environment sustainability

Wild Coast Faces New Mining Threat

Hello from the Wild Coast,

Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) are highly concerned that the Department of Mineral Resources is entertaining new attempts by MRC, the Australian company with an interest in mining the Wild Coast, and their South African subsidiary TEM, to renew their prospecting licence for the Kwanyana block at Xolobeni along Pondoland’s Wild Coast. MRC/ TEM’s prospecting licence relapsed after their application for a mining licence was turned down for a failure to comply with necessary regulations. A renewal of the prospecting licence would open the way for a renewal of their mining right application. A report by John Clarke, “Co-option, subversion and offensive exploitation: The failure of co-operative governance for the Amadiba community of the Eastern Cape” highlights extensive evidence of violations and abuses of human rights and the undermining of democratic and legislative procedures by MRC and TEM in their pursuit of mining in the Wild Coast region. Given the nature of the allegations in Clarke’s report, SWC strongly questions how the Department of Mineral Resources could possibly consider renewing MRC /TEM’s prospecting licence before the concerns and issues highlighted in Clarke’s report are fully investigated and satisfactorily resolved?

The following report by Fiona MaCleod, Mail and Guardian, summarizes reasons for our concerns.

The full report by John Clarke can be accessed from the SWC website under the archives tab.

For more information:
John GI Clarke ,, or 083 608 0944
Sustaining the Wild Coast
Facebook –
Twitter – @SWCOAST


Wild Coast faces new mining threat


President Jacob Zuma’s office has been drawn into the fight to halt the proposed mining of the Wild Coast dunes, writes Fiona Macleod.
The presidency was this week drawn into the heated debate over mining the Wild Coast, after Australian company Mineral Commodities launched a new application for prospecting rights in the mineral-rich protected area. John Clarke, a social worker representing local communities and environmental organisations, sent a detailed report on the ongoing mining debacle to Collins Chabane, the minister in the president’s office responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, asking him to intervene.

The report, documenting how several government officials had thwarted the Amadiba community in their fight against plans to mine heavy minerals in the dunes of the Wild Coast over the past decade, was also sent to six other Cabinet ministers. “These ministers have collectively failed in their constitutional obligation of co-operative government by allowing a disgraceful situation to develop on the Wild Coast with respect to the Xolobeni mining versus ecotourism issue,” Clarke said. “The report is a stinging indictment of the ANC’s ambivalence over mining policy due to vested interests, the erosion of the rule of law and the emasculation of the traditional leadership system because it has been the only governance system that has served local land rights.”

It asked Chabane to investigate alleged corruption involving high-level officials, the deaths of at least two local community members and the beating of schoolchildren by police. The report also alleged the intimidation of anti-mining residents and the deliberate sabotage of a closely knit community to further commercial goals. Presidency chief of staff Kgomotso Maaroganye said Chabane had received the report, but spokesperson Harold Maloka was unable to comment on its contents. Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Richard Baloyi, also confirmed receipt of the report.

Xolobeni residents have put up a united front against the new prospecting application in the wake of public consultations convened late last month by Mineral Commodities’ South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy & Mineral Resources, and its empowerment partner, Xolco. According to the companies, Xolobeni contains the 10th largest heavy mineral deposit in the world. “The whole community is against mining. Out of the 300 people at our meeting maybe 10 would have supported it because of jobs, but they were silent,” said Mzamo Dlamini, chairperson of the Amadiba crisis committee, a conflict resolution structure set up under the traditional leadership system.

The mining companies held public consultations as part of the process stipulated by the mineral affairs department for prospecting rights to be granted. The companies applied for new rights after Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu last July revoked a mining licence granted to Mineral Commodities in 2008.

Economic Activity
The amaMpondo royal house said mining was a short-term economic activity with long-term negative impacts, whereas ecotourism could have an unlimited lifespan. “Mining the Wild Coast is simply absurd. It can be likened to the slaughter of rhino for their horns: the destruction of endangered species of life for the short-term commercial profit of greedy foreigners,” said amaMpondo King, Justice Mpondombini Sigcau. Once thriving ecotourism ventures had suffered badly with the prospect of mining hanging over their heads, said Val Payn, spokesperson for non-governmental organisation Sustaining the Wild Coast. “Mining totally undermines the lifestyles communities live here and the kind of development they want,” she said. “Reports that the communities are divided over this issue are a misrepresentation. The only people who support mining are those who live outside the areas that will be affected and who want jobs.” Xolobeni in the second-most species-rich floristic region in Southern Africa. It is part of a protected area and commercial mining or prospecting can only take place with the written permission of both the ministers of environmental affairs and mineral resources.

