In 2017, Gwede Mantashe unilaterally announced that the DMRE would allow the 2012 amendments to the MPRDA, that had passed through both houses of Parliament during the 5th Parliament, to lapse.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), under the directives of Gwede Mantashe and the oversight of the current ANC controlled Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy (PCMRE), has recently invited undisclosed stakeholders and interested parties, to a Summit, to review the Minerals Petroleum Development Act (MPRDA).
The DMRE are hastily convening this Summit in the wake of a potential legal challenge against the 6th Parliament, who have failed to amend the MPRDA since an initial process was started in 2012 by the 4th Parliament of South Africa.
By so doing, the Minister, the DMRE and the PCMRE, had not only ignored and set aside 5 years of Parliamentary processes, but they also effectively suppressed 2 critical court judgements, the recommendations of the Motlanthe High Level Panel appointed by Parliament to assess key legislation, the report by the South African Human Rights Commission which also called for amendments to the MPRDA, and the voices of mining affected communities, who were desperately calling on Parliament to ensure that legislation in the sector was more attuned to the struggles and sufferings of affected communities.
Both the Motlanthe High Level Panel recommendations, and the South African Human Rights Commission Report on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining Affected Communities, were affirmed by the courts in the Maledu and Baleni (Xolobeni) Judgements, and yet the Minister, with the acquiescence of the PCMRE, subverted a democratic process, and undermined the rule of law, in favour of appeasing profit seeking corporations and interested parties, and at the expense of the marginalised and excluded.
Despite the strong-arm bulldozing of the democratic process and consequent denial of the constitutional mandates that each arm of the state carries, mining affected communities submitted a petition with 50 000 signatures to the 6th Parliament in 2020, calling on Parliament to urgently initiate a process to amend the MPRDA, so that the rights of affected communities could be protected.
Despite some engagements with the PCMRE that involved parliamentarians constantly attacking organisations of the affected communities, rather than dealing with the substance of their submissions, the PCMRE, failed to advance a process that would lead to amendments of the MPRDA.
In 2022, the PCMRE was provided with a further portfolio of evidence to show, that despite the Ministers claims that the current legislation is able to effectively deal with community concerns, mines are still not complying with their licence obligations, while communities are being further impoverished and excluded.
Despite all this, the PCMRE steadfastly refused to advance amendments to the MPRDA and when pressed, by communities who delivered the petition to parliament, on why they had not initiated a process to amend the MPRDA, the PCMRE now claims that there is too little time left in this current parliament.
It has been more than 11 years since legislative changes were promised to mining affected communities and other stakeholders. While mining houses have since recorded record profits, it is only affected communities who have become poorer and further excluded and alienated from the benefits and wealth that is extracted from beneath their feet, and it is only the environment that has been ravaged and devastated while the wealth accumulates to a few.
The current hastily convened and unilaterally determined process which the DMRE calls a Summit, appears in the light of their consistent obstructionist approach to amending the legislation, to be yet another attempt to placate community voices and divert public attention from the systematic and diabolical efforts to deny communities from achieving their full constitutional rights. In the absence of adequate notice, information, rough parity of representation between interest groups, and real engagement of communities to ensure the platform gives adequate space for inputs, the process is yet another Gwede Mantashe orchestrated charade.
We call on all those who are committed to achieving the principles of our Constitution, to join us on the 13th and 14th of July, as we march to the Summit and DMRE offices around the country, to show our displeasure and anger at the arrogance and injustice of powerful actors who wish to use their access to wealth and political connections to deny the people of South Africa their constitutional rights.
We call on the Minister and the DMRE to urgently engage communities in a meaningful and inclusive process of engagement rather than to show-boat empty, meaningless and inaccessible summits.
We call on the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy to urgently and without delay, to initiate an amendment process to the MPRDA.