I have written a fair amount on the proposed mining at Xolobeni and nearly three years ago now, set up a marginally successful petition opposing it. It was touch and go as to whether the mining rights granted to an Australian company would be repealed so the email I received yesterday from Val at Sustaining the Wildcoast was great news!! I now hope that the Australian company doesn’t appeal the decision and that something can be done to promote the area in terms of socio-economic development as well as environmental preservation. It seems to me that an area with a unique landscape, offering both grasslands and sand dunes, and such richness of species, should be protected as a national treasure and could be promoted to tourists…
I just thought you might like to celebrate in this good news.
For the moment SWC are extremely pleased that social and environmental justice for the amaMpondo people seems to have been upheld.
SWC will comment further once we have had a chance to consider at length Minister Shabangu’s conditions for re-consideration of the mining application.
Minister Susan Shabangu has informed Sarah Septhon, legal representative of the Amadiba Crisis Committee that the mining rights awarded in July 2008 to Australian owned Transworld Energy and Minerals (Pty) Ltd (TEM) and the Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Pty) Ltd (Xolco) have been revoked.
Accordingly the complaint lodged by the Amadiba Crisis Committee with the Public Protector last week against the Minister for the long delay in announcing her decision has been withdrawn.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee and Sun International together lodged objections to the award of the mining rights in September 2008. A Special Task Team chaired by senior ANC MP Nkosi Patekile Holimisa found that the award of mining rights was in several respects in violation of legislated requirements.
The Minister has however left the door slightly ajar to allow the applicants a ninety day period in which to re-apply.
The attached documentation explains the Ministers decision.
Comment from the Amadiba Crisis Committee and the NGO Sustaining the Wild Coast which has supported them, will be forthcoming, but I offer the following comment in my professional capacity as the social worker who has been privileged to work with local residents for the past five years.
The decision of Minister Shabangu closes a very long and frustrating chapter in the quest of the Amadiba residents for sustainable livelihoods.
To put it colloquially, a large and aggressive “dog” has been removed from the manger that it has occupied over the past three years, obstructing the local residents from pursing sustainable livelihood’s from nature and heritage based eco tourism. Although the ‘dog’ has been given the chance to reapply for control over the ‘manger’ it is now inconceivable that it would ever be able to take up occupation again, because over the next six months plans are afoot to revive the once celebrated community based eco-tourism initiative known as Amadiba Adventures.
With the COP 17 Talks taking place in six months time in Durban, together with the Wild Coast Sun Resort and other partners, the local residents will now ensure all available tourism accommodation on the Wild Coast is fully booked with international visitors who will be invited to celebrate an Avatar like victory of an indigenous people who cherish their natural environment and ancestral traditions. They declared the rich titanium deposits on the Wild Coast ‘unobtanium’ after they saw that film, and have gone one better than the NaVi warriors by using non-violent, constitutional means to oust the mineral addicted invaders.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee is now planning a huge celebration and plans to reconstitute themselves and the Amadiba Peace and Development Committee to facilitate healing and peace building in a community that was once a peaceful haven, but which has over the past five years seen constant tension and conflict.
While I welcome the Ministers decision I cannot understand how the Minister can conclude that the applicants took all reasonable steps to consult with the relevant parties. The Human Rights Commission found that consultation was woefully lacking as far back as 2007, and the only remedial ‘consultation’ process that I am aware of was when the BEE partner Xolco submitted forged and fraudulent names of some 3000 local residents claiming their free and informed consent. Minister Shabangu also has in her possession a long interview with a former Xolco member who resigned in protest together with two other directors after they realised that he had been co-opted into what he described a “corrupt scheme to sell the land of the people”.
Moreover it is worth noting that during the Local Government Elections ANC members from the mining affected area nominated candidates who were opposed to the mining to contest the elections. The voters followed suit by overwhelmingly electing the ANC candidates with their declared anti mining position, rather than the rash of independent candidates who suddenly appeared, backed by the pro-mining lobby.
I assume that Minister Shabangu was waiting for the elections before announcing her decisions, and hope that she is reassured that there can be no local political backlash. The Mbizana municipality is one of the poorest in the country and the local council needs support to make full use of the astounding natural and heritage resources at its disposal to promote jobs and development.
Notwithstanding these reservations, I wish to personally congratulate the Honourable Minister bringing some measure of closure. She has had to juggle a very hot potato which has not cooled down over the past two years since she assumed office.
John G I Clarke
Consultant Social Worker, Development Facilitator, Writer.