Community participation in Mining Charter Review opposed by Chamber of Mines
- Lee-Anne Bruce
The Chamber of Mines complains the Mining Charter was developed without meaningful consultation, yet opposes community networks joining its review
On 24 October, three mining community networks launched an application in the Pretoria High Court to join a case brought by the Chamber of Mines against the Minister of Mineral Resources concerning the Mining Charter. The Chamber of Mines argues that the current Mining Charter was developed without adequately consulting them and its publication went beyond the powers of the Minister.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies acts on behalf of the three mining community networks: Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA), and the Mining and Environmental Justice Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA). Together these groups represent over 150 activists and community-based organisations working on mining in the country.
For the past 15 years, negotiations around the Mining Charter have involved only three parties: the state, mining companies and trade unions. Despite the fact that the Mining Charter is intended to address inequality in the sector and benefit communities living in poverty bearing the burdens of mining, it has been developed largely without them. MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA have therefore asked the Court to admit them as parties in the case and order that mining affected communities are a key stakeholder who should be meaningfully engaged when reviewing and developing the Mining Charter.
While the Minister of Mineral Resources has recognised the importance of including community networks in the review, the Chamber of Mines is opposing our application. In their founding papers, the Chamber argues that the Mining Charter was developed in a way that was procedurally unfair because “no meaningful consultation took place” with them. Though they have brought a review showing concern for their own inclusion in the process of developing the Charter, they continue to insist on the exclusion of affected communities from being part of the conversation about laws and policies that impact them.
“The Chamber of Mines has consistently failed to recognise community-based organisations as formal stakeholders, despite persistent attempts to be part of the Mining Charter process,” says Meshack Mbangula, National Co-ordinator of MACUA. “Precluding a community voice from being part of this case would further exclude community rights and interests in any new regime for transformation in the mining sector.”
The procedural application for MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA to join the case between Chamber and the Minister of Mineral Resources is set down for hearing in the Pretoria High Court on 14 November 2017. The main review application is set to be heard on 13 and 14 December.
For inquiries, please contact:
From the mining community networks:
- Thelma Nkosi (Chairperson, MEJCON-SA): 071 519 0133, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Meshack Mbangula (National Co-ordinator, MACUA): 074 977 5588, email@example.com
- Nester Ndebele (National Convenor, WAMUA): 083 269 5705, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies:
- Wandisa Phama (Attorney): 011 717 8608 / 078 684 3140, Wandisa.Phama@wits.ac.za
- Louis Snyman (Attorney): 011 717 8629 / 083 355 6482, Louis.Snyman@wits.ac.za
- Robert Krause (Researcher): 011 717 8615 / 081 427 7818, Robert.Krause@wits.ac.za
Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) is a co-ordinating body representing and advancing the rights and interests of mine-affected communities across eight provinces of South Africa. The network is made up of 50 community organisations and calls for communities to be granted a greater say in issues that affect their human rights and which they believe is denied to them in current regulations governing the mining sector.
Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) is an official national platform formed within MACUA with the purpose of advancing the rights and interests of women in mining affected communities. WAMUA aims to advance and support women in mining affected communities to strengthen their participation in community decision making processes and influencing local, provincial and national policy and legislative process in the mining sector.
The Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) is a network of communities, community based organisations and community members whose environmental and human rights are affected, directly or indirectly, by mining and mining-related activities. Since its constitution on 17 October 2012, MEJCON-SA’s membership has continued to grow and includes representatives of various individuals, community-based and civil-society organisations throughout South Africa.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a public interest law organisation based at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. Founded in 1978 by Professor John Dugard, CALS continues to use a combination of research, advocacy and litigation to advance human rights and social justice. Read more about our work at https://www.wits.ac.za/cals/.