Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) has noted the speech made by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of the African Mining Indaba in which he repeats his now oft repeated platitudes about mining affected communities.

The African Mining Indaba has once again gathered governments, corporations and a few elite NGO’s (who continue to sell out mining affected communities for a seat at the masters table), around the table to carve up the pie of mineral wealth at the expense of communities.

As mining affected communities, we have come to understand those who are not at the table are most likely on the menu.

It is in this context that we reject the inane platitudes offered by the President when he holds forth that Social Labour Plans (SLP’s) are the silver bullet that will lift mining affected communities out of the poverty and exploitation experienced under Colonial, and Neocolonial corporate rule.

Not only does the President continue to ignore the voices of thousands upon thousands of mining affected communities that have petitioned him, but he goes further to trample their voices into the dust of their poverty by suggesting that mining companies could deliver the non-existent silver bullet without the inputs and voices of affected communities. This paternalistic approach to mining affected communities, smacks of the Colonial attitudes of the past and should have no place in a constitutional democracy which values human dignity and their right to participate in issues that affect them.

We wish to refer the President to our Baseline Social Audit which we did in conjunction with ActionAid South Africa (published in 2018) in which we show that 70% of the funds allocated by mining companies to SLP’s do not reach communities affected by mining. This pathetic outcome is further aggravated by the fact that less than 0.9% of reported revenue, extracted at the costs of communities, is allocated to community development. Is it any wonder then that we live in poverty while the President and the politically connected elites live in luxury and out country remains the most unequal in the world?

The President seems to be living in a reality of his own making when he continues to insist that all stakeholders were party to the Mining Charter and we wish to remind the President that MACUA and WAMUA are in fact party to a legal challenge to the very Mining Charter that the President appears to believe was the outcome of a collective process.

As we point out in court papers, the agreements reached between the elites and crafted at our expense, do not represent us or the communities we live in and we vehemently reject any agreement reached without our consent and participation. We reject the paternalistic notion that government knows best, and we demand our dignity through the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent.