011 832 1743/2

info@bench-marks.org.za

15th June 2024

July 2022

Dear Friends, the July bulleting focuses on ongoing critical reflections around the 10th anniversary of Marikana, the struggles for a Free internet, and the work of the Monitoring School.

All these struggles take place despite the dark imperilled by the failure of the state to provide electricity for all. The pressure point was the winter of July, which has now given the space for some to make big money. The business elite and their allies have over the months and years demanded and won the right for corporate solutions to the crises. This is explored further below.

Read on.

· EDITORIAL ·

A time of crisis – is also a time of opportunity

The Chinese word for crisis 危机 also carries with it the meaning of opportunity. The question is: for whom? Civil society organisations are at their weakest and it looks like they are not in the position to use these opportunities. Many are fighting simply for survival, whilst many large corporations are seeing this time as an opportunity for large profits.

South African trade unions, historically the largest and most democratic organisations, are facing a deep crisis, and this touches on how they understand their own histories, how they involve their members and what they stand for. The NUMSA national congress, said to cost about R39 million to host,  played itself out in the courts amidst claims of a lack of internal  democracy inside the organisation.

We will not go to the ruling party whose many provincial congresses have been scandal-riddled, largely due to allegations of vote-buying and the unaccountable intrusion of money. 

Some NGOs weakened under the Covid pandemic have simply thrown in the towel or have decided to follow their donor agendas… All these highlight a deep crisis in civil society as the constituencies of workers and the poor remain unaddressed.

Against the odds, there are groups who are attempting to rebuild. We hope these go well, and are rooted from the bottom up and remain deeply democratic and participatory.

The Bench Marks Foundation and other organisations have consistently fought against racism and the absence of gender justice in the face of continuing killing of women by men. We have also stood against the structural and systemic causes of our oppression and exploitation. These have their roots in our colonial and Apartheid past but, over the last thirty years, our New South Africa has failed to make a dent in rooting out the persisting rampant unemployment, poverty and inequality. 

And how have the institutions supporting democracy (chapter 9 bodies) supported democracy? 

When we talk of Chapter Nine Institutions we are referring to a group of organisations established in terms of Chapter 9 of the South African Constitution, mandated to protect and advance democracy. The institutions are:

Most of these bodies are generally under-resourced and missing in action. They have been dumbed down.

The Public Protector’s Office – the big promise of our new democracy – is mired in conflicts aimed at ridding itself of its key leader. Whilst we know that the SAHRC has no CEO, and that many key positions remain also vacant, it should not deter us from its important mandate. Yet it begs the question: how can they or any of the Chapter 9 bodies do their work of promoting, protecting and advancing the constitution without the resources and real partnerships with the people they are supposed to serve? What is stopping them from working for us and with us?

Notwithstanding these crises, the SAHRC released in mid July their Annual Trends Analysis Report for the 2020/21 financial year. This report details the complaints received and that they have been trying to address. Equality, just administrative action and socioeconomic rights have consistently remained the top three issues over the past nine years. This is their sanitised language but it speaks to the crisis we must confront. As stated and worth repeating that civil society organisations including unions are at their weakest.

The rape of eight women on Friday 29 July does point to the failure for us to deal with gender injustice and violence by men on women. The women were part of a team filming a music video at an old unused mining dump in west village Krugersdorp. Apparently the perpetrators were about 10 African males who approached the victims and started firing in the air, ordering everyone to lie down. Subsequently, they searched, robbed and eventually the women were taken aside to be gang raped. 

The police have reportedly arrested 84 people in their efforts to turn away from the label that South Africa is the Rape Capital of the World. This is a good start towards fighting the rape culture and impunity the perpetrators have enjoyed in our country.

We need to integrate the anti racist and anti sexist struggles alongside the other burning issues of our times, as we are rebuilding our organizations and movements. Workers and peoples’ movements are needed now and, for that, they would need to be adequately resourced for the long haul and work with others. Alliance building is critical and enables groups to achieve their goals in difficult times, where resources are in short supply.

Working together must not be only governed by common end goals but, equally important, by agreements on the “how” groups relate and work together to achieve their goals. This process is intrinsically a social, cultural process and presents the glue, the unity that groups need. It is as important as the end goals. The everyday values of love, solidarity and comradeship will enhance the words of justice and equality that we so cherish going forward in these troubled times.

ARTICLES

Photo: Paul Botes

MARIKANA REMEMBERED

The network Plough Back the Fruits (featured in this Bulletin’s Meet Up section) is a European initiative that has sought to create support for Marikana widows. One of their key activism teaching tools has been photographs and art. This year they brought the exhibition to South Africa. An excerpt of the exhibition Marikana Ten Years On (National Arts Festival in Makhanda, mid-2022) will appear at Marikana from 10 August 2022 as part of Marikana Uncensored (see Upcoming Events).

In 2016, they wrote of the widows’ art:

“European Entanglement: The Widows confidently address the criminalisation of their relatives, point to the people who are responsible, name the guilty, and highlight their own marginalisation. They comment on the events that occurred, and on their causes and consequences, and they do so full of anger, at times with irony, sometimes directly, sometimes subtly. It is not only the demands made by the Widows of Marikana and the interventionist nature of their work that deserves our respect and solidarity. Although the paintings make sense as testimony and analysis, it is the force and originality of the work that impresses, amazes and leaves us breathless. This makes in-depth, repeated engagement with the paintings and focused observation particularly rewarding. Finally, the Widows’ work provides visual metaphors that illustrate the consequences of neoliberal and neocolonial resource policy in all of its scandalous normality. These paintings are sovereign counter-images to the polished Potemkin corporate surfaces that seek to normalise, legitimise and perpetuate the scandal.”

MARIKANA PODCASTED

🔊 Hosted by Olebogeng Motene, We Remember Marikana features the voices of community monitors 10 years after Marikana.

🔊 10 years Marikana: Where to? is a recording of a workshop convened by the Bench Marks Foundation. The aim of these workshops was to record and develop a critical understanding of the significance of Marikana to mining communities and society at large.

This workshop was organised under the theme 10 years Marikana: Where to? This hybrid event, organised in person with people gathering in Rustenburg and online, is now edited as a two-part podcast. The participants are all scholar-activists with long association with the community of Marikana and the justice campaign for the victims of the massacre of 2012.

The running order of the podcast is as follows:

Part 1:

  • Chairperson / facilitator Eric Mokuoa introduces the speakers and provides commentary;
  • Sonwabile Mnwana (Rhodes University),a sociologist and senior researcher focusing on land and politics of resource extraction;
  • Asanda Benya (University of Cape Town), a feminist activist working on labour and gender issues in the mining sector;
  • Andy Higginbottom (London based Marikana Solidarity Collective), secretary of the City of London Anti-apartheid Group ( late 1980’s) and still active in support of social movement in Latin America, South Africa; and
  • Ngaka Mosiane Senior Researcher (Gauteng City-Region Observatory), focusing on future directions of informal housing research, theory, and methodology.

Part 2:

  • Respondent David Ramohanoe is a social justice activist, passionate about land reform, community development and industrial relations. He is also the Chairperson of Wonderkop Land Claims Committee.
  • The Questions and Answers involved questions and discussion from the floor. 

The media picked on one comment made by Bishop Jo Seoka, where he called on “President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign and that he be arrested for his alleged involvement in the 2012 Marikana Massacre.” This SABC report took the sensational route – to society at large – when they reported that “President Ramaphosa failed to apologise and show remorse for what happened in Marikana. Bishop Seoka also called for the dismissal of cases against the injured and arrested mineworkers.”

Water flows in the district as the Tourism adverts invites people, but does it flow for all with the same quality to drink?

FREE INTERNET

A historic conference under the theme Friends of A Free Internet (for mahala and for freedom) was held on 22 July 2022. It was organised by Peoples Media Consortium and Yetu Info Collective. They called on civil society groups to gather in person and online to engage in the seemingly complex field of information technologies.

