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Challenge to the Mining Charter to be heard next week

- Lee-Anne Bruce

The Pretoria High Court is set to hear arguments on the Mining Charter from mining community networks from 19 – 21 February

Mining community networks representing over 150 activists and community-based organisations will be in the Pretoria High Court from Monday next week to challenge the Mining Charter published by the Department of Mineral Resources in June 2017. Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) and the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) – represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies – argue that the Charter should be set aside for lack of meaningful community engagement.

The Mining Charter is one of the most important mechanisms we have for promoting transformation and addressing the legacy of inequality in our mining sector. While the most recent version of the Charter may have some positive amendments, it was developed without meaningfully engaging the very people it is intended to benefit: mining affected communities. Instead, negotiations around the Charter have involved only government, mining companies and some organised labour.

Deeply concerned by this, the mining affected community networks approached the Court to join a review of the Charter brought by the Chamber of Mines against the Minister of Mineral Resources. The Court granted the networks leave to intervene in November 2017, along with the individual mining affected communities of Bakgatla Ba Sefikile, Lesethleng, Babina Phuthi Ba Ga-Makola, and Kgatlu represented by Lawyers for Human Rights.

From Monday we will be asking the Court to set aside the current Charter for its failure to meaningfully engage with mining affected communities. We further seek an order that mining affected communities are recognised as a core stakeholder who must be meaningfully engaged when developing any new Charter.

“The Court has already acknowledged that community networks have a direct and substantial interest in the Mining Charter by admitting our clients to the review,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. “We are now asking the Court, the state and mining companies to recognise mining affected communities as a core stakeholder that must form part of negotiating all policies that affect them.”

There will be a briefing outside the Pretoria High Court from 08:30 on Monday, 19 February 2018, during which community leaders will address the media. This will be followed by a picket outside the court of about 1000 mining affected community members from across South Africa.

“We have consistently tried to engage government and the Chamber of Mines, but they have continued to ignore communities,” says Meshack Mbangula, national co-ordinator of MACUA. “When the Charter was developed, communities were not engaged and so it does not reflect their needs and cannot be effective in its aims.”

“We stand together with the other community networks challenging the Mining Charter,” says Nester Ndebele, national convenor of WAMUA. “We want a say on the laws and policies that are meant to benefit us and for the Charter to recognise the burdens placed on women in particular.”

“The Mining Charter is meant to be a tool for mining affected communities, but we are not given the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process,” says Elton Thobejane, deputy chairperson of MEJCON-SA. “The Charter must be crafted for communities to have access to benefits proportionate to the negative impacts they experience.”

For inquiries, please contact:

From the mining community networks: 

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