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21st February 2024

June 2022

Dear Freinds, in this June edition we learn of the plea of young leaders in this Youth Month, which in itself is a damnation for the mass media that excludes generally these types of voices. They have agency and are writing and producing their own materials that tell and express their aspirations for a better life. 

Some of the Youth’s visions – not all – are or were included in the Freedom Charter that was passed on 25/6 June 1955 but this does not diminish its importance. The Congress of the People  passed a declaration whose clauses remain relevant in today’s troubled times. These include the clauses that call on: The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth! The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It! All Shall be Equal Before the Law! 

A clause recalls fully what we must expect, but are not getting, in times of extreme poverty as well as hate for the (Black) foreigner. It reads: No-one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial; No-one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official; The courts shall be representative of all the people; Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance.

The stories and the resources include both the Foundation’s work and that of our allies. We also convened the International report on one of the underreported but pervasive impacts of mining: tailings. To assist the readers we provide the report, the conference report and a discussion / interview, which we hope will facilitate understanding of these issues.

 

· BREAKING NEWS · BREAKING NEWS · BREAKING NEWS ·

📣 The final Zondo Commission Report has been released! We will deal with it in the following editions. What we can say here is that justice must prevail.

📣The Constitutional Court gave Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni a big klap on Tuesday 28 June 2021. Whilst the case was taken up by eTV and others, about the switch-off of analogue television broadcasts in South Africa, the decision of the constitutional court vindicates the rights of citizens and civil society organisations that were part of the case, namely Save our SABC (SOS) and Media Monitoring Africa, and those like SAVE FREE TV that were leading the campaigns to stop the switch-off for the poor and indigent households.

The Peoples Media Consortium – composed of various NGOs and Unions like the Bench Marks Foundation, Black Sash Trust, SAFTU, Workers World Media Productions, Environmental Monitoring Group, Cape Town TV and others – has been a key player. Read the judgement HERE

OPEN LETTER

In response to numerous articles focusing on the Youth Unemployment – with one commentator noting that since the end of apartheid, the mining industry has made efforts to transform -, we asked three of the mining community youth to explore these matters further.

 

Is there a future for the youth in mining affected communities?

This year 2022, four mining corporations, Anglo-American platinum, Sibanye-Stillwater, Impala Platinum and Royal Bafokeng Platinum reported mega profits which – in industry speak – is “good financial performance” on the Johannesburg Stock exchange. Over R 130 billion has been generated out of mining activities located largely in rural South Africa. The platinum mines stretch from Rustenburg in the North West Province to Waterberg and Sekhukhune region in the Limpopo Province.

However, this place that has given projects further wealth also lays at the heart of social unrest, most of which are spearheaded by the youth. It is undeniable that the appalling conditions in these mining communities affect all people. It is equally a fact that its impacts and subsequent anger are felt acutely by the youth. In part, their lived conditions and arrested development in the face of CEO pay and luxury is driving them to do something about their exclusion. They are choosing to fight back.

The mining communities are a constant site of poverty, inequality and unemployment and it is also the site of protest and resistance.

According to a 2011 statsSA report, the Greater Tubatse municipality youth unemployment stood at 59.6 %, Mogalakwena at 51.7 % and Rustenburg at 34.7 %. A decade later, these staggering numbers continue to grow unabated in these communities giving birth to new social issues amongst the youth. The effort to arrest this social decay on the part of the authorities is and has been non-existent. The recent series of protests against Anglo platinum in Sekhukhune and Impala platinum in Rustenburg has sent a stern reminder to the government and the bosses that the youth are vulnerable, angry and will not take it lying down.

The youth in Villages as Luka in Rustenburg and Morapaneng in Limpopo live with no hope of a better future and believe that those who hold power have failed them.

Local employment, or the employment of local youth in particular in the mining sector, is a scarce resource. In our studies, we have learnt from other youth that corruption in recruitment for those seeking employment is a major issue. Bribery and corruption takes many forms.