“Information technologies are increasingly shaping our lives,” says organiser Mark Weinberg. He confirmed that the need to critically reflect on the prospects and challenges posed by the internet, was especially grave and urgent since the Covid pandemic.

Civil society groups must be well organised, so that they can be critical and hold accountable “corporate and government power” which in various ways will seek to limit the rights and potential of the internet to enhance democracy and provide a better life for all.

The conference explored how the internet is under threat by profit seekers and those who seek to control and subjugate the populace, giving rise to new ways of domination.

Rising authoritarianism (including surveillance, censorship and propaganda) is transforming our public spaces into open air prisons where we are constantly watched and trained to police ourselves, as well as surveillance capitalism which is transforming our privacy into something to be bought and sold.

The conference concluded that it is only through organising and increasingly building networks online and on the ground in our neighbourhoods, workplaces and educational institutions that we can organise a fight back. The right to communicate is a right worth fighting for, this is especially the case of South Africa, which has just – over 27 years ago – come out of an over 300 year struggle against colonialism and Apartheid rule. Instead of a reconstruction and development programme, the new country had to battle rapacious neoliberal economics and politics. Today the shameful fact remains that South Africa is the  world’s most unequal society and the access to the internet reflects this. Whilst the number of those with access to the internet is said to be just short of 70%, they are subjected to different levels of costs, internet infrastructure services and quality. The poorest, most on pre-paid mobile telephony, subsidise those on contract and remain the most digitally deprived. 

During 2019, the MTN CEO Rob Shuter was reported the highest earner amongst his peers, taking home a total salary of R42.92 million, including a basic salary of R15.28 million and bonuses and other benefits exceeding R26 million. The profits of the telephone corporations, led by Vodacom and MTN, are obscene when compared to the backlogs between the lack of infrastructure and dire need in the former apartheid bantustans, particularly in the rural areas and their towns. Joblessness and inequality have not helped.

This depravity mirrors the exclusion of the working people and the poor from economic and political democracy. We cannot let government’s ineptness and lack of pro-poor development and a handful of large corporations, control networks, platforms, technology and shape content of this common good.

Mapping the Terrain

Internet4All: As in freedom, as in mahala – Trevor Shaku (SA Federation of Trade Unions)
Utopian visions, dystopian currents – Anriette Esterhuysen (Association of Progressive Communicators)
A brief political economy – Rasigan Maharajh (Institute for Economic Research on Innovation)

Connecting Everyone

Covid’s impact on connectivity – Tapiwa Chinembiri (Research ICT Africa)
Policy & regulation for universal access – Charley Lewis (University of the Western Cape)
The path to zero rating NPOs – Lunga Schoeman (DG Murray Trust)
The role of community networks – Kgopotso Magoro (LINK Centre)

Threats to Internet Freedom

Trends & futures of surveillance capitalism – Tshiamo Malatji (Tech Empire) 
The state of Government surveillance – Murray Hunter (Alt Advisory)
Protection of transparency & privacy – Alison Tilley (Information Regulator)
Threats to on-line expression – Hassen Lorgat (Bench Marks Foundation)

Conclusion and way forward

Mark Weinberg (YETU info Collective)
Martin Jansen (Peoples Media Consortium / Workers World Media Productions

These are being finalised and will be shared in the next edition.

ALL ABOUT THE INTERNET : BEWARE

The ‘Boast Report’, released by civil society organisations on Friday 1 July, contains details of State Security Agency operations intended to surveil and infiltrate NGOs and student movements. Affected organisations, including Greenpeace Africa and Right2Know, are demanding greater transparency and accountability around these suspect activities.

Civil society organisations Greenpeace Africa, Right2Know and Right2Protest released the declassified “Boast Report” from the Zondo Commission into State Capture on Friday. The report, dated 24 February 2017, references some of the questionable spying activities undertaken by the State Security Agency (SSA) during the state capture era.

