It is that time of the year again.
The Alternative Mining Indaba will take place in Cape Town from 4 to 9 February with a number of pre-conference activities. Whilst the 2022 theme focused on a “just energy transition for sustainable mining communities in a climate crisis era’, this year’ focus adds to it. The 2023 theme is A Just Energy Transition: Unlocking community potential and participation. The AMI will take place before, during (7-9 February) and a few days there after the Mining Indaba. The venue will be the UCT Graduate School of Business Conference Centre at the Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.
The Bench Marks Foundation will be there in full force and we know that it will not be easy. There are many things to think about as we act collectively. What does it mean to unlock community potential that has been trampled upon by unresponsive governments, regulators, and corporations that evade laws and regulations and seek profits over all else? How do we unlock potential to participate? Participate towards what end? Can there be real participation amongst unequals or where the asymmetries of power exist? How do we boost the power of the oppressed and marginalised? Can we participate and unlock potential with the master’s tools and thinking?
So much to think about and so little time to put into practice.
As we organise fervently to be there, our mind goes back today to one of our founding comrades Reverend Malcolm Damon, who in addressing the 5th AMI spoke clearly of the objectives of this movement and platform organised in response to the African Mining Indaba. Corporations present their gathering as “the largest mining investment conference in the world” and we believe they are out to sell Africa to investors. The pace seems to “be breath-taking as if they are on steroids”, one community activist commented. Another said “it was the second scramble for Africa.” The role of the alternative is to keep them in check and raise concerns of the corporations externalisation of the costs of mining onto poor mining communities and working people, as well as the environment and wider ecology. It is undeniable that the disenfranchised mining communities bear the brunt of this assault on our natural resources with little recourse in law to fight back.
“Africa is gaining momentum and seems unstoppable in its quest to reverse the ‘resource curse’. But the captains of the mining industry need to be held accountable,” said then (2014) Executive Director of Economic Justice Network Reverend Damon. “The Alternative Mining Indaba is a result of the commitment across civil society groups to bring accountability and transparency to the mining sector.”
This remains the objective today and the task before us is for civil society to grasp and live their mandate. We are our own liberators and have a whole future to win…
In times like these we remember all of our fallen comrades.