Most of the young women who look for jobs in the mining industry say they are asked for sexual favours in exchange for jobs. This predatory male, elite culture, we believe, is prevalent in mines across the country. The masculine nature of the industry undermines women in many ways and is not sustainable if we are to call ourselves a democracy.

Other concerns of working class youth include prostitution and transactional sexual relationships that scholars confirm drive illnesses, in particular HIV/AIDs infections.

Crime in mining communities is at a high, many villages in Limpopo have been experiencing petty crimes in the last five years. This, according to the residents, is a new phenomenon. There are an increasing number of taverns and beer halls which introduced a culture of alcohol abuse amongst the youth.

Whilst the industry makes huge profits and announces new ventures that are celebrated in the mass media, the critical question remains: is there future for the youth in the mining communities? Is there a future without decent work, full human rights and equality for all?

The time to determine the worth of the corporation solely by the profit it makes as opposed to the value they create  to the society at large has long passed. June, the youth month for most mining communities comes and goes but poverty, inequality and unemployment continues to reside with us in lands that were formerly known as bantustans.

The writers all are associated in various capacities with the Bench Marks Foundation but write here as activists from the following local community organisations: Olebogeng Motene, Bua Mining Communities, +2783 560 4075; Mmathapelo Thobejane, Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network, +27 79 623 5248; Eric Mokuoa, Bafokeng Land Buyers Association, +27 83 371 2947

ARTICLES

On 31 May 2022, the Social Distress Grant (SRD) grant could not afford the recipient everything in the essential food items list bought in the previous month as the prices of some food items increased. On the left is what the grant could afford a recipient on 31 May and on the right is what the grant couldn’t afford. (Photo: Denvor de Wee)

Source: Daily Maverick

CHECK THE CRISIS It is clear that the economic, political crisis is deep and something we cannot ignore. Whilst millions are found in the president’s home, many are feeling the pinch at the petrol pumps and when they go to spazas or supermarkets. It is undeniable that we are experiencing the highest inflation rate in 5 years. In April 2022 inflation stood at a high OF 5.9%, going up to 6.5% in May 2022. StatsSA reported dramatic price increases of public transport (by 12,5%), meat (9,4%), bread and cereals, (8,4%) and other items. The reason for this is clearly driven by the increased energy prices that were exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine, with fuel now likely to become unaffordable R23.845 per litre. Stats SA has also shown in the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) that the cost of living is skyrocketing with little or no real mitigation factors presented. The vicious austerity measures of the government are a reflection of what many consider an uncaring government. Based on the work of our sister organisation the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, the Daily Maverick argued that the “rising fuel costs pose a threat to the containment of food prices and the cost of living, which were already on the rise before the war. But while food prices have been soaring, the R350 SRD grant hasn’t changed.” It is clear many many millions of people cannot survive on this, but it appears that this grant will no longer be available to the many who received it. In response, many CSOs will be taking this matter to court. The coalition of groups led by the Black Sash Trust, informs us that “Civil Society is launching litigation against the government over the unfair regulations that govern the social relief of distress (SRD) grant. We are challenging the arbitrary means test of R350, which deprives millions of people in need of government assistance and regresses developments of the right to social assistance for hundreds of thousands who qualified for this assistance previously.” These economic pains will lead to social unrest if not mitigated, especially in the face of the mega profits of the elites in government and the corporations. In this space, we find a disorganised civil society but pockets of resistance are emerging and a rebuilding – slow and inchoate at present – is beginning to emerge. In this context, it is important to note the recent court victory of civil society organisations (thanks to R2K, Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee and community leader Keith Duarte) who were assisted by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies as the legal team – the SAHRC became friends of the court. In their statement, the R2K celebrated the victory which outlawed the charge of fees when organising protests in the City of Johannesburg. We know that this practice is in much wider use in the country… In her judgement, Judge Victor finds that charging fees for gatherings through the City’s tariff policy is unconstitutional and this practice may no longer take place with effect from 10 June 2022. Furthermore, the judge ordered the City Manager of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality to pay the legal costs of the Right2Know Campaign. This is a vindication of the fundamental rights to organise and assembly. The rights to protest and organise  “is an outlet through which citizens can occupy public spaces to voice discontent and have their voices heard. The right enables participatory democracy, so to trammel on the right is to manipulate the path of democracy. Because freedom of assembly is so integral to any democratic society, its exercise cannot be limited without good reason.” Thank you, CALS, the Right2Protest Project, the Right2Know Campaign and those who work daily to make our democracy work for the poorest and most marginalised in our society.

