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January 31, 2020

MEJCON-SA at DMRE offices, Pretoria

Today MEJCON-SA was at the offices of Department of Minerals and Energy in Pretoria as part of a coalition aimed at calling on the department to respect the rights of affected communities in mining decision and policy making. The coalition made the following joint statement:

List of demands by mining-affected communities and civil society organisations

  1. We are a coalition of mining-affected communities, community networks, trade unions, and civil society networks comprising:
    • Mining-Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA)
    • Women from Mining Affected Communities United in Action (WAMUA)
    • Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA)
    • South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU)
    • Bench Marks Foundation
    • ActionAid South Africa
    • Centre for Environmental Rights
    • Lawyers for Human Rights
    • Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
    • Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
  2. It was highly unfortunate that the Department of Minerals and Energy (the Department) released two draft laws with vast implications for the rights of communities shortly before the December holidays. These are the draft Amendments to the MPRD Regulations (gazetted on 28 November 2019) and the draft Resettlement Guidelines (gazetted on 4 December 2019). Releasing them in such a manner without prior broad-based consultation perpetuates the marginalisation of communities we have come together to resist.
  3. We acknowledge that the Department extended the comments period until January 31 2020. However, this is far from enough. Any law and policy with such a profound impact on the self-determination of communities must be preceded by thorough engagement with the most affected communities and their partners in civil society. This includes different classes of mining-affected communities such as lawful occupiers of land, holders of informal rights, and other communities who will be directly impacted by relocations), community-based organisations and networks, civil society organisations and trade unions. We wish to remind the Department of the court order communities obtained in the matter of The Chamber of Mines of South and Others v Minister of Mineral Resources which recognised communities and the networks MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA as stakeholders who needed to be consulted in the formulation of the Mining Charter. This is even more the case for guidelines regulating resettlement, and which allow for resettlement without communities’ consent.
  4. Both the amended regulations and guidelines represent a disregard for communities since neither recognises the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), despite two successive court victories won by communities (Maledu and Others v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources (Pty) Limited and Another and Baleni and Others v Minister of Mineral Resources and Others).
  5. We therefore assembled today to submit our comments in person and to demand a new framework for mining law based on community agency and the right to free prior and informed consent.
  6. Our collective demands to the Department are:
    • Develop a new legal framework with mining-affected communities and workers that is premised on community and worker agency in determining their development path and on free prior and informed consent;
    • Launch a broad-based public participation process for the draft laws released at the end of 2019 characterised by adequate notice of no less than 3 weeks before meetings, public meetings in all mining regions, stakeholder meetings with community networks, civil society organisations and trade unions; and
    • No laws or policies allowing resettlement without the consent of each person to be resettled
  7. We look forward to engagement on our demands. We are however, prepared to pursue all avenues at our disposal for realising our demands for free prior and informed consent, meaningful community and worker participation in all law and policy making, and an end to forced removals to make way for mining.”