Written by a member of the SSA special operations unit to then Director-General Arthur Fraser, the report references the accomplishments of operations intended to surveil non-government organisations and infiltrate student movements. Among those civil society actors affected were Greenpeace Africa, Right2Know and #FeesMustFall activists.“The infiltration and surveillance of civil society must be investigated, and where appropriate, the responsible people should be disciplined if they remain in the employ of the SSA, and criminally charged by the National Prosecuting Authority,” said Professor Jane Duncan of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg.

Dear President Ramaphosa

Your hands must be full. Whilst the court ruling on Marikana must have been some relief, the ANC policy Conference and the dollars under the mattress issue do not seem to go away.

The economy and relatedly keeping the lights and power on have been burning issues. In both cases you seem to have plans. Let us talk of growing the economy and about  load shedding thereafter. 

In your wide ranging Family Meeting you spoke about the energy crisis that included space for even renewal energies. We are still studying your plan, hyperlinked here for those who were not at the dinner table when you spoke.

The first issue you should know as a unionist – and later a businessman politician -, is that you cannot grow the economy by lowering wages. That is a big NO-NO. As you will know, growing the economy must be accompanied by dignified work, and a living wage. It is the only way that the legacies of Apartheid and colonial structural paths that the economy is following can be challenged. Also you do not talk of the runaway CEO pay in your plan.

On Eskom and load shedding, many in the business community have celebrated your plan. The opposition even called your wisdom, as one that they have produced. You have decided to liberalise the energy market and even buy electricity from neighbouring countries. The details spell out the urgency after weeks of blackouts. Your plan is to stop the “darkness” before the next elections, in two years time.

Some of the measures even include attempts to evade regulations on respect for the environment. You said:

We are also establishing a single point of entry for all energy project applications, to ensure coordination of approval processes across the government, “Those who applied shouldn’t move from the one department to the next, and face months and months of delays.”

In the meantime, certain regulatory requirements will be waived or streamlined – including the regulatory requirements for solar projects in areas of low and medium environmental sensitivity.

It also means Eskom can expand power lines and substations without needing to get environmental authorisation in areas of low and medium sensitivity and within the strategic electricity corridors.”

The “darkness” disaster, which the government has – deliberately or not – mismanaged over the last decade or 15 years, has enabled you to take these DRAMATIC DECISIONS. You said that South Africans are justifiably angry.

This shock therapy is a classic neoliberal strategy and it seems to be working. We are so angry that what you are suggesting now seems like a fair and just solution. We have to work hard to make sure that it really delivers to the poor and working people, whom we all claim we work with and work for.

You point out that you were lobbied by corporations, experts, citizens and civil society groups. A few weeks before your decision, some groups started a petition under this heading: FORCE THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT TO PRIVATISE ESKOM. They did not speak for us.

There are concerns that you must address:

  • Some of your spin doctors have said that you consulted with unions, yet it seems not  wide enough – you have excluded those you disagree with but have an important voice in society, like SAFTU and NUMSA;
  • Similarly you have excluded environmental groups in your consultations, and that has enabled you to make such recommendations;
  • What will happen with the indigent groups who need the energy support to live meaningful lives?; 
  • Why have you ignored partnering with other states? State to state solidarity? Is it because exorbitant future profits were the main driving motives?;
  • From experience elsewhere, we know that a more efficient system will not be a more equitable system – provision for all will be no more, as people will be squeezed out by costs and the poor will be left marginalised.

What is clearly missing is a clear mandate and Charter on Service Delivery on Electricity for all. We remind you of the spirit and values of the RDP, something we know you had a hand in drawing up.

In implementing the RDP, the conclusions were questions that remain open. These were:

1.5 CONCLUSION

1.5.1 All over South Africa, including in People’s Forums, the same questions are posed over and over:

Ø. how will the ANC create jobs?

Ø. when will you build houses?

Ø. how can we get water and electricity?

Ø. what about education?

Ø. when will we have a fair and effective police force?

Ø. will you give us health care?

Ø. what about pensions?

Sadly, in the RDP White Paper and, by 1996 the adopted Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy known as GEAR, the trend to neoliberalism was in full swing. This is a problem and, if not stopped, will bring us all down.