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

TEN YEAR EVALUATION, COMMUNITIES OF MARIKANA SPEAK. WHAT HAS CHANGED?

The Bench Marks Foundation convened a Speak Out with community members in Marikana on 22 June 2022.

It was the first of three webinars that the Bench Marks Foundation will be convening around critical reflections around the 10th anniversary of the Marikana Massacre. This workshop had participants from Wonderkop, Nkaneng, Maditlhokwa and Lapologa amongst others who joined those online.

The hybrid event explored the views of the communities on various aspects of life in the region, including education, employment, housing, water and sanitation and so on. Here we reproduce an extract of the concerns.

WATER AND SANITATION

On a recent visit to Nkaneng informal settlement, members of the community told us that they are still struggling with access to water. This is extremely disappointing given that we reported the exact same problem in 2012. On the other hand, Mine management tells us that this is a municipal problem. Yet, we know from our earlier report that the water pressure in the communal taps in the informal settlement is due to the heavy water consumption of the mine. The informal settlement itself is the consequence of the mine’s housing policies and the living out allowance. If the mine had a humane housing policy, its employees would not reside in an informal settlement which still exists to date!

Bojanala Platinum District Municipality had a total number of 154 000 (or 25.83%) households with piped water inside the dwelling, a total of 306 000 (51.32%) households had piped water inside the yard and a total number of 7 180 (1.20%) households had no formal piped water.

The water backlog (number of households below RDP-level) in 2008 were 66 400 within Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, this decreased annually at -0.66% per annum to 62 200 in 2018.

Bojanala Platinum District Municipality had a total number of 247 000 flush toilets (41.47% of total households), 109 000 Ventilation Improved Pit (VIP) (18.33% of total households) and 219 000 (36.67%) of total households’ pit toilets. The sanitation backlog (number of households without hygienic toilets) in 2008 in Bojanala Platinum District Municipality was 220 000 – this increased annually at a rate of 0.86% to 240 000 in 2018 (Source).

It remains a disgrace that a district that could be considered to be one of the most mineral rich pieces of land on the planet, has fifty-seven and a half percent of people without proper water and sewage systems. Community members in the RDP section of Marikana inform us that the bulk sewage system points closest to the river are still spilling, just as they did in 2012 causing gastric illnesses and posing the threat of cholera. We note that the community’s right to a healthy and safe environment still remains compromised. We are concerned that this again relates directly to the mine’s housing policy and the living out allowance which leads to backyard dwellings and undue pressure on the sewage system as a consequence (something that we pointed out in 2012 already).

HOUSING

In a recent visit to Nkaneng informal settlement, Sibanye management informed us that they are planning to replace the informal settlement with formal housing, but that the occupants of the shacks will have to commit to purchase the formal house before it is constructed. Most of the household heads in the shacks are employees of Sibanye’s Rowland Shaft. We pointed out, in 2012 already, that most mine workers are reluctant to purchase houses in close proximity to a mine, and mineral processing plants. Migrants would prefer to build houses in labour sending areas to which they intend to retire. Besides, no sensible human being would invest in housing property in the compromised and degraded environment of a mine. We continue to pose the question regarding the differential treatment between Australian and South African mine workers when it comes to housing, and we continue to dispute the standard justification given be the industry for the variances between the two countries:
    
· Australian mine workers are not more skilled or educated than South African mine workers;
· Australian mine workers are not more productive than South African mine workers;
· Workers cannot be blamed for the fact that South African mines were engineered for cheap labour; and
· Mining conditions in South Africa are much more dangerous than in Australia, which fact in itself should tilt the wages balance in favour of South African mine workers.

