Reuters correspondent Ed Stoddard has taken a deep dive into the power politics of the politically connected elite that controls the revenues and opportunities that come with mining in rural areas and sees communities starting to test their strength.
“A new power struggle is unfolding in South Africa’s old homelands between global mining giants, traditional leaders and an impoverished rural populace,” he writes in this important report.
“At the heart of the conflict are tribal leaders who have royal titles and feudal-style control over the homelands, poor rural areas designated to South Africa’s black majority by its former white minority rulers during apartheid.”
The article focuses on the relationship between Anglo American Platinum and the people living around its Mogalakwena mine, but the issues it raises are universal across South Africa and, indeed, across Africa.
Stoddard’s work echoes the findings of researchers at the Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) and of many other civil society organisations active amongst communities forced to bear the brunt of mining’s false promises.
It is important because Reuters is a primary real-time resource for traders and investors around the world who make or trade on the decisions of the global mining companies. If they know that communities are losing patience with the unrealised promises of benefit and opportunity from the mining of their land, they may put pressure on the companies involved.
Knowing what is happening on the ground could encourage investors to ensure that mining companies consult fully and transparently before they turn a sod and that they account equally fully and transparently to the people – and not just their leaders – on the projects that rural land owners approve on the basis of that consultation.