The Peoples Mining Charter
Following a dialogue among mining affected communities, hosted by, Foundation for Human Rights(FHR), ActionAid South Africa (AASA), the International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA), representing communities in 8 provinces across South Africa, during 2-5 December 2012, a coordinating committee of Mining Affected Communities United In Action (MACUA), was elected to begin the process of uniting communities in a broad movement aimed at articulating the voices of mining affected communities.
Following the formation of MACUA the need to mobilise women around the issues that affect them was identified and it was agreed to facilitate the formation of Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) who has since grown from strength to strength.
To this end the MACUA and WAMUA Coordinating Committee, has embarked upon a process of consultation and collaboration with a range of mining stakeholders including workers, civil society organisations and communities, with a view to building broad consensus on a campaign to gather a comprehensive mandate from mining affected communities, which will be formulated into a “Peoples Mining Charter” (PMC).
In February 2015, AASA and MACUA convened a meeting of civil society and community organisations on the side-lines of the Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town where it was agreed to form the Civil Society Coalition on the MPRDA. The Coalition agreed to gather communities and civil society in Berea Johannesburg in March of 2015 to start the process of consolidating a collective view on the MPRDA and mining legislation.
After the impetus provided by the Berea Declaration, AASA, MACUA and WAMUA undertook to take the declaration to mining affected communities to gather a mandate in support of the PMC. The campaign to gather a mandate from communities included engagements with over 150 communities at local level across mining affected areas, which was consolidated and culminated in a national congress of mining affected communities who endorsed the PMC on 26 June 2016, exactly 61 years to day after the adoption of the Freedom Charter.
The PMC informs the work of MACUA and WAMUA within the mining sector and will form the basis of engagement with government and mining houses around the issues of legislation and governance. In all the campaign reached over thousands of people affected by mining and has helped local activists to focus on assisting communities to organise themselves into CBO`s and establishing activist networks across the country in mining affected communities.
Mining Houses occupy a strategically important part of the South African economy and wield enormous power and influence over the political structures of government and are able to effectively influence the Policy and Regulatory frameworks within the mining sector. For many years prior to the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, the unions, who were highly organized and militant, and the broad mass democratic movement who were represented in virtually every town across South Africa including mining towns, formed the main counter balance to the combined power of the mining houses and the Apartheid regime.
The perception that the balance of power in favour of mining communities has been eroded of the last 20 years has gained much credence and the shooting of 44 mineworkers in Marikana during August 2012, has reinforced the perception that the Mining Houses, government and organized labour, have formed a power block which excludes mining communities and their voices. The Mining Charter adopted by government in 2004, amended in 2010 and revised in 2016, does not include community voices even though the charter includes a socio economic element.
OBJECTIVES OF PMC
The objective of the Peoples Mining Charter Campaign in South Africa will be to unite mining affected communities across various mining issues into a movement that will be able to act as a united voice for these communities in policy, regulatory and governance issues and by so doing, to offer a counter balance to the unequal power relations within the mining sector.
This will require the support and building of strong local organisations that can act as educators, mobilisers and Human Rights defenders at a local level and networking local organisations across regions, provinces and the country. The programme will also seek to bring women’s and gender issues to the forefront of these collectives and to actively contribute to the building and support of WAMUA in order for WAMUA to articulate and take up women’s issues within the mining sector.
The launch of the PMC campaign brought together a broad range of communities to provide a mandate to proceed with the campaign and also to elect a national coordinating committee as well as regional task committees to drive and coordinate the work of the campaign. The campaign included the recruitment and training of 40 provincial organisers who provided the main thrust of facilitating workshops at provincial and local levels.
The Provincial organisers were tasked with holding information workshops with local communities in which the MPRDA was unpacked and discrepancies highlighted between the MPRDA and the Peoples Mining Charter while facilitating and supporting the development of community-based organisations to advance local struggles.
The work of MACUA and WAMUA at local level fed into the Civil Society Coalition on the MPRDA who used their expertise to provide an intellectually rigorous grounding for the process of impacting on the policy and legislative processes based on solid mandates from mining affected communities.
The date for the national adoption and Launch of the PMC coincided with the memorial of the adoption of the 1955 Freedom Charter on 26th of August 2016. It is envisaged that the PMC will form the basis of interactions with government with regard to mining legislation and the MPRDA in particular.
The need to consolidate mining affected community voices into a coherent set of demands in a manner that will provide their demands with legitimacy and which will unite communities in a manner that will allow mining affected communities to, not only table their demands, but will allow them to participate as an equal partner in policy and development discussions and processes, is of paramount importance.
Isolated efforts across the mining sector to date, while each adding value to the overall campaign to build a base of knowledge and evidence, have not been effective in influencing policy at a national level and has limited success at a local level as well.
Mining communities have deliberately been excluded from the process of consultation around the issues that directly affect them, and mining practises have denied communities their basic human rights of access to water, food, shelter and a healthy environment.
The PMC Campaign aims to develop the active agency of communities affected by mining, to become conscious of their rights, to assist in organising and claiming their rights and to build mechanisms through which mining communities can hold duty bearers to account, while confronting the power imbalances inherent in the mining sector of South Africa.