We further note that in South Africa in general, and Marikana in particular, very little provision is made for sport, recreation and entertainment for mine workers and their families, unlike in Australia and Canada. This gives rise to alcohol and substance abuse in South African mine communities and to domestic violence, gender-based violence and crime in these communities.

For more information: contact Brown Motsau, brown@benchmarks.org.za

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD: 
Rio Tinto QMM mine failures “root of conflict in South Madagascar”

Protests, road blocks, hostage taking and the firing of guns and tear gas canisters have reverberated through the Anosy region of southern Madagascar since March this year. The conflict follows a fishing ban that left villagers without food security and livelihoods.

The restrictions were put in place after hundreds of dead fish were found floating the local lake – shortly after a mine tailings dam failure and controlled release of a million cubic metres of mine basin water from the Rio Tinto QMM ilmenite mine following heavy storms. The company denies its mine waters caused the fish deaths.

These events came to a head last week, on 19 May 2022, when the military was sent in with guns and tear gas to disperse the protestors who had blocked the road to the QMM mine site at Mandena. Read more

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD: 
Who is to blame, mines or DMRE? by Tshepo Maredi

In an effort to find out the commitment of the mine to our community, one has to go dig a hole and mine gold using only just hands.

Masilo Theunissen, a town in the northern free state, lies two of the biggest mines in South Africa: Sibanye Stillwaters Beatrix and Harmony Joel gold. For years the community of Masilo has been crying foul when it comes to the role of these two giants. First, on the issue of Social and Labour Plans and employment.  For the past 16 or so years, Sibanye has claimed that it has been helping the community with projects. But it has failed to mention that all their projects have either failed or been halted.

The DMRE as a regulatory body has also played a role of a catalyst, as it has failed to oversee the mining sector and its impacts on mining communities. Instead, the regulatory body has been renewing permits of Sibanye every five (5) years without any oversight. 

In 2021, for example, Sibanye committed to building 416 toilets but only half of that 208 were delivered. Both Sibanye and Masilonyana Local Municipality agreed to take the falsified report to the DMRE. And the regulatory body didn’t even bother to check the truth of it or to consult with the communities to verify what has been written.

In conclusion, when assessing who is failing the community, one has no choice but to point at the government. We have elected them to govern and they have the power. In this case, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) is failing in their task of keeping the mining houses to account. I believe the DMRE, like the government who is supposed to be the overseer, sits comfortably whilst not performing its regulatory duties.

** To read more about the SLP, please read the SAHRC REPORT on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa that was held on 13-14 September; 26 and 28 September; 3 November 2016

Social and Labour Plans: The Commission finds that the current social and labour plans (SLP) system does not adequately address the negative impacts of mining activities and that systemic issues in the design of, and compliance with, SLP commitments limit their ability to drive socio-economic transformation in mining-affected communities. In addition, the process of developing SLPs should be consultative, and should respond to input by communities and local governments regarding required socio-economic outcomes. The Commission accordingly finds that there is an immediate need for the DMR to develop clear and binding requirements for the content of SLPs and to ensure that they are aligned to EIAs and EMPs and include environmental information on the potential impacts of mining and post-closure quality of land. There is also an immediate need for the DMR to enforce compliance and develop sanctions for those mining companies that fail to comply with their SLP commitments. The Commission finds that the DMR should define the minimum amount of financial contribution towards SLP projects. This amount must be ring-fenced. The DMR should further take the lead in establishing a task team, to include the CoM, National Treasury, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), community-based organisations and other relevant stakeholders, to conduct research into the current financial regulation of the mining industry.

 

THE MEET - UP

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

THE RT REV’D JO SEOKA

Johannes Thomas Seoka (born 29 August 1948) is a retired South African Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of Pretoria from 1998 to 2015 and, during that time, he went up the hill to meet striking Marikana workers – which turned out to be a life-changing situation for him and many of us. It was at Marikana that 44 people died, 33 directly at the hands of the police. But who is Bishop Jo?

