Date: 10 February 2023
To: All Media Editors, Journalists and News Outlets
RE: MACUA warns that President Ramaphosa’s lack of focus on the mining sector in his SONA address, points to the declaration of a silent war on mining affected communities.
The failure by President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the plight of mining affected communities in his SONA speech has provided the clearest indication yet, that the President and the Government are grimly determined to use the mining sector as a cash cow that would allow him and the government to hide and detract from their multitude of other failures, at any cost…or at least, at the cost of mining affected communities.
The stubborn refusal by the President and the government, to acknowledge the abject failure of the mining sector to act with any semblance of justice towards mining affected communities, despite the mountains of evidence that have been presented to them, points to an unspoken policy position, in which a decision has been made in favour of advancing the interests of mining companies above those of affected communities and the environment.
This diabolical and Machiavellian abandonment of the constitutional values of “human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, social justice and equity and respect”, in favour of a Cecil Joh Rhodes type scramble for resources, completely ignores the human, social and environmental costs that underlie such a one-dimensional profit driven approach.
The world is currently entering a new phase of mineral extraction that will rival previous scrambles for resources that left a continent like Africa impoverished and underdeveloped, and South Africa, like it was during the gold rush, sits in the heart of one of its target areas.
As the world increasingly moves to “green energy” which requires a whole new set of mineral combinations, the priority of Securing Critical Minerals, becomes increasingly urgent, and desperate, as various developed nations scramble to ensure that their economies are able to access these limited minerals before their competitor nations are able to. The world’s supply system for critical minerals is currently far from able to meet the rising demands stemming from the need for green technologies.
The Presidents response thus far has been to ensure that regulations are relaxed via well-funded and specific projects, like Operation Vulindlela, that seeks to carve shortcuts for mines so that mining companies are allowed greater freedoms to unleash their destructive machinery and to crush all who dare to oppose it.
And yet, when mining affected communities present the Presidency with clear evidence that mining companies are failing to comply with the “legal” obligations and that mining communities are desperately underdeveloped because of mining operations on their land, as we did, the President remains stoically silent and resolute in championing the acceleration of the extraction of minerals and the accumulation of wealth for the few.
At whose cost Mr President? At whose Cost?
Mining has historically been the key driver of an economy that produced deep levels of inequality and poverty, and which is ranked among the most egregious examples of inequality in the world.
One of the key projects of post-apartheid South Africa was to undo the legacy of inequality, oppression and exploitation that mining engendered during the colonial and Apartheid years. And yet, we have still not seen any deviation from the trajectory that Colonialism and Apartheid laid out for the black majority.
It is deeply ironic, and bitterly sad, that the President of a once revolutionary liberation movement, and who himself emerged from the ranks of the poor and marginalized would be the new Cecil John Rhodes (ironically, they also share the same Initials – CR), who would condemn new generations to the violence and destruction of an unfettered mining industry.
MACUA calls on all citizens who yearn for justice and who cannot bear the continued injustice to continue unabated and unopposed, to join our struggle for “human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, social justice and equity and respect”.
For more information, to start your own community branch or to volunteer, visit www.macua.org.za