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD: 

Living in the shadow of Eskom

Our village does not have major mines but it is a mining affected community: we host mine workers and those seeking to work on the mines. Most of these rent backyard rooms overburden the national grid as the demand for electricity is more than originally planned. This illegal “purchase  and supply of electricity”, I believe, results in more power cuts.

The highlight of the matter is the negative impact on small businesses in our community because of load shedding and electricity supply reduction.

I approached Eskom technicians, who asked to remain anonymous, about the constant load reduction in some sections. They said: “Communities buy “Ghost Electricity” which is not from Eskom, but the seller steals power from the grid. The company has identified areas that use ghost electricity. Secondly there are more backyard rooms in the village which means now more power use than supply because those houses have not upgraded their voltage use with Eskom. That puts a strain on supply so to help reduce pressure is by load reduction.”

The causes of load shedding are many and varied. Load shedding is made worse by cable theft, which affects us all. To get a better understanding of this, I spoke to a few community members.

Ms Kgomotso Rangaka is a seamstress whose work almost entirely relies on making church attire. When there are electricity shortages and cuts, she is unable to meet her targets. “I cannot meet my deadline… I can work according to the loadshedding schedule but often these cuts happen outside the schedule. There is no scheduled load reduction but these power cuts last sometimes for up to four hours resulting in me being behind with orders” she says.

I also spoke to a young entrepreneur running a food outlet called biz in a box. The name is appropriate as he operates from a shipment container. He introduces himself as Gege or Geg-man. He told me that his business was thriving until the power supply cable to his container was stolen several times. “I have lost clients as food now takes longer to prepare and cannot keep orders in a warmer. I now have to close early because of inadequate light and my alternative is a gas cylinder. I have to depend on candles when it gets dark to finish off orders,” he says. “The prepaid electricity metre box in the container is registered to the owner of the container and not to me. This gives me a problem when I try to reapply for a new cable. I’m looking for the contractor to give me the prepaid metre box purchasing card so that I can register the box in the name of my company,” he adds. As for now he is being assisted with electricity from a nearby house but their cable too has been stolen.

By Kgang Moloko

——————————————–

The long and winding road: dealing with the DMRE

#followuproundtable

The youth of Lejoeleputsoa embarked on a peaceful protest march in April 2022. The aim of the march was to hand over the memorandum of grievances to the DMRE to highlight the ever rising youth unemployment in our local areas.

At the march, we handed over a memorandum containing our demands. 

What is of great concern from the community representatives is the arrogance and intransigent behaviour displayed by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). They have been slow in responding to the demands of the people.

The first memorandum we handed to them was in September 2021 and this was followed by the April 2022 one spoken above. They have now responded. Some of the demands made by the community to the DMRE are as follows:

  • the failure of DMRE to regulate and do oversight on Social and Labour Plans (Harmony);
  • the general failure to complete projects and deliver on promises;
  • the Tetra plant must go;
  • artisanal miners to be legalised;
  • a new sustainable energy system be introduced to replace the current system based on dirty fossil fuels that only serve the elite; 
  • land ruined by mining be rehabilitated;
  • The end of financing for coal and other fossil fuel investment including gas;
  • no to Eskom tariff hikes and NO to loadshedding;
  • renewable energy be introduced urgently;#SLP consultationa separation
  • the DMRE make an investigative tour of mining communities.

As a follow up action, we participated in what can be referred to as a roundtable consultation convened by the regional manager DMRE. Present at this meeting was the Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy Dr Nobuhle Nkabane as well as members of the South African Police Services. From Civil society we had present: Gold and Uranium Belt Impact Censoring Organisation “GUBICO”, MACUA, and Climate Justice Coalition. 

The Welkom manager apologised for the failure of the “national office” to reply to our demands earlier and decided to take over the process. The Deputy Minister promised the community and the stakeholders that they will work very hard for their office in Welkom to be visible since the community complained about it.

The regional Welkom office then replied in detail to our  demands:

*In case of registering the ASM, the region has no official employees to assist yet, but they do have a vacant post for that purpose.