We all know that he is the founding member with others of the Bench Marks Foundation, which he has served as chairperson since its formation. He studied at Eshowe College of Education in the Natal province and then at the University of Chicago in the USA. He studied to become a priest at St Bede’s College, at Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, and was ordained in 1975.

Bishop Jo is at his best when campaigning for justice and has been a regular feature following the transnational corporations at the AGMs, which we will share hereunder just to give a  feel of the range of activities of the man. But we were interested in finding out that the bishop has been doing since retirement and what inspires him to continue doing what he does.

He told the Bench Marks Bulletin upfront:
“I like to make peace with my past to avoid being distracted. I don’t believe cheap talk can destroy my legacy. Many have tried because of jealousy but failed. Some come back Nicodemously to confess they were used. One for sure, I fight my battles. 

Never be disturbed by any forces that mortal beings may exert against you with the intention of wanting to disturb your way of life that God has destined for you. What people may see as their success in working against you is in actual sense your success since God will use the same sufferings or troubles as your ladder to help you to climb to a position of success and recognition so as to put your enemies to shame and confusion.

A verse that inspires me everyday is: In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you [Matt 7:12]. I am also inspired by Genesis 37:19-28; 45:3-15.”

About Bishop’s activism, we trace some of his advocacy in the United Kingdom and in Germany.

In London, Bishop gave a speech entitled Can Lonmin wash its hands of Marikana’s blood? (25 January 2016) of which we reproduce an extract here. The full speech can be found here.

“In the company’s early days, the British extraction of wealth from the continent was assumed. Whether via the state, or by London-listed companies, natural resources from across Africa would end up lining the pockets of white London shareholders, with as little run-off to local deal-makers as could be managed. Today, the money trail looks eerily similar.

In spite of Lonmin’s long and colourful history, it remains a little-known name amongst the British public. Even after the 2012 Marikana massacre in South Africa, in which 34 striking mine workers were killed by South African police during a peaceful strike at a Lonmin platinum mine, few know the name of the British company against which those mine workers had little choice but to take strike action.

Though the Marikana killings made international headlines, the stories tended to focus on ‘black-on-black violence’, with the massacre representing the biggest act of state murder in South Africa since the end of Apartheid. Under closer scrutiny, though, Lonmin was and is far from an innocent bystander to the killings. In fact, its actions are those of a company that has been able to maintain the financial relations of colonialism while outsourcing the violence of this exploitation to a supposedly post-colonial state. As in previous times, the company remains listed on the London Stock Exchange, extracting vast sums from South Africa while taking little practical responsibility for the lives of those whose blood – in some cases literally – has made them their fortunes.

And Lonmin are far from alone in this. A recent War on Want report revealed that 101 London-listed companies control over $1 trillion in Africa’s natural resources, influencing government policies in Europe and Africa to ensure the wealth is able to flow freely out of host countries. And while the money is flowing in the same direction it has since the Lonrho days, accountability from the modern extractors of Africa’s wealth remains as absent as ever.

Lonmin’s responsibility for the deaths at Marikana in August 2012 began with the living conditions that their workers gave their lives fighting to improve. The vast majority of Marikana’s 36,000 miners resided – and continue to reside – in informal shack dwellings in the Wonderkop community and the Ngakane settlement, without electricity or running water. Most are not able to maintain even basic levels of nutrition and thus carry out dangerous manual labour on empty stomachs and often with little rest between shifts.”

A part of his engagement with BASF reads:

“Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to participate in your AGM. I am Johannes Seoka, former Bishop of the Anglican Church in Diocese of Pretoria in the Anglican Church of South Africa for 18 years. I am here representing and speaking on behalf of the Plough Back the Fruits Campaign constituted by South African, European and British networks.

Last year Mr Bock cynically asked me not to come back this year. In fact, this is the major reason for being here today. I must say that though I was offended by his attitude, I decided to be forgiving and to be optimistic about our relationship for the sake of those who have entrusted me with the responsibility to speak on their behalf”

He then gave his speech to be read the shareholders in German asking them the following questions:

“We appeal to you to honour your commitment to sustainable, responsible and fair business conduct along your supply chain. In this spirit of hope we are asking you:

With the take-over of Lonmin by Sibanye Stillwater we expect an acute exacerbation in health and safety of working conditions. What are you planning to do for the protection of miners and your own reputation?

