The Scribblers

Just another Read this… now weblog
Posted: August 12th, 2011 | By Moyagabo Maake

Mining community (Photo - Bench Marks Foundation)
Mining community (Photo – Bench Marks Foundation)

To understand the reasons for the nationalisation debate presently raging in forums across the country, one need only read the Department of Mineral Resources’ Mining Charter Impact Assessment report, prepared five years after the adoption of the new Mining Charter.

The Mining Charter aims to transform the industry through, amongst others, skills development, employment equity and mining community development.

The “progress” reported in the impact assessment is laughable. Here are a few nuggets for your reading pleasure:

  • “…lack of management support for staff participating in Adult Basic Education and Training, as evidenced by recalling of staff from classes to accelerate production, loss of bonuses for ABET attendees…”
  • “Only 37% of mining companies have developed employment equity plans…”
  • “…average rate of women participation is 6%, the bulk of which are represented in support functions with less than 1% in core management positions, a large proportion of which represents a preserve for white women…”
  • “…no evidence of a direct link between the proposed and implemented community development projects as far as the needs of affected communities are concerned.”

And you wonder why the debate has cropped up!

In a nutshell, the mining industry refuses to transform, and people are getting impatient. Finish.

I also find it curious that the nationalisation boxing matches don’t include a single mine worker or mining community member.

It’s the ANC Youth League and their political allies vs. the Chamber of Mines, big business and economists.

Where are the people who would be directly affected by this?

The politicians, chamber, businessmen and economists aren’t the ones who have to live with dust from nearby mines perpetually covering their furniture.

They are not the ones who have to beat out their carpets every morning.

They are not the ones washing dishes they haven’t used.

They are not the ones exposing their lungs to silicosis and asbestos and all the other lung diseases caused by mining.

What do mining communities have to say on the subject?

The Bench Marks Foundation, a corporate social responsibility watchdog, has community monitoring projects around the country, which “develop the capacity of local communities to monitor the actions of corporations and government as well as take action where they identify destruction of the environment and the undermining of community life.”

I found their Action Voices report very, very interesting.

One of the voices, Kgomotso Precilla Dimpeng from the Magobading platinum mining community in Limpopo, says: “When Anglo Platinum came to our community, we thought that now we are going to be rich and we are going to get jobs, but all of this was just an image that we created among ourselves.’

According to Dimpeng, Anglo moved the community from their previous homes to make way for their mining activities.

“These companies make promises to us and fail to deliver on their promises. They told the relocated community that they will provide bursaries, jobs and renovate the damage to their relocated homes, especially those caused by the rain,” Dimpeng says.

Another voice, Toto Nzamo from Katlehong in Gauteng, says his community is affected by pollution.

“I interviewed a community member, who told me that Zinco [Mine, in Springs] polluted the Blesbok River with sulphuric acid. He showed me a leaking pipe that carried mine waste into the river,” Nzamo says.

“The community was concerned that they can no longer fish in the river.”

For more tales of mining companies that extract precious metals and minerals without any benefit to the community, click here.

It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on nationalisation.

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