*Mr Chrombi from the Welkom DMRE office promised to look for the answers in case of Eskom and load shedding.

The DMRE informed us that they have a policy on ASM and gazetted to govern ASM in March 2022. 

GOOD

Some of the good “promises” that came out of the meeting included the holding of training workshops for artisanal miners. In response to the complaints of engineering students that the mining companies neglect them and they are unable to complete the “practicals”, the reply was positive. Mr Tsotetsi from DMRE promised the students that they will provide special training. We hope they would engage the sub contractors as well for the practicals.

Bursaries and internships will be made available at the geoscience office.

They also said that there will be work towards ensuring mines are closed in line with the law.

About illegal mining, the police informed us that it is a big problem and that they have just arrested 91 of them in Johannesburg.

They promised to work towards implementing their policies on ASM and there will be greater financial assistance for the sector.

The company INTEK, which deals with the mining dumps and work opportunities, said they would investigate closed shafts and acceptability for rehabilitation, which hopefully will provide work opportunities for the communities.

BAD

The Welkom DMRE office does not have any lead or access in locating the owners of closed shafts for rehabilitation.

Also we have been through too many promises. We hope the department will live by their words.

By Tutu Mokhothu, Matjhabeng Local Municipality, FREE STATE PROVINCE July 2022

If you want to read more on these stories, please check them out on https://www.bench-marks.org.za/publications/ and https://communitymonitors.net/2018/02/what-is-tunatazama/

THE MEET - UP

A meeting place to learn about organisations, networks, movements and people resisting injustices and whom we work with.

Widows of Marikana: Viva the Spirit of the Marikana Widows! Oil pastels & Food (Source: http://basflonmin.com)

PLOUGH BACK THE FRUITS

The campaigning network Plough Back The Fruits was founded in early 2016. Shortly after the Marikana massacre and after reading the 2012 Lonmin sustainability report, the Austrian historian Jakob Krameritsch concluded that Lonmin’s main buyer was BASF to whom activists should also look at, to effect real change in South Africa.

He conducted further research together with his colleague Maren Grimm, also from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, which revealed that BASF claims to be world leading in ethical business practices along its global supply chains. As a result, Krameritsch and Grimm decided to widen their network and confront BASF about what had happened at Marikana in August 2012 and beyond.

They made contact with KASA (Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika), which in English means Ecumenical Service on Southern Africa, who were already collaborating with Khulumani Support Group and the widows of Marikana, and also with the Ethical Shareholders of Germany to directly confront BASF for their contribution to what happened in Marikana. It was through KASA that contact was entered into with Bishop Jo Seoka from the Bench Marks Foundation.

In April 2015, Bishop Seoka was the first delegate from South Africa to address BASF’s complicity with the Marikana massacre at the 150th annual general meeting of BASF in Mannheim/Germany. Following this event, many others like Bread for the World and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation joined the activities of the solidarity campaign.

In January 2016, an art-making workshop involving a group of the widows of Marikana took place. The widows of the deceased miners, Judy Seidman and Nomarussia Bonase from Khulumani Support Group, met with Grimm and Krameritsch in an arts workshop and the result was a painting named “Plough Back The Fruits”. The name of this painting follows a demand the widows made to BASF: “Plough Back The Fruits – Give us our fair share of the profits from the South African platinum!” Subsequently, the campaign collectively decided to adopt this name as the name of their network.

For the BASF shareholders meeting in 2016, a delegation with Bishop Seoka and a delegation of the Marikana widows and a set of their paintings (the product of the art workshops) travelled throughout Europe – particularly to Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

Since then until 2019, various delegations from South Africa have attended these BASF shareholders meetings. Their aim has been the same: to educate and lobby shareholders about the prevailing miserable conditions in Marikana and for South African platinum miners as well the communities and the families in the so-called labour sending areas in general.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020 the companies started to hold their AGMs online, which enables them to minimise interventions and critique. Plough Back The Fruits nevertheless continues to raise these issues, to seek for new collaborations and to strengthen the ties of transnational solidarity networks.