How will you encourage Sibanye Stillwater to invest into improvements of working and living conditions in Marikana?

How will you supervise that Lonmin and Sibanye Stillwater will comply with the South African mining laws? Will you make the results of your reviews transparent?

Through the audits at Lonmin you aimed to contribute to the improvement of living and working conditions. When do you plan to publish the results of these audits to allow other stakeholders like us to review the implementation of the recommendations?

What was the turnaround between BASF and Lonmin during the last business year? Will you join Daimler and plead for binding compliance with rules and human rights standards in the supply chain?

We appeal to you to take action, not to tolerate the dangerous working conditions, but to make it possible for the people who work for your corporation to mine the central raw material platinum to live a dignified life. Do justice to your claimed role of leadership, and do lead in matters of sustainability and social responsibility of companies.

Many of the shareholders present here rely on you – we do hope, together with the people of Marikana.”

Photo courtesy of Salaamedia

RIVERLEA MINING FORUM

The Riverlea Mining Forum (RMF) is a sub-committee of the Riverlea Community Forum. (RCF). RMF consists of females, males, from different political persuasions, religious groups and interested and affected parties. The RMF was started as a direct result of the mushrooming of legal and illegal mining in our community. The RMF jealously wants to guard the safety, security of its residents and the environment for the future generation.

RMF has a Chairman (Mark Kayter), Deputy Chairperson (Carol Kara), secretary and Public Relations Officer (Romeo Sibeko).

In the short period of their existence, the RMF – apart from focusing on mining – provides a range of support to the community. During the highpoint of the Covid pandemic, we helped a family whose house was damaged due to a fire, and we have to keep working with them until they are able to stand on their own feet. 

From what we have learnt, we try to reach out to other communities in similar situations by offering them our advice and whatever assistance they need, if we can. The  RMF has set up a cooperative and have employed a brick builder and nine other residents on a mining site, where the retainer wall collapsed and was a risk to health and safety of the residents. 

But our story began a while ago. There were two companies operating in the community, Central Rand Gold (CRG) and Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD). Many promises were made to the community by CRG until they applied for liquidation in 2020. Many consultations were held with both the school and the community. CRG’s operation was on the doorstep of ET Esterhuysen Primary School, and the then minister of Environment and Energy Susan Shabangu was called in to mediate, but this was not successful.

It is scandalous that the agreements entered into with CRG, like the 500m buffer zone that will ensure the safety of the scholars and community, were not adhered to.

In addition, they were operating without a water licence as no impact assessment was done in the first place.  With all these problems we approached the Bench Marks Foundation, through the South African Bishops Catholics Conference, (SACBC) and soon started working closely with their staff members.

Since then, we have been working with Mr David Van Wyk and Mr Brown Motsau, and more recently Ms. Chelfrancis Rosenberg, Mrs. Jennifer Mohamed Katerere, Ms. Mariette Liefferink. These are phenomenal people, helping us with advice and contacts that can assist us in making a difference to our community.

At our first meeting with Bench Marks, around 2008, they asked us about Environmental Impact Assessment. We had no clue what these were. We started asking questions from CRG, and the partnership started showing cracks until the liquidation in 2020. We were scheduled to have a meeting with Central Rand Gold (CRG) and the speaker of the City of Johannesburg, when the announcement came through. 

During October 2020, we held a meeting with Mr. Gayton Mackenzie, a prominent politician as well the broker between CRG and Department of Mineral Resources, and Energy. In that meeting, Mckenzie flatly denied his involvement. Thereafter, Mrs. Carol Kara (a brave soul and our deputy chairperson) and I met with Mr. Sunday Mabaso who was then head of operations of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in Gauteng. This for us was a major breakthrough as Mr. Mabaso assured us that the rehabilitation was going to commence as soon as possible. 

