traditional leaders as Royalties. In all, the PWC reports (which do not factor in any potential mis-invoicing and/or illicit financial flows) estimate that government takes approximately 24% of value reported among the listed JSE mining corporates and 

Registered in South Africa as MACUA/WAMUA ADVICE OFFICE under the Non-Profit Organisations Act, 1997 (ACT 71 OF 1997) Registration number 228-294 NPO MACUA WAMUA NPC 2019/360083/08 

shareholders, 29% of value reported. Community investments by contrast has only amounted to 0.9% over the same period. 

But, as we have previously shown in our Social Audit Reports, none of the value from these community investments are experienced in the lived realities of communities who participated in our social audit surveys. Up to 79% of respondents, those to whom these benefits are meant to accrue, have not participated in or benefited from the claimed investments. By our calculations, this implies that close to R5.92 billion of the estimated R7.5 billion earmarked for community development over the last 10 years, did not reach its intended beneficiaries. 

There is ample evidence to suggest that mining affected communities have become poorer over time and mining, and its exclusion of communities, has been a key contributor to the inequality that drives poverty in South Africa. 

Despite yet another court affirming that mining affected communities are interested and affected parties that must be “meaningfully engaged”, the DMRE has once again sort to pay lip service to the Constitutional values of the country and to a lawful order of a court. 

According to Judge Andre van Niekerk, in the recent AMCU vs Minister of Mineral Resources matter that ordered Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, to engage meaningfully with relevant stakeholders, including community networks, when drafting guidelines around health and safety for operating mines during the coronavirus pandemic; “it is not disputed that the vulnerability of mineworkers in turn renders the communities in which they live vulnerable to Covid-19. There are almost half a million mineworkers in South Africa. Any Covid-19 infection at a mine is likely to spread to the communities surrounding the mine where the mineworkers live.” 

Nester Ndebele of WAMUA suggested that “it is no surprise to us that the DMRE has once again ignored community concerns and have made it easy for mining bosses to reap profits while we are going to die so that they can live in luxury”. 

According to the Constitutional Court in the case of the Residents of Joe Slovo Community in the Western Cape v Thubelitsha Homes, “meaningful consultation” requires, “good faith and reasonableness on both sides and the willingness to listen and understand the concerns of the other side. The goal of meaningful engagement is to find a mutually acceptable solution to the difficult issues confronting the government and the residents…this can only be achieved if all sides approach the process in good faith and with a willingness to listen and, where possible, to accommodate one another. Mutual understanding and accommodation of each other’s concerns, as opposed to reaching agreement, should be the primary focus of meaningful engagement. Ultimately, the decision lies with the government. 

Registered in South Africa as MACUA/WAMUA ADVICE OFFICE under the Non-Profit Organisations Act, 1997 (ACT 71 OF 1997) Registration number 228-294 NPO MACUA WAMUA NPC 2019/360083/08 

The decision must, however, be informed by the concerns raised by the residents during the process of engagement.” 

Instead of engaging us with good faith and reasonableness and a willingness to listen and understand our concerns, the DMRE essentially resorted to another tick box exercise in which they listened to us but without the intent of finding a mutually acceptable solution. 

In our submissions to the DMRE prior to gazetting the guidelines, the DMRE did not once seek to find a mutually acceptable solution but instead treated us like an inconvenience that needed to be checked in a box. 

Our submissions were detailed and reasonable and placed the interests of the community alongside those of workers and argued that mining affected communities are particularly vulnerable to severe and even fatal cases of Covid-19 so as to warrant special protection. 

Accordingly, we warned the DMRE that unless targeted prevention measures are put in place and health facilities are scaled-up in mining affected communities, Black working class and poor women in communities are likely to suffer the worst of this pandemic. 

Our submissions, as we argued in court, highlighted the fact that mines, mineworkers and mining affected communities are intrinsically interlinked. This is by all accounts a unique relationship. Evidence of this relationship is contained in various legislative provisions such as the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA), Social Labour Plans and the Socio- Economic Empowerment Charter for the Mining and Minerals Industry, 2018 (Mining Charter). 

As confirmed by the Labour Court Judgement, mining affected communities` environmental and health rights are recognised by the MHSA. In this regard, the MHSA places certain duties on the State and on mines to ensure the protection of mining affected communities. 

Instead of finding a mutual accommodation for communities, we were completely left out of the guidelines and the final product appears not to be informed by the concerns of mining affected communities. Instead we have been offered up as sacrificial lambs who will pay the ultimate price for the greed and avarice of the few. 

As MACUA and WAMUA we reject governments denial of our rights and denial of our humanity and citizenship. We are not your sacrificial lambs and we demand JUSTICE! 

Statement Ends.