The Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) held a successful 2-day Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Johannesburg on 15 -16 June 2021.
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. The main objective of the network is to work collectively in defending and protecting the human rights of mining-affected communities. Since MEJCON-SA’s establishment in 2012, the network has been able to be the voice of many aggrieved communities. The AGM is an effective tool that the network uses to ensure that its work is still aligned with its objectives and values.
Two days of fearless and productive engagements
The first day was a day of reflection where the then steering committee and regional committees reported on all the activities undertaken by MEJCON-SA since the last AGM. COVID undoubtedly presented a great challenge for an organisation like MEJCON-SA whose work is centered around movement. MEJCON-SA was forced to adapt and find alternative ways and resources to conduct its work.
MEJCON-SA was able to provide cellular phones, laptops, routers, and printers to all its regions; distribute food parcels to poor, vulnerable families when the country was faced with strict lockdown conditions as a result of the pandemic; conduct a number of community trainings, physically and virtually and participate in a number of legal proceedings. These are just a few (out of many) of the things that MEJCON-SA was able to achieve during a very challenging period.
This process was filled with vigorous engagements, debates, calls for accountability, but also appreciation for what the organization was able to achieve through the leadership of the former steering committee.
The second day of the AGM was focused on identifying opportunities, not only for the growth and strengthening of the organisation but also opportunities for MEJCON-SA to broaden the scope of its current focus. Members mandated the organisation to expand its work around exploring and implementing alternative and sustainable local economic development for affected communities resisting polluting developments such as coal mines.
Members of the MEJCON-SA acknowledged that the lack of understanding around gender diversity in their communities has the potential to indirectly discriminate and exclude certain members. Members, therefore, made clear calls for ensuring a safe and inclusive space for all its members. This means placing greater emphasis on developing and enforcing policies that deal with gender inequality. In the current period, MEJCON-SA will be engaging all of its regions to develop a gender framework that will give guidance to the organisation on incorporating a gender lens into its work.
The second day was also dedicated to electing a new steering committee to lead the organization for the next 24 months. Comrade Margaret Molomo was elected as the Chairperson. In her Chairperson’s address she said the following:
“Our communities have entrusted us with the responsibility of leading this prestigious organisation and we must do so with integrity. We must be diligent and we must work hard. Our struggle is not easy but we must endure leadership is not about the individual but a collective, our actions as leaders will shape the future. ”
The rest of the steering committee consist of:
Deputy Chairperson: Busi Bohale
Secretary: Andries Mocheko
Deputy Secretary: Katlego Malesa
Treasurer: Ernest Mahlalela
Additional member: Phumudzo Mpfuni
Additional member: Israel Mosala
We thank the former steering committee for all their hard work and dedication and welcome the new leadership.