By Lebogang Lesenyeho
MACUA & WAMUA has been working very close with the Lejweleputswa Community Engagement Structure often referred to as CES. CES is a community structure consisting of community leaders and activist advocating for human rights within their mining affected communities.
The CES with the support of MACUA & WAMUA has, previously engaged in peaceful marches in an attempt to ensure that Harmony Gold Mine in Free State comply with relevant legislations and drive community participation in decision making structures. However, Harmony has failed to engage in meaningful consultations, reneging on its previous commitment and bringing into effect the Terms of Reference that it has proposed to the CES. It was for these reasons above others that the affected communities were left with no choice but to plan for a total shutdown in Harmony’s premises to voice out their grievances.
The first step the affected communities took was approach the municipality for municipality for an approval of the shutdown in terms of section 3 and 4 of the Regulations of Gatherings Act. However, an official within the municipal department gave an incorrected interpretation of section 12 to the CES. The municipal official indicated to them that they do not have to undergo section 3 or 4 and that they may continue to engage in a total shutdown without giving sufficient notice or complying with section 2 and 4. The affected communities acted based on such advice and continued to mobilize the community.
However, the planned total shutdown was put on hold when Harmony requested to meet for peaceful negotiations. It was decided collectively that Harmony was to be given 5 working days to respond accordingly. On the following working day, the activists and community leaders were served with an interdict electronically. This came as a shock to them because they thought they were negotiating well with Harmony officials. Affected community leaders and activists have since notified Harmony and the court of their intention to oppose the matter. As MACUA & WAMUA, we are in a process of forming relationships with potential law clinics for a strategic lawsuit against the SLAPP suits and Interdicts which are being used by mining companies to deter the activists and community leaders in mining affected communities from holding them accountable for various non-compliances.
We will continue to show our support to the CES and all other mining affected communities within our reach. NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US.
NB: Lebogang Lesenyego is MACUA WAMUA Advice Office Paralegal based in Freestate Province