Communities again excluded from Mining Charter discussions despite court order
- Lee-Anne Bruce
Despite a court order declaring mining affected communities are core stakeholders, they were again left out of Mining Charter talks this weekend
Despite the Pretoria High Court’s order declaring mining affected communities are core stakeholders who must be consulted in the formulation of the Mining Charter, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe has begun talks with only industry and some labour representatives.
CALS has learned today from a BusinessLive report that talks on the Mining Charter began over the past weekend between the Minister of Mineral Resources, the Chamber of Mines and some unions. Newly appointed Minister Gwede Mantashe has described this as the beginning of “the process of consultation with social partners in the mining industry [that] kick starts the engagements on the review of the Mining Charter.” Notably absent from among these “social partners” are mining affected communities.
This is not the first time community representatives have been excluded in this way. The weekend before the Mining Charter review was set to be heard in court exactly one month ago, the Minister and the Chamber of Mines held discussions and agreed to a postponement. Despite being co-applicants in the matter, our client mining community networks MEJCON, WAMUA and MACUA were not similarly engaged. Their argument against the Charter was that it was developed without meaningfully engaging the very people it is meant to benefit: mining affected communities.
The Pretoria High Court acknowledged that the community networks’ concerns about consultation were “well-grounded”. On 19 February, the Court ordered that not only the networks but all mining affected communities are core stakeholders who must be consulted in the formulation of any new Mining Charter. The Presidency released a statement the same day underscoring the importance of community consultation and affirming its “commitment to ensure that communities are integrally involved in consultations not only on the Mining Charter, but on all matters relating to the development of this sector.”
The Minister beginning consultations on this important piece of legislation without engaging mining affected communities at all appears to disregard both the court order and the Presidency’s undertaking.
“This is nothing new,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at CALS. “This is part of a pattern of exclusion that led our clients to approach the court in the first place. Now the exclusion continues despite a court order.”
Minister Gwede Mantashe has called a media briefing tomorrow, 20 March 2018, at 10:00 at Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria. He is set to brief the media about the session over the weekend and his immediate plans and priorities for the mining industry. We call on the Minister to account for his lack of engagement with mining affected communities and prioritise their involvement in the Mining Charter going forward.
For inquiries, please contact:
Wandisa Phama, attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies on 011 717 8608 / 078 684 3140 or at Wandisa.Phama@wits.ac.za