Further information (websites, videos, speeches, research and downloads):

About the Campaign: www.basflonmin.com

Here one can follow the visits of South African delegations from 2015 to 2019:

A short documentary film of the Masibambane workshop where the painting “Plough Back The Fruits’  emerged from and other videos with voices from the platinum supply chain can be found there as well: https://basflonmin.com/home/stimmen-aus-der-lieferketten-dokumentationen/

The first exhibition of the images of the widows in Europe is documented here: https://basflonmin.com/home/ausstellung-plough-back-the-fruits/

Exhibition catalogue (full download, texts in English and German): https://www.academia.edu/31676534/Plough_Back_The_Fruits

The latest exhibition in Europe where the images were shown before returning to South Africa took place at Künstlerhaus Wien. A brochure in English can be found online here: https://www.k-haus.at/z/files/2022/WHITENESS%20AS%20PROPERTY/WHITENESS%20AS%20PROPERTY_BEgleitheft_Englisch.pdf

The exhibition of the widow´s paintings at National Arts Festival 2022 in Grahamstown/South Africa: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/marikana-10-years-on-artist-walkabout/

Research on Corporate Tax Avoidance at the example of chemical gigant BASF (Green Party European Parliament, Nov. 2016): https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/news/corporate-tax-avoidance-6465

List of involved and associated organisations:

KASA/ Ecumenical Service on Southern Africa – Article about the book launch of Bishop Seoka new book on Marikana (German only): https://www.kasa.de/aktuell/detail/kasa-online-book-launch-marikana-eine-offene-wunde/
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation: https://www.rosalux.de/en/publication/id/38733
Bread for the Word: https://www.brot-fuer-die-welt.de/en/bread-for-the-world/
Ethical Shareholders Germany – Article about the struggle for the implementation of a national supply chain act in Germany: Would it have made a difference? Marikana, BASF and the Supply Chain Act – By Tilman Massa: https://www.kritischeaktionaere.de/en/category/campaign-plough-back-the-fruits/
London Mining Network: https://londonminingnetwork.org/?s=Marikana

For further requests you can contact Maren Grimm and Jakob Krameritsch via email: m.grimm@akbild.ac.at or j.krameritsch@akbild.ac.at

Photo courtesy of Salaamedia

CENTRE FOR APPLIED LEGAL STUDIES (CALS)

The Bench Marks Foundation has worked with other environmental and mining communities with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. CALS serves at this moment as the secretariat for the MPRDA Coalition, which brings together various groups concerned about the mining law and its impacts on society. CALS was founded in 1978 by Professor John Dugard as a legal research unit within Wits University. The purpose of the Centre was to encourage law reform and improve access to justice during apartheid. While much has changed over the years since then, our organisation remains committed to promoting human rights and challenging systems of power in South Africa and the region.

Our vision is a socially, economically and politically just society where repositories of power, including the state and the private sector, uphold human rights. In aspiring towards this vision, our mission is to:

  1. Deconstruct the legacy of apartheid;
  2. Challenge and hold to account systems that perpetuate harm, poverty, inequality and human rights violations;
  3. Reconstruct an inclusive and equal society.

Who we are: CALS is a public interest law organisation based at the Wits School of Law. CALS is also a law clinic registered with the Legal Practice Council. As such, CALS connects the worlds of academia and social justice.

What we do: CALS practices human rights law and social justice work with a specific focus on five intersecting programme areas, namely Business & Human Rights; Civil & Political Justice; Environmental Justice; Gender Justice and Home, Land & Rural Democracy. 

How we do it

Our Tools

CALS uses a combination of theory and practice to advance human rights. We use three tools, namely research (both field research and desktop research); advocacy (including training, engaging with the media, providing legal services to clients, making submissions to parliament, and negotiating with government and corporations) and strategic litigation. 

