A coalition of civil society groups resolved at a meeting on the sidelines of the Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday (Feb 7) to oppose in every way possible the draft mining law amendment returned to Parliament by President Jacob Zuma in 2015.
President Zuma sent the Bill back to Parliament two years ago mainly because of concerns about the quality of the participation process in which ordinary South Africans should have been given a meaningful opportunity to comment on its provisions.
The Bill is still stuck in the legislature, but the Minister of Mineral Resources and, on Thursday, the President have urged its speedy resolution.
“We trust that it shall be processed and returned for finalization without much delay so that the concerns relating to uncertainty raised by business can be resolved,” President Zuma said in his State of the Nation address.
The coalition, comprising seven NGOs and four legal groups, resolved in the same week, however, that the best thing for all South Africans would be to reject the Bill in its entirety. They said in a statement:
Mosebenzi Zwane, the Minister of Mineral Resources, promised business at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (2013) would be finalised by mid-year.
He did not mention strong criticism from civil society, including public interest legal NGOs, of Parliament’s processes in handling the Bill since Zuma sent it back with four reservations about its content and adoption.
Three of these reservations were rejected or addressed by Parliament, leaving only the President’s concern that the public participation process leading to its adoption in 2014 was too hurried.
The Department of Mineral Resources has, without consulting rural communities in any way, proposed an additional 54 amendments for adoption by the NCOP.
Delegates form 10 organisations represented at the Alternative Mining Indaba organised at the same time as the investors’ meeting resolved:
• The organisations listed below, together with the communities they represent, call on the NCOP and the various provincial Parliaments currently assessing the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, 2013 (Bill) to listen to communities;
• The principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent must be adopted in South African legislation and implemented. Communities must have a right to say no to mining;
• The President’s concern that the public participation process conducted by the National Council of Provinces in 2014 was too rushed cannot be addressed by a new round of public hearings because there is no provision in law to amend the Bill at this stage;
• In processing the Bill, Parliament has deviated significantly from the prescripts of the Constitution and the Joint Rules of Parliament. It has failed to facilitate proper and meaningful public participation as required by the Constitution and affirmed by numerous Constitutional Court Judgements.
• Legislation requires that public hearings should be “meaningful”. Hearings that cannot result in amendments to address concerns raised in those hearings don’t meet this test;
• By considering the 54 new amendments proposed to the NCOP by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) at the end of January 2017, Parliament exceeded its Constitutional mandate;
• The cynical attempt in these proposed amendments to remove the few remaining safeguards for community rights is symptomatic of government’s failure to recognise communities as legitimate stakeholders who have a right to determine their own developmental paths;
• The Amendment Bill must be rejected by Parliament;
• Mining-affected communities, artisanal and small-scale miners, community-based organisations and civil society organisations from all over South Africa reject the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA).
• The MPRDA is a law designed to advance the interests of big mining companies and the politically connected elite, at the expense of poor communities that live near mines and artisanal miners who are dependent on mining for their livelihoods. Its provisions that seek to redress the imbalances of the past and to redistribute the wealth in the mining industry have abysmally failed and need to be radically reformed;
• We will campaign actively for the repeal of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (2002) because it is fatally flawed in that it does not protect the rights or interests of rural communities;
• A new mining law must be drafted in close collaboration with rural communities directly affected by mining – one that promotes the well-being of people and the environment, and which ensures redistributive equality over corporate profit;
• In particular, we call on Parliament to consider the set of minimum requirements for mining legislation in South Africa laid down in the Berea Declaration and the People’s Mining Charter, documents which were formulated through extensive and democratic consultation with over 150 communities, community-based organisations and civil society organisations.
• Mining-affected communities, artisanal and small-scale miners, community-based organisations and civil society organisations from all over South Africa reject the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA). It is a law designed to advance the interests of big mining companies and the politically connected elite, at the expense of poor communities that live near mines and artisanal miners who are dependent on mining for their livelihoods. Its provisions that seek to redress the imbalances of the past and to redistribute the wealth in the mining industry have abysmally failed and need to be radically reformed.
One of the key principles highlighted in the Berea Declaration and the People’s Mining Charter is the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Communities should have the right to decide whether or not they want mining on their land and if so, under what conditions. The MPRDA allows mining companies to occupy communities’ land, to destroy their environment and to extract huge amounts of profit while giving communities nothing in return. This unhindered exploitative practises have led to great hardship for affected communities such as forced removals, ill-health, bad working conditions and the exclusion of local communities from economic opportunities stemming from mining.
Meshack Mbangula National Coordinator of MACUA said “for as long as the MPRDA does not incorporate the content of the People’s Mining Charter which was democratically adopted by over 150 mining affected communities, we will challenge the Amendments.”
The Civil Society Coalition has committed to work tirelessly to expose this attempt at maintaining and extending the colonial legacies of the past which keep communities impoverished and exploited.
MACUA and WAMUA will be leading a range of community mobilisations across the country to ensure that communities are heard at provincial and national levels which will culminate on a march to the Union Buildings.
Signed By :
Mining-Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) Ctc: Meshack Mbangula
Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) Ctc: Nester Ndebele
Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) Ctc: Motome Kapa.
Land Access Movement of South Africa(LAMOSA) Ctc: Emily Tjale
ActionAid South Africa Ctc: Christopher Rutledge
Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) Ctc: Brendan Boyle
Womin: Ctc Samantha Hargreaves
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) Ctc: Robert Krause
Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) Ctc: Marthán Theart
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) Ctc: Michael Clements
Legal Resources Centre (LRC) Ctc: Henk Smith
For Further enquiries please contact:
Christopher Rutledge (AASA) 082 7843333
Meshack Mbangula (MACUA) 074 977 55 88
Gladys Ndbele (WAMUA) 083 268 5705