Co-operative governance
The two ministers this week received copies of Clarke’s report, titled “Co-option, subversion and offensive exploitation: The failure of co-operative governance for the Amadiba community of the Eastern Cape”. It was also sent to the ministers of transport, police, tourism, rural development, and co-operative governance and traditional affairs. It documented several alleged violations committed since mining became a serious option in the area, including the murder of a subheadman, Mandoda Ndovela, in 2003, and the suspicious death of anti-mining resident Scorpion Dimane in January 2008.

Other allegations included collusion between the mining companies and high-level officials in the departments of minerals and trade and industry; the suppression of crucial environmental information by a corrupt official in the environmental department; and the submission of false and fraudulent information by the mining companies to the mineral resources department. Pupils at a junior school in Xolobeni were beaten by police in apparent frustration over Shabangu’s withdrawal of the mining rights, Clarke said. Three policemen allegedly lined them up and hit them with sjamboks. “Each and every child in the school was beaten. The majority of the learners were from homesteads in the affected area and knew that their parents were overwhelmingly opposed to the award of the mining rights, and felt obliged to obey their parents,” he said.

Underlying problems
Clarke said these incidents had been reported to the Human Rights Commission, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the public protector and the Cape Law Society, with mixed results but scant progress. “The community and civil society can only do so much. Unless government co-operates with them to uphold the rule of law and restore a climate of peace, the underlying problems will continue to fester and undermine their efforts to promote sustainable livelihoods and revive the community-based ecotourism initiatives that once thrived,” he said.

Transworld spokesperson, Andrew Lashbrooke, said, although he had not seen the report, Clarke’s allegations had not gone anywhere because they had no substance. “He has made complaints and laid charges against us, but all the officials have come back to him and said there is no case to answer,” he said. Lashbrooke said most people who had attended the recent public consultations were in favour of mining, “but some people are more vocal than others. History has shown that the opponents are in the minority.”

environment sustainability

Troll Road!

It seems that for the time being the mining has been halted at Xolobeni. According to Sustaining the Wild Coast, the latest threat to the environment and sustainable development in the area is the proposed toll road (dubbed ‘Troll Road’). It says, “Delegates to COP 17 in Durban must watch this film if they wish to understand South Africa’s environmental activism.” For SWC updates, like on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Support their cause by buying the 2012 Calendar to “raise funds for court action, not simply to stop the road, but to promote their democratic right to decide their local destinies locally.”

For more detail, here is a  three part video:

Part 1: Re-membering.

Simon Gear of 50|50 gets an update from SWC social worker John Clarke on the status of the Xolobeni Mining Rights and N2 Wild Coast Toll Road for SABC’s environmental program 50|50. Local residents speak their minds and hearts about development imposed from above.

This is a re-versioning of the report broadcast on 26 September 2011, with additional background footage showing 50|50’s outstanding role over the years in actualising not only environmental rights but civil rights as well.

Part 2: Re-visioning.

Sustaining the Wild Coast and South Coast residents collaborate again to open up the Wild Coast for the revival of eco-tourism now that the death grip of the pro-mining interests has been loosened. South African civil society shows it can light candles, not only curse the darkness, by re-visioning an eco-tourism future, including walking trails from the Wild Coast Sun resort, and the restoration of the Mtentu River Lodge situated on the “Jewel of the Wild Coast” the Mtentu estuary.

But the N2 Wild Coast ‘Troll’ Road offers little local benefit and Planet Saving Wild Lawyer Cormac Cullinan is instructed by AmaDiba residents to take their case against the road to court, believing it will be “Too Great a Toll”. The film launches the “Too Great a Toll,” 2012 Calendar to raise funds for court action, not simply to stop the road, but to promote their democratic right to decide their local destinies locally.

Part 3: Re-claiming.

Showcases the “Too Great a Toll” calendar produced to raise funds for high court action by amaMpondo residents to stop the N2 Wild Coast ‘Troll’ road. WildAwake photographer Cheryl Alexander and her production team hike their way from Sigidi to Port St Johns. “The making of…” features a selection of Cheryl’s stunning pics interspersed with ‘candy-ham’ behind the scenes clips, put to a music soundtrack by Claire Johnston (Mango Groove) and Jeff Maluleke from their album Starehe – an African Day. Meaning ‘a state of peace, tranquillity, contentment’ in Swahili, Starehe was a creative collaboration by them “to support fundraising causes close to our heart”.


2011 Pondoland Calendar


Well known Kwazulu-Natal midlands water-colour artist, Joan Bastard, has kindly put together a calendar of paintings for Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC),  depicting scenes of Transkei and Pondoland. These calendars are selling for R150 each, of which R30/ calendar is donated to SWC. The remainder goes towards printing costs and artist commission. The calendars are printed on high quality paper and make wonderful mementoes and gifts.

See photos of sample pages. Size of calendars – A4 size.

If you would like to order a calendar (or a whole bunch for your friends, colleagues, office, or family) then please follow these steps:-