Our Approach

Intersectionality

CALS adopts an intersectional approach to rights protection, understanding that human rights  are  rarely violated in isolation. The intersectionality of CALS’ five Programmes allows us to address rights violations holistically, responding to the multidimensional nature  of  human  rights  violations  that  are  not  easily categorised or insulated. For example, the violation of an environmental right usually entails a threat to basic services such as water, housing and sanitation. This threat in turn usually manifests differently for women and men, requiring an understanding of the gendered nature of the violation. A lack of basic services often triggers the need to protest, which is regularly criminalised, resulting in the arrest and detention of people living in poverty. It is this comprehensive and holistic approach that CALS adopts.

Gendered analysis

All of our work is infused with a gendered analysis. This approach allows us to examine silenced violations that often remain undetected because of assumptions of homogeneity of experiences.

Interdisciplinary

In order to be effective, our lawyering must be creative. This allows us to go beyond the traditional notions of lawyering within court cases to include mediation, client empowerment and political settlements. This approach also allows us to explore other disciplines to inform our work and  make  us  better  human  rights lawyers. Examples of this multidisciplinary approach include film; social work (as a method of understanding the psycho-­‐social drivers of trauma experienced by many of our clients) and economics (to understand the political economy within which human rights violations occur). Read more about our law and film tool here

Conscious of the transformation agenda

CALS’ staff members include an exceptional collection of lawyers, support staff and researchers. We pursue an environment of professional satisfaction, where colleagues work in a manner that has integrity and purpose. Colleagues undertake to engage each other with collegiality and dignity, where independent thought is applauded and the pursuit of our common vision determines our actions.

CALS’ commitment to transformation in society must be matched by internal transformation. CALS’ workspace is one that prioritises development of marginalised and disadvantaged persons and the intentional deconstruction of barriers that continue to disadvantage black women in particular. We have  formal  and informal spaces to discuss transformation, black consciousness, white privilege and cultural oppression and silencing in the workplace. We use all mechanisms within the University recruitment policies to  attract, maintain and advance black female colleagues. Our staffing plan for 2016 works towards the actualisation of a transformed staff component.

Strategic

The projects in each programme seek to build upon previous work, so we continuously build on our existing work to achieve our mission, rather than branching off into a number of splintered and disparate areas. This allows us to take a long-term approach to social justice work, while focusing on incremental stages involved in the longer-term achievement of our vision.

Environmental Justice

Protecting the environment is critical for everyone, but particularly for communities living in poverty. These communities are the ones who are directly impacted by the burdens of development and the environmental degradation that comes with it, but are the last to see its benefits. The Environmental Justice Programme aims to counter this injustice and make environmental rights a reality for all who live in South Africa. We aim to change the behaviour of both the corporate actors that make use of natural resources, and the state which regulates this process. Our focus remains on the mining sector, which is a major contributor to economic growth in the country, but is also responsible for a great deal of environmental harm and exploitation. We work specifically on the social and labour plan system and other models for community benefit sharing, placing the issues of voice, participation and transparency at the centre of our work.

For more information, contact Robert Krause: robert.krause@wits.ac.za

UPCOMING EVENTS

10 August 2022 – “Marikana Uncensored”

In commemoration of the 10 years of the Marikana, we have invited church leaders, community leaders, civil society leaders, trade union leaders, academics and the media to engage with the community of Marikana. The engagement will be coupled with the exhibition of artwork and pictures of Marikana by different artists. 

The delegation is expected to visit four community sites (Mmaditlhokwa / RDP section / Nkaneng / Wonderkop) in various parts of Marikana, where they will spend an hour interacting with the communities on the streets and identified venues. This outline is subject to changes without any notification.

The programme will culminate in a bigger engagement with the community, media and other interested persons:

2pm – HALL: The Afternoon Reflection Session (also online) of the on-site visits commences. Register in advance to participate ONLINE in this meeting– It is essential to sign on early. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Moses Cloete serves as the editor at large of this edition. Unless otherwise indicated the writing and presentation of the Bulletin is by Hassen Lorgat. Marta Garrich helped with additional editing and layout of the newsletter. Simo Gumede is responsible for the members and partners database management.

Copyright © 2022 Bench Marks Foundation, All rights reserved.