Date: 13 June 2020

To: All Media Editors, Journalists and News Outlets

RE: MACUA & WAMUA Youth Branches across the country will “take the knee” on June 16th in Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter

Across the world, communities who have been systematically oppressed exploited and killed have recently raised the call of #BlackLIvesMatter in the wake of the brutal and unconscionable killing of George Floyd in the Unites States.

The brutal and ongoing killing of black men in America has been one of the more visible manifestations of the cruel system of white supremacy that has condemned millions of black lives to poverty, destitution, exploitation and all too regularly black lives have been easy targets for State, Corporate and societal violence.

While in the US, Black Communities have been able to rally a broad movement of opposition to systemic targeted violence against black lives, in South Africa, the value of black lives has continued to be collateral damage in the post-apartheid scramble to accumulate wealth at any cost.

Twenty Six years after the dawn of a “democratic” dispensation and 44 years after the youth of Soweto rose up to break free from the shackles that bound millions of black lives to an economic, political, and social system based on the idea of that black lives do no matter, the youth in mining affected communities have not yet escaped the structural reality of this very same system.

Mining affected communities, on whose land these highly profitable mining operations take place, have become systematically poorer over time, as the state squanders revenue from mining on ensuring that officials and connected politicians and traditional leaders live the highlife at the expense of communities. Mining Companies have historically benefitted immensely and continues to benefit from the wealth of the country without compensating affected communities for the devastation and poverty that their activities have brought.

Even today, in the midst of a global pandemic and a global revolt against the white supremacy that does not value black lives, the lives of mining affected communities are still viewed as sufficiently valueless to be an acceptable loss as mines ramp up their production in search of more and more profits.

It is the current mining legislative system which stands in stark contrast to the message of #BlackLivesMatter, in that the current mining regime excludes communities from decidingon the issues that really affect them, even when they are faced with the possibility of dying so that some group of elite business investors and politicians can benefit.

We say NO MORE!

Nonhlanhla Sibiya, the coordinator of  Youth Affected By Mining United in Action (YAMUA – Youth Wing of MACUA) was adamant that “the lives of mining affected communities’ matter” and she called on the South African public “to stand by affected communities as we struggle to get the knee of Government and Mining Companies off the throats of mining affected communities”.

“Our youth are faced with a future in which their health and well-being will be impacted before they reach adulthood”, she said. “Our parents have been left destitute and now government expects us to sit back and face the same miserable fate…Over our dead bodies”

Youth from across the country will gather at 09h00 at various places across the country on June 16th to “Take the Knee” in solidarity with the global #BlackLivesMatter movement but also to highlight the plight of mining affected communities who are the victims of structural violence every day.

Another Youth Leader from the Sekukune area, Tokelo Mahlakoane said that “the violence we face daily is not captured by video cameras and does not invoke the anger seen with the murder of George Floyd recently, but the violence is nonetheless real and is killing us in terms of health, wealth and spirit.”

Meshack Mbangula, National Coordinator of MACUA explained that “structural violence is about the social arrangements that put mining affected communities in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the legislation that excludes communities; they are violent because they cause injury to people. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access making decisions about their own lives.”

For MACUA structural violence is seen in the ‘structural inequalities that systematically deny some people their basic human needs’ and this constitutes ‘a structural violation of human rights in that ‘structural violence yields a complex picture of inequality.

It is this structural knee which is squeezing the dignity and personhood from affected communities and which we demand must be stopped if #BlackLIvesMatter.

We call on Gwede Mantashe to take his knee off our throats and to immediately start the process of ensuring that the Minerals Petroleum Resources Development Act is amended to ensure that mining affected communities are able to participate in issues that directly affect them and by so doing to allow them to counter the systemic exploitation and oppression of mining affected communities and to show that #BlackLivesMatter in real terms on not just in rhetorical terms.