In January 2020, he told us that the delay was caused due to a court case brought about by the community against CRG. No further details given. Mr. Mabaso only dropped the company name: Amashe. Mr. Mabaso has since resigned from DMRE, we believe that he is working with Mr. Eddie Mulner. 

We took it upon ourselves to look for the company and I managed to link a Mr. Edward Mulner to the company. Again Bench Marks Foundation came to our rescue. Eddie Mulner was a delinquent mine director linked to liquidated Mintails. We did not know that, but thanks to the work of the Federation for Sustainable Environment (who has had dealings with them) we were enlightened about the person and his work.

At this moment (starting 2021/2), we are working with the law firm Webber Wentzel, who are assisting us by further pursuing the TC Esterhuysen operation. They are assisting us without charge.

DURBAN ROODEPOORT DEEP (DRDErgo) Whilst we were focusing on CRG, DRDErgo was allowed to continue its operation. DRDErgo proposed – as part of its social responsibility obligations – to give 500 households gas stoves. This was rejected by the community because it was costly and we did not think it would meet the demand of the people on the ground. There are more than 500 households in the area. There was also the issue of safety that concerned us.

In 2019, DRDErgo’s consulting company Kongiwe, posted a notice at the local library that they wanted to have a consultation meeting with the residents. This was regarded as just another tick box exercise which would enable them to commence mining operations in another area. We were able to stop this tick box exercise and forced DRDErgo to talk to us.

Because of our efforts, we believe that DRDErgo severed their relationship with Kongiwe. We are still in discussions with DRDErgo.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT
Thanks to many organisations, we have learnt the following things:

1. Mining companies do not live up to their responsibility in terms of its Social Labour Plan (SLP) Social Investment initiatives.
2. Mining Companies do not create meaningful jobs and in many cases cause a lot of harm to people and the environment.
3. All mining companies are interlinked, employees at DMRE are somehow linked to mining companies and advise them. We have not yet come across a mining company whose licence has been rejected. There are many we believe should have their licences revoked.
4. Consultation meetings with interested and affected communities are just a tick box exercise. What we demand is real and genuine negotiations, with the communities as equal partners.
5. When a mine enters, it is inevitable that communities will be divided. The division is often between those who believe the promise of jobs and those that are anti mining because of the experiences of the failures and false promises of mining. Talking to mining companies is not an overnight success, one has to be patient, and have commitment to be in it for the long haul.

CHALLENGES
Not everyone in your community will support your struggle. This is not a quick fix. Financial resources are in short supply.

In our case, many of our members have full time jobs and commitments, so they are not always available. Community organisations want to approach the mining companies for sponsors.

RMF believes that:
– The mining companies must make the Social and Labour Plans transparent and implement them and we must pressure them to do so.
– Finding an appropriate strategy that unifies and not divides is critical.
– Government must find a real solution to illegal mining in the country. Many artisanal miners are well connected with politicians and this complicates the matter.
– Getting information and feedback from the DMRE is difficult without a fight.
– Due to the Covid regulations, public meetings could not be held.
– Many of our community members have died due to respiratory related diseases. We could hold the mining companies responsible but we have limited resources to hold them accountable.

WORKING WITH OTHER PARTIES
We have a good working relationship with the National Occupational Health Laboratory. They request our assistance to create awareness in the community when they want to conduct any tests or give feedback. We helped a grade 12 student and a graduate with his assignment on mining. We donated hair products to an NGO during the Christmas period, to help under-privileged children in the community. We speak to arterial miners about the challenges they face and what the situation is like in these disused mines. 

Yet because of the lack of interest by the community or fatigue, some in the community are looking for quick solutions. 

Our struggle to improve the lives of our community continues!

By Mark Kayter

PODCASTS & TV INTERVIEWS

🎙 COMMUNITY MONITORS PODCAST: 
Last month we shared some of the monitors’ writings and today we share their expertise in making podcasts…
We talk about how mining undermines the practices of traditional healers living near mines. This question arises from a story written by community monitor Jan Skosana who lives in Marikana, Rustenburg. We asked Mmabore Mogoshoa, a community activist and a traditional healer who lives in a Mining Village in Sekhukhune, to give us her views on the issue. We spoke with Gogo Nondumiso, a traditional leader and sangoma who lives and works in the platinum mining community of Rustenburg. We asked her how mining has affected the practices of traditional healers. This issue has been reported several times by monitors and we made this podcast to give them a platform to voice out the challenges they face in their calling/practices to access herbs and water that are affected by mining, even in communities they form part of. We hope this will be given the attention it deserves by all relevant stakeholders. 


🎙MINE WASTE LEAVES TOXIC LEGACIES IN SOUTH AFRICA – Succesful International Launch of Tailings Report

The Mine Tailings Working Group of South Africa, a partnership of civil society groups including the Bench Marks Foundation, Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE), IANRA concluded a successful workshop on tailings and the launch of the publication of Safety First: Guidelines for Responsible Mine Tailing Management, coordinated and produced by Earthworks, Mining Watch Canada and London Mining Network.The full report and recording are also available on the Bench Marks Foundation website.

The full webinar and launch can be found HERE
To facilitate understanding of the importance of this report, please we have produced a PODCAST and WEBCAST, which contains an interview – conversation between Hassen Lorgat (Bench Marks Foundation) and Jan Morrill (Tailings Manager, Earthworks).

USEFUL RESOURCES

Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic Reports and Website:
https://miningpandemic.org/


The Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic works in global solidarity with communities, Indigenous Peoples, and workers to respond to mining abuses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We work as a consensus -based coalition conducting collective research and advocacy on the intersection of mining and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over two years since the WHO first declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, communities around the world continue to face the intersecting and compounding effects of extractivism and the virus.

On June 10th, the Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic, of which WoMin is a member, is proud to launch reports and a website platform which document these impacts and highlight how mining-affected communities continue to model a truly just recovery–from both the mining and COVID-19 pandemics across the globe.

This important collaborative research shows how during the pandemic:
· The economic and political power asymmetries between mining companies, governments, and mining-affected communities significantly deepened.
· States and governments used the opportunity to frame mining as “essential” and necessary for post pandemic recovery and thus justify highly destructive practices.
· Frontline communities faced serious new threats and to their safety and increased risks of violence, both from the virus and selectively implemented pandemic restrictions, militarization, and criminalisation.
· Communities around the world continue to mobilize in the defence of their lives and territories, developing new ways of working together to keep one another and the planet safe from harm.

FRIENDS OF A FREE INTERNET CONFERENCE: 14 JULY 2022

Join, organise and talk about how the right to communicate can truly become a lived right and freedom which will help us to defend and advance our right. This is in response “to a digital feudalism where governments and a handful of large corporations control networks, platforms, technology and can shape content”.
Here’s your INVITE!

Pssst – before you go… Check your data!!

R2K salutes the tech journalists who have finally proven what many of us have said for years: some cellular companies rob their customers. We encourage the journalists to lay a criminal complaint or, at the very least, to ask ICASA to take up this matter. The scientifically conducted experiment described in the article puts numbers to what the general public has no time to measure: many small thefts. Even a phone which has mobile data permanently disabled will sometimes report, at the end of the month, that a certain amount of out-of-bundle data has been used, whether a single cent or a rand. These networks have millions of customers, and a million cents is R10 000. These companies make huge profits, as can be seen by the dividends paid to shareholders and the bonuses paid to executives. There is no excuse for robbing the poor. R2K demands that the government revive its plan for a wholesale open-access network (WOAN), so as to foster the entry of small and medium enterprises such as community telecommunications networks into the market, to give citizens access to affordable communications R2K remains committed to creating a country and a world where we all have the right to know – that is to be free to access and to share information. This right is fundamental to any democracy that is open, accountable, participatory and responsive; able to deliver the social, economic, gender and environmental justice we need. On this foundation, we will build a society and an international community in which we all live free from want, free from fear, in equality and in dignity.

For Comments Contact: Michael Graff +27 64 775 4342, Communication Rights National Action Group Member / Verushka Memdutt +27 83 311 6397, Interim National